You’ve Got (Chain) Mail!

Last Thursday, I was in the studio attempting to finish some paintings to get ready for another open gallery coming up, and nothing seemed to be working the way I wanted it to. I was frustrated because both pieces I was working on at the time weren’t coming together the way I envisioned they would. After about 30 minutes of fighting with them, I admitted defeat and packed it up for the night.

I was feeling restless. I had wanted to be creative all day and it seemed like the muses were thwarting my every attempt. Since the day was still young, I was tossing around some ideas in my head on how to occupy my time and ended up calling my friend John. Originally, I wanted to see if he would be interested in going for a walk in Bexley with the dogs and me, but when I got him on the phone he already had plans.

“We are going to Donny’s (another friend of ours) to learn how to make chain mail, wanna come?”

Uh… yes please! It sounded like the perfect amount of creative effort and busy work I needed to clear my stir crazy brain.

When we got there, we congregated in Donny’s workshop which is located in the garage attached to the house they are renting. On a giant plywood table he had displayed at least 20 samples of chain mail for us to look at.

Many, many samples… Most of the pieces on the right are European chain mail, to the left you see Persian…

He gave a little history lesson on the differently “families” (a term he invented) of chain mail, their origins, and how you can identify them. I actually learned quite a lot, like for example- in European chain mail, the links all lay flat, whereas in Persian chain mail the links are all slanted. Japanese (or Chinese, I can’t remember which) is a very loose weave because metal was scarce in that part of the world, and it was generally only used to link plates of wood armor together. Then there are the present day weaves people have developed just for funsies.

This is a modern day weave and I had to include it because the name cracked me up… “Rhino Snorting Drain-o.” Haha awesome!

I would like to note that this information was not useless information at all. When Mike and I were at the Columbus Museum of Art this weekend, they had a piece of ancient armor display and I was like- “That’s Persian armor! Look all the links are slanted!” And sure enough, when we looked at the placard identifying the piece it was from Persia… Donny seriously knows his stuff!

Anyway, after our history lesson we learned a weave called a four-in-one. Which simply means the connecting pieces all have four links traveling through one loop. (Four inside one, four-in-one… pretty simple.)

In theory, I could understand how to weave the pieces together to connect it into one cohesive chain, but it practice it was actually very difficult to do. It took me about five tries the first time before I successfully completed my first connecting link. I ended it up turning it into a bracelet. The whole thing took me about three hours to make. I attached a charm I had conveniently found earlier that evening in my apartment complex parking lot when John picked me up. I had no idea when I nabbed it that we would be making jewelry, let alone that it would be the perfect accent to a chain mail bracelet.

My finished bracelet with the pendant attached 🙂

Donny had tons of finished armor he had created too. He’s been doing this for a long time so some of his stuff is pretty bad ass. I would have tried on the scale armor if it hadn’t weighed 30 pounds. I don’t know how knights used to fight in this stuff… seriously! Not to mention the metal used today is probably lighter than anything they had back then. (For example, we used aluminum links to make our bracelets.)

This is a horrendous picture of me because I was straining to hold up the armor… Stupid bird arms with no upper body strength!

At the end of the day I knew enough of the craft that if I had the patience and a lot of time I could probably create my own rudimentary set of armor. I find that pretty awesome.

The whole gang. Working hard, or hardly working… You decide 🙂

Guess I am totally ready for a zombie apocalypse then lol.

MmMmMmM!!!! Brains!!!

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