Part 58 - FSMG Project: Tailoring a Maille Hauberk, Part 3
by Lord Thomas the Black
FSMG Project: Tailoring a Maille Hauberk, Part III
Welcome back to another month of Blackmaille!
For the last two months, we’ve detailed the work that the members of the Forgotten Sea Maille Guild have put into the tailoring of a prominent Calontir Knight’s hauberk. Well, this month’s the payoff. We’re going to talk about our final fitting, the work our client put into the plates and fasteners, and how we attached the plates to the finished hauberk.
I finally finished the tailoring in April, with a scant two months left to our deadline. That sounds like a lot, but we still needed a fitting, more tailoring (as it turns out), and we had to attach the finished plates. So, I got Louis on the phone, and asked him to call our client and set up a fitting. The following week, we met for the fitting at Louis’ place. It was to be a good news/bad news event.
The good news was that the arms fit fine. A full range of motion was possible, so we were good-to-go there. The bad news? While hanging loose, the front gapped by a good ten inches. We’d never noticed this before, as our knight always pulled the hauberk closed while fitting. I caught it this time, and told him to let it hang loose (as it’s supposed to, to absorb the force of blows in combat). Lo and behold, terminal “gap-osis”.
As it happens, this was not the crisis I first thought it was for two reasons: 1.) The client was getting a new pair of matching bazubands made, and needed the sleeves shortened. The maille we took off the sleeves would be used in the front. 2.) This allowed us to attach the plates in a more period fashion. Originally, we’d planned to attach the plates over the maille. In my research, however, I came across evidence that the plates replaced the maille in these kinds of armor. This meant that while a ten-inch gap seems problematic, we only needed to add maille above and below where the plates were going to go. So, we marked where the sleeves needed to be shortened, and where the plates stopped and started, and I carted the whole thing back to my workshop.
While I worked on the maille, Louis was to have worked with our client on finishing the plates themselves. The plates would be drilled for the maille attachments, riveted to a leather backing, and painted with an etching paint (to prevent rusting) on the backs. As it turned out, our client finished them by himself, and dropped them off to Louis at work. Louis brought the plates over the next day, and I attached them the day after that.
In the meantime, I wasn't happy with the 6-in-1 collar. At our last fitting, because of the expansions, it sat on our client's shoulders, instead of around his neck like it was supposed to. So, being kind of a perfectionist, I took the collar off before adding the plates. My plan was to cut the 6-in-1 strip down to where it would fit around the client's neck (allowing for the gambeson, of course), and then expand the 4-in-1 below it until it matched the existing maille.
Fortunately, this worked perfectly! So now the hauberk was done, and with just a scant three days until the deadline! Unfortunately, due to several scheduling difficulties, our client was unable to come get it. So, I had to send the hauberk with Louis' wife Helene, who would be attending the event at which our client needed the maille. Because of this, it would be several months before I would be able to get a picture of our client in his newly-tailored hauberk.
After our second fitting, our client graciously consented to be interviewed for this article. So, without further ado, here’s my interview with Sayyid Hassan, regarding his new Middle Eastern maille-and-plate hauberk.
Thomas Beckett: What inspired you to undertake this project?
Sayyid Hassan: It looked really cool <laughs>. No one else in the SCA (that I’ve seen) has armor like this. Also, I was curious to see if I could get this etch.
TB: Speaking of which, how did you come up with the designs on the plates?
SH: It’s a combination of the Fyrd spear, the Huscarl Axe, and the Knight’s sword, with the cross of Calontir in the middle. The original had Islamic writings, which I felt would be inappropriate for me to wear (as a non-believer).
TB: So is this piece based on any particular artifact, or just inspired by the style as a whole?
SH: It’s based on a 14th century zardyyat in the Turkish Museum. <See below>
TB: How were the plates made?
SH: I started with 14 gauge mild steel from Mandrake Armory’s scrap bin. Then I used spray-on Tool Dip ™ to coat the plates, four coats. Next, I drew out the designs I wanted, and copied the two patterns (1 sword/spear/axe, 1 half-cross), which I then cut into the Tool Dip coating, revealing the spaces I wanted etched. After that, all the plates were submerged in an acid bath at the same time (to ensure a consistent etch) for 25-30 minutes total. Finally, I cleaned off the plates, and used a 3-bar roller to get the curve I wanted.
TB: How did you make the leaf clasps?
SH: First I made one master out of Sculpey ™. We cast the first clasp out of brass from that master, then continued casting clasps using the previous casts to make the molds. The original had dents on it where I wanted to drill the rivet holes, which showed up on the castings. These were then drilled out, and the holes for the hooks were drilled. Finally, Sir Richard “stump-broke” them (dished them out in a dishing stump) to match the curve of the plates.
TB: How are the plates connected to the maille?
SH: The plates are riveted to a lather backing through the clasps. The outside edge is attached to the maille with 5/16” rings through the plates and leather, and I’m left with a ¾” overlap in the leather to avoid pinching.
TB: Last question: Is this strictly an artistic endeavor, or will this hauberk be used in SCA combat?
SH: Yes <laughs>. It’ll be used in combat, but I wanted it to be pretty enough to wear in court, too.
TB: Thanks for taking the time for this interview.
SH: Thanks for your work on my armor!
And thanks to all of you for joining us for another month of “Blackmaille”. As always, any hate mail, fan mail, questions, or comments can be sent to me at:
c/o Thomas Beckett
13628 Belmead Ave
Grandview, MO 64030
Or you can email me at: email@example.com
Next month: Blackmaille’s Third Annual
Songwriting Contest! So dig out those CD’s and start working on your “filks”.
See you then!
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