The Ring of Awesomeness

On April 19, 2011, in Articles of Awesomeness, by Emily

Chain mail is good for stopping piercing things, but it truly sucks for bludgeoning items. So, if you’ve got someone who’s trying to stab you with a sword, there’s a chance that the chain mail will protect you from bleeding. On the other hand, if someone smashes you with a mace, you’re going to take the bruises and have a chain mail pattern in your skin to boot. I’m definitely fond of those practical uses, but that’s not the reason that I want to talk about it again. No, my favorite part of chain mail is that it’s simple.

There’s three things needed for chain mail. You need jump rings and a couple pairs of pliers. Jump rings are basically little loops of some metal that you can open and close. So… all of the extraordinary designs that you’re seeing are generally made of a single material. Sure, you can add colors and make it a little more fancy. You can decrease the interior diameter of the rings to be nearly impossible to work with. You can lower the gauge so you’re working with huge bars of your favorite metal. All in all, though, it comes down to the component parts of a bunch of rings and something to make them open and close. AND, it has the whole practical use of keeping you from taking as much damage from being stabbed (as I was told today, it increases your AC by 5).

With all of the practical uses, you can also make some kick ass jewelry with these little loops. You can also make naughty wearables with these rings. You can make small toys, bracelets, anklets, and nearly anything else that you might imagine. I figure, since they’re tiny building blocks, that you can make really cool sorta wobbly houses with chain mail, and maybe even startle your friends and neighbors with chain mail sculptures. If you’re looking for some ideas about what can be done with chain mail, this is a great firestarter for ideas – it has weave patterns, galleries of cool stuff that’s been done, and a forum where the newbies (like me) can talk with the more experienced folks.

A single ring of metal is nothing. You can scoop it up with your vacuum because they’re generally smaller than pennies. You can toss it across the room without hurting someone (I know, there’s some velocity issues here) and you wouldn’t really rely on it to use as armor. It’s just a building block, and it’s up to you to make something really nifty out of it.

So, when you’re born, you’re given a set of jump rings to play with. These are the proclivities that you’ve got, the impulses and the genetics. You’re born with a set of rings that’s made from a specific material. They’re colored, they’re not colored, they’re steel or aluminum or silver or gold… each metal has specific properties that has advantages and disadvantages for the type of work that you’re doing. Some folks are born with a lot of rings, and they have a lot of options for what to do with them. Some are born with fewer rings, but they’re more valuable. Some are born with badly cut ones, some are born with saw cut ones… well, you get the picture. But we’ve all got these kick ass building blocks.

Each new experience, each impression, each memory that you get adds some more rings onto the pile. AND, each of these experiences is weighted. Waking up and brushing your teeth in the morning wouldn’t get too many building blocks, but there’s cool stuff like getting married and feeling the adrenaline of winning a game and stuff like that which add more to the reserves of rings that you’ve got. Looking objectively, getting married is just getting married and winning a game is just winning a game, but the cool stuff that you make with those experiences is what’s important. We are, indeed, bodies of experience, created with the building blocks of genetics and the past.

Our brains and mental demeanor determine the cool stuff made from our pile of jump rings.

Some folks choose to make a single piece their entire lives. They’re like.. all focused on making the chain mail of doom. They put all of their work and sweat into it, getting their weave to be just perfect, and each one of those experiences that they have during the life is weaved most effortlessly into the pattern. They’re the ones who have a personal brand. They are all about that X or Y or Z that they’re making, and they’re determined to finish it before they’re done. And there’s the great hope that something’s going to be recognizable when they’re done.

Other folks, they’re all about seeing what varied things that they can weave their rings into. They’ll make little bracelets, pineapple bomb earrings, a 3×3 cube of 8-in-2 weaved stuff that works great as a hacky sack or a worry stone. They’re wanting to fashion all types of things out of their experience and find a reason to use all of the rings on the table. These are the folks who are synthesizing stuff that might be completely and totally unrelated, forming it into an understandable pattern.

The third group of folks will look at their rings, and then look at the wall, then look at the rings again, and not have any sort of cohesiveness at all. They might have a few things made, but they’re not building on those. They’re occasionally putting their hand down into the bucket that they’ve got and shaking them around, but they’re not really forcing the issue, and just leaving it with their component parts. These are the folks who would be considered to have no direction, and that unconnected thing is just sorta leaving them spinning around and around.

Folks who DO stuff with their rings are generally more awesome to other folks and to themselves than folks who leave the rings in the bucket.

Now, there’s a WHOLE lotta folks who are wandering around aimlessly and trying to figure out what they’re going to make. They don’t know if they’re going to be a doctor or a lawyer or a rabble rouser or a construction worker, or a model train store owner, or a Klingon or what. The thing about it, is that these rings, these experiences, these things… they can make any of the cool things that are available. Sure, there might not be the right material for it, but it can be made. It can be fashioned, if you can dream it. The guy who’s doing the artisty stuffies that he’s always dreamed about had the same sorta components that the girl who’s craving permission.

Crafting this stuff takes a little bit of practice, too. You’re probably not going to write a brilliant first draft of something unless you’ve done a lot of writing. Don’t be discouraged, though. There’s a tiny bit of a learning curve to learning how to open and close your rings to put them together. You have to learn which pliers are right for you, and you have to learn what material is great for what stuff. The details come later. Seriously. Making your life more awesome is about doing something… even if for a moment. Start with that linear chain of experiences… add onto it, because it all starts with a single little ring. And ALL of us have the same component parts.

The TL:DR version

Chain mail is neat.
Experiences and heredity are like chain mail’s jump rings.
The brain determines how to sort these things.
Make something with your jump rings, you’ll feel better and much more awesome that way.