Tips & Tricks OT: ChainMail

Discussion in 'Costuming and Props' started by CranieAmidala, Feb 12, 2003.

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  1. CranieAmidala Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Oct 1, 2001
    star 3
    I'm looking to make a Lord of the Rings costume, and need a cheap alternative for chainmail.
    Well, no so much a cheap alternative, as lighter weight one.
    I thought I heard somewhere, that while filming LOTR they used hundreds of plastic plumbing O-rings.
    Any ideas? ?[face_plain]
  2. JediToren Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 20, 2000
    star 4
    A number of RPF folks are doing exactly what Weta did. They hacked PVC pipe into little rings and painted them all. You still need to learn how to make chainmail, but it's cheaper and much, much lighter.
    Plus it doesn't look fake like the clothe "chainmail" shirts that is sometimes used.
  3. TK-1178 Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jan 21, 2002
    star 3
    As far as I know, the ONLY chainmaille in LOTR that was PVC, was for the Orcs. The maille worn by humans was real metal.

    Chainmaille is not that hard to do, just takes time...a LOT of time and a LOT of rings!

    This is my current project, just over 13,000 rings, at about 25lbs!:
    [image=http://images.fotki.com/v5/photos/4/42027/113240/Dscf0001-vi.jpg]

    close up of the cross:
    [image=http://images.fotki.com/v4/photos/4/42027/113240/Dscf0005-vi.jpg]

    Jeff
  4. Woofer Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Aug 27, 2001
    star 4
    Chainmail is easy enough to make. Check any SCA (Society for Creative Anachronism) websites for information.

    Basically you take wire, turn it onto a shaft making a spring and then cut them into loops.

    The hard part is getting the dang thing started, it needs a few rows to start holding its shape and then its a simple matter of sitting down and joining the loops up with a pair of needle nose pliers.

    Make sure you use a fairly strong wire though. One of my very first pieces of mail used some nice brass wire we had laying around the house, and looked fantastic, but alas the wire was fairly weak and it was easy to pull the links apart.
  5. Kai-Rhann Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jan 12, 2002
    star 2
    There are also some suppliers of mail armour that produce aluminum mail...very light, but remember that aluminum oxidizes black...but cleans easily...

    I utterly detest making maile armour...I have some damage to my hands/wrists that really makes cutting rings painful. The pattern itself is easy enough, but areas like armpits on shirts and anything "round" like a coif (hood) or a mantle (collar) are particularly challenging.

    If you plan to do the pvc ring method, the folks at Weta glued the rings closed (one by one as you link them)... a very good idea...

    --Kai
  6. Primrodo Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jun 23, 2002
    star 4
    As far as I know, the ONLY chainmaille in LOTR that was PVC, was for the Orcs. The maille worn by humans was real metal.

    Actually they were all PVC. The makers remarked to John Rhyss-Davies that his was 80,000 pieces ;)

    I like the PVC idea. Honestly, I have no idea why I din't think about before...and I think they've set a new standard :)

    Good like either way!
  7. Fall-on-Jin Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Oct 22, 2001
    star 3
    Isnt 25lbs going to be a bit difficult to wear?
  8. Skaught Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Sep 4, 2001
    star 2
    On the RPF board there is a nice thread about making PVC chainmail. Instead of painting it, he dipped the finished pieces in black dye, I believe. Good pics on that thread.

    Another person came up with an interesting solution for removing the rough edges you get when cutting PVC. They putt the rings in a bucket with a sealable lid (like a big paint bucket). They added small rocks and sand, then sealed the bucket. The put the bucket in their clothes dryer, using big pieces of foam to wedge it in tight and and centered. Then they just rand the dryer w/o heat. The rocks and sand removed all the rough edges and sanded the rings nicely, according to him. Like one of those rock tumblers at the toy store. Just make sure the lid is on tight!

    Scott
  9. Kai-Rhann Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jan 12, 2002
    star 2
    As to the issue of weight... 25lbs is not much at all when talking maile. My shirt is about 30-35lbs. Most full haberks (shirt) will go 40-45lbs depbending on size of the shirt, and the diameter of the rings. The smaller the ring diameter, the heavier the finished product (smaller rings means it takes more to cover the area)... this is sometimes offset by gague of the metal (most shirts being 14g wire...sometimes 16g which is thinner)...

    --Kai
  10. Capt_Piett Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 4, 2002
    star 4
    Fall-on-Jin,
    Armor is not that heavy. I mean, it is, but it doesn't feel like it. Compare modern military 60lb. backpacks that concentrate all the weight on one part.
    Now look at 45lb armor...that 45lb is located all around your body. It is evenly distributed. That is the beautiful part of armor!
    As for the chainmail...Great idea, is there a site that I could find how to make my own mail?
    Thanks...
    Capt_Piett
  11. Woofer Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Aug 27, 2001
    star 4
    There are several sites, I'm sure.

    I found this one fairly quickly using Google and it seems fairly decent. Nicely illustrated at least.
  12. VoijaRisa Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 12, 2002
    star 5
    I'll just add my comments on here:

    First off, to the weight issue, I'm an SCA member and my armor weighs 35 pounds (not including sword and shield) but it's evenly distributed and feels like nothing.

    As for constructing chainmaille, it's not terribly hard. The basic pattern is very simple, but all you can get is squares and rectangles. It's when you have to get curves and triangles that things get tricky. When I was first learning, I tried finding internet sources and was able to find several about the basic pattern, but none could tell me how to get those tricky parts. Well, they would, but their descriptions were so terribly hard to understand that it was worthless.

    In the end it took me actually learning to weave from a professional (Richard De Cordine of the Shire of Oakheart, kingdom of Calontir for those that know SCA. Btw, he makes chainmaille for a living).

    As far as materials go, the best ones I've found are aluminum. However, it's usually terribly difficult to find unless you're on the coasts or near other large bodies of water where they will use it for underwater fencing. (If anyone knows where to get it inland, let me know) However, the next best alternative is galvanized steel wire. Don't use 16 gauge though! I made quite a bit out of that and it's falling apart all over the place, and that's not even the maille I wear in combat! 12 gauge is best with 14 gauge working well too. Also, don't go to the hardware store and get the little bundles of 20 ft of wire. Find the wire in the giagantic 1/4 mile spools. You'll need more than you think.

    Keep in mind that making a shirt of maille takes a huge time investment.

    As far as ring size goes for armor purposes it usually looks best if the rings are a little smaller than a nickel in diameter (however the necklace I wear is 1/6 inch rings of sterling silver in a box pattern). Any questions PM or Email me and I'll do my best to answer them.
  13. Fall-on-Jin Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Oct 22, 2001
    star 3
    Hmm, i wonder if chainmail will work in a starwars costume.... theres an interesting thought.
  14. VoijaRisa Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 12, 2002
    star 5
    In the Fan Film, Broken Allegiances, the bounty hunter in that, wore a piece of chain maille like material from his belt although it wasn't.
  15. Woofer Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Aug 27, 2001
    star 4
    Hmm, i wonder if chainmail will work in a starwars costume.... theres an interesting thought.

    I have been giving this some thought as well.

    I think it can work in certain places, like say over the shoulders, or as a vambrace. Leg protection?

    I don't think a full costume using it would work.

    The train of thought though got me thinking about what kind of armour would work for a Jedi? Say in Old Republic days perhaps?

    The answer came quickly. As the basic Jedi costume is heavily influenced on Japanese design, if Jedi wore armour it too would follow the tradition and be vaguely Samurai-like.

    There is a load of precedence for it already. Vader's helmet is based on a kabuto and mempo. Zam's costume shares several elements of samurai design as well.

    The idea I have is to try to create a do-maru style armour, using sintra. It wouldn't be a properly made one, but should be evocative of the look.

    I'm still in the noodling stages though. Not exactly sure how to go about it fully. I'd also want to find a proper setting for it. What I am thinking right now is it could be used for sabre duel practce, as that extra bit of protection that is always nice to have. At least there is a practical use for the costume. Other than that I'm not even sure if its worthwhile to try. Too much having to explain exactly what the costume is afterall.
  16. Doniven Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    May 12, 2002
    star 1
    I seen a picture of a kid wearing chainmail out of coke tabs linked together
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