28 August 2009

Handmade Artist Forum Team featured on Handmade News.

I have to say right from the beginning. I am a member of this team, and in the short time I've been with them, I've learned what wonderful and supportive people they all are.

For those unfamiliar the team, usually called by their tag "Hafteam", are a global collection of Etsy sellers dedicated to cross promoting, aiding, provoking, teasing, and challenging one another in the spirit of friendly fun.

Our current event is the Summer Memories Challenge. Members create and submit a work in their chosen craft that represents their memories of the summer season. Vistors and members alike are asked to comment on the pieces and vote on their favourite. This little cereal box of fun even has a prize inside. I promise. Check it out.

Somewhere along the way, word got out to Coco over at Handmade News and she was pleasant enough to write a feature article to support the event.

You can also see what our promotion chair Heather has to say about it on her blog, Heather's Haven.

I didn't really make it in time to submit anything myself, but I do love to browse. Guarantee you, you'll see some Maille from Stygian Chains stepping up for our Fall Challenge.

Have fun,

26 August 2009

Chainmaille for Kids.

I've seen this come up a few times, and figured I'd probably go ahead and cover it.

Maille contains small parts. If essence, Maille is small parts, alot of them. If your child is prone to chewing on things, regardless of their age. Maille is not exactly a wise choice for multiple reasons. The off chance a ring comes loose and becomes a choking hazard being one of them.

Speaking of chewing on things, there are also CPSA standards to consider. Most of us who are marketing our craft can do a few things to stay in compliance. The first, is to use materials on their known safe list. At last check, items composed of these materials did not require manufacturer (that's you) testing. Be sure to stay up to date though, and not just take my word for it. Your suppliers should also be able to tell you if items you're purchasing from them are CPSA compliant. The next point to mention, which brings everything back on topic, is not to market your product to children under 13 in the first place. This is the safer, smarter, and simpler solution.

Now, if you have children, little gamers or squires or Hallowe'en knights, and they want maille, that's your decision to make. Keep a few extra things in mind: Young little bones are not fully formed, and adding a sudden extra weight load could end up causing some frightening damage. Also, the black oxide rub-off from standard aluminium, and the zinc coating on galvanized steel, are probably not something you want ingested. Zinc fumes are certainly toxic (one reason you should never heat galvy) and I wouldn't personally take the risk in any other form. A good solution to both of these problems, is the use of Bright Aluminium. Properly called alloy 5356. It's lightweight, doesn't leave that dirty looking black junk on skin and clothes, and it's incredibly shiny which makes for great costuming. Still not something you want them gnawing on, alright?

Again, if you have kids that can't help but chew on anything in reach, don't give them metal objects of any sort. Just plain don't sell or market to someone else's kids. Know what's in your work and what potential hazards are involved, and draw your line strongly short of risking such hazards for your own protection.

In my own work. I avoid any sort of symbolism that might be taken as child-friendly. Sorry, no pink hauberks with a Hello Kitty inlay... unless you can prove you're over 13, and want to pay alot for making me look at that much pink. A good portion of my market is strictly the 18+ crowd. No explanation is needed there.

Short version, just don't do it. If you do, use safe, lightweight materials for clothing, or "armour-like objects" not armour. In jewellry, know your materials and their contents, and the age and maturity of your customer. If you are marketing to a younger crowd, be fully aware of the standards set forth by the CPSA.

Have fun,

25 August 2009

Maille as Armour.

Yeah, now we're talkin'

First off though, I want to apologize for not being able to either assemble, or locate a tutorial on earwires like I had planned. This weekend got stupid, and now it's late, which means I'm stuck with taking photographs indoors... and you'd probably prefer I just went outside and took them in the dark. It would be less painful for the eyes.

Wha... oh right, armour. Maille armour is the oldest known form of metal armouring in the world. Carbon dating places early celtic examples at 2000 years old. Samples of surviving Etruscan maille may be 3000 years old. Staggering to think that you're engaging in a practice virtually unchanged since 1000 B.C.E isn't it? In most of the world, that's late Bronze age or early Iron age. It survived as a form of protection on the battlefield until the 17th century in europe, and in Japan continued battlefield use until the end of the 19th century.

Here, a distinction should be drawn between the uses of European and Japanese forms of maille.

In Europe it was common to encounter armour elements such as a hauberk, chausses, or coif composed solely of chain. They would be worn over thick quilted clothing such as a gambeson which helped absorb some of the impact from a blow. While you find that it's incredibly difficult to cut through maille, it isn't rigid. Youtube, the wasteland of stupidity on video that it can be, can produce quite a few videos of people "testing" their new maille shirt, by smacking their dumb as dirt friends with a piece of bar stock. It isn't youtube if someone doesn't get hurt... right? Commonly the ends of each ring were cut to overlap, hammered flat, then punched and riveted. Some maille armorers will still craft riveted maille; the form most of us use today without rivets is called butted, or butt-joined. I just like saying butt-joined...

Japanese maille was used primarily as a way to add a flexible joint or connection between two pieces of lacquered scale; rather than as an entire garment. It was a compromise in having some protection and durability under use while still allowing range of motion.

Another aspect to be very, very aware of with maille, is that it isn't very resistant to piercing. An arrow or a weapon thrust is likely to force rings open. Yes, this means the heartbreaking news is coming, so never ask me... Maille is not bullet proof. No "what if you wrap it in kevlar?" "how many layers..." "if you use titanium/awesomanium/mithril/adamantium" questions. You'll get one of two questions in response. "Are you willing to wear about 150lbs of steel?" or, "How stupid are you, exactly?" depending on my mood. Seriously, think about it, if it could stop a bullet, why aren't we putting it to that use today?

Don't let that stop you from buying 40lbs of stainless or galvanized steel wire, weaving up a shirt, and displaying a skill that's survived for millenia. Look up the SCA if you're not already a member and I'll put money on you finding somone who's willing to trade sword swings with you against your new toy. If you really, really have to use it the way it was intended, there's no better or safer group for such a thing.

For what my opinion's worth, make one out of 5356 alloy aluminium just to wear while you're sitting at a coffee house at 3:30AM hoping the wi-fi doesn't crap out just so you can read over a few more blogs before dawn.

Have fun

23 August 2009

Easy Chainmaille Projects.

It took me some time, and alot of observation of my fellow maille artists doing similar things before I really caught on to this one. I feel a bit dense for not realizing it earlier, but the last time I was considered observant, was back in the Reagan administration or so...

Earrings, simple, fast, inexpensive, unique, and very catchy. You only need to know a few weaves. Instead of writing out my own tutorials this time the tutorials or images from which I learned each weave follow the photos.

Full Perisan Ladder.

First you need to know how to make Full Persian.
Connect a single full unit of FP6-1 consisting of eight rings to another like this.

Then there's the diamond shaped Half Persian 3-1 Sheet 6. Just HP3-1S6 or Sheet6 for short.

You'll need to know the chain form of HP3-1 to get started.
Once you have that move on to Sheet6.

Now, you need some earring hooks. You can buy these at nearly any craft store in the beading section, probably right next to some of your wire selections. ;> Alertnately, you can pick up a pair of round nose pliers, and a small file for smoothing pointy bits from your wire.

I notice now that I no longer have a link to a tutorial for handmade earwires. Guess I know what I'm doing tomorrow.

Have fun,