Archmaille Designs Story:
The story of Archmaille Designs starts in 2000, the name wasn’t there, and I certainly didn’t have the skills I do today, but 2000 was the year the passion for what I do was ignited. At the age of 14 myself and my cousin Jordan were at the church camp Circle-C where I was first introduced to chainmaille. A man volunteered his time to teach the craft during free hours. Quite honestly the craft didn’t appeal to me too much back then. I was more interested in another craft he had teaching people to make wire wrapped nail crosses. Over the next year I made hundreds of tiny little cross necklaces. Because of budgetary concerns the church we went to Circle-C through sent all of us kids to another church camp that year. Going in with nothing but a pocket full of nail crosses we sold them for a couple of dollars each, fulfilling our desire for pickles and beef jerky at the snack bar… we even left with a little cash in our pockets. Feeling inspired and a bit ambitious we registered to sell our wares at Parkville Days.
Over the next couple of months I went to the grindstone and refused to lift until Parkville Days came up. We went armed with nothing but a wobbly card table, and a few hundred cross necklaces strung on twine. We had a few pity sales, or sales to people who admired our spirit and ambition. Lets face it though, our showing was abysmal – I’m a bit surprised that the organizers didn’t ask us to leave before we even began. I am thankful that they didn’t send us on our way though; as anyone who has ever built anything will tell you, far more can be learned from your failures than your success. From this experience, I learned that it takes much more than just making something to move a product. We also learned about perseverance, sales dynamics, and better ways to present our goods when at shows and art fairs.
Later that year, I worked at the Kansas City Renaissance Festival, once again with my cousin Jordan, a native to Bonner Springs. It was there that I wore my first chainmaille shirt. With 45 pounds of steel rings slung across my shoulders, I fell in love with the way the chains conformed to my bone structure and seemed to disappear, becoming a part of the wearer. I learned the craft, buying books that taught various patterns (we didn’t have a computer back then – I know, it was like living in the stone age). The repetitive organized nature of chainmail was very calming to me, and I became quite good at weaving it.
After I had gained some skill in the trade I was introduced by a friend to Troy of Parkville Jewelers (it was Trinity Jewelers back then though). Troy saw potential in my talent, and hooked me up with a small jewelers tool set, and some silver wire to work from. Because of his help, I was truly able to take Archmaille Designs from a hobby and sad showing at craft faires to the business it is for me today. I have since obviously expanded beyond just copper and silver chainmail jewelry, though, it is still a core part of our business. I have the most fun sitting at the anvil hammering away at a copper bowl anymore, but more on that later.
A very, very long time ago there was a King. This king lived with his Son, and his companion The Architect. Both intrinsically connected to his being. The three walked their garden, a beautiful forest cultivated over eons by the three, the most magnificent sight ever seen. One day while they walked through the garden, the son, with his eyes closed brushed the trees with his finger tips, and sighed deeply. The other two being completely in mind with the son asked why he felt such sorrow in this beautiful place. The Son answered “We are only three, but I greatly desire to relate to more.” The King felt his Sons sorrow and agreed. Looking over his shoulder to question the Architect the King realized that his close friend was not over his shoulder, He looked around, and found His Friend, off the path looking down from their mountain on a great valley. The valley was lush, with a great river flowing through. The King climbed off the path, stood next to his friend, and placed his hand on his shoulder. The two of them discussed plans for a village that would occupy the valley. Farms that would thrive on the banks of the stream, shops and homes that would fill the cobblestone streets that they would build. They were so deep in thought about how glorious their town would be that they hardly noticed, the Son had gone down into the valley to build men out of the clay. The King and Architect realized that they would need laborers, the Architect pulled mighty men from the greatest mountain in the land, the King breathed life into them. Of the workers the tallest and mightiest of them was named the foreman. The laborers went to work, following the Architects plans, occasionally the foreman would come and convene with the King and Architect. He often complained about how the Sons toys would get in the way and the workers were unable to complete certain plans exactly as they had instructed him. But the King and Architect would always answer back with the same gentle words, telling the foreman to build around the Sons creations, as they would one day become the occupants of the quaint town. They would remind the foreman of the laws they had put in place to govern the workers, and how they may never harm any living creature. The foreman did not fully understand, they were only made of mud after all.
In time the town was eventually finished, the King and Architect went down to walk the streets and were very pleased. The King thanked the foreman and sent him back to the mountain, where they would soon begin the construction of a grand castle that they would all share. The foreman took his workers, misunderstanding what the King had told him, but feeling as though he finally understood the affection the King seemed to show towards the Sons toys. He informed them that they would now begin construction on a glorious castle that would overlook the mud mens village, and the villagers would serve his needs.
The King blessed the Sons creations with the gift of life, that they may transform from clay to flesh. The villagers had an easy existence, and enjoyed the comforts of a beautiful town created just for them. The King and Son would often walk the streets, or visit the farms, conversing and laughing with the villagers. Construction had began on the grand castle, despite having the full attention of the Architect, and a great say in the building of such a wonderful place, the foreman grew angry with the King. He would often grumble about how such a powerful king should not leave his great castle to convene with despicable mud men. One day, as the castle neared completion, the foreman confronted the King “My Lord, once your castle is completed will you not spend more time here than with the villagers?” The King replied “My dear friend! You mighty and powerful worker, who never tires! Why do you worry so? What is troubling you? As it was designed I will spend my time in the castle, when it is finished we shall share this place, and the villagers will be elevated to my great court. It is then that you will not only have the great honor of serving me, but you will be able to serve my creations as well. We will live as family, in one house, under one roof, as you have followed my instructions and built this place to be.” These words infuriated the foreman, he said “I will have no part in laying the final stones here. Why is it that with these hands I have built that village, and this great place, yet you hand it over to those weak mud men to desecrate?” The King said back gently “Foreman, this is the covenant that we have made. You were made of the stones of our great mountain, the same mountain our grand castle lays on, and the same stones that make up its vast structure. You were made to follow my commands, and you were made to work. The villagers were made for another reason, to fulfill our need for community.” Feeling betrayed the foreman asked the King to relinquish the beach separated from the village by great hills and a vast distance so that he may never have to look upon the villagers again. It broke the Kings heart to hear that his great friend wanted to leave him, but he agreed to let the foreman have the land, and any laborers who felt as he did may go with him so that they could make their own place.
The foreman vowed to make his own kingdom on the land he was given, one more glorious and with more servants than the Good King ever could imagine. Day after day, for years the foreman and the laborers who went with him built up bricks on the sand, and tried in vain to bring sand men to life. But it was useless, as only the King had the breath of life. Night after night the tide would rise, and wash away all the labor they had done the day before. The land neglected became overgrown with thorns and thistles. Soon, they all grew to abhor the land that once was a paradise. Frustrated and angered by their circumstances the foreman’s crew began to turn against him. Dissatisfied with the lack of progress any of them had made towards his plans to have a mightier kingdom than the three, he went to his men barking that they must stop building. “Why are we toiling away on this worthless land? Have we not already built grand kingdoms and villages? We should go and take them back.” one of his workers spoke up “We’ll never be able to take the kingdom from the three, not with so many worshipers.” “Then we must get rid of his worshipers. The King has given them the valley, it is their land to do with as they please, they only follow him because they don’t have anyone else to follow. I shall trick them into signing a covenant in blood to follow the laws that the King imposed on us when we were his servants.” “They’ll never be able to follow those laws… they are weak and feeble minded.” “Exactly, and then we will rule the valley, and they will be our subjects, we will be as powerful as the King. We will go to war with the King then, and take his castle from him.”
After scheming, the foreman built a mighty gate around his own land, and went into the village. He told the villagers that they could rule themselves, be their own kings. He told them that he would give them free will, allow them a choice between the paradise on the shore, or anyone who wanted to live with the King still would simply have to follow the Kings laws for laborers. Everyone else could do as they pleased and live in paradise with the foreman. To the villagers this sounded like a good deal, they didn’t know that they had free will already, because no one ever explained it so. All they had to do was sign away rights to their worthless village to the foreman, and paradise would be theirs. The villagers agreed, the foreman used the blood stained pact to seal the gates. The villagers soon discovered that the paradise they had purchased was far from what was advertised, a land of thorns, and constant toil. They also found that following the Kings laws was far more difficult than they had anticipated… leaving them stuck.
The foreman went to war with the King, keeping him from interfering with the villagers, it was what they had chosen after all. After many centuries of battle the Son snuck into the village, as a villager and lived a life according to his Fathers laws. When the foreman discovered this treachery he found the Son and banished him to the harsh wasteland the foremans own laziness had created. The foreman believed this to be a key victory, and rejoiced at the capture of the Son. But the Son had lived according to the Kings laws and was not bound by the contract the villagers and foreman had previously made. The Son opened his veins and poured his blood to redact the contract, opening the gates releasing the villagers to move freely between the lands. He then returned to the village, to those he had been with before banishment. He told them that anyone who renounces the pact formed many years ago, that claims the Son as a friend would be allowed back in the castle. The Son returned to the castle, but left the Architect to guide anyone who wished to follow the Son to the castle gardens.
Weakened and afraid, the foreman retreated to his lands to guard the gate and prevent anyone from leaving. But there was nothing left for the foreman to win. The Son had opened his lands, and weakened his powers taking the villagers away from him. The Son also vowed to one day return, and seal the foreman in his wasteland, but would not do so until the last of the villagers had made their mind to live with the King, or the foreman.
You may be wondering what that story has to do with the story of my business. Well, God’s story is the story of all of us. Archmaille Designs is only a small part of “The Story”, but they are interwoven and inseparable. In a world where machines and robots can create what I do in a matter of minutes it becomes more about selling a story and inspiration than a product. I believe the work I do is what God created me to do, when I work a piece of copper or silver with a hammer I feel connected to the metal, and my Creator in a form of worship I don’t experience any other way. It is my pleasure to share that connection with you. It is my hope and prayer that a somewhat alternative perspective on God’s story today has given you a glimpse of His connection in your life.
Today’s world can be very fast paced, and high stress. While my primary job is being a stay at home father helping my wife (A night shift nurse, and true every day hero!) and caring for our son. I have to remind myself to take time at the anvil every day, or at least a couple of times a week. It is in the act of worship I perform through hammer strokes that God connects with me and fills me so that I may serve them. I urge you to find a passion in your life, figure out what God made you for. Take a look at what God is drawing you towards, don’t use the worlds filter seeking worldly wealth, but rather look through God’s filter. Ask yourself how you can best use the gifts God has given you to inspire and help others. Only then will you move towards fullness of yourself as He created you to be.
Do your work with enthusiasm. Work as if you were serving the Lord, not as if you were serving only men and women. Remember that the Lord will give a reward to everyone, slave or free, for doing good.
– Ephesians 6:7-8 (NCV)