Today we’d like to introduce you to David Clark.
Hi David, we’re thrilled to have a chance to learn your story today. So, before we get into specifics, maybe you can briefly walk us through how you got to where you are today?
I have been making chainmail for seven years now. I had always been interested in medieval-style items ever since my parents had taken me to the Ohio Renaissance Festival when I was young. I always wondered if it was possible to actually make my own armor.
Back in 2014, I started researching how to make it and where to find the supplies to make chainmail. Here in Kansas City, I asked several other chainmail vendors and artisans at the KC RenFest and found several suppliers.
So I got a sample at a local craft store and tested out the new craft. After a night filled with frustration and learning, I put it down with a small amount together, not much to show for my efforts. The next day, I gave it another shot and it clicked. All my mistakes were making sense and I could avoid them. I started with a bracelet.
After two years of trying different weaves and connecting with other crafters on social media, I began to accumulate a lot of finished jewelry. I started to sell my product to friends and family. My first vending event was at Kantcon in June of 2017. Located at the Overland Park Convention Center, I had always wanted to attend. I set a goal to cover booth costs minus the normal admission to the tabletop gaming convention. I hit my goal that first Friday night. The new goal of all booth costs covered was met on Saturday. My business had launched.
I attended other vending events that had to do with gaming or pop culture over the next two years. Midwest Gamefest, RetroCon, Geekfest, and even PlanetComicon. In late 2018, I started working on a website to sell my products. I now had an avenue to sell products year-round. My favorite jobs are commissions where customers come up with an idea and I get to make it into a reality. Listing products has been a chore to keep up to date because I keep creating new things, which means new pictures and a page to sell the creation.
I have never had aspirations to have a storefront in the area, but as the business grows a weekend storefront might be in my future.
We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
Failed attempts, sure. As a creative mind with a medium that is round and metallic there have been times when I think I can make a model or a product that just fails. Every artist has a junk pile, I imagine, mine is no different.
As a small business, I have also had clients that want one-of-a-kind prices for an unrealistic price. Pricing can be the hardest thing for a crafter. Many underpay themselves with less than $5 an hour to make someone happy. Some artists can skate around that with prints of a master copy, but mine is not a copy. It is the real physical thing. Most customers understand the time that goes into one of my artwork but those that complain do wear on my thoughts.
During the busy times, right after a convention or around Christmas, I do get a little unmotivated. Too many projects make it feel more like a chore or work than a hobby that I get paid for. I want to keep it fun and more like a hobby that pays for itself.
Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
Chainmail as an art medium is rare. I like making jewelry, wearable items, and practical items.
But one of my favorite forms of chainmail is called Inlays. it is making art with rings. I have a large selection of different aluminum anodized colored rings. (about 40 colors). I then use those colors like pixels of a picture and create a tapestry of art. I lean toward a pop culture with movies and video games being my go-to’s.
One of my favorites is an inlay of Joker from the Dark Knight movies. That has 2,500 rings and about 18 colors. I recently finished an inlay of Frodo that has 4,250 rings and over 30 colors. That might be my new favorite piece of art that I have made.
Any advice for finding a mentor or networking in general?
There is a large amount of crafters on social media groups.
There are also a lot of great tutorials online for videos. For those that learn with their hands, I offer a class once a month to learn several of the basics of how to make chainmail.
It all depends on how you learn, but there are a lot of opportunities.
- Bracelets $12
- Joker Inlay $227
- Frodo Inlay $418
- Email: email@example.com
- Website: https://dragonclawchainmaille.com/
- Instagram: @dragonclaw_chainmaille
- Facebook: DragonClaw ChainMaille
- Twitter: @DCChainMaille
Krys Foglio of KB Focused Imagery