When we first saw Crystal's Idyll's gorgeous scalemail pieces, we knew we had to have them exhibit at the very first GeekCraft Expo Seattle this December. These dramatic, fantastical gauntlets, dice bags, and more are beautiful works of art--and we wanted to learn more! Fortunately, Crystal Taggert of Crystal's Idyll was able to chat with us and bring us behind the scenes.
GeekCraft Expo: What inspired you to make scalemail, and how on earth did you learn to make these pieces?
Crystal Taggert: Almost ten years ago I bought about 3,000 scales, intending to make a traditional armor shirt for my husband. I linked an inch worth of rings and realized that was never going to happen. But I couldn't waste all those scales, so I started playing with them. I experimented with different ideas and ways of attaching the scales before I invented my knitted technique, which gives the appearance of that shirt he wanted, but faster, lighter, and more comfortable.
GGX: What is the most challenging piece you’ve made to date?
CT: I made a fitted scalemail tank dress for a wearable art show last year. Not only was the first dress I knitted, but I managed to make it hug the model's body perfectly. I am very proud of it.
GGX: What’s your favorite part about sharing these with the world?
CT: I love it when customers send me photos of themselves wearing my work. I've done pieces for a few weddings, and I think those are my favorites--someone liked my work enough to make it part of the most important day of their life. That is the ultimate compliment.
GGX: What are some reactions you’ve gotten from people who have seen your pieces at shows?
CT: I love it when someone comes up and says, "Oh, cool scalemail," and lifts up a piece. There is usually a look of temporary confusion and then, "What? Is this on yarn? How did you do that!" I never get tired of amazing other people. I also hear a lot of "You must knit really fast," (Yes, I do), and "My friend would love this," and my favorite, "Ooh, I need this."
GGX: What are your favorite things to make?
CT: My favorite thing to make is hats, each one is different and I can let my creativity just go. For scale knitting my favorite is the smallest dice bag--it is the closest thing I have to instant gratification in my work.
GGX: Can you describe some of the pieces you’ll have with you at GeekCraft Expo Seattle?
CT: I'll be bringing a full complement of my Dragonhide knitted scalemail: dice bags in multiple sizes, gauntlets, cuffs, and a couple of custom display pieces. And I hope to bring a scale hat/wig/helmet, but I haven't finished it yet. On the softer side, I'll have traditional millinery, finished in nontraditional ways (because everyone needs a tarantula fascinator or a hedgehog hat) and some winter wool capes and cloaks to keep you warm.
Rounding out my collection will be some fabric arm warmers, and waist cinchers, and bustles for the Steampunk inclined. Everything I make has a little twist to keep it fresh and different.
Our thanks to Crystal Taggert for taking the time to answer our questions! You'll find her and tons of other amazing exhibitors selling handmade geek goods December 10 and 11 at GeekCraft Expo Seattle at the Seattle Center Pavilion. Make sure to RSVP on Facebook!