Author Archives: admin

Where Do Rainbows Come From?

A History of The Armoured Wizard

This will be a long and rambling post, so get yourself a coffee, and a comfortable seat, and allow me to tell you a story …

Of Dwarves, and other things

When I was little, my parents read Tolkien’s “The Hobbit” as a bedtime story. This led, inevitably, to Dungeons and Dragons, and watching a multitude of Fantasy films. This has been a staple of my life ever since, and is where the name “Mad Dwarf” sprung up. Elves and Wizards, Swords and Shields, and particularly JRRT’s line:

Their caps were of iron, and they were shod with iron, and their faces were grim.

Which I thought (being a young child) to be particularly evocotive!

On The Making of Things

I do not remember a time when I did not make things. One of my earliest memories is making sand-castles in the sand-pit in our back garden. I painted toy soldiers for our D&D games, and made scenery for them (something that I still have a hankering for. cf: Everything Is Scenery )

At school, I took Ceramics ‘O’ Level, and also a couple of pottery night classes.

More recently, I delved into Electronics (having studied it at University).

On Dressing Up

As a child, we always had a “Dressing Up box”. Filled with old clothes, cowboy outfits, costume jewellery, and more, I would often drag it out of the cupboard and (similar to Mr Benn ) see what adventures I would be going on.

As a teenager, I shunned fashion, only to fall into the Rebel Uniform: black leather jacket, t-shirt with Band Photo or Album cover on, jeans (often ripped) and big boots! I adorned myself with studded wrist-bands, a bullet-belt, a denim jacket covered in ‘souvenir’ patches, and a well-coiffured ‘just-got-out-of-bed’ hairstyle.

But I also relished the opportunity to defy even that convention, and colourful waistcoats were added to my wardrobe, alongside black shirts and high-contrast accessories.

On More Recent Dressing Up

Back in 2017, @Lucretia told me that we would be attending the local Comic Convention. This seemed fair, I had expressed an interest, and gladly agreed. I was then asked what characters we would be going as … taken slightly aback, I suggested our favourite film characters: Merlin and Morgana from Excalibur.

A few short months later, and we had our costumes!

Since then we have created many more “cosplays” (as the kids call “fancy dress” these days). But recently, a new outfit was suggested: Geralt of Rivia (from “The Witcher” series of games and TV shows). @Lucretia would be Geralt, and I could be Yennefer the Sorceress, or Yaskier the Minstrell.

On The Actual Getting To The Actual Point Please

Geralt’s armour includes several armoured plates, made of interlocking maille. @Lucretia decided that, rather than use wool-painted-silver, or some other faux-mail, we should make “genuine” chainmail.

With my (above-documented) history in Making Things, Dressing Up, Fantasy, Armour, etc, I agreed that we were well-positioned to execute such a task.

And so, armed with pliers, and Amazon-sourced steel rings, we set about weaving (that’s what they call putting maille links together. And the different ‘patterns’ of maille are called “weaves”) sheets of European 4-in-1 maille.

Unfortunately, The Pandemic hit, and we were locked down. The project had to be put on hold.

On the Seriously, Getting to the Point Already!

So I’m all set up to make maille, but with no rings, no chance to work on the Armour, and lots of time on my hands (LockDown stopped me working).

Calling at my favourite Craft Supplier (Button Boutique), I inquired about more rings. They sent me to Instinct who gladly supplied me with a range of different rings, and I set about filling my time making them into Dice Bags (it is Law that all maillers must create a Journeyman’s Piece of a Dice Bag).

After a while, I’m bored of just plain dice bags, so I search out other things to be doing, and decide that a combination of lots-of-colours (rather than the plain steel or copper) with jewellery has only one logical direction:

Rainbow Bracelets!

I source a selection of rings, and get to weaving!

Veering away from the E4-in-1, I spend some time trying to get the hang of Full Persian 6-in-1, and find it is actually quite simple. Related to the Box and Byzantine weaves I’ve toyed with. So away I go!

I tell people about it. They seem interested. I set up an Etsy Shop. People start to buy things!

So, there you go. How I got from there to here.

Now you go to there and buy one!

Let There Be Light!

As some of you may be aware, I have started making bags, pouches and jewellery from Chain Mail*.

Due to the nature of the items, and the prevailing conditions, I have been struggling to take good photographs of said items. So I have eventually relented and invested in a Light Box (and when I say “invested”, it was £11 from Amazon).

“So, is it any good?” I hear you ask. Well, let me explain …

A bag containing my new light box

I opened the familiar Amazon parcel to find this little bag. Apparently the light-box is “portable”, and can be repackaged. It looks quite nice, anyway. So I emptied the contents, to see what I had bought.

My first reaction was one of disappointment. Cheap plastic tat. The background cloths were as cheap as the reviews I’d read mentioned. Not smooth at all. But there were several of them, and two USB leads, for the LED strip lights. (EDIT: on closer inspection, the USB leads are a 1-to-2, only requiring a single USB port to power both LED strips. I consider this a very good feature.

So, it is what it is.

To be honest, for £11, including next-day delivery, what did I expect?

So, on with the Unboxing. Or more accurately, the assembly:

Following the clear, concise instructions .. a ha, ha ha, ha ha!

Eventually, I got it folded the right way, and the little tabs correctly inserted in the right place! It did feel kinda flimsy while putting it together, but I think the plastic will hold up to a little manhandling.

As you can see, there is a circular flap in the roof, so that one can take photographs from directly above. This was actually a selling point, over some of the other options in this price range.

Once assembled, it was actually reasonably rigid, and the background cloth easy to fit, and swap.

The LED lights are quite bright, but do not glare or shine too much. There is plenty of room to place, and manipulate, a piece of jewellery, or small sheet of mail. The cloth has a minor crease in, and does not lie flat, but this can be worked around (I’ll probably be using other backgrounds anyway).

A quick snap with my phone (Samsung Galaxy 7 Edge) shows that the lighting makes a big difference.

I can now look at better positioning, cropping etc.

Even the Black rings show up well, with enough contrast between the rings, but no glare.

The background material is not great, but is good enough for now.

A sheet of pastel green A4 paper just fits nicely inside the box, so this could be a good way to go. Although I may use a different colour for this piece. It looks like it is picking up a lot of green reflection, although I think it is just the colours not meshing well.

More research needed.

I did de-assemble it, and try to squeeze it back into it’s travel-bag. The results were mixed. Probably good enough, if I’m careful with it.

So, overall, after a very quick test, I would say that this was £11 well spent! It works, the photographs are a lot better than previous attempts, and I hope they will be good enough to put in my Online Store!

If you are interested in ordering, or finding more information, I bought it from here:

So, until my next post: Farewell, dear readers, and #StaySafe!

“Chain Mail”. The origin of the term “Mail” (or you may prefer the French spelling “Maille”) refers to a piece of armour (usually of linked rings), from the Latin for Mesh. Over the years, this has been corrupted to Chain Mail, and I use this term to avoid confusion with Postal Mail, or even Gender. Once this has been established, I tend to lapse back to “mail”.

Greetings From The Crystal Wizard

Welcome to the Crystal Tome!
The Crystal Wizard will be updating you on all things Crystal, including artworks, jewellery, handicrafts and clothes.

Its been a long apprenticeship, but I have now gained my Wizard’s Hat, and will be using it to bring you the best that the UK Art World can provide!

So, feel free to browse, and send feedback!