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European 4 in 1 Inlays: Impact of Weave Direction
Article © MAIL User: Drax

European 4 in 1 Inlays: Impact of Weave Direction

Inlays are a great way to put your favorite design or picture into a patch of chainmaille. With the advent of Zlosk's IGP (Irregular Grid Painter) (available in Downloads section - Ed), creating patterns has become quite easy. For me, the question has always been whether to do an European 4in1 inlay with the weave going the "right way" or the "wrong way." For the purposes of this article, the "right way" refers to the way that maillers normally consider European 4in1 to hang when used in armor (that is, with the rows of rings, the ones that all lay in the same directions, running horizontal), and the "wrong way" being the weave turned 90 degrees. If these descriptions are still unclear, then please see the pictures below for clarification.

I decided to test out the differences in my latest inlay attempt. David Austin had done a great inlay of Megaman (Rockman for you Japanese fans). I'm also a big fan of Megaman, and I have a friend who thinks likewise, so I thought this would be a great opportunity: make 2 inlays of Megaman using the same design, one for him and one for me, and one I would make with the weave the "right way" and the other the "wrong way." This way, I would have hands-on evidence for exactly how the different weave affect the resulting inlays.

Before even going about the actual construction of the inlays, I knew roughly what to expect. An inlay made with the weave the "right way" would be slightly flexible when it hangs on a wall -- that is, you can stretch it out a bit at the top, but only to a certain degree, because the weight of the piece will keep it from spreading out too far; also, the bottom will taper to a narrower width if the top is too spread out (rather like a trapezoid shape instead of a square or rectangle). Conversely, an inlay made with the weave the "wrong way" will not be very flexible when it hangs on a wall -- the weight of the piece will hold the weave "open" and there will be little or no play in the side-to-side movement. However, this latter form can be dangerous if the picture is not designed properly: because the weave hangs fully open, the image may be horribly distorted.

In the past, I've created inlays using an aspect ratio (AR) of around 3.6-3.9 (either 0.035" wire at 1/8" or 0.064" wire at 1/4"), and given that those numbers don't include springback, the ARs are probably slightly bigger. For this experiment, I went to a much tighter European 4in1, very close to the tighest that one can achieve: around 2.9 (using 0.064" wire at 3/16"). The pictures show the results:

First, the initial picture of Megaman (thanks, David!).
Image: dab_mm_da.jpg

Next, the inlay of Megman made with the weave the "right way" (left shows smushed, right shows full stretch).
Image: dab_mm_right_smush.jpgImage: dab_mm_right_full.jpg

Now, the inlay of Megaman made with the weave the "wrong way" (left shows smushed, right shows full stretch).
Image: dab_mm_wrong_smush.jpgImage: dab_mm_wrong_full.jpg

Again, as a reminder, for Megaman made the "right way," it will tend to hang like the picture on the upper left (more 'smushed,' it'll be harder to keep him fully open like the one on the right). And for the Megaman made the "wrong way," it will definitely hang like the one on the lower right (open full; it'll be impossible for him to hang naturally on the wall in the more smushed form shown in the lower left).

Which is better? It's hard for me to pick, but I think that has to do with the tighter AR that I picked for these inlays. I think in the future, I'll stick to this tighter AR so that the inlays don't distort much. To give an example of an inlay that *does* distort a lot, I will close by showing the Black Mage inlay that I did in 0.064" wire at 1/4" rings.
Image: dab_bm_hang.jpgImage: dab_bm_full.jpg

The one on the right looks like the poor mage needs to go on a diet. Of course, when he hangs on the wall, he'll look more like the picture on the left. Now you can imagine if I had made this inlay with the weave the "wrong way," the poor black mage would probably look like the squat fellow on the right.

I hope this information helps, and please keep in mind these factors when you go about designing your own inlays.
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