Part 84 - Q & A VII

by Lord Thomas the Black



            Welcome back for another month of the world-renowned maillers’ monthly: Blackmaille! Once again, it’s time to delve deep into the Blackmaille mailbag, and renfest demo notebooks, and try to answer some of the questions we get here at Blackmaille Central.

1.) What’s with all the non-maille articles? I thought this was BlackMAILLE, not Black-whatever-I-feel-like-writing-about! 
            Starting in on me kinda early, aren’t you, Snarky-boy? Ok… To answer your question, I get asked about other stuff besides just the maille at our demos. Our demos at the Kansas City Highland Games and Kansas City Renaissance Festival in particular are large-scale, eye-catching demos. We always gather a crowd, and we’ve been told that some people come just to see what we’re working on that year, so not to be immodest, but we’re somewhat of a success as far as these things go. Other maillers may want to set up a demo like ours, and the event write-ups and how-to’s for the sign and demo furniture can help them do that. If you find something useful in these articles, cool! If not, bear with me, and I’ll get back to the maille soon enough.

2.) I’m new to maille. What should I make for my first project?
            I’m glad you asked! A lot of people want to start with a hauberk, because that’s what they see people at their local renfest or LARP group wearing, and think it’s cool. And they’re right, maille is cool! However, if you’re just starting out in maille, set aside thoughts of your own hauberk for a little while. As you’ve probably noticed if you read my articles, there’s a lot to know about maille, and it’s easy to get overwhelmed. For a first project, I always recommend making a coif, with or without the ventail. They were around in period, so they’re easy to find research on. They’re fairly common among re-enactors, so you can always find instructions online for them, and they’re fairly small, so you can finish one in about a month or two, working 2-3 hours a day. Most importantly, there’s a lot of techniques involved in making a coif, such as joining triangles, expanding rings, and attaching different seams together, that will come in handy in larger projects, so a coif will act as a sort of primer for maille technique.

3.) What do you do besides maille?
            I have lots of hobbies. In the SCA, I also do leatherwork, archery (I have a beautiful New World Arbalest crossbow I picked up at Lillies’ a few years ago), and woodworking. I’ve even dabbled in embroidery and garb-making! Outside of the SCA, I like to read (lots), write, draw (occasionally), and play videogames.

4.) What do you watch on TV while you’re mailling?
            I don’t really watch anything. In my house, my mailling shop is downstairs in the basement, and the TV is upstairs in the living room. I set it up that way so I wouldn’t get caught up in what was going on with the TV show and make mistakes in the maille. I don’t even have a computer in the same room! The only thing I have in my shop for entertainment/background noise is a radio.

OK, then, 5.) What sort of music do you listen to while mailling? 
            I listen to lots of different stuff. I have a pretty eclectic taste in music. I listen to a lot of  Metallica, especially when I’m flattening rings, as I have an excuse to turn the stereo way up (“Sorry hon, I couldn’t hear you; I was flattening rings!”). I also listen to some rap (The Game, 50 Cent, Tech N9ne), Godsmack, Creed (if I’m in the mood), and even a little country (although my country selection is limited to Toby Keith right now). Mostly I leave the radio on 98.9 The Rock FM. It’s a Kansas City modern rock station, so I get a lot of new music played, sometimes 2-3 times a day! Why do radio stations have such limited playlists, anyway?

6.) Have you ever run a maille guild?
            As a matter of fact I have. Two of them. One was the Barony of Forgotten Sea Maille Interest Group, which crashed and burned, practically on takeoff, while the other one, the Black Oak Maille Guild (my renfest demo guild) is still going strong. Tune in next month, when I’ll talk about where I went wrong with the Forgotten Sea guild, and how you can avoid the same problems with your own guild.

7.) How long do you plan on doing Blackmaille?
            As long as I can! I still have lots of good ideas floating around in my head, and I always have several articles in the works. I’d like to see it last at least to 100 articles, just so I can do a big contest/giveaway/something fun for the 100th article. Still, I’m always open to suggestions, so if you have an idea for an article you’d like to see, or questions about previous articles you’d like cleared up, or if you’d like to write an article for Blackmaille yourself, feel free to send it in! The address is below, or at the end of every article on the site.

            Well, that seems like as good a place as any to wrap it up for now. Thanks for joining us for another month of Blackmaille! As usual, any questions, comments, fan mail, or hate mail can be sent to me at:

Tom Beckett
13628 Belmead Ave
Grandview, MO 64030

Or you can email me at:

            See you next month!


Back to the Blackmaille Webpage

Back to the Cm an Iolair Information Webpage


Articles: 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010  Thomas Becket/Lord Thomas the Black
e-mail questions & comments to:

Hosting: 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010  Ron Knight/Modar Neznanich