I just wanted to take a minute to address something that happened over this passed weekend.
I had a person come to my booth at the Comic Con I was vending at and begin to look over my products. He quickly presented himself as the head “mailler” for another company that was also at the con who had a group of 5 people making maille jewelry and accessories. I was of course welcoming because I’m always happy to meet other people who are continuing the art of weaving maille.
During our conversation I used the term “Maille-smith” to describe myself and others who weave and I was quickly corrected.
"It’s mailler. Those of us who have been weaving, we use the term mailler."
Stumped a bit by the sudden “lesson” I paused. Then I added, “Well I’ve always use maille-smith, but mailler, maille-smith same thing.” And continued to do my best to be pleasant throughout the remainder of the conversation.
Then somewhere in there I used the term “chain mail” and was stopped suddenly with lesson #2.
"It’s maille. chain mail is really a redundant term."
Luckily, my wife chimed in and said, “Well, you have to use the terms more familiar to those not in the know.”
Ending the conversation pretty much at that point, he looked briefly over my products again, and said, “You closers look good.” and then he walked off.
Okay, I just have to ask the question, “Really?”
Issue #1 I have been weaving maille (chain mail to most) for over 29 years now. Which is probably how long if not longer than this person has been alive.
And yes the term is maille, it’s French which means mesh of metal. But if you say “maille” to most people, the first thing they are going to think of is “MAIL” like a letter you would get … in the mail! So you use the term “Chain mail” because that is a more familiar term. And for the majority of people who haven’t studied history, it brings up an image of a medieval knight. But even more so for a few people out there, the term “chain mail” still brings up the image of a letter, sent through the MAIL, to a number of people telling them about great curses that will fall on them if they don’t send it on to someone they know. So you can really loose a number of people no matter what.
Issue #2 I started weaving maille because of my love and passion for history, with a strong focus on ancient and medieval history. In studying history you would find that Blacksmiths were the people who specialize in making maille armor for the royalty.
Now through my own thought process I figured that a Blacksmith would not only weave maille armor but would work his skills in creating other pieces such as nails, harnesses for livestock, saddle pieces and other such materials. And since I’m focused on making nothing else but maille armor and jewelry, I just adopted the title of “Maille-smith”. Basically, I’m a smith I’m just not a Blacksmith.
I didn’t think it would one day offend another person or be the cause for an instant lesson or correction. I also didn’t know there was a specific term that had been set by some governing body. Again, Really? Does it make a huge difference? Does it matter enough to make a person feel that it is necessary to put on an air of supremacy to correct another?
I mean, we call a person who plays baseball an athlete. But I don’t think I’ve ever heard someone stop in the middle of calling a game or during an interview to correct a person: “They’re an athlete, not a ball player.”
To me, I don’t care if you want to call yourself “A link connecting God or Goddess” or even “A circular link manipulator and transfixer”. What should matter, and what matters to me, is that you are another person keeping this ancient and beautiful craft alive and well. Which brings me to my finally issue.
Issue #3 I totally understand that everyone is different, but I have found that there are a good number of Maillers, Maille-smith or what have you, out there that get extremely “higher than thou art” when they meet another person who weaves maille.
There are tons of us out there either doing it as a hobby, a side business for themselves, or even a full time business. There is no way any one of us is going to “corner the market” on maille jewelry, armor, or accessories.
We are all passionate about our craft, and we should be. It is thousands of years old and the process hasn’t really changed that much from when it was made all those years ago. The materials have changed a little in the types of metals we can use and the tools have evolved a bit. But other than that it still comes down to one person, 2 sets of pliers, weaving the links together.
We should consider ourselves in a chosen group of individuals who are keepers of this craft and helping to pass it on to the next generation. We are living historians and giving life to this ancient craft. At lest this is how I see everyone who weaves maille. Sorry if it’s a but over the top but again, I did say I was passionate about this. :)
I just don’t understand why some people have to look down at other who are doing the exact same thing as you. Or thinking you are are superior in some way. Like I said, I’ve been weaving for over 29 years and I still learn new things from others. There are Maillers, Maille-smiths out there pushing the limits of what they can create using maille. That is amazing!
And “Sir Mailler”, … to critique someone else’s work, when you have maybe spent just 2 minutes talking at them instead of with them … not cool. You don’t the first thing about me and you’re going to look over my stuff like I wanted your approval?
I know this has been long but it’s just been something that has been on my mind for a couple of days and needed to get it out there. As “Maillers”, Maille-smiths” or whatever, we should all celebrate each other because only we know the pains in our wrists, our hands, our backs, the time we have put into each project. We have all been there.
We should also remember that there is so much instructions for weaving maille out there today, anyone can do this craft. What separates us from those who don’t is the passion we have for the craft. That passion is what pushes us to sit for hours to create a piece where others would give it up. It’s that passion that we should be more willing to share with each other instead of looking down on another.
Thanks for your time.
Links & Lore Jewelers LLC