Friday, March 12, 2010

I'm in for the long haul....

COIF UPDATE 1 of god knows how many....

The eagle eyed amongst you will have noticed a new item popping up recently in my “works in progress” section over there on the left <--------

(if anyone actually has noticed, I’m incredibly impressed, and you win a prize :))

The new item is Darby’s coif….and today, finally, I got to update it from 0% to 1%, whoop!

So, with the refrain of “60 rings down, only 5,940 to go” echoing around my brain, this seems like a good time to start documenting what is likely to be my longest-running project ever.

Darby is my 18 year old son, and for some reason I flippantly said, just before Christmas, that I could make him a coif (ie that metal balaclava thingy the dude is wearing in that there photo) for his Christmas present, as 1) he couldn’t think of anything else he wanted, 2) we had been talking about going to a medieval re-enactment fair thingy in the summer and 3) I thought they looked like they would be fun to make.

To my surprise, he said yes please….and so it began….

The first challenge was actually finding the rings I needed – 6,000 stainless steel rings of a particular wire size and diameter….not easy! Getting the raw wire would have been easier, and a lot cheaper, and people on various forums were suggesting I make the rings myself from scratch ...but I just don’t have the tools, the time or the energy for that, frankly, so I wanted to buy them in ring form.

There is one armour supply company in the UK that sells them, but ouch! The price!

In the end it was cheapest to order them in from Canada, even with the £22 customs charge I managed to get stung with.

They arrived last month, at least the advance guard did, I only had the first couple of bags sent Airmail, just to get me started, the rest are on a slow ship somewhere halfway across the ocean as I type.

So - here are the rings:

Look pretty unassuming, don't they?

Well, they're not!

The first time I tried to open a ring to join it to another one (which, in a nutshell, is how you make chainmaille), with my normal pliers, it just sat there and laughed at me.

So - new, chunkier pliers were my next investment (this is turning into a blinking expensive present - it would have been cheaper for me to just BUY him a coif :))

Here they are, next to the lil' dainty ones I use for chainmaille jewellery, bit of a difference :D

Armed with my new pliers, I started joining the rings into European 4-in-1 fivelets at work one lunchtime a couple of weeks ago....this is a fivelet:

Now remember that there will be 6,000 rings in the completed coif. Each of these fivelets contains five rings - plus you need one more ring to join it to the next fivelet - so I need to make 1,000 of these little buggers.

In a full lunch hour, I managed to make the grand total of....



and my hands were sore and my arms felt like I'd been pumping iron (instead of small amounts of stainless steel...)

oh dear.

I can't deny that I found my first attempt a little discouraging, when I thought I'd be whipping this coif together as quickly as I can a bracelet.

The retailer in Canada that I bought the rings from - The Ring Lord has a forum, so I asked on there that night whether it would get easier, or whether I am just too weak for stainless steel and should give up now. The response was mixed, nobody said give up, but a few said variations on "no it won't get any easier, just suck it up, soldier".

So - that's what I've decided to do.

Today I tried another lunch hour stint....and guess what....I now have over 70 rings joined, making a jolly good start towards what will eventually be the headband of the coif.

Here's how it looks so far:

It's only the first wobbly step, but it was enough for me to be able to update my W.I.P. bar to 1%, which was a nice feeling, and it was also much much easier on my arms than the first attempt.

At this rate of improvement, I'll be weaving armour like a pro in no time :) I'll update regularly on the project's progress so you can see it taking shape.

I'm Excited and Enthusiastic about this project again now - pity we just left 'E' fortnight behind yesterday! How about, I think it's going to be Fun and Fulfilling?

And, on a completely different subject, although it still involves making stuff out of metal, I made my first ring last night and I'm well chuffed with it.

(as it was after midnight, I'm claiming that F for First as an official 'F' :) )

Technically, it's actually only my first successful ring, as the initial attempt, also last night, ended up in the bin. And before that I did try to make a chainmaille ring, but that went all wrong too.

This one is made from 1mm copper wire, wound round a ring mandrel, twisted into a spiral, and then oxidised with Liver of Sulphur (good GOD that stuff STINKS!).

It was really easy to make, it can't have taken me more than 20 minutes from start to finish, if that.

I'm wearing it now, it's dead comfy and I love how it looks on, dainty but not too girly girly, I might make a similar one out of silver wire next...

Oh I do love making stuff :)


Rhomany said...

Love that ring. Wait til he wants the whole set of chainmail for his 21st....

monika said...

People would buy your stuff it is ace. You should give it a go. I mean it is not career move just something I can use to buy more supplies for the things I make anyway. Need that ring. Not sure if the coif would suit me. What a challenge. Go girl.

Anonymous said...

cough, two out of silver wire, cough :)

Loving that the coif is up and running, those pliers are a bugger :) I have only ever done a bangle/bracelet in ss and it is hard going isn't it? You are such a good mummy, I'd have bought him one, but then again it would be his 30th Christmas before I was finished :)

Maille on dude :)

(why do I have to post my comments twice??)