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Topic ClosedSome recent chain maille work

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HonoredMule View Drop Down
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Direct Link To This Post Topic: Some recent chain maille work
    Posted: 14 Apr 2011 at 18:27
Yeah, chain maille...that's what it is.  Which makes it totally related to Illyriad, and stuff.

Anyway, here's the piece I most recently created.  My largest piece has been a work in progress for months, but it will be done soon too.  It may be too racy to post here, though, and it's fitted for a real person, not a mannequin.


Anyway, I present the dragonscale collar:
http://honoredsoft.com/collar/collar1.jpg
http://honoredsoft.com/collar/collar2.jpg
http://honoredsoft.com/collar/collar3.jpg
http://honoredsoft.com/collar/collar4.jpg
http://honoredsoft.com/collar/collar5.jpg

It is based on this design, execpt that it was made with $20 worth of aluminum and stainless steel, rather than $600 worth of silver.  And it has some structural enhancement in the form of a wire which keeps it from spilling outward from the top, and a much better join in the back than anything suggested in the original article (which I unfortunately neglected to photograph.  The difference in appearance from mine is primarily my poor camera and that model's grotesquely narrow neck and concave shoulders.  On a person it hangs exactly the same in terms of relation to collar bones, etc.


And for the men, there's my signature tie:
http://honoredsoft.com/tie/tie1.jpg
http://honoredsoft.com/tie/tie2.jpg
http://honoredsoft.com/tie/tie3.jpg

Sadly, I don't have the best pictures of it, at least yet.  I need some good strong halogen lamps for photographing metal like this, not to mention a decent camera.  When I took these, I didn't even have the benefit of a newer halogen fixture in the kitchen.  It is made of bright aluminum like the outer rings of the collar though, and is even shinier.

It holds its shape and position very well and always draws comment.  The design is entirely my own, and based on a weave called gracelock (half-persian braid sheet for the knot).  I've seen the odd chainmail tie online, but none even close in quality.  Others have flat sheets for the knot which looks totally fake, and very rough shape which doesn't really hold.  The only downside with this one (which you don just like a normal tie, pulling the inner tongue through and setting it on a hook) is that it's too thick for a tie clip.  At some point I'll add a means of latching onto a button or button hole halfway down.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 Apr 2011 at 19:01
Crikey. I had no idea there was all this latent creativity and talent in the community...

Are the rings Aluminium or Steel?  And what's the overall weight like?  Comfortable enough for the lucky person to wear for a night on the town?

Very, very cool HM. Clap

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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 Apr 2011 at 19:14
Dang man! I knew there was some great talents hiding in the woods of Illyriad. I love that tie. How much does it weigh? And can I buy one?

"To go against human nature is the most human thing a human can do." Larry Niven
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 Apr 2011 at 19:21
Looks great man! That must take some time though!
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 Apr 2011 at 19:36
I want to learn how, I will go to the movies with full armor!  This may be the best thing since real armor!
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 Apr 2011 at 19:44
Aluminum weighs about 1/3rd as much as steel, but is a "dirty" metal.  "Bright Aluminum" is a chemically cleaned variant that only leaves tiny traces of residue unless worn for a long time in direct contact with oil/skin, and is still very cheap.

Stainless steal isn't nearly as bright/shiny, but has a very pleasing darker gleam and is still relatively affordable to use in large projects.  But the weight can be a problem, at least for larger pieces.  At "jewlery-scale" it tends not to make a significant difference.

The tie, being all-aluminum, is quite light and comfortable to wear all day (about the same as a normal tie, anyway).  The collar uses tiny 19g rings inside the larger aluminum ones, and those are stainless steel.  I thought at first that this might be important for structural integrity--aluminum wire is weaker and more elastic which makes it unsuitable for large (inner diameter) rings in small gauge (wire thickness)--and so I made a patch with aluminum inner rings and another with stainless steel.  Strength turned out to (probably) not have been an issue, but the stainless steel still looked better due to the contrast and lower visibility of inner rings.  It is a bit heavy, but no more than enough to feel its presence.  It doesn't even move the needle on a bathroom scale, and I don't have a kitchen scale on hand.

My wife has at times preferred items crafted from stainless steel, for their sturdy, hefty feel.  For a rugged/gritty look you can use galvanized steel instead.  Galvy is a good starting material since you can just pop into the hardware store and grab some hanging wire (and tin snips for cutters, dowels for coiling mandrels, and a couple pairs of jewler's flat-nose pliers).  It's a cheap, low-cost way to find out if the hobby is for you.

I also do various other bits of jewlery...I've done some two-tone cuffs (aluminum and copper) an inlay (sheet with "Home Sweet Home" printed with copper), several various simple and elaborate chains and bracelets, and a few earrings--these being the most popular:
http://honoredsoft.com/earrings/ear1.jpg
http://honoredsoft.com/earrings/ear2.jpg
Given their popularity, I may make a bunch and try to sell them.  Some of the work is annoyingly finnicky, but it's still a small job so I could actually make a decent return.  I also made a wide belt with the same gracelock weave as the tie--that took forever.  Just for a point of reference, I'd have to charge around $600 for the tie if I were going to produce it commercially.  90% of that cost is labor at minimum wage.

My primary passion is for much larger pieces that piece together a colorful variety of weaves and chains--but that's a story for another day, when my ~40,000 ring (yes, that's forty-thousand rings) masterpiece is finished (soon).


Edited by HonoredMule - 14 Apr 2011 at 19:53
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 Apr 2011 at 01:06
Originally posted by HonoredMule HonoredMule wrote:

I present the dragonscale collar


As cool as that looks, I can just imagine how cold the first 15 minutes of wearing it would be. At least if you wore it on bare skin.

Though it's clear if I ever want some form of chain mail, I'm going to have to make it myself. Unless I get a really high paying job I suppose. Is this type of stuff difficult to do or is it just time consuming? I've been looking for hobbies lately since I recently realized I don't really have any and since you mentioned the magic words (cheap, low-cost) it's something I could possible see myself at least trying.

Originally posted by HonoredMule HonoredMule wrote:

My primary passion is for much larger pieces that piece together a colorful variety of weaves and chains--but that's a story for another day, when my ~40,000 ring (yes, that's forty-thousand rings) masterpiece is finished (soon).


I can't wait to see pictures of that. I'm assuming you're making it out of aluminum? I can't imagine wearing something large like that out of steel, though I suppose back when it was used in combat that's what it'd have been made of.


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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 Apr 2011 at 01:45
At the "jewlery scale," the coldness isn't much of an issue.  It's when you try to drape something over your whole chest that you get a chill and your skin salutes everywhere.  When I get my wife to do fittings for the big thing I'm making, I have to leave it on a heater before she can stand it.

However cold, though, there's not enough material to stay cold for more than 2-3 minutes, even in the heaviest designs.  If something just wraps around a neck, wrist, or waist, you can probably just slap it on and get over the shivers in 5 seconds.

As to difficulty level, I can't say for sure.  I find it easy and just time-consuming, but my wife and best friend struggle with doing even simple jobs.  You have to have dextrous fingers and it does take some strength training before your hands can manage to work for more than a couple minutes without fatigue.  There's a wide variety of potential complexity in the weaves themselves as well.  Some weaves (especially persian-based ones) are a mind-bender to learn.  But if you learn some basic concepts and are patient/perseverant, weaves become steadily more familiar and comfortable.

In addition to being the cheapest material, bright aluminum is also one of the easiest.  It cuts like butter and the rings are easy to twist open and "over-extend" for a tight closure.  I can weave with 1/4" 18g bright aluminum all day.  And the cuts made by tin snips are some of the highest quality possible IF you make sure not to squeeze the handle too far past the cutting point--that warps the ring.  I wired a piece of steel mandrel behind the hinge of my pair so the blades couldn't close too far.

http://cgmaille.com/ is a good place to start learning, and rates the difficulty of the weaves it teaches.  There are literally hundreds of weaves (though most of them aren't capable of forming sheets), and after you know the foundational weave types, you can start inventing your own.  Of course the chances of inventing a really good one (in terms of structural properties and usefulness) are slim.

Word of caution though:  making your own hooks, clasps, etc. is definitely hard.  It takes a lot of practice, and never stops being a trial.  For chains, lobster claws are cheap and probably worth the investment.  I can get nickel-plated ones in bulk at 5 cents each.  But for bands or other more elaborate projects, you're probably going to need something custom-designed.  Even when something standard is suitable, that something standard tends to be significantly more expensive and not as elegant a solution.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 Apr 2011 at 05:20
I tried to make chain mail using steel wire and solder, however I found that the process of winding the wire around a dowel and cutting it was immensley time consuming and difficult. The mail turned out okay, but nowhere near as shiny or neat as your work. I eventually gave up after a weeks work, when I had made a hankercheif-sized peice. I congratulate you on your perseverance.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 Apr 2011 at 07:05
Oh yeah, you don't want to be making your own rings for very long without a good drill.  Coiling even with a drill can still take some practice, and it helps to have a mount for the wire spool since you'll need one hand on the drill and another on the mandrel.  You can make frames so that your drill and mandrel are like a lathe, but rigid mounts wreck the drill and mandrels aren't straight or strong enough for smooth operation.

Material and tool quality counts for a lot, as well as knowing what ring sizes are appropriate for the wire you're using, and how to open and close the rings properly (mainly, twist and don't spread).
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