05 August 2009

Why Chainmail?

Well, that's a good question. Why not chainmail? Why not sewing, knitting, cooking or something more normal and mainstream? Well, I like to be different. If I'm doing the same thing everyone else is doing, I'm just one of the crowd. That's not the whole of it though, and I'll probably continue to come up with reasons as we continue to follow along on this little journey of mine.

Backing out of that tangent for now. I've always been interested in archaic weapons and armor. Without learning blacksmithing, yet, and tapping on an anvil for days on end, making chainmail at the time seemed like a place to start.

I was first introduced to the basic ideas surrounding modern chainmail construction some sixteen years ago by a friend in the SCA. Of course I wanted to dive right in but obtaining a drill press and tons of wire and a saw capable of chopping steel in any reasonable amout of time just wasn't going to happen on my allowance. Kids get it rough with hobbies, help em out if you have any.

Turned out many years later, the idea sprung back to mind. This time I had tools. Not a drill press or a rediculously overpowered steel slicing laser, but I had internet access. Next best thing. So I poured over Google links and eventually sifted through to locate TheRingLord.com, a shop selling rings specifically for chainmail and a forum at Mailleartisans.org full of the most helpful people. I ordered a few pounds of galvanized steel rings, and waited, almost patiently. I say almost, because I gave in and bought some small gague wire at a craft store while waiting on UPS. Then I went to practice the things I'd been studying for days.

I found making chainmail was incredibly relaxing, forgiving of early mistakes, and more versitile than I could have ever imagined. The first impression most people will get when they hear chainmail is a mesh shirt or body suit, either old-world technology and construction, or the modern shark suits like the Neptunic. Of course the former is still in use in the film industry, and by geeks like me who still drool over a nice sword. As an article of clothing rather than a protective device, the craft becomes even more interesting. I've seen neckties, bikinis, vests and common t-shirts all done in chainmail. It's also in contemporary use in sculpture, and has quite a following as a form of jewelry art both historically and in the current age.

So, why again? Well, it's an interesting study, has a near infinite amount of patterns (called weaves), classified somewhat by their origins: like European and Japense, or by their characteristics like the spiral weaves, and a couple oddities like Byzantine and the Persian family which has no record of ever appearing in Persia, but somone thought it sounded neat and different.

I've come to discover there's little it can't be used for. Chainmaille curtains, seen that too.

I think it's safe to assume, if you've stumbled into this little corner of the 'net you're looking for chainmail yourself. Maybe learning to make your own chainmail. Or just get ideas, weaves and patterns. I'll be getting along to those a piece at a time. So keep your bookmark handy, I'll be posting on a near daily basis recounting my journey through the craft, daily experiences, and what I think are several helpful topics such as:

  • Chainmail terminoligy
  • A Mailler's tools
  • Metals
  • Bying wire
  • Making rings
  • Using a jewelers' saw
  • Jewelry suppliers, beading and stones
  • Tons and tons of weaves introduced along the way as learning projects
So let me ask you this before I shut down for the night. Why are you into chainmail? I'll bet it's a good story.

Have fun,


No comments:

Post a Comment