Interview with Embellish Maille

I was looking online for a submissive’s day collar and knew I wanted something metal rather than leather. Lazy but fashionable, I wanted it to be attractive but didn’t want to have to take it off to shower. After listlessly poking the internet I eventually came upon EmbellishMaille’s Etsy shop, which had several submissive chokers, as well as some other BDSM-themed jewellery. Everything was hand-made, as well, and the idea of having something especially made appealed greatly.

I knew what chainmaille was, but had never looked at it up close and didn’t know it came in different patterns or weaves. After seeing the intricate styles available, I contacted the owner and requested an interview and she graciously agreed.

My day collar--Poor Kings Maille

My day collar–Poor Kings Maille 34.95

How did you get into making jewelry? 
It started when a close fellow submissive friend of mine was shopping with her Dominant for a collar that she would wear everyday. Even though at the time I wasn’t in a relationship, I wondered what type of collar I would be drawn to. I consulted the ‘Powers that Be’… Google. I first searched for BDSM collars and noticed right away I wasn’t interested in a leather collar. I then refined my search to metal collars and was confronted with an array of solid steel collars and a mixture of different ones made with chainmaille. I focused in on the chainmaille collars and I was fascinated by the variety of patterns and even color designs. I took a look at a few instructions for some of the patterns considered “for beginners” and thought, how hard could it be? I invested about $50 into some start up materials and it’s been a growing passion. The only limit, is my own imagination. I love that it empowers me to get creative and have an outlet to express myself.

How long have you been making jewelry?
I started around the Spring of 2011.

Do you have a favourite piece to make or a favourite style chainmaille?
My current obsession has been the Jens Pind Linkage or JPL pattern. It reminds me of a classic rope braid weave that is pretty durable and unisex.

What’s the most complicated style to make? How long did it take you to master that style?
There’s a pattern called Elfweave that I remember being fascinated with when I was first exploring different weaves that I wanted to try in the beginning. I had tried the weave three or four times of the course of the last three years and it wasn’t until about six months ago that I could finally wrap my head around the instructions. The instructions were very clear and included photos, but for some reason it just baffled me. Once I finally rolled up my sleeves and took some time to understand it, the pattern itself wasn’t as complicated as I was trying to make it. Sometimes there are weaves that don’t have instructions and those can be tricky to visually break the weave apart to try to re-create. The key for me has been to go into a new weave with a clear head.

What’s your most popular piece?
The most viewed item is my “Lucid” Choker, which is something of a modified helm pattern. The most popular piece actually purchased is a toss up between the new custom [BDSM] photo pendants and the helm weave choker.

What materials do you use and why do you use them? Can you shower in them?
When I got started, my budget was tight. I wanted a shiny metal and anodized aluminum offers the shine without tarnishing like silver. It’s affordable, comes in a variety of colors and sizes and is really just easy to work with. The anodized aluminum is pretty easy to clean with the BLUE Dawn hand dish soap and warm water. Depending on the weave, it might recommend having a spare toothbrush to get into the crevices. I do have customers that wear their jewelry everyday including in the shower and I haven’t had any complaints yet. For anyone with metal sensitivity, aluminum also seems to be a great alternative.

How long have you been in the lifestyle?
I became aware of the lifestyle and my place in it around June of 2009. I was exploring and socializing on an online community (imvu). I had made friends with a married couple that partake in the Master/slave dynamic. As I grew to know them, they opened up about their lifestyle. When I had become curious, they pointed me to a website, “SubmissiveLoving” and it was a profound awakening. Since then, it has been… interesting. Initially I began exploring the lifestyle from the safety of my computer and engaged in socializing with other like-minded people online first before taking it to my actual life. It was a decision I have never regretted. I think I have always been submissive in nature though.

How popular are your sub collars? Is there one that’s more popular than the others?
Honestly, my sub collars are the most popular. Most of my customers tend to be other lifestylers in some form or other. To me, it’s very humbling to be asked to do a collar for someone. Though I know collars mean different things to different people, it’s an honor for me to be able to make something so profoundly meaningful. As far as which one is more popular, I would have to say it’s the “Lucid” pattern.

Have you ever tried to invent your own weave?
Not yet, though most people that have created patterns did so by accident. Or they will look at a pattern and say, “I wonder what happens if I do this with the ring instead of that.” There are a ton of variations out there by other folks that have tinkered and invented a new pattern. I think I came to do chainmaille a little late in the game and that most variations I would think of have probably already been done before. One never knows though!

Have you ever had a Dom?
Tragically, I have been involved with guys portraying themselves as Dominants. However, having an online handle like… “LordGrandPooBah” does not make a Dominant. Nor does spending hours upon hours watching BDSM porn.

You have several 50 Shades of Grey-inspired pieces. Have they been very popular? What are your thoughts on the series?
lol.. how much space do I have to fully cover my response for this? I do have almost a dozen Fifty Shades inspired pieces and to my own surprise, they haven’t been all that popular. I think only about 10% of my orders have been Fifty Shades items.

As for my thoughts on the series, I have read the trilogy about 7 times and seen the movie twice. The first thing, I would like to express is a reminder to everyone that the series is fantasy / fiction. If we’re going to commit time to reading or watching it, we should bear this in mind. It’s not an instruction manual for BDSM and shouldn’t be taken as fact. People that want to explore BDSM should be responsible adults and do their due diligence. Learn what BDSM really is and is not.

Secondly, the consensus I’ve noticed in regards to the BDSM community’s reaction to Fifty Shades has been pretty negative. I understand why, but I think we should be thankful. For all the faults that the series and the movie have… and there are a lot, the epidemic has opened up a dialogue. People are talking about it and we all know how important communication is; not just inside the lifestyle but with every type of relationship. Fifty Shades opened the door for conversation as well as a peephole into a lifestyle that for a long time was considered underground. It wasn’t widely known or talked about with mainstream “Vanilla” public. People fear and judge what they don’t know or understand and I may be naive but I think the more people know about the lifestyle perhaps the more open they will be to those of us that are in it.

Fifty Shades touched me on a very personal level. Ana reminded me of myself when I was 22. I was very naive as well as a virgin when I met a guy that was in many ways, much like Christian. For me, reading it was like playing out my own fantasy of how things might have gone. We had a rather odd platonic Master / slave dynamic and this was my way of taking the odd platonic dynamic to a romantic and sexual level.

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What advice would you give  to someone who was interested in trying to make chainmaille jewellery? What resources would you recommend?
For anyone interested in making chainmaille I will offer a few tips to know before getting supplies and such…. 1. is that doing chainmaille, not just jewelry but anything can be tedious. Most of it is taking a small segment and repeating it over and over again. For some that’s too monotonous. If you have any sort of carpel tunnel or arthritis, I don’t recommend it.

I would also suggest getting some good pliers. There are different types of pliers for different metals. Since I use aluminum, a flat thin nose and a flat, slightly fatter nose pliers works for me. If someone plans to use steel, I’ve heard that pliers with teeth will be more suited for the task.

As for other metals, I’m honestly not sure. However there is one website that has a ton of patterns, photos, forums, etc on everything chainmaille. mailleartisans.org The registration is free and they have a gallery and you can search the weave library and so forth. As for rings, different people use different places. I started out using theringlord.com and then American Chainmail as another option. Some people make their own rings and that’s awesome, but not something I have ever wanted to get into. There’s also some great videos on YouTube for learning patterns.

Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions–your work is beautiful!

You can find Jj on Tumblr under the name LilJorDay.

[This interview originally appeared on my Tumblr. I contacted Jj prior to republishing this and she said all of her answers were the same. I have used new images.

I’ve now had my choker for several months and regularly receive compliments on it. (People call it a ‘necklace’ so I’m guessing they don’t know what it is. Which is the point so mission accomplished.)]