Local chainsmith passionate about his work at Calgary medieval shop

Layne Visser seems like your average 21-year-old. He likes to hangout with his friends, longboard, smoke, listen to music, and all those other things you do at that age.

But wait, I forgot to mention he is also a professional chainsmith.

What’s a chainsmith you ask? Well you know those jangling metal shirts you see the characters put on in The Lord of the Rings? It’s the person who can make them.

“I can make anything out of chainmail; like armor and jewelry,” said Visser. “It’s like knitting with metal.”

Visser works as the chainsmith and shop attendant at Dark Age Creations, on Macleod Trail.

Even though he has only been making chainmail armor and jewelry there for a couple years, it doesn’t mean his work is rookie standard.

Jamie Ripley, Visser’s boss at Dark Age Creations, was the one to introduce him to the art of working with chainmail.

“I taught him the basics, and then he picked it up from there and started Layne Visser, now working as a chainsmith at Dark Age Creations, has loved everything from the Middle Ages his entire life.

Photo by Clayton Goodwin teaching himself.”

When discussing chainmail, Ripley said, “It’s simple to learn, but you need a creative edge to excel.”

“There are thousands of chain patterns and the more you know, the more eye-catching your work becomes.”

“I’ve been doing it for 10 years, and I still don’t know them all.”

Ripley then went on to compliment his young protégé saying he has a real creative knack to working with chainmail.

Visser attributes his skills to the fact that he found something he was passionate about. As a result of his passion, Visser has arguably become an extremely talented chainsmith.

Creating work out of chainmail may be newer to him, but Visser’s love of the Middle Ages goes back as far as he can remember.

“When I was eight I can remember wanting to be a Viking,” Visser said. “I loved that people in the old days fought for a cause and honor. It’s an idea of a greater time, and even today I still believe in the old ways.”

Basic Chainmail Terminology

4-in-1: the most common pattern; each link
interlocks with four others

6-in-1: each link interlocks with six
others

Coif: chainmail that covers the head and
the neck (and sometimes shoulders)

Hauberk: a mail shirt

Chausses: mail that covers the legs and
feet

With a belief system so strongly bound to the past, one might think that Visser must be a part of some kind of medieval society. But it’s actually not his thing.

“I appreciate it all, but I can’t dedicate my life to it like a lot of people do.”

Visser prefers to spar with his friends and train and teach himself how to use the weapons he owns. He prefers to call himself an enthusiast, not a re-enactor.

Dark Age Creations sells Visser’s chainmail work all prices, both high and low with different variables affecting the price. The complexity, size and time it takes to make the piece, and if it is custom made for a client is all taken into account.

Cgoodwin@cjournal.ca