BLACKMAILLE
Part 33 - Website Round-Up
by Lord Thomas the Black
 


WEBSITE ROUND-UP

            Welcome back to another edition of Blackmaille!

            This time around, I thought we’d review a few of the numerous websites devoted to the art and craft of maille. Some of you may disagree with some of my assessments, and I may make some enemies here, but please keep in mind that the opinions expressed here are just that: opinions. Your mileage may vary, as they say.

            In choosing the sites to review, I tried to limit myself to instructional sites, and those easily accessible through search engines like “Google”. There are literally thousands of sites dealing with maille out there, ranging anywhere from “here’s a bracelet I made last summer”-type sites all the way to serious scholarly studies of ancient maille, such as the (sadly, now-defunct) Mail Research Society. The sites that made the final cut are as follows (URL’s included in review): 

                        Mail Artisans International League (M.A.I.L.)
                        The Chainmaille Board (DeCordene’ Wireworks)
                        The Ring Lord
                        The Armor Archive
                        The Arador Armor Library
                        Sarah’s Chainmail Connection
                        Art of Chainmail (Kusari Kahn’s Lair)
                        Butted Mail: A Mailmaker’s Guide (online article)
                        Japanese Chain Armor (online article)
 

            On with the show…
 

Mail Artisans International League (M.A.I.L.) http://www.mailleartisans.org/ 

            M.A.I.L. is an excellent site for beginners and hobbyists. There are literally hundreds of weaves, separated into “families”, and dozens of how-to’s for them. Sometimes, there’s two or three per weave, so if you’re having trouble with one method, you can try a different take on it.

            There are also a huge number of links to other mailling sites, color-coded to indicate whether they’re educational, historical, commercial, etc.

The downside of this site is that while yes, there are hundreds of weaves, in reality, most are variations of existing designs. It’s the “I was trying to make “X” weave, and came up with this!” syndrome. Just because you can consistently make a mistake doesn’t mean you’ve “invented” a new weave.
 

The Chainmaille Board (DeCordene’ Wireworks) http://www.chainmailleboard.com/ 

            TCB used to be a valuable resource for beginning maillers, and on the DC Wireworks site there are a few tutorials for various weaves that may come in handy. Sadly, though, after an April Fool’s Day joke blew up in Lord Charles’ face a few years ago, many of the best people either up and left, or were kicked off. Now the only people left are Lord Charles’ cronies, and the whole board has a “Look what I can do!/ OMG UR so kewl! LOL!!!11one” feel to it.
 

The Ring Lord  http://www.theringlord.org/ 

            The Ring Lord’s forums have become what TCB used to be before Lord Charles’ idea of a joke resulted in TCB hemorrhaging members. This is not surprising, as many of the refugees from TCB took up residence here. There’s still a lot of “Look what I can do!” here, but there’s just as much (if not more) real, useful information, too.

            Best of all, the people here are friendly, and most responses are quick and to-the-point. I have yet to get a “me, too!” response to any question I’ve asked on the Ring Lord’s forums. This board actually feels like a real community.
 

The Armor Archive  http://forums.armourarchive.org/phpBB2/

            I’d say I’ve probably learned more from this site than any other out there. The people here are almost all either SCA or professional armorers. I’ve made contacts and learned techniques that have proven to be invaluable in my armoring. I check this board at least three or four times a day, and I recommend you do, too. Expect serious, scholarly replies to questions, from people who know what they’re talking about.
 

The Arador Armor Library  http://www.arador.com/

            Arador’s forums used to rank up there with the Armor Archive, but unfortunately hackers destroyed them a while back, and they haven’t recovered yet. Still, the articles are useful, and I recommend Steven Sheldon’s articles to anyone wanting to make riveted maille like mine.
 

Sara’s Chainmail Connection  http://www.chainmailconnection.com/

            Another valuable resource for beginners, Sara’s site has lots of valuable articles and links aimed at beginning armorers. Sadly, the site hasn’t been updated in some time, so once the beginning mailler has progressed past a certain point, the Chainmail Connection may not be of any further use.

            One a side note, is it just me, or does “Chainmail Connection” remind anyone of a Muppet song? Just me? Ok…
 

Art of Chainmail (Kusari Kahn’s Lair) http://artofchainmail.com/chainmail.html

            The lair is another useful source of info. The Lair has a few articles and tutorials, which are informative and well-written, but the most useful aspect of the site is the book “The Art of Chainmail” by Dylon Whyte, available from this site. This book will be reviewed in a future “Blackmaille” article.
 

Butted Mail: A Mailmaker’s Guide (online article) http://homepage.ntlworld.com/trevor.barker/farisles/guilds/armour/mail.htm 

            Trevor Barker’s article was probably the biggest help I could have had when I started making maille seven years ago, and it still is. This online article has clear, easy to understand pictures and text, and covers just about everything the beginner needs to know. Go check it out. Now. I’ll wait…
 

Japanese Chain Armor (online article) http://www.caradoc.org/~iain/gusari.html

            Originally written for the SCA Kingdom of Atenveldt’s Collegium,  John Groseclose’s “Japanese Chain Armor” is an amazingly well-put-together resource on Japanese maille weaves. Clear pictures, simple, easy-to-follow text, and a wonderful bibliography make learning these exotic Asian weaves a snap. Definitely a must for any beginner interested in Japanese armor.
 

            These sites represent some of the best and worst sites for beginners on the world wide web. As I said, though, there are literally thousands of sites out there. Use these reviews as a starting point, and go exploring on your own.

            Thanks for joining me for another month! As always, and questions, comments, fan mail, or hate mail can be sent to: 

                                    Thomas Beckett
                                    13628 Belmead Ave
                                    Grandview, MO 64030
 



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