How to Chain Your Dragon

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I did it…I got the tutorial done for my dragon design.

YEA, ME!!!!

 

It was a monster of a project – almost as monstrous as all the design work that went into the form.  I lost sight of the actual photo count by the time I finished (added a few last minute shots, dropped a few others) but I had 251 pixs edited and lined up by the time I’d finished the photo work phase.

The final page count for the tutorial is 79 – but most of that space is taken up by the pictures.  It ended up a HUGE file in my hard drive.

Now, I’m no stranger to writing (duh!).  I’ve done ‘how to’s’ for employers in the past as they attempted to document JUST how a certain job is performed.  The writing of those little guides were usually dry, cold, impersonal and boring as hell, because there were higher-up’s involved who wouldn’t know a humorous phrase if it came up off the page and bit their noses off.

When I started the dragon tutorial, this was how the writing ‘clicked,’ because that’s my past experience with guides…a very ‘business impersonal’ style.

Took me a moment to realize what I was doing – and scrap the first draft.  I didn’t need to impersonalize this work, because there were no higher-ups between me and the publishing button.  The ONLY thing that would stop me from inserting my personality into this work was ME.

Can you see me cackling madly at my keyboard, yet?

If you want to make a dragon of your very own – here’s the listing:

How to Chain Your Dragon (a tutorial)

And if you want a dragon withOUT all the mucking about with pliers and little metal rings – I’ll make one for you:

My Pet Dragon

Chainmaille Dragon Face close in

 

 

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Winter is Coming

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Yup.  I done it.  I stole the title of this blog post straight out of G.O.T.

But it’s not about the ever popular Game of Thrones, although I did become enough of a fan this summer to put the published books on my Kindle.

Should be a couple months of reading, at least…

I can feel it coming.  Winter, that is…not dragons or the Night King…

Chainmaille Dragon upback side

 

Well…maybe dragons…I’m still writing out a tutorial for my fellow Chainmaille Addicts…

 

I feel it every year, with varying intensity.  As summer slips into Autumn, this seasonal change plays merry havoc with my sensibilities.

Every year.

I feel the shift from growth to winter prep.  The trees, the grass, the bushes … everything shifts its focus.

I feel the heaviness.  I need more sleep.  I get very introspective, and start digging along the dark paths in my head.

It’s going to be a long winter here in Wisconsin based on how early this Autumn shift hit me…and the leaves haven’t started changing yet.  I’ll try not to get too dark and introspective here on the T&T.

Tree old photo

 

Alphabet Soup

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Maybe I need to not watch V for Vendetta as my bedtime  “yea, I can totally sleep to this” film.  I had visions of Guy Fawkes masks dancing through my dreams last night.

Of course, the guy wearing the mask was also riding a chainmaille dragon – but dreams are supposed to be weird.  That’s part of their charm.  And it’s a no-brainer as to why a dragon made of tiny little rings would feature so heavily in my dreams last night – I’ve agreed to write out a tutorial as to exactly HOW I make such a sculpture, much to the delight of the other Chainiacs in my chainmaille group.

Chainmaille Dragon Face close in

My little guy’s going public 😀

Anyway – I did some digging on one of my favorite films, and came up with the type-up of his introductory speech to Evey.

Voilà!

In view, a humble vaudevillian veteran, cast vicariously as both victim and villain by the vicissitudes of Fate. This visage, no mere veneer of vanity, is a vestige of the vox populi, now vacant, vanished. However, this valorous visitation of a by-gone vexation stands vivified, and has vowed to vanquish these venal and virulent vermin van-guarding vice and vouchsafing the violently vicious and voracious violation of volition.

*[carves V into wall] *

The only verdict is vengeance; a vendetta, held as a votive, not in vain, for the value and veracity of such shall one day vindicate the vigilant and the virtuous.

[giggles]

Verily, this vichyssoise of verbiage veers most verbose, so let me simply add that it is my very good honor to meet you and you may call me V.

I love this little twiddle – simply because I’ve never experienced such an overabundance of words starting with the letter ‘V’ before.  The icing on the cake in this case is the performing actor.  Hugo Weaving has a very distinct and mesmerizing voice in this piece.

While I was searching for the write up, I realized I’m not the only one out there on the wider web kinda obsessed with this film…plenty of folks out there have taken this (and his other speeches in this film) quite seriously – breaking down the words to more fully explain the concepts behind them.  And – in the Reddit translation – they had a bit of fun – using other – more popular – letters of the alphabet to reconfigure his introductory soliloquy.  If you need a giggle today – go see what the fans have come up with 😀

Reddit V Translation

Quora Writer Examination

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The Completion of the Dragon Project

I’ve done it.

Really done it.

No more experimentation.  No more half-realized wing patterns.  No more going to bed at night dreaming of chainmaille weaves and rings and toes.

I have a fully upright, free-standing chainmaille dragon that screams D.R.A.G.O.N.

Just look at him:

Chainmaille Dragon Front side

I’m absurdly pleased with my little creation…and although he doesn’t actually fly or growl or toast mine enemies to a golden brown, I’m claiming the title of ‘Mother of Dragons.’

Daenerys – eat your heart out.  Mine isN’T CGI.

Ok…I’ll admit to being a Game of Thrones fan.  The new season starts on SUNDAY!

Leg Day

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I have a couple of Facebook friends who are gym rats.

You know the type – they post their little check-ins when they get to the gym of their choice – because if you don’t check in with Facebook, it doesn’t ‘count.’  They detail how many reps they did of this exercise or that one, and how fabulous they look.  Sometimes, they offer up complaints of this soreness or that one from their exertions, anecdotes of locker room hysteria, or even “This guy was appreciative of my quads…maybe I should have asked for his number…”

Gym life…is actually a LIFE, complete with highs and lows and social expectations and anxieties.

Now, the Gym Life isn’t for me, but those who commit to this discipline are still having a damn good LIFE.  If the endorphin rush you get from repeatedly stressing your body to its muscular limits makes you happy…fabulous.  Keep at it, and don’t let anyone dissuade you from enjoying yourself.

Now that I’ve laid the groundwork…

I have this one friend who is a gym rat.  He posts often enough about Leg Day.

Leg Day.  You hate leg day, but you never skip leg day…because it’s LEG Day!

 

Chainmaille Dragon Legs CIR

 

 

Here’s how I do leg day.

 

I don’t hate leg day, though – I enjoy it…because that means my dragons can stand on their own.

 

 

I’m trying a different weave for my dragons’ legs.  Before, I’ve used a captured bead frame, and wired the legs for stability.  Earlier this week, I dug out the tutorial for Captive Inverted Round (CIR) and made a couple of short strands to experiment with.

I’m loving CIR.  It’s a bit of a fussy weave, and the three connection/terminus points may make for a new challenge in attaching the leg to the body – but the weave is structural on its own, without the need for wire support.

I need another leg day to continue my experiments.  With all the household stuff (laundry, groceries, dishes) and having a voting day and the SQO’s mother’s birthday this week, I’ve been banned from my workbench for anything longer than a few minutes to glance longingly at the leg bits and half-constructed dragon form.

I might just have to go to the gym  🙂

 

Stop Dragon my Heart Around

Chainmaille Dragon Face close in

I’d like to introduce you all to my new pet, Drags.  He’s completely housebroken, will never dig up the back yard, hork a hairball in the middle of the hallway, or jump on your chest at 3am because he wants his food bowl filled.

I made a dragon out of chainmaille, and I’m bouncing between extremely pleased with myself, and disgusted with the amateurish results.

See – I look at the form, and see the flaws.  The back legs stick out JUUUUUST a bit too much.  The top-most scale likes to stick straight up, giving the guy an almost comical look.  He’s got a little bit of mutt and horse in him – I can see the alternate animal forms clearly.

the feet…are.  not.  claws.  Instead, he has cloven hooves.

And…really.  If he’s gonna be a DRAGON – he needs wings.

But I also look at the form, and see something wonderful.  The first time I’ve made an extremely complex 3D sculpture out of rings.

Without a tutorial.

He stands on his own.  His neck and body hold their shape.  He’s much more than a tube of interconnected bits which lay quiescent on a surface until you pick them up and arrange them with your hands.

The scary part?  Even though he’s a prototype with a multitude of errors in his construction – I’ve got friends at work who swear up and down they NEED one …. NAOW.

I do geek well.  One of my favorite geek-obsessions is the dragon.  It doesn’t matter if the form is European or Chinese – Fantasy or Tribal – I love ’em all.

I’m not alone.  I’ve seen a bunch of variations of dragons in maille since I took up pliers and started weaving rings…and what I’ve seen are variations on the same tutorial pattern out there on both the M.A.I.L. website and for sale at The Ring Lord.   Almost all the maille dragons I’ve seen images of on the web are unwired, meaning they flop about like any other chainmaille chain.  Most are completely snake-like without any limbs, although a few people have added stubby little sub-chains to suggest them.   I think I’ve seen one or two where the creators added a fan of scales to suggest wings…but nothing really SCREAMS dragon.

So I did my own thing.

I posted pictures of his construction on Facebook, of course – and everyone there seemed to enjoy his emergence.  So…with that in mind…I’m sharing here how my first boyo came together:

 

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I started with 2 identical lengths of Full Persian 6 in 1 (FP).  I attached the two together with a modified European 4 in 1 (E4-1) for the belly, and bound up the top half with shiny silver scales.

THAT…was the easy part.  A tube with scales.

 

 

The head – is a mess of weirdness.  Small patches of E6-1, box, the same eye construction I used for the face of the Dudes, and various random rings to stitch the piece together and attach to the body.  As I was building the head, I was also taking some good notes.  I should be able to duplicate the head at will.

 

chainmaille Dragon on sideOnce I had the head attached to the body, I threaded a length of copper wire through both the head and the body.  Secured it at the mouth and ass.  No floppy dragons here – he’s gonna be posable.

The tail is a simple length of FP again, with some scales at the tip.  At this point, I haven’t wired the tail, but I’m considering it for future builds.

 

The legs were tricky.

First, I spent a couple of hours playing with the cats (so they wouldn’t suspect I was staring at them) – because I needed to see actual legs -in action- on a 4 legged animal.  I wanted to know how they were attached.  How they were jointed.  How they flexed and flowed and were used for work and play.

I spent additional hours looking at images other people had drawn of dragon legs…but it wasn’t as much fun as playing with the furballs.

Slowly, the bends in the limbs started to form.  The weave I used for the legs is a fairly simple 4-ring bead capture…with some additional ring-weirdness at the joints.  I strung additional wire through the beads (and, thus, through the legs) for stability.  The guy can’t stand on his own with weak legs!

I think I tore off the front legs 3 times.

20170202_112156Now came the toes.  I tried several variations of wire-form feet that died on the craft table before ever coming in contact with Drags, and ended up with stubby toes with the beads shown.  I am still working on proper clawed appendages for the dragon at this point.

His brothers…WILL…have claws.

 

Don’t worry – the design is still in various stages of modification.  Horns, claws & wings are all ideas at this point…as is a full Chinese style dragon.

Stay tuned for more dragon work!

Chainmaille Dragon Final 2

 

 

European 4 in 1 Chainmaille Weave

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It’s a lovely little weave – most chainmail enthusiasts will call it the ‘beginners weave of beginner’s weaves.’  A LOT of folks start their maille-crafting with this one.

It’s easy enough, I’ll give it that.  Each center-ring in the pattern goes through 4 other rings (which is why it’s called 4 in 1).  It’s easy enough to expand the single-length chain into a sheet weave by adding new rows to your existing one.  You can even collapse a 3-ring strand of it in on itself, add a 2nd row of center rings to stitch up the back and make a box chain out of it.

People usually use this versatile pattern to make all the maille wear you see – shirts, belts, gloves & skirts. Making this weave into an expanding circle will give you the bottom for dice bags and the tops of coifs (those maille caps worn under a more solid helmet).  Some people make thick chokers from this pattern, and because of the extreme flexibility of this weave, you can use it for sculptural applications as well, making triangular patches to stitch together.  Most of the folk doing inlay work (think cross-stitch with little metal rings instead of embroidery knots) also use E 4-1 as their main pattern.

A whirly group shot

My Whirly pattern is based off a slightly bastardized version of E 4-1.

European 4 in 1 is the common textile sheet of the chainmaille world.

Now…I’ve only been doing chainmaille for a year and a half, and I’ve only ever built a E 4-1 chain twice.  Both were single-strand lengths of chain, and I hated them both.

At the single-strand formation, the end rings are waaaaay too flippy.  They pop out of place.  They twist backwards.  The weave is NOT stable.

I started mailling instead with byzantine – another beginner’s pattern (and still a pattern I love to this day), and went forward from that into circular chains (the Persian and Turkish lines, mainly) because those are patterns are all stable within a short length.  You can even make a box chain by starting with Byzantine instead of E 4-1.  And, damn it…Byzantine is easier to freaking TYPE.

Chainmaille Dragon Face close in

Well, I’ve wanted to make wings for my little dragon for quite some time…because a dragon just HAS to have wings.  It’s what makes him so majestic and terrifying and stuff.  A dragon without wings has more in common with a horse or a dog than a flying, fire-breathing, terrifying reptile swooping down out of the sky like death on wings.  So I sat myself down this weekend, and decided to make a patch of this ever-so-versatile weave to see if that would get the job done.

 

Remember, I said E 4-1 can fold over onto itself and make a box chain once you stitch up the back end…so the burning question that sat me down to tackle this versatile-but-I-don’t-like-it weave was:  What would happen if I boxed up individual 3-row sections of the sheet weave?  In my head, I could see such a configuration looking a LOT like the skeletal structure within wings.

So I sat down this weekend, and wove my first sections of E 4-1 sheet.  2 sheets of rings 6 sets-of-3 wide by 27 rows deep.  350-ish rings per patch.  Just the right size for my little dragon to have wings.

I must say, I have to revise my position on the weave.  In a sheet, the entire pattern stabilizes.  The thing no longer wants to curl up, the ends no longer flip-flop around like a fish on the deck.

But the whole box chain within E 4-1 thing?  Well…that needs some more work.   Guess my imagination is more vivid than the rings will allow me…

Dragon Wings:  1.   Me:  0.  

For now

700-ish rings now locked in a pattern with no place to go but the ‘Well, THAT didn’t work’ pile, and no real will to tear it all out.

Maybe I’ll stitch the pair together and make a coaster out of it…someday.