In 2002 I started to try my hand at making chain mail, as I show on this page. At that time the only research that I had done was on the internet. There's a lot of information, but most of it is useful only if you know what you're doing already. As a novice I quickly got confused and gave up for the time being.
In the fall of 2003 I purchased a book called Making Chainmail:Learn the Art of Creating Treasures in Chainmail by Glen Mantie. It is published by Grimwurks Publishing. I'm not sure if the book is still available, but there is a page on the website with a form to contact then. There are a couple of other books, and you can aslo buy supplies from them.
In his book Glen tells the history of chain mail and how it is created. He describes ways to turn the wire into links, like a lot of internet website. What made his book so useful for me was how he knits the links. I won't elaborate here, but rest assured it was a lot easier for me to understand. I still make the links on my lathe like I show on this page, but I knit them differently.
The project that Glen shows in this book is how to make a keychain. It's a simple project, but it gives you a chance to make something small so you don't get discouraged. I found several differnt weaves at the Maille Artisans International League, so I made keychains with different weaves and sizes. The three that I've used are 4-in-1, 6-in-1, and 8-in-2. The 8-in-2 is the same as 4-in-1, except the links are doubled up.
Here is a choker that I made for my sister-in-law Micki. The choker is in 6-in-1 and has a heart hanging from it. The gold chain is not part of the choker.
This is a necklace that I made for a friend of mine. It has several loops and charms on it.
For Christmas 2003 I made this set for my daughter, Brittany. The choker has a 6-in-1 weave and the keychain has an 8-in-1. The earrings are 4-in-1, but I used a very small link size. I believe they were 1/8" diameter. The small diameter made it difficult to knit them.
This is a headdress that I made for my girlfriend, Shari.
Here is a picture of a coif with a mantle that I made. The coif is the part that goes over the head and the mantle is the part that lies over the shoulders. It needs to have the opening for the face closed up some, but that's another thing that takes time. By the way, the sunglasses were my daughter's idea.
This picture shows a project that popped up in the summer of 2004. That summer someone e-mailed me some screenshots from the movie Kill Bill:Volume 1. The pictures showed the morningstar, or mace, that was being held by one of the women in the movie. He asked if one could be made. Of course it can since someone made that one. I then e-mailed him a few ideas on how it could be done.
His next e-mail asked me if I would make one and he'd pay me for it. I told him that there were two problems: not enough time, and my homeowner's insurance won't cover my garage if I make any money from the hobby (the insurance agent was very clear on that point). One thing I didn't tell him was that there are too many lawyers out there. I could see it now: "What?! He didn't tell you that if you hit yourself with it you would get hurt?" The next thing you know I'm living in a cardboard box. And one thing I don't think he'd understand is if I sent him a bill for $1.50 in parts and $900 in labor.
He thanked me for my time and the issue went away. Well, sort of. It seemed like an interesting project. I worked out how the patterns could be made and molded, how to machine the parts, etc. So I decided to make one.
The reason that I'm showing it here is because it has some shain mail on it. There are chains that go around the morningstar, which are just simple chains. But on the sides of the top I have Byzantine Flowers in the center of the chains. Of course, the picture doesn't show it very well, but it's there.
Like most people who get into chain mail, I wanted to make a hauberk. This is the cahin mail shirt that everyone thinks of when they think of chain mail. There are three types of shirts, depending on the length of the shirt and if it has sleeves of not. The definition that I found called a knee length shirt with sleeves a hauberk, so I'm sticking with it.
Making a hauberk is a major undertaking. It took me six weeks worth of free time to make mine. I started with the pattern shown here. I ended up eliminating the shoulder peieces (I and J) and shortening the circumference of the sleeves (K and L). My shoulders aren't as big as what the pattern accommodates. I also lengthened the sleeves.
Here are the eight pieces that make up the yoke of the hauberk. The pieces on the left and right are the front and back, and the middle pieces on the top and bottom are the sections that go on the shoulder. The pieces of blue on some of the pieces are masking tape. I used these to keep track of how many rows I had. I put a piece of tape on every tenth row. It really saved time when counting.
Here I'm knitting the corners of the yoke. The yoke has four "corners" that are made with the ends at a 45°. These corners are then knitted together. This is why it's important to knit the links in the correct direction. When finished, each row will lay the same way all the way around the yoke. If you try to put two rows together that run in opposite directions, it'll never work (at least as far as I know).
One problem that I had while knitting the pieces together was having the parts move around. I would line everything up and then my pliers slipped and everything needed to be lined up again. That's why I tied weights to the parts. The weights are aluminum ingots from the foundry. I'd let the weights hang over the edge of the bar and everything stayed in place while I did my knitting.
And here's the finished yoke.
This picture shows all the parts of the hauberk. The yoke has been put together, but the rest are still separate.
Here my daughter is holding the front (or back) panel of the hauberk. This picture gives an idea of how big the front and back pieces are.
And here is the finished hauberk. It has somewhere around 20,000 links and weights almost twenty pounds. I used 0.045" diameter welding wire to make it, almost twenty pounds in all. Last year on Beggar's Night my son took Shari's son (Matthew and Scotty, respectively) out for Trick or Treating. Matthew decided to wear the hauberk. The weight took its toll on him pretty quickly.
Updated May 7, 2006
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