Part 61 - 5-year Retrospective
by Lord Thomas the Black


 5-Year Retrospective

             Welcome back to another edition of Everyone’s Favorite Maille-Related Monthly™: “Blackmaille”!

             This month, Blackmaille turns 5 years old! Happy Birthday! Five years, wow. It doesn’t seem like it’s been anywhere near that long. That’s half a decade! 1/20th of a century! 1/200th of a millennium! Holy Monkey!

             What a long, strange trip it’s been, too (sorry Jerry Garcia!). I’ve shared knowledge, got burned out, took a year off from the SCA, and scribbled down everything I could think of about maille. These articles have been an almost constant presence in my life, as I daily look for new things to write about. I’ve trolled online bulletin boards, talked to armorers, built my renfest demo into the entertainment juggernaught it is today, and along the way, gathered a following of like-minded artists who have formed the first maille guild in the Barony of Forgotten Sea in almost ten years.            

             Some highlights of the last five years:

                         2003 – It was suggested to me by Their Excellencies Forgotten Sea, Malachi and Dejaniera, that I should write a series of articles for the Baronial website, to share my maille knowledge with others. I agree, and begin work on the first few articles. By the time I’m ready to publish, the website goes away, leaving my articles in Limbo. Finally, however, my good friend Baron Modar offers his website as the new home of my work. The name “Blackmaille” is chosen as a play on my name (Thomas the Black) and its subject matter (maille).

                         8/03 – The first article is posted. Subsequent months would see articles on many aspects of maille useful to beginners, as well as an almost complete inability on my part to meet a single deadline, despite having almost a year’s worth of articles done and ready to go.

                         8/05 - After two years, I’d run out of ideas. I’d run through my backlog of articles, and wasn’t coming up with anything new. Despondent, I resigned myself to the fact that my short-lived glory had come to an end, and announced that this month’s Q&A article would be my last.

                         9/05 – Almost as soon as Q&A II was posted, a debate erupted across three separate online bulletin boards regarding maille’s abilities to protect against arrows. With my (then) fiancé's knowledge of archery, and mine of maille, I was back in business without missing a single month!

                         10/05 – 11/05 – Again responding to online bulletin boards, I authored two articles designed to answer questions I repeatedly saw posted.

                         12/05 – At this point, I felt my audience had grown along with me, and so a natural progression from how-to’s into other aspects of maille began.

                         6/06 – A goofy idea overtakes me, and I start an annual songwriting contest. What on earth is wrong with me? Seriously?

                         10/06 – 1/07 – Digressing from maille for a while, I introduce myself to my readers, and let them into my shop and my demo.

                         ’07 – Months go by, and I’m not slowing down. By this time, I have several articles in the works at the same time, and have to re-do my organization in order to keep track of what gets posted when.

                         1/08 – My first “project” article is posted.

                         4/08 – 6/08 – A talented and well-respected Knight from my local SCA kingdom (and a good friend of mine) came to our fledgling maille guild to commission tailoring of a hauberk. This turned into a three-month article series, which gets posted almost a year after it was written.

                         7/08 – The third (!) songwriting contest is announced. Who knew it would go this far?

                         9/1/08 – “Blackmaille” turns five years old! Half a decade! 1/20th of a century! 1/200th of a millennium! Can you tell I’m out of ideas yet?

             Actually, I’m not. I still have a lot of good ideas coming up, and now that I’ve opened Blackmaille to guest articles (like my student Steven’s article on scale armors, Blackmaille #47), I don’t anticipate making anymore announcements of my impending retirement.  In the months to come, we’ll look at how we made our sign for the Black Oak Maille Guild’s demo at the Kansas City Renaissance Festival, we’ll make another candle-hanger, and we’ll take a look at the differences between real and costume armor. Stay tuned!

             In the meantime, thanks for joining me for another month, and thanks for the last five years. It’s been a blast! As usual, any and all questions, comments, hate mail, or fan mail can be sent to me at:

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

Or you can email me at:

            See you next month!

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