From Iceland — Get That High Fantasy Bling

Get That High Fantasy Bling

Published July 1, 2024

Get That High Fantasy Bling
Catherine Magnúsdóttir
Photo by
Joana Fontinha/The Reykjavík Grapevine

Émilie Colliar crafts wearable treasure for all your cosplay needs

Ever wanted to feel like a wood elf or Westeros royalty while going out for groceries or meeting friends? Boy, do I have good news for you! Something shiny caught my eye on my arduous adventure seeking avant-garde achievements in Reykjavík; precious pieces that would make even a dragon drool. And it’s all hand-crafted by Émilie Colliar. I sought her out to learn more about the design and crafting process that goes into her store Blood, Sweat & Týr and how she got into it in the first place.

“My day job is doing logistics for a luxury tour company and by night I make chainmail and jewellery,” Émilie explains. “I did mediaeval studies as an undergraduate and so a lot of people in my department were into cosplay. I was working on a student budget but you know what’s cheap? Chicken wire!” Thus, from such humble beginnings Émilie began teaching herself how to make basic chainmail, ring by ring, over six months, for a cosplay outfit. “At the end of it I realised I’m actually pretty good at this and enjoy doing it,” she says. “There are so many different things to do, from more basic weaves of chainmail to smaller pieces of jewellery. I love learning things like that.”

Émilie has been living in Iceland since 2020, which is also when she officially started Blood, Sweat and Týr. She hoped to make it a self-sustaining hobby by selling some of her pieces, though she’s initially relying on a word of mouth approach. “At a certain point I just kind of had to get my shit together and make a website and instagram,” she says.

Importing the necessary materials to Iceland is, of course, a quest of its own. Time is another factor. “A necklace takes an hour to an hour and a half [to make], depending on how I’m feeling,” she explains. “The chainmail took about 50 hours, maybe more, I kind of lost count halfway through. The basic things I can churn out fairly quickly. I worked at Midgard in Reykjavík last year, so I do try to create some stock — necklaces, bracelets, earrings — I can also sell those at a lower price, so it’s a bit more accessible, but also easier for me to just have things to sell.”

Émilie also takes on commission work, with some of it being shipped to overseas customers. The commissions are mostly smaller pieces with minor alterations to length, colour, addition or removal of details. “When I’m selling online I usually ask for some measurements,” she says. “Often I’ll try to find a friend that matches those measurements, so I can see it on a person and make sure it fits well. I also recently invested in some dressmaker mannequins, which also helps me be more size and shape inclusive, which is important to me. I want something for everybody to be able to wear and I want to help facilitate that as a maker as much as I can.”

As for the inspiration and visual influences, Émilie cites her love for series like Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones but also her academic background. “Because I am a historian by trade — even if that’s not what I do for work anymore — I did get a photo of a piece of 16th century armour and that was actually the basis for my chainmail. It’s called a Bishop’s Mantle and would have been worn in battle. I made a little instagram series, detailing how I made that piece. I used my own creative process to see how it could have been made, almost as a piece of experimental archeology.”

A lot of her motivation is still based on what Émilie herself would find cool to wear, enabling her to do her work with joy. “My dream job would be to do armour and stuff for Hollywood,” she says. “Or just sell stuff on weekends for now at least. I’m also starting to make beginner’s chainmail kits — they are in the beta testing phase — for making a bracelet or earrings, something that’s not super complicated, but looks cool as hell. Something for people to dip their toe into, to create some accessibility.”

Want more people doing strange stuff? Check out more of our On The Fringes series.

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