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Life Changing, Life Saving
Article © MAIL User: shinyrock

I've always wanted to write an article on mailleartisans about my life changing maille experience. Now that maille has both changed and literally saved my life, the time has come to finally put my thoughts into words. I'm sure you all want to hear how maille saved my life, but I must start at the beginning.

My obsession with maille started when my girlfriend took me to the renaissance festival in Shakopee, Minnesota. There were people walking around with this really cool looking chainmaille armor. When I got home that day, I decided to take a look on the internet and find out what this chainmaille stuff was all about. I've always been big on medeival times. Arms, armor, castles, princesses, etc... I was surprised to find out that lots of people made chainmaille in their very own homes. It was not difficult, just needed some wire, a clipper, two pairs of needle nose pliers, and some time. I stopped by the local hardware store and picked up the wire and a good pair of snips along with a rod for coiling the wire. A month or two later, I had built my first chainmail shirt.

This is where maille changed my life. I was burnt out at work and this had made me hostile towards most of the population. I was sick of dealing with customers day in and day out. I didn't want to do it anymore. Since my hobby was transformed into my job, I ended up with nothing to occupy my free time. After discovering maille, there was something to look foward to after a long day at work. I could go home, sit in the chair, make chainmaille and really enjoy doing it. The burn-out feeling ended and I felt good again.

My maille hobby advanced as I refined new techniques for making rings and putting them together. I'm now using using a machine to cut perfect rings and my skill has brought me to the point where I can make a 1'x1' square of chainmaille in a day if I'm willing to invest the time.

Now, the part where maille saved my life. At 22 years old and working 10-16 hours a day (self-employed), I felt as though I was missing out on my youth. I was afraid that someday I would wake up and be old without ever having the chance to enjoy being young. I decided, with some help of my friends, to get a crotch rocket. So, on Tuesday June 15th of 2004, I went down to the H-D dealership and got myself a 984cc american-built rocket. It took me roughly 30 seconds to learn how to ride. I got good with it in almost no time at all.

I finished my last 5/16" ID galvanized steel shirt Thursday June 24th. Since I was too cheap to put down $600 for a H-D leather jacket for riding, I substituted by wearing this beautiful piece of chainmaille. Everybody I talked to said the metal rings would not hold together if I ever dumped the bike going down the road.

The day of infamy had arrived. Saturday, June 26th 2004 (yesterday as in comparison to the day I write this). I was riding back from LaCrosse to schedule my 1000 mile maintenance, and to show off my armor, and decided to take a back road to Taylor to see if any ladies were out and about. Out of nowhere came a deer across the road. There was no missing this one. We all know I was going the speed limit (55mph). But, a 22-year-old male with a crotch rocket on a straight country back road, come on! Anyways, I hit the deer broadside and dumped the bike. I skidded 315 feet on the pavement, the bike slightly farther. I laid in the ditch and waited for help. Walking was not an option and the cell phone had been torn off my side. A few minutes later, an Amish man riding a buggie saw the bike in the middle of the road and found me in the ditch. He went for help but in the meantime a car came along and picked me up.

At the hospital, while waiting for the nurses to come and pick gravel out of my body, I examined my chainmaille. It was scraped up, but there was very little damage. I was surprised because I remember sliding down the road on my back. The only thing between the road and my back was the maille. It had held together and protected me. The doctors agreed that if I wouldn't have had the armor, my back, chest and stomach would have been torn to shreds like the rest of my body was. Maille, along with my helmet, had saved my life. Even if it didn't save my life, it surely saved a huge amount of bodily injury.

As I sit here in undescribable pain, I also get an idea of how bad it could have been. The road rash covering my entire right forearm and entire right leg are bad enough the way it is. If I had similar injuries on my stomach and back... I know I wouldn't be sitting here the day after typing this out. I just wish I would have put sleeves on my vest.

When the cop was there talking to me, he looked at my armor and asked, "how much does something like that cost?" I proudly proclaimed, "I made this!" To any bike riders out there, I would highly suggest chainmail. I put it to the test, and it held. However, don't be foolish like me. Take the time to make sleeves. It will be much more fun when you're replacing rings that have slide down the road versus waiting for skin to grow back. Not too many people in the present day can say chainmaille saved their life. I can.
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