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Poll: How long have you been mailling, and do you make money?

Your status as a mailler  

222 members have voted

  1. 1. How long have you been mailling?

    • Not woven anything yet!
      5
    • <2 months
      14
    • 2-6 months
      13
    • 6 months - 1 year
      24
    • 1-2 years
      27
    • 3-5 years
      44
    • 5-10 years
      39
    • 10-20 years
      50
    • >20 years (wow!)
      6
  2. 2. How do you treat your mailling?

    • Strictly a personal hobby
      29
    • Hobby, but I make a bit of cash when I can
      90
    • Aspiring to maIlle as an income source
      56
    • Chainmaille is a secondary source of income
      34
    • Chainmaille is my primary source of income
      13


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Making chainmail for about 15 years, selling for about 6, ever since we moved to Ontario. I make enough to go to the east coast once a year and at Christmas shows, make enough to pay for Christmas. There are certainly some standby pieces that I make by the dozen, but a lot is what I want to make and when.

I watch a lot of hockey and other sports, so I work while I watch. I might need to invest in a tv for my workroom so I can take my "mess" out of the livingroom!

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Been doing it over 25 years Mostly for SCA stuff.

Since E-Bay flooded the market with cheap stuff I have gone into leather working witha few pieces of mail armor on my tables. I still hear about the chain God Knutt though.

I still make about 20 SCA events a year though

Vet of 20 Pennsic wars.

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knuut, you just gave me the sads.

you should be able to make a good living, you're certainly skilled enough.

A lot depends on your definition of 'good living'. Between family responsibilities, 4 ex-wives (not mail related) and an unbreakable addiction to regular meals and a comfortable place to sleep, I need a reliable $50k a year (2012 dollars) to stay even. Figureing a 50% profit margin (optomistic), I would have to manufacture and sell $100k a year or $280 a day. Since mail sales are uneven at best and extreemly recession sensetive I have been tied to a straight day job for most of my working life. I have never had more than one or two hours a day to devote to mailing. Now that I have 'retired' and have Social Security and Medicare for a safety net, I have quit working for others and started ramping up to where maybe I can make a 'good living'. We shal see.

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So to clarify my vote - My friend and I have a small jewelry business. We sell enough for the business to pay its self. Along with maille, I apprentice to a master goldsmith in my free time and am learning the ins and outs of jewelry creation. It has the potential to be a reasonable side business. It's still fun and still less work than my day job!

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I consider my chainmail jewelry to be my primary source of income. that being said, i cheat wildly to keep my life afloat. as an artist I've had to add other things to my repetoir to keep my self moving forward. I also make cast silver finger rings carved in orginal designs. I've recently added custom designed and built show fixtures.

I live a lot cheeper then knuut (no ex-wives) so I don't need that kinda return, and my margins are a whole lot better (90% on some items and over 75% on most.) so I dont' need 100k in sales a year...but i'd really love to see 25k consistantly.

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Ive been mailling since october, and have no plan on stopping! It started as just armor, then the art group im in asked if I could make a few bracelets. Since then, Ive spent over $500 and made $150. Ive even started my own business! I think I'm doing really well considering im not out trying to get customers as Im currently getting my inventory up.

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I have a day job that thankfully helps me afford the new habit, so I do this entirely for fun and to be able to give unique gifts to people I care about! I have cousins in the 11-17 year old range that are goth, punk, emo, or whatever they call it these days that all want some neat jewelry. My boyfriend is slowly building up his leather armor set every time we hit up the Texas Ren Fair, so he loves that I can add some chainmail accent pieces to his get up. I've made wristbands for 3 of my 4 brothers so far, and I need to buy some smaller wire so I can make some dainty pieces for my mom and sister! (I have a huge family).

I'm starting to get some friends that are asking me for things that.... aren't close enough friends for me to want to do this for. I can see how that could get me into the business, but for now it's all very new to me and I want to share my new passion with everyone!

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Making chainmail since... 1994? 1995?

Selling as a hobby since 1998? ish?

Selling professionally since 2000.

Selling professionally as my sole source of income since 2007.

This is what I do, this is how I pay my bills, this is how I eat and how I pay for gas and a roof over my head.

It's pretty sweet, but it's also frustrating - especially when I see my original designs being copied over and over and over and over again. Imitation might be the sincerest form of flattery, but no form of flattery puts money in my pocket.

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It's pretty sweet, but it's also frustrating - especially when I see my original designs being copied over and over and over and over again. Imitation might be the sincerest form of flattery, but no form of flattery puts money in my pocket.

i just looked at your site and it all looks like standard maille to me.. what are people copying? you have standard weaves used in a standard fashion with standard materials. i don't mean this as an insult. i love maille, and "standard maille" translates in my mind to "awesome awesome". after a quick browse through your page, the only idea i saw that i hadn't seen before was a garment with an e4 dag set in another e4 dag, with the inner dag trimmed in scales, and i'd seen the dag in a dag, it was the scale accent that was newish to me.. of course, i don't browse sites or pages much so this could have been out there.

for awhile there was a snake (r.k.) who was saying she owned the idea of making scale flowers and trying to have her lawyer back it up. she would accuse you of copying her designs... i think she may have even had scale flower barrettes.

i guess my point is that there are enough customers for everybody, especially for a professionally minded person who focuses on quality, as you seem to be. maille is faddish right now, as is evidenced by the counter-based real estate it's given at rio grande jewelry supply and santa fe jewelry supply. this gives a lot of competition from noobs, but it also greatly expands the market. i have much less work to do explaining what generic maille is these days, and get to spend more time explaining my particular flavor of it.

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i just looked at your site and it all looks like standard maille to me.. what are people copying? you have standard weaves used in a standard fashion with standard materials. i don't mean this as an insult. i love maille, and "standard maille" translates in my mind to "awesome awesome". after a quick browse through your page, the only idea i saw that i hadn't seen before was a garment with an e4 dag set in another e4 dag, with the inner dag trimmed in scales, and i'd seen the dag in a dag, it was the scale accent that was newish to me.. of course, i don't browse sites or pages much so this could have been out there.

As far as I know most of the people making inverted M bikini tops were (directly or indirectly) inspired by Bill's work - he was the first one I saw using that style. He does have a knack for coming up with products and ways of making them that are so straightforward that you are left wondering why noone came up with them before.

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the inverted M bikini is oldschool. it was around when i started in the late nineties and was a regular method suggested on TCB (if you remember that eventual trainwreck)...

perhaps he was the one who came up with it before i started. i don't specifically remember the username "chainmailbill" from that site, but he may have been using a different monkier or i may have a poor memory. i do know that i saw at least one weave on his site that i discovered in that timeframe.. it always makes me a little warm and fuzzy to see the barrel weave used. :) at least i consider it mine, even though lorraine submitted the double ring image to MAIL. i made it with the persian stitch doubled sometimes, i just didn't see a point in submitting it twice. hopefully lorraine doesn't take offense that i (not so) secretly consider it my own.

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heh...i make money to keep buying new resources, but i don't think i've turned a profit. mind you if everything i dropped off at my retailer sells, that'll be $1400

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My friend and I discovered our passion for mailling not long ago, and weve recently decided to make a push to sell more of what we make because its so expensive to buy more rings, BUT THEY ARE SO SHINY AND PRETTY! We are involved in the SCA, so we see a great variety of people who have many varied interested in maille, and weve found a nice potential market. But these are simply plans at this point. We are attending an event in early august where we hope to sell some of the stock we are building up and to get our name out there. As it is, we both do a bit of selling here and there, my biggest seller has been "Pink Ribbon" bracelets, cheap pink aluminum bracelets, and i donate a portion of the sales to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

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I've been mailling on and off for about a year and half, since I picked it up while out of commission due to a knee surgery. Currently it's just a hobby for me, but I'd like to get to the point where it's I'm making money enough that the hobby pays for itself.

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I pretty much just started making chainmail and it's just a hobby right now, but I hope to start making a little money when i get more serious about it. Right now I'm just making stuff for my friends and I only charge them just enough tocover buying the materials and shipping ^_^

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I am something of an oddball in as much as I am Strictly a hobbiest. I refused cash for my work. It's not the "artist" sensability thing. It's that I don't want to make my joy into my job. I did that once, in IT, now I barely build my own machines.

I make on my schedual, I work when I feel like it, and if I don't feel it, I won't complete it. Can't do that if your plans are to make some cash.

I feel the same way. Once I started getting paid to do photography it took all of the joy out of it, so when I started this I decided just to make things for fun and for gifts. I still try and do my best, but if something does not work out it is not a big deal. And this way I get to try new weaves without any pressure.

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I have been making random Chainmaille stuff for about ten to twelve years and my partner's been doing it for at least fifteen now. It's my side business (along with a few other things, hooray multi-talented person! Woo? ugh!) We sell online, to friends, family and at craft shows. I'd like my business to be my primary source of income in the future (my business doesn't just do chainmaille, though, it does photography, website design, martial arts teaching and computer repair). It's a hobby, too, though for me. :)

As far as people mentioning weave ownership - I think it's hard to really "claim" ownership unless someone really researched and didn't find a particular weave anywhere before. There were makers of this stuff long before the internet, so people may have been the "first" to post it online and give it a certain name, but it's kind of hard to really make it "just" yours. As far as "copying" weaves, it happens. I think as long as someone doesn't go "I made this weave up all by myself" when someone really HAS claimed it as theirs [like, honest to goodness can prove it in a court of law kind of claimed], it shouldn't be a huge thing. I guess that's my two cents.

Edited by Trinity

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the inverted M bikini is oldschool. it was around when i started in the late nineties and was a regular method suggested on TCB (if you remember that eventual trainwreck)...

There were several of them running arround at the first ren-fair I went to in 1976. I remember most clearly because my (then) second wife noticed my interest and made my life Hell until I figured out how to make one for her!

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