Making Mail Armour

Time for some hobby of a different kind.

While on a trip to New Zealand earlier this year, I had a tour of Weta Workshop. These guys make movie props, their replicas, and have their own line of miniatures. Weta Workshop is an enormously inspiring place for anyone interested in movies or miniatures, and among all the goodies, it was a plastic kit to make a small patch of mail armour that caught my attention.

Note that I’m calling it mail and not ‘chain mail’. Turns out that chain mail is a term coined by the Victorians but chain or mail (either is fine) is more accurate. Thanks to the reenactment group recently at Kenilworth Castle for that info.

Still inspired after getting back from New Zealand, I figured I’d give it a shot but with metal rings rather than plastic. This is all done with 8mm steel rings bought from GDFB and Celtic Web Merchant.

After deciding to go with the European 4-in-1 weave for butted mail (no rivets) and picking up two cheap pairs of smooth pliers from Hobbycraft, I kicked off using the mail shirt guide at Chain Mail 101.

After about 6.5kg of rings (somewhere between 11,500 and 12,000), the shirt looks more like Boromir’s shopping bag. The next steps are to finish the chest and back, then add some sleeves. Chances are, I’ll be expanding it into a full hauberk to cover the thighs too.

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