Ten years ago, on this day, I made my first piece of chainmaille. *squee!* At that time, I didn’t realize that my life would never be the same. I certainly didn’t imagine I would be where I am today. It’s been an amazing journey, and I’ve learned so much from my students, customers, co-workers and fellow chainmaillers.
Here’s a little glimpse into how I fell down the rabbit hole 10 years ago:
I’d fallen in love with a chainmaille belt I saw someone wearing at a Renaissance Faire in Germany. I couldn’t find any to purchase that I’d liked, either there, nor when I returned home. But I did find an eBay listing for “1,000+ rings! Make your own chain mail!” I figured I didn’t have anything to lose, so I bought the rings. They turned out to be 16ga galvanized steel. Oy. I am lucky those rings didn’t scare me away, but instead, somehow caused me to fall in love with this artform.
Over the past 10 years, I’ve seen the industry really blossom. Maille seems to be everywhere these days, and there are some fiercely talented folks out there. I’ve seen some chainmaille artists, and even several suppliers, come and go (*sniff*). I’ve watched the number of known weaves documented on M.A.I.L. soar from 200(ish) to more than 1,100. I’ve spent more than 1,000 hours teaching thousands of students how to make maille. And I gotta say – I still love what I do every bit as much as I loved making that first belt.
Thank you to everyone who’s helped me along the way: artists who’ve taught and/or inspired me, and stores and galleries who took a chance on a new artist/instructor—including Spider, Maillemaster, Emerald Dragon, Buddha, Zlosk, Sarah Chapman, Caravan Beads, Lillstreet Art Center, Aesthetic Eye — the Chicago Craft Mafia, the talented and hard-working crew of anyone who’s ever worked for B3, every single customer and student we’ve had, and many others. I am eternally grateful.
For more of my early work, see the post celebrating my 8-year anniversary of making maille.