Part 54 - Behind the Scenes: The Making of Blackmaille
by Lord Thomas the Black


Blackmaille: Behind the Scenes

            Welcome back to another month of Blackmaille!

            This month, I thought I’d give my readers an inside look at what goes into making “Blackmaille” every month. This will be part “behind the scenes”, and part “how-to” for those wishing to write your own monthly column.

            Writing a monthly column like “Blackmaille” every month takes more work than one would imagine. Every article has to be researched, written, the maille made (if applicable), photographed, typed up, polished, proofread, printed, and submitted to Master Modar (who hosts these articles on his website) before the first of the month. Because of this, I generally have several irons in the fire at once. On any given day, I may be typing one article, photographing maille for another, making maille for a third, and scribbling out a rough draft for a fourth while thinking up ideas for a fifth! All of this is done while holding down a day job, working on my other maille projects, planning our renfest demo, running a maille guild for the SCA, teaching, and working on commissioned projects!

            Whew, I’m tired just writing all that!  

            As an example, this article was written and photographed while I was working on last month’s “Japanese Candle Hanger Project” article, and the "Scale Maille" article, which in themselves were written/produced almost a year before being posted on the “Blackmaille” site! By the time this gets posted, who knows what I’ll have come up with!

            Work on any “Blackmaille” article begins with the planning stage. This generally involves brainstorming ideas for future articles, looking at my charts of past/in-progress articles for empty slots, setting deadlines, and settling on a topic.



            Next comes the research/note-taking phase. Sometimes (such as with the project article) this can be skipped altogether, or worked into the rough draft of the article.



            If the article needs pictures to explain something better (for example, the article on tailoring odd seams, Blackmaille #27), then I start putting together and photographing the maille pieces needed. Sometimes this step helps me see where I might have missed something while writing the rough draft. If that happens, I scribble notes in the margins, which will be worked into the typed version.



            The next step is to type everything up on the computer. I use a Dell running Windows XP, with Microsoft Word. I type up the rough draft, inserting and formatting photos as I go, and rewording paragraphs as necessary. When this is done, I’ll save my work and take a break (or work on another aspect of a different article).



            Finally, once I’ve been away for a little while and have a fresh perspective, I come back and proofread the typed article. If necessary, I fix any spelling or grammatical errors, and sometimes I’ll even re-write a whole section to make it clearer. Once the final draft is done, I save it to my flash drive and print off a copy for my records.



            This finished article will sit on the flash drive for a few months (since I try to stay ahead of schedule). When the time comes, I’ll re-read the article one last time, incorporating any new research I’ve come across, and finally email it to Master Modar to be put on the website.

            So that’s how a bill becomes a law, boys and girls! Wait, no, that’s something else. Sorry…

            So that’s how “Blackmaille” gets slapped together every month! It’s not just a solo effort, either! I have to thank a lot of people for making this happen every month: “Squishy” (for the guest article), Sarah (for the use of the computer), Louis (for the photos of photos), Master Modar (for hosting these articles), and last but not least, my readers (you!) for giving me a reason to keep writing these every month! Thanks everyone!

            And thank you for joining me for another month of “Blackmaille”. As usual, any and all hate mail, fan mail, questions, or comments can be sent to me at:

                        c/o Tom Beckett
                        13628 Belmead Ave
                        Grandview, MO 64030

Or you can email them to me at:

            See you next month!


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Articles: 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008  Thomas Becket/Lord Thomas the Black
e-mail questions & comments to:

Hosting: 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008  Ron Knight/Modar Neznanich