Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Maille is More Than Just Jewelry

I realize that not everyone knows what chain maille is. What I find to be a continuous source of amusement, however, is that many of the people who have heard of it think that it can only be jewelry. Friends, a good portion of the maillers out there today do, in fact, make jewelry using these centuries old weaves. However, when these weaves originated (as early as the 4th century BCE) they were used to make armour. It wasn't until the 14th century that plate armour began to supplement chain maille.

Modern uses of this ancient armour continue to include protective clothing for people such as butchers, scuba divers and animal control officers, as well as splatter masks used by tank crews in WWI (see left). Maille remained in use as a decorative and possibly high-status symbol with military overtones long after its practical usefulness had passed.

It is only recent trends in chain maille artwork that has allowed for it to be adapted for decorative use in sculpture, jewelry, headdresses, Christmas ornaments, and chess sets. It is thanks to these non-traditional uses and the ingenuity of maillesmiths the world over that hundreds of new weaves have been invented.

In the spirit of using the ancient Euro 4-1 chain maille weave for a modern use, I'd like to introduce a new item in Athena's Armoury:

Now available at Athena's Armoury

Trying to add a touch of class to the bawdy great hall? These napkin rings will do the trick! They won't break if a brawl breaks out nor will they rust if a bit of wine spills on them. They were made using extremely strong and durable stainless steel rings; stainless steel is also corrosion and rust resistant. Lovely blue glass beads, reminiscent of sea glass, adorn them with little rosettes on either side. With regular use, stainless steel will remain quite shiny. However, if you notice that they are dulling, just wash them with some hot, soapy water and they'll be shiny once again. 1 1/2" diameter.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Celtic Myth and Legend Contest

The Fantasy Artists of Etsy Street Team's Celtic Myth and Legend Contest is open for voting! You can vote between now and February 28th with the winner being announced on February 29th (leap year!). Unfortunately, I was unable to participate in this contest (so sad!), but I already cast my vote. It was so hard to choose only one favorite among so many absolutely amazing pieces. Just in time for St. Patty's Day, come choose your favorite!

Jennifer from faeryspellcreations is hosting this contest and offering this beautiful doll as the prize:

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

History Comes to Life

I've always been interested in the medieval and renaissance time period. Even as a child, I would go to museums and gravitate towards the armour and swords of the time period. I took a medieval art course in college and learned that although I wasn't a huge fan of the painting, I loved the sculpture, stained glass, and tapestries. I love reading historical fiction, especially with strong female characters. I've always been a creative person involved with scrapbooks, candle making, collages, sketching, macrame and knotwork, and eventually beading. The thing with beading is that although I find beads to be quite beautiful, I've always loved metal jewelry more. So, when I came across a tutorial (Euro 4-1 Bracelet) to combine my interest in the past (armour) and my love of metal jewelry I just had to try it. And, as they say, the rest is history.

So, it confounds me to admit that despite this interest in history, armour, and entertainment I had never been to a Ren Faire until just a few years back. I'm originally from New York and just a few hours upstate is the famous Sterling Renaissance Festival as well as the New York Renaissance Faire. It wasn't until I moved down to FL with Scott that I ventured to the Bay Area Renaissance Festival. Why hadn't I done this sooner? My theatrical background loved the entertainment and my inner geek thoroughly enjoyed the atmosphere.

Although, it doesn't have a strict storyline like many other faires, it is still deeply rooted in the history of King Henry VIII and his sixth and final wife Catherine Parr. I also recently found out that there is a special day dedicated to bringing school children in; allowing teachers the opportunity to truly bring history to life for their students.

Unfortunately, I was unable to make it to the faire last year, but one way or another I plan to make it to at least one day of it's seven weekends this year. I have to. For research. . . ;)

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

FAE Storybook Romance Exhibition

In honor of this romantic time of year, the Fantasy Artists of Etsy Street Team is sponsoring the Storybook Romance Exhibition. There are some really amazing items from some very talented artists. Three items from my VDay for Women Warriors shop section are included. Check it out!

Monday, February 11, 2008

I Love My Tools

However, I don't know what's going on with them lately. A few weeks back, I was weaving bright aluminum with my lovely Lindstrom flat nose pliers. All of a sudden, there was a snap and then something hit me (hard) in the shoulder. I just thought that a ring snapped, so I went to pick up another one and noticed that half of the jaw on one of my pairs of pliers was gone! After the initial confusion, I went into shock, and then got very upset. That never, ever should have happened with those pliers: they are known to last for decades. Luckily, they are covered by a lifetime guarantee and I'm expecting a brand new pair to arrive in the mail this week. Yay!

Over the weekend, I had quite a few projects going on. One of which is filling an order for an Uber Chain Maille Dice Bag (it's the size of a Crown Royal bag!). I coiled and cut rings until I ran out of wire and then had to tumble them to remove any burrs and make them nice and shiny. I walked away and when I came back, the barrel on my tumbler had stopped rotating. I opened it up and the belt finally broke on the thing. In not one, but three places! So, I got out my mini screwdrivers and went at it. Eager to get my hands dirty and fix my tumbler, I forgot to unplug it and suffered a mild electrocution. Sigh. All was well after that: I got the new belt in place, screwed it all back together, and finished tumbling my rings!

Apparently, the tumbler available from Harbor Freight has a reputation of easily breaking belts. I've had mine for two years and this is the first time it's happened. That said, if you experience belt problems with your Harbor Freight tumbler there is a cheaper alternative to purchasing a new belt. An experienced mailler I know recommended using the heavy duty rubber bands from broccoli. Apparently, he's been doing that for years to much success! Happy tumbling!

Saturday, February 9, 2008

More Dice Bag Options Coming Soon!

So, Dice Bags have been quite the belle of the ball in my shop. This past week, I got orders for all three different varieties that I currently have available! In the future, I look forward to being able to offer more color and metal options to meet this growing market!

Traditionally, Dice Bags have been used by gamer geeks who play Dungeons and Dragons. A comment made by Krummenacker (a fellow Fantasy Artists of Etsy Street Team member) made me start thinking about the characters in D&D and tailoring these bags specifically to them. Keep your eyes out for dice bags with inlays.

Hey all of you bloggers: check out these great tips from Timothy Adams Designs for getting some traffic to your blog. I've been really horrible about updating, so I need to work on that one. BlogRush sounds like a fun idea: I'll have to check it out! Also, I keep thinking about find more groups through Ring Surf for armourers, so that is on my list now, too!

Monday, February 4, 2008

Armour for Your Heart

Valentine's Day is right around the corner (10 days, to be exact!) and there are some fun, unique items in Athena's Armoury that you won't find anywhere else!

This adorable little puffed heart piece of chain maille was made using the hana gusari weave. Perfect for both men and women: the heart is cuddly with red felt on the inside, but also hardcore because it was made from a weave originally used for armour. It's a great little keepsake to tell someone how you feel or even a reminder to have a strong heart.

Armour for Your Heart

This choker necklace is perfect for those who want to protect their heart. The classic Euro 4-1 chain maille weave (used for centuries for making armour) was used here to create a heart out of stainless steel rings. The heart is attached to the leather cording with a copper bail echoing the shape of the heart. The clasp is also hand forged from copper wire.

You can see other Valentine's Day items in my VDay for Women Warriors shop section.

In other news, I personally am not looking forward to Valentine's Day because I'm having a tooth extracted. =(