Every good plate-wearer needs a sturdy layer of chainmaille under their armor, to cover the gaps. And what metal would be more awesome to make chainmaille out of than real bronze? (Hint: There isn't one. Bronze = WIN.)
My friend at work pointed me to this sweet website, The Ring Lord. The company is in Canada, and sells rings for making chainmaille, and other related supplies, in a vast array of thicknesses, diameters, and metals. They even have titanium rings!
The shirt is made from 20lb (Yes, 20 pounds) of 16ga, 7/16'' ID, bronze rings. That's about 13,000 rings total.
And yes, I understand that this size rings isn't appropriate for combat effective chainmaille. This was a small compromise in the name of costuming. There are a couple problems that to be balanced, or accounted for:
- Look: Afterall, this is a costume. The bronze is a good looking, naturally "antiquing", sturdy metal. The larger ring size was chosen, in part, because it exagerates the texture. I found that more tightly woven, smaller chainmail looked too smooth from more than a couple feet away, resembling the texture of a coursely knit sweater. This size is much more obvious, and even gets further exagerated by showing the black gambeson underneath.
- Weight: Bronze is a metal alloy consisting primarily of copper, usually with tin as the main additive, which makes it harder than either alone, but still pretty dense (i.e. heavy). I created a spreadsheet to calculate the weight per square foot, as well as cost, of many sizes of rings. I chose the one that gave me a balance of weight, versus cost and ring count.
- Ease of assembly: The smaller the rings get, the more rings you have to put together to make it. While the weight generally went down, per square foot, as the ring size decreased, the ring count went up drastically. This size ring hovers around 1000 per square foot, while some of the tiny rings were as high as 30,000 per square foot! Yikes.
- Cost: Bronze is a semi-exotic metal, at least as far as commonality is concerned. You don't run down to the hardware store and pick up some bronze pipe, or something. This means it's significantly more expensive than some other metals, due to economy of scale. So it was important to keep in mind how much it was going to cost, per square foot, to make this. Let's just say, it wasn't cheap, and probably cost more to make this alone than some peoples' whole costumes.
Here are some pictures, in various stages of construction, of the bronze chainmaille. You can see in some of the pictures the black gambeson I made too, being worn underneath. Overall, this chainmaille shirt represents many dozens of hours of work, maybe triple digits. Many thanks to my friend Aaron, for helping me out with this.