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Jerry Penner, The Chain Mail Guy

Authentic Armour - Cool Club Clothing - Gorgeous Jewelry

LINK 2009

January 2009 - No LINK This Month

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September 2009 - No LINK This Month

October 2009 - It's Been a Long Time

November 2009 - Quality Work

December 2009 - Leaving a Show Early

January 2009

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February 2009

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March 2009

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April 2009

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October 2009

Greetings, LINK Readers!

It's Been a Long Time

It's been more than two years since I wrote an article for Link. I started writing to both promote specials for www.chainmailguy.com and to share some technical information on how to make better chain mail. I know there are many knitting techniques I haven't touched on, and that's because I don't know them. There are certainly many good sites on the Internet that can show you cool tips, tricks and techniques for making chain mail. The most popular of these is Mail Artisans International League, at www.mailleartisans.org

While LINK is a marketing tool to get you to visit my site, I want it to be more than a monthly list of specials. I want to offer some information and perhaps a smile or two in each issue. Over the past two years I've seen the same knits, the same people doing them, and haven't learned much in the technical realm of knitting chain mail. For this reason I didn't think I had anything new to share, and so the monthly e-mails stopped.

Recently it occurred to me that while the art of making chain mail is well covered elsewhere, the art of making *money* with chain mail is not. Since I've been doing this for over 13 years and have suffered numerous scrapes and bruises in the world of artistic business, I realized I have something more to share.

In the coming issues I'll be covering stuff like Internet sales, consignment sales, partnered selling, how to get what you want from a bank, finding your market, expanding your market, working out wholesale and retail pricing. The information I'll offer will be useful to everyone from chain mail knitters trying to get their hobby to pay for itself to knitters looking to replace their income. I'll also be offering newsletter-only and advanced notice of www.chainmailguy.com specials. I'll keep on presenting this information as long as I have something to share, and as long as folks are interested.

If you'd like to be removed from this e-mail subscription at any time, send an e-mail to thechainmailguy@gmail.com with the title"Remove me from Link" the subject line, and I'll remove your e-mail from my send list. The Chain Mail Guy will never rent, sell, lend, or trade your contact information to anyone else. I'm interested in offering deals to those interested in chain mail and chain mail making; I'm not interesting in making a few pennies selling contact info to spammers.

Knowing Your Market

I used to be wary of other chain knitters and preferred to stay away from events that featured multiple chain mail vendors. I've since realized that if you have six different knitters in the same room, all showing off their wares, there will be little if any overlap. Each knitter will showcase his own favourite knitting patterns, styles, wire and ring preferences, and niche. Some will prefer to work with galvanized steel, others prefer aluminum, stainless steel, titanium, silver or gold. Some will make large pieces, others prefer to make smaller works. Some will focus on jewelry, others may focus on battle armour, stage armour, fantasy clothing, or housewares.

I now realize that other knitters are no threat to my business because I prefer to work in my specific niche, and other knitters can fill in other niches; there's enough work to go around. I'm not even bothered by other knitters stealing my design ideas, because that's what knitters do; we show off our accomplishments to each other, take away someone else's idea, put our own spin on it and repeat the process. It is by this method that the whole chain mail community evolves and grows.

What is your market?

Jerry Penner
The Chain Mail Guy

November 2009

Greetings, LINK Readers!

Quality Work

This month I'm going to talk about quality chain mail and how to tell the good stuff from the cheap stuff. Years ago I was given definitions for “cheap” and “inexpensive” Something that's inexpensive has a high quality-to-price ratio, while a cheap item has a low quality-to-price ratio. Just because something is cheap doesn't make it inexpensive. Something that's cheap will not stand up to the intended use, may break easily, need to be replaced more than once, and will ultimately cost more than something that's inexpensive.

I do not make cheap chain mail, I make inexpensive chain mail. I encourage you to do the same.

Cheap chain mail will attract a customer based on price only. What makes chain mail cheap? Poor quality.

It takes as many rings to make a cheap chain mail item as it does to make a good one. The difference is how well the rings are closed. This is the one thing that will set your work apart from those who make cheap chain mail.

To close rings properly, grip with your pliers at the 2:00 and 10:00 positions with the cut at the top. Twist the ring open by twisting one of the cut ends away from you. While doing this, bring the ends closer together by tightening the circle. The cut ends should be a little past each other. Now twist the cut ends back toward each other. If you did it right the ends should make a clicking sound when the cut faces rub against each other. This tells you the ends are as close together as they can be. You can hold the closed ring up to the light and should not be able to see light through the join. If you run your thumb and forefinger across the sides of the ring, you should not feel a burr on one side or the other. If you do, this indicates the ends of the ring are offset and not closed properly. Cutting with a saw or rotary tool will leave a burr on the face of the cuts, making this test useless until the final piece is tumbled to remove the burrs.

Getting this technique right and showing your customers the difference between cheap and inexpensive is an excellent selling tactic. Years ago I was working up a price for a fella who wanted a chain mail tank top for his girlfriend. I quoted him a price, and he said, "I want it cheaper than that. Can you make it cheap?"

So I did.

I made two pieces. Both the same style, both the same metal, both the same ring cut. I knitted one with my usual care, closing all rings so that they didn't catch, pinch, pull hair, and felt smooth to the touch. The other I knitted like a first-timer with rings that didn't close properly, didn't line up properly, and generally felt scratchy and terrible. I showed him both pieces.

"This one", I said, handing him the cheap one, "is 3 cents per ring." His girl put it on, looked in the mirror, fiddled with it, and frowned. As she took it off, I heard the unmistakable 'ting' of a ring coming out of the garment and hitting the floor.

"This one", I said, handing him the inexpensive one, "is 7 cents per ring." His girl put on the second one, and immediately her face lit up as she ran her hands across it, looking in the mirror.

"It feels so sexy smooth!" she said.

The fella bought the inexpensive one.

Jerry Penner
The Chain Mail Guy

December 2009

Greetings, LINK Readers!

Leaving a Show Early I've done a fair number of craft and artisan shows over the years. Some have been excellent money-makers, some have been clunkers. The thing is, you never know how well you're going to do until you get home and count the money. Some vendors will leave a show early if there is little traffic. I've only ever left a show early once in the last 13 years and am glad I stick it out to the end. Here are a few reasons why you should stay:

So what was that show I left early? The Tillsonburg Music Festival. I went the year they moved it from a 1 day event to a 2 day event. I figured that since Tillsonburg was the home of Stompin' Tom Connors, this town probably knew something about putting on a music festival.

Boy was I wrong.

I should have visited the show as a paying guest before committing to a booth, but the booths were only $50 for a 2 day show and I could camp behind my booth and keep an eye on my stuff.

When I showed up I found out that the folks who were camping overnight (me and one other vendor) were the overnight security. The local hoodlums thought it would be fun to unplug the ice cream vendor's cart and muss with the starter on the tractor that moved the stage. They and the police kept me awake and busy from 1:00 - 3:00. One of the hoodlums had the misfortune of dropping his cellphone as I chased them away. The police found that very helpful in apprehending the offenders.

For the first 4 hours of the show on Saturday the music was supplied by the loudspeakers from the public pool next door. Once the venue managers got their act together the music was country, gospel, and a karaoke battle. The vendors were at one corner of the open air venue, right in front of the wrestling ring and as far from the main stage as you can get. I'd call these fellas professional wrestlers in the strictest sense of the word since they probably got paid for what they did, but I've seen the same moves performed during grade-school brawls. Nobody paid any attention to the vendors during the show.

The second day I was tired from the overnight activity, and listened to a non-denominational church service in the morning. Nobody came to visit the vendors during the church service.

An hour of silence until the next act, another gospel hour. Again, nobody paying any attention to the vendors. At 2:00 I saw the writing on the wall and closed up early. It was scheduled to run until 6:00 that evening.

Have you ever packed up early from a show?

Jerry Penner
The Chain Mail Guy

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