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  • I've been a maille maker for 26 years.

  • As makers, we're always learning.

  • Learning from history, learning from friends.

  • As we work and refine our craft.

  • There's an incredible sense of community amongst maille makers.

  • It's a community that's built from shared passion.

  • Passion about history.

  • Passion about cultures.

  • Using traditional methods, today it might take a lone maille maker a year to make a full coat of armour.

  • Historically many people would have been involved, each with their own specific specialism and skillset.

  • Maille was a treasured and expensive possession passed down through generations, and not all warriors could afford to wear maille into battle.

  • Due to the prestige associated, a peasant would never be allowed to wear maille.

  • We do know from the Bayeux tapestry that the Norman Cavalry wore maille, as did the Saxon Huscarls who were the King's bodyguards.

  • Fallen soldiers would have been promptly stripped of their maille and the new owner would make their armour their own.

  • The process of making maille is long, arduous, and requires patience and skill.

  • Firstly we draw the wire, this is a strenuous task that requires a sturdy vice, tongs and a draw plate.

  • Next we wind the wire with a mandrel to form a spring.

  • Different size mandrels are used to create different size springs.

  • Once wound into a spring we cut the rings from the coil leaving an overlap.

  • The rings are then annealed.

  • Then the overlap is made flat.

  • This allows the holes to be drifted.

  • The rings are then annealed again.

  • Next we drift the holes into the rings for the rivets, round for early maille, wedge-shaped for later.

  • This is a slow process requiring real precision, dedication and thought.

  • At this stage we are ready to start joining the rings to shape the maille.

  • A full coat of maille from start to finish might have 2.8 kilometres of wire within.

  • So there is a huge amount of work invested in it.

  • A true craftsman would create maille with varying size rings to allow for the armour to flex and fit precisely.

  • Properly fitted maille shouldn't restrict movement.

  • The word maille comes from the Latin macula, and the French word for mesh or net.

  • The word chainmail which is often used, albeit incorrectly,

  • is a term which originates from Victorian times.

  • In the same way that each item of maille was always being modified and improved, so too is our craft.

  • History informs, teases and influences us.

  • Each maker, past and present, leaves their own fingerprints on the garments they make.

  • The quirks, the techniques and the imperfections make up the DNA of the maille.

  • It's an honour to be able to continue to study the history of maille and share our knowledge.

I've been a maille maker for 26 years.

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B2 armour wire maker passion overlap history

How To Make Chain Mail

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    Summer posted on 2020/09/15
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