Pop Tab Chain Mail: Time to be a Warrior

For the past year I have been collecting pop tabs. Thousands of them. The reason? I am slowly making my first cosplay and I need chain mail to make it. But seeing as I am on a budget, well, recycling was the way to go rather than purchasing and slaving over the intricate wire rings used in proper chain mail.

Chandra Nalaar Wallpaper - Wizards of the Coast

Above is Chandra Nalaar, a planeswalker from Wizards of the Coast’s game Magic: The Gathering. This is a game I have played for several years and thoroughly enjoy. I was never good at the game until I decided to switch to playing a “red” deck and a fell in love with Chandra as both a character and a planeswalker. So, I decided I would make a cosplay Chandra all on my own and finally attend a convention in an Emily built cosplay!

The first step to the cosplay, was to make the chain mail. I chose to do this first because I knew it would take a while and wanted to finish it before starting the rest of the pieces. Plus, since I decided to use pop tabs, I needed to collect the darn things! I am still not done creating the full chain mail piece, but if you want to learn how to make pop tab chain mail too, then read on!

Pop tab chain mail - A Pop of Red Tutorial

Please note: While not explicitly mentioned below, gloves may be useful for this tutorial. Pop cans and pop tabs can be a lot sharper than you imagine. They also tend to give of small metal shavings which dig into the skin. So please use your best judgement as use safety precautions as necessary (I take no liability!)

Step One: Gather Your Resources (Pop/Soda Tabs)

Any regular shaped pop tab will work. If you want a uniform look, grab them all from the same brand. If you want a more realistic battered look, then let the shapes be a bit more random. That is what I chose to do, I mean, Chandra has battled before, so her chain mail would NOT be perfect. Hint: Some pop tabs may need a slight washing first, pop gets sticky!

From pop tabs to chain mail - a tutorial

 

Step Two: Tools

Pliers, wrench (or similar surface for bending, and scissors

Making chain mail with pop tabs

 

Step Three: Remove Sharp Edges

Pop tabs do not always rip off the can nicely. You can be left will the full hoop or jagged edges which can be dangerously sharp, like those shown in the first photo below. To remove the sharpness, use your plier and fold the sharpness towards the unfinished or back side of the tab. Then press your pliers down on the part that was sharp to “fuse” the metal closer to the rest of the tab making it safer. Your non-sharpened tabs should then look something like the third picture.

Preparing pop tabs for crafting

Preparing pop tabs for chain mail

Tutorial for making pop tab chain mailStep Four: Cut the Tabs

Simply use scissors to cut into the upper/smaller end of the pop tab. Make the cut as central as possible.

Tutorial for pop tab craftsCrafting with pop tabs

Step Five: Fold the Tabs

Using the wrench, or a flat surface with something to apply pressure with, bend the cut tabs to a “slightly less than 90 degree” angle. Alter the angle to your preferences but I try to get as close to 90 degrees as possible.

Crafting with soda can tabs

Soda can crafting

Step Six: Attach Tabs to Create Mail

Start with one tab. To attach the second tab bring it underneath the first tab’s right hand side (right when cut is facing forward). Push the uncut end of the second tab into the cut end of the first tab so it looks like the photo below.

Pop tab chain maille links

An alternative view of the above shows how the cut ends are now positioned:

Chain mail links with soda can tabs

For the third tab, attach it to the first by bringing it underneath the first tab’s left side and proceeding as above. This is the basics of attaching pop tabs. The photos below show the three tabs attached.

Pop tabs and chain maille

Step Seven: Continue until Completion

Pop tab chain mail - A Pop of Red

Sorry to say, but that is really all the instruction I can give. Attach the tabs as needed to create the design you want using the method explained above. A shirt will be made with different dimensions than a wrist covering.This process can be applied to more complex items too, like purses! Just tinker until you manage to create what you envisioned.

If you get stuck, send me a message or comment below and I will do my best to walk you through it!

Pop tab chain mail - A Pop of Red Tutorial

Recycled Desk Organizer

I recently learned my workplace will be moving to a new building, one that is far nicer than the little brick eyesore I work in now. As a bonus, employees were given a chance to vote on the colour scheme of the new location. The core colour will still be grey-on-grey, but the most voted for accent colours were green with light yellow polka dots and deep red. It seems like a random combination but they actually look pretty great.

Finished Office Organizer

Now, our office will not be relocating for some time but I wanted to start making some décor to suit the new office space and brighten my current one. My first project is this recycled office organizer made from a shoe box and toilet paper rolls. If you the idea and want to make your own, follow along below!

Materials for Office Organizer

Materials:

  • A Shoebox (any size)
  • Toilet Paper Rolls (enough to fill your shoebox)
  • Paint (I used acrylic craft paint)
  • Paint Brushes
  • Scissors
  • Hot Glue and Glue Gun

 

 

 

First decide how you want your finished organizer to look. I wanted two rows of sloped “pencil holders” with an open area at the back for larger items (hole punch or paper). Measure where you will need to glue and cut your toilet paper rolls. I found it very useful to cut one toilet paper roll into the sloped shape I wanted and use it as a guide for all the other rolls: fitting it like a jacket around a roll and cutting along the guide’s sloped edge.

Staging the Office Organizer

Making a guide

Once all your toilet paper rolls are cut, it is time to paint. I chose to paint the inside and outside different colours to correspond to the two accent colours of the new office space. I ended up really liking the effect too! Just make sure you let each layer dry, it will take quite a few layer and you do not want to soften any of the cardboard.

Painting the organizerFinishing the paint

Once dry it is time to glue your toilet paper rolls inside the shoebox in your desired pattern. Just make sure you have everything lined up before gluing. As you can see below, some of my inner pieces do not quite line up, and that is because I turned the rolls the wrong direction while gluing and caused the slopes to no longer line up. Insert sad face here…

Gluing the rolls

Then just add in your pencils, pens, highlighters, scissors, et cetera!

Office Organizer FrontBack of Office Organizer

After I finished my organizer I decided it was a bit plain. At first I was going to do some light yellow polka dots on the outside but it didn’t look quite right. So I added a touch of lace and I think it was a great addition, so don’t be afraid to accessorize your organizer!

Adding Accessories

 

So what do you think of this recycled office organizer? Did you create a similar item? Sound off in the comment section or on social media and let me know what you think of this Make It Monday project!