The Lengths We Go To For Our Crafts

Have you ever met a crafter, artisan or artist who’s perfectly sane? I mean, sure, on the crafting side of the spectrum there might be a nice, well crafted(!) veneer of normal-ness, which slips the further into creativity you go. But I think there’s a reason why Van Gogh is the quintessential Western artist – all of us creative types know the madness that lies just beyond that masterpiece, and sometimes during the process of getting it done.

Vincent Van Gogh famously suffered from depression and more, and cut off his own ear once to send it to a girl he liked. You definitely don’t have to go that far to be creative, although sometimes it does feel like I’m on the wrong side of the fine line!

I have a friend who just told me she’s off to measure teapots in Wilko’s because she’s making tea cosies and doesn’t know howb big they need to be. That’s low-key and almost spy-like creative madness. I regularly stab myself unintentionally with my pliers (they’re sharp!), or punch myself in the chest when they slip. I know this will happen, but I’m still doing it. That’s maybe more like middle-key creative madness. And have you ever seen an artist’s studio or a crafter’s craft room? That’s when you start to understand the creative brain.

But don’t we make the loveliest stuff!

It’s no secret that I have struggled with mental illness. I have experienced depression, anxiety, burnout and ADHD among others, but if that’s what it takes to have my own, special, creative mind then I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

I’ve been working on a massive project for a month and a halfand I am completely exhausted… but I still want to make more stuff! If that’s not a measure of how far us artists want to go to create, I don’t even know.

Find my mad chains and accessories in my Destai Designs Etsy Shop.

Oh dear! Oh dear! I’m late! Oh dear!

If you looked behind the scenes of Destai right now, you’d basically see a headless chicken running around, getting nothing done.

But here’s a White Rabbit instead.

Two weeks ago I wrote about the meaning behind my business name Destai, but at the moment I don’t feel awakened at all. I feel more like hiding under the duvet! However. I shall march onwards and get everything done.

I have special projects happening (soon to be revealed in all its glory!) and I’m making so many fidget keyrings that my fingers are threatening to fall off!

The irons! They are in the fire! Yay!

Anyway. I will catch up this week or next. And then nothing can stop me. Mwahahahahaha!

(Visit my Etsy shop Destai Designs in the meantime. 😉 )

The Meaning of Destai

I get one question more than almost any other. As often as as “How do you do that?” and more than “What metal do you use?”. It’s a pretty simple one: “What does ‘Destai’ mean?”

D is for Destai, metal weaver extreme.

first-person singular past historic of destare

destare (Italian)

From Vulgar Latin *deexcitāre, present active infinitive of *deexcitō, derived from Latin excitō (“I call forth”, “I rouse”).

to wake up
to arouse or awaken

More simply, it means “I have awoken”.

I thought it was appropriate; I had recently awoken to my destiny as a creative person, and accepted that it’s part of my soul rather than just a hobby.

Chainmaille is only one expression of my creativity. But for the time being it’s the most visible one. This is also why I use Destai as an umbrella name for all my creative endeavours. Although I may present them differently to the world, Victoria Stedje – Wordsmith is technically Destai Media, and Protean Sol is Destai Music.

D is for Destai, Life turned creative dream

Those who know me well will understand why it’s a perfect name for me. Awakening, from Latin, and pleasing pronunciation and word style all in one? Sign me up!

And that’s the story behind the name Destai. Viking Metal, Entangled, Media or Music, I keep many irons in the fire and I like it that way! 🙂

What does it mean to have a burnout?

I’ve been in a bit of a funk, mentally, for the last few months. I’ve had problems creating things, making things, doing things at all. It took me about two months before I realised that this isn’t just normal mental funk but a genuine burnout.

I’ve burnt out once before. Since then, I’ve been borderline there plenty of times, but that was the only real one until now. Back in 2008, when I was only 24, I was working too many hours and had been diagnosed with severe depression although I didn’t have effective treatment yet. One day, I remember it clearly and I can actually feel the tears coming on just from recalling it, I had a run in with my supervisor at work. It was something minor – I’m sure he doesn’t even remember it – and if I’d been in a normal state of mind it wouldn’t have fazed me at all. But it happened, and it broke me. I was practically unable to speak for the rest of the day, and when I woke up the next morning I couldn’t get out of bed.

I’m going to go even further back for a second, because I think it’s important to give some background. I developed the depression over Christmas when I was a mere 15 years of age. I can pinpoint that too, which is a bit weird I suppose. One day I was fine, the next there was no colour in the world anymore. I lived with this mental illness through the last half year of lower secondary school (equivalent to GCSE or Junior High) and throughout upper secondary school (equivalent to Sixth Form or High School). It affected my grades and I’m sure people suspected something was off, but I hid it from everyone and even my parents didn’t know for certain. I didn’t admit it to a doctor until I was 20.

Anyway, back to 2008. It was right before Christmas (again! Why is that time of year so hard for me?) and I took out all the holiday I had so I wouldn’t get fired for not showing up. Come January, I figured, I’d be fine again. I just needed a couple weeks’ rest.

Well. I wasn’t fine in January. I wasn’t fine in February either. I was completely broken. I got time off work for illness. Then I went on social security. I couldn’t do anything. We had to downsize to a smaller flat. I still couldn’t work.

Four years, it took, before I came to a point where I could do enough in a day to start my business. And that was only because I had a lot of support and because I could do it at my own pace.

And now, here I am again. I’m terrified that this will be a long term burnout too. I couldn’t pick up the pliers for nearly two months. I’ve been able to keep my business open purely because it’s been my quiet months and people have been ordering items that are already in stock.

It hurts, deep in my chest, to admit to all this to the world. I have it ingrained in me that showing weakness is bad. It’s something I fight every day, and writing things like this is one of my rebel acts against that mentality. Because, honestly, I don’t think it’s weak to burn out. It just means you’ve been doing too much for too long. Your brain and mind can’t always keep up. It’s perfectly human.

But it still hurts.

I’d love to end on a positive note, to say that I’m back and ready to go at it, that my pliers are red hot from use, and so on. But I’m still struggling. Creating is hard. Everything is hard. I’m hoping that expressing all this and telling the story will relieve some of the pressure.

Please, if you take anything from this then take burnouts seriously. Don’t do too much, and especially not for extended periods of time. Take care of yourself first. You’re no use to others if you’re broken yourself. Put the oxygen mask on your own face before you help others.

If you’re struggling, please reach out. If you’re in the UK you can contact the Samaritans at 116 123 from any phone.

If you’re not in the UK, you can google helplines that are relevant to you. Or reach out to a friend or your family.

Don’t go it alone. It’s not worth it.

Happy Holidays!

So I’m one of those people who moved far away from home and all that stuff. This means that Christmas time, for me, is when I usually get to see my family. I’m leaving for Norway next week, and will probably take a whole day again (it took 14 hours from door to door last time) to travel. “How can it take so long?” I hear you ask. Well, I grew up in a tiny place outside a slightly bigger but still tiny place called Sogndal. There is technically an airport there, but it’s just as quick (and cheaper) to use the coach from Bergen. That’s a 5 hour coach. After a 2 hour flight. After a half hour train journey. After a 20 minute bus ride.

Anyway. I shall no doubt have much to think about during all this travelling, and I want to set myself up for it now. I shall also be panic making Christmas presents, as I’m way behind on personal life, as usual.

I want to create some goals for the new year. I am a member of both A Handcrafted Business and Coaching for Geeks, and they both encourage goal setting, and striving to achieve said goals (because otherwise they’re not much good, I suppose).

In the next 12 months, I would like to achieve…

  • A higher annual income
  • Loads of new designs
  • Working in heavier gauges (this means bigger and badder accessory pieces, perfect for unisex and masculine use)
  • Fully finding my own niche and going for it

Some of these are obviously easier to achieve than others, but I want to spend a lot more time making rather than messing about on the internet and whathaveyou. Be more productive. In a good way, not in the stressful, busy way.

So there you have it. I shall think more on this in the next little while, and perhaps I’ll come back in a week and say, “Actually…” But we’ll find out.

Finally, last order dates have come and gone (apart from the UK one, which is tomorrow), so anything ordered now is not likely to get to you by Christmas. I’m going to be increasing my lead times tomorrow so anything bought after that will not go out until after New Years.

Still, do check out my Etsy shop and who knows, I might even run a Boxing Day sale! Remember me if you get Christmas money. 😉

Coffee Break and Recap

Ah, Coffee! The cause of and solution to all the world’s problems. Wait, that’s something else… Never mind!

Anyway. Remember that 30 Day Challenge I was on about some weeks ago? Well, I failed! I think my longest streak was maybe 10 days, if that, way at the beginning. I ended up missing four or five days in total. BUT! I got stuff done. Yay!

My Etsy shop is still going strong – have you seen my last order dates yet?

Africa, Middle East, Asia, Cyprus, Eastern Europe – 27 November
Central and South America, Australia, New Zealand, Greece – 3 December
Europe, North America – 10 December
UK – 15 December 

This doesn’t mean you can’t order after that, it just means that I don’t know if it will be posted in time to reach you for Christmas that way. But if you just want Stuff and aren’t worried about arbitrary celebratory dates, then order away! 🙂

I’ve been working hard lately (that’s how I missed days in the challenge – too much to fit in!) and I’m still mostly keeping up with my Bujo. (That’s a bullet journal for you uninitiated ones.) I have So Many stickers now, I can track almost everything I do. Yes, I’m a complete and utter geek. And proud of it.

This… is my BUJO!

*slurps Coffee*

But I bet you came here to see pretty jewellery, right? Well, I recently listed this shiny Dragonscale cuff bracelet

and there is more to come sooooon! Not in time for the holidays, granted, but maybe for the Boxing Day shopping frenzy? 🙂

Guest post by Amanda Actually

Hello, everyone! My name is Amanda and I’m a cosplayer, fangirl and writer from the United States. Victoria was kind enough to invite me over to her blog for a little discussion on cosplay, chainmaille and attention to detail.

I’ve been cosplaying for many years now and attention to detail is one thing that I’ve always taken to heart. There is no detail piece too large or small for me. Whether it’s small pieces like earrings, bracelets, arm bands or hair pieces down to even big pieces like full pieces of armor, a particular crest or coat of arms and weapon builds larger than my own body. I actually adore chainmaille. It’s an absolute artform and the pieces Victoria makes bring me great joy. I’ve already been planning entire steampunk and Neo-Victorian looks around a few of the bracelets and one of the necklaces.

You may be asking: how do I, like you Amanda, use chainmaille in cosplay?

Well, I’d start small. You don’t have to start with full maille pants. Though that would be really really cool if not at all difficult to go to the bathroom in. Start with a necklace, pendant or choker. These can bring a pop of detail to a pirate look, steampunk attire or even a Victorian or vintage look. Ready for the next step up? Drape sections of chainmaille over gauntlets or leather cuffs to bring a Medieval look to life. Want to go next level? Find a dragon, tame it and take over a castle. Kidding. For the next level I recommend stringing together or custom ordering a section or series of chainmaille to help add a small pop to a larger armor build. I’ve actually been eyeing some larger sections of chainmaille for a Rajput inspired build. These warriors used chainmaille under silk to deflect sword attacks.

Now, as a convention specialist, I have to say that large chainmaille pieces are not always popular at your local anime, video game or comic book convention or expo. Some venues list large chainmaille pieces as potential threats and will make you take off larger armor pieces. Fear not, check your local convention’s rules and adjust as needed. Or visit a local Renaissance faire where rules are left in the modern era.

As always, Victoria and Destai are multi-talented and I’m grateful to be asked to discuss her brilliant works and how they intersect with my world of cosplay and conventions.

You can find me at

30 Day Challenge

So I signed up for a 30 Day Challenge.

I know, right? Me? Consistent for 30 days? Excuse me while I go get another cup of Coffee…

Ok, I’m back. So this particular 30 Day Challenge is sponsored by Coaching for Geeks and it’s all about levelling up one, just one, stat.

(This may make little sense if you’re not a geek.)

The basic premise is that participants take an outside view of themselves and select one area of their life that they want to improve. Put into a gaming context, this area becomes a “stat”. They will then try to improve this stat and “level up”, i.e. improve that area of their life to a significant degree.

I have chosen Wealth. (Yes, I’m materialistic like that.)

This one goes out to my friend Ørjan.

In practice, this means putting my business first for 30 days running. (Phew!)

Other people have chosen things like Health, Intelligence, Performance, etc. If you want to join in (although it’s now too late to sign up – sorry!) with the fun then join us in the Facebook group and help encourage us all as we try to beat bosses and level up our lives!

Oh yeah, and buy stuff from me to help level up my life. 😉 As always, you can go to my Etsy shop or send me an email for custom order.s.


So this is my website and I write about my stuff, primarily. And so it shall continue to be! But I also wanted to give a shout out to my sister in crime, who also makes chainmaille! Where I make Viking Metal, she makes the colourful stuff, the beaded stuff and so on.

For comparison:

Viking Metal!

Luna’s Links

Yup, she’s called Luna’s Links (professionally anyway), named after the most awesome Moon Faery in the world.

She continues to inspire, encourage and prop me up when I’m having bad days. My Trista is easily my best friend, my sister, the one person I can always rely on. *sappy* And she makes chainmaille, did I mention that part??!

Go, give her shop a look. And then when you’re done looking at her amazing stuff, look at my amazing stuff too. 😉 You can find me, as always, under Destai Designs.

Busy, busy bee

Phew, that was a busy few weeks! Not only did I do the Steampunk festival in Eastbourne…


…and Mammothfest ( \m/ ) in Brighton…


…but I’ve also had custom work on top of normal orders, on top of everyday life!

Did you see me at either of the festivals? If you post it on social media, make sure you tag me so I can share. 🙂

And now the holidays are approaching! I know, I know, Halloween hasn’t even been and gone yet. But for a small handmade business, we have to start thinking about Christmas in September. June, if you’re really organised.

I have posted the last order dates both on the homepage and in my Etsy announcement, to give you plenty of time to plan.

I haven’t made much holiday themed stuff this year, I have to admit, although the Poinsettia in chainmaille pendant form is always a big hit.

Maybe, if I have time, I’ll make a scale version as well, hmm…!

As always, you can follow me on all social media (links at the bottom) and watch my Etsy shop for updates. I’ve just put up a bunch of new stuff. 🙂