Tuesday, January 22, 2008

click on the images to enlarge.
Ingres's wonderful painting of Joan of Arc.

My verison of the three piece armour.

I found that Ingres had to step lively when designing Joan's armour for his famous painting. Of course, he was and artist, not an armourer, nor was he an historian, but he "did" have a good eye for details. A cursory glance indicates that he built a German armour for a French saint....but at least had the good sense to smooth off all the flutes and grooves to make it look kind of French. And of course, because of the fashion sense of the time that demanded that women had to have wasp waists and flowing skirts, he gave joan a pinched waist and weirdly massive hips. But I blame that on an attempt to make the antique armour conform to his contemporary fashion of hoop skirts and bum rolls.

The other detail which I think Ingres neatly bypassed is the the codpiece arch. Armour of this vintage would have had a honkin' great tin can of a cod piece which to our eyes looks silly, but was very important to the fashion of the time.....like a Scotsman's sporran, it was a great manly, in your face statement which of course, a female saint could not possibly make. Normally, a saint depicted in armour (in deference to his supposed celebacy) would have his codpiece removed just as if he was going to go for a horseback ride, but in Ingres's Joan, even the arch is removed, in its place is a sort of square notch. Then he put in two extra tassets on the sides, I guess to mirror the symmetrical hoop skirted fashion sense of the women who would make up his audience. I don't believe I have ever seen an armour, German, French, Austrian, or Italian who had "four" tassets. Also conspicuously missing is the chain mail miniskirt.

It IS difficult to pinch the waist at all in the man's three piece suit design....because there are three layers of steel right at the waist! Normally for ladies, I would build it a little differently, because of course, ladies are build wildly differently...higher waists, wider hips, deeper backs, narrower shoulders, smaller chests (I know, it surprised me too....) than men of comparable size. And yet, even with all those considerations, the three piece armour I made for a guy managed to fit Karen like it was made for her! Though as I recall, she complained that it pinched a lot in the hips. To be expected, I suppose.

Comments are welcome.

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Friday, January 18, 2008

Build me a Submarine....

Hey, I make armour, not submarines. Okay, this one is a copper weather vane.
Still...no deal. It will be a pain. Well, its for Bill xxxxx. The submarine captain? Yeah, the one who has been fighting to get subs in the Canadian Navy for, like for ever.
So Alison, Bill's wife managed to convince me to step outside my comfort zone and build a copper submarine weather vane for her famous husband on the occassion of his retirement.
The sub has been documented on these pages before, but these pictures show the presentation to the client. Its rare that I get a chance to document it this far!
Here Shayne, Bill's brother is assisting me to level the blessed thing out. You see a lot of Shane from the back since he is always the one out in front doing stuff!

Wheeling it in the first time. The stunned looks on the faces all around tell the story. Not quite sure "what" story, but a story nonetheless.

The navy guys are exchanging jokes, I am admiring my work, and Shayne is catching a few zzzzzzzs. This was during the stage of the retirement party where people told stories about the life of the retiree. I think Shayne has heard them all before.

This is Alison, my client. She is neatly blocking the view of her famous husband. Observe the shadow box which is given to all retiring sub captains...the flag/pirate flag.

This whole proceedure was held during a luncheon at the Naval Officer's Mess in Ottawa, and I felt quite priveleged to be in the company of so many people we as a nation have put our trust in. If the camera were to be turned around, you would see 2 vice admirals, an admiral, 4 naval captains (colonels) including the only female naval captain in the Canadian Military, dozens of the well wishers one accumulates over 35 years of service, and of course me...

Good luck on your retirement Bill.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Tom Bourland's Armour

click on the images to enlarge.
This is a really good example of the South Tower "Two Piece" design of armour. Its not a standard two piece suit since of course, the back is three piece and the fauld is three piece.
This was Tom's second armour.... It is a two piece chest, three piece back plate with sliding rivets on the front and the faulds.
It is very rough and ready...sort of like he is....
I used commecial tool belts for over the shoulders. He is a big fellow, those tool belts look like skinny little one inchers in this photograph...my hand shows the scale. You realize after a bit that this is a honkin' big back plate.

I am really liking the English Wheel...there is zero sanding or shaping at this point. This is the finish right from the hammer.

The faulds are a little different...I wanted this armour to look a little different, to have some details to relieve the large planes, so I scalloped the top of each fauld lame.

I don't know that I really like the leather attachment straps on the tassets...it is a bit of a departure from the usual laces. But hey...such straps were used a lot in real life. I didn't think that the tasset buckles were appropriate for the violence Mr. Bourland is planning to put is armour through. But straps like this are okay.

Note the rounded bottoms to the tassets. I don't normally roll the edges right around on tasseets. Period tassets seem to come in two or three flavors, and I prefer this one.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Armour in statuary

I honestly don't know the provenance of the above little bas relief, but I really like it! It looks kind of Celtic, and so I will go with the idea that it might be Iron Age Irish, but I lean towards Byzantium. But then, the armour was used almost without change from Greece to Hybernia, so lets just examine it for interesting features.
Weapons first. He is holding a spear, and it looks like a Roman Pilum. A lot of damage does not totally obsure the heavy wooden shaft halfway up,then the change to a tapered part that chucks in the yard long slender shaft. The long sword does not match the infantry pilum....a gladius is really a short nasty bit of work, not a nice long horseman's glaive. And the sword is buckled high on his armour on the right...just like Roman infantryman, and the artist had a lot of trouble figuring out to mount it on the right side of his subject's body (perhaps the artist was a former soldier?) and seems to have given up on it, having the sword sort of cross his body in the back. In a very accurate composition, this DOES seem to be the only real bit of awkwarness. There may be a good reason, and perhaps I will have to make this armour and weapons combo to actually see why! Note the lack of dagger, scepter, mace, boot knife, or any similar backup weapon. This guy was more likely an officer than a soldier.
Shield. A very plain "Norman" style shield. Such a shield is only really used for mounted soldiers, and perhaps the long sword, lower leg armour, and lance indicates that this fella was actually a mounted infantryman. I doubt at the age, we really had anything resembling cavalry, but hey...cavalry of a sort persisted in Byzantium right up to the time of the conquest of Constantinople, so maybe. I shy away from the idea that this is is a stele from the Eastern Roman Empire mostly because of a gut feeling that the saint represented here should have a more "iconographic" feel to it. But thats just me. The Roman Arch screams "Roman Empire", not "Beowulf". YMMD.
Armour......splinted arms, chain mail under skirt, scale tunica, greaves, bare thighs, multipiece leather kilt. The splinted armour of the arms is SO telling....the vikings who worked for the Byzantine Empire (called Jannisaries) took that style everywhere they went. Simple, effective, easily repaired easily adjustable. The thick leather vambraces over his arms look like they are meant for business. The scales are more likely made from leather than from steel or bronze....big scales like that usually are. Bronze ones would be much tinier. As would the "cataphract" armour iron scales...also they would be much tinier. Leather can be waterproofed with wax, oil, or asphaltum....(tar mixed with talcum dust to prevent it from being sticky), and it is pretty common to make armour that way. Such armour is called "jack" armour. Note that he does not wear boots, but rather, shoes with high greaves. They look to me like leather jacks, (think spats, or boot tops) because steel greaves would be more shaped to the leg.
The kilt is made from many long, narrow strips of leather. I suspect leather instead of steel because of the sheer size of the kilt...if it was of steel strips, it would weigh far too much. I note that there is a suspension system underneath...they each have 6 holes puched down their length, and a leather thong, or linen cord has been threaded through them to hold them in place....perhaps laced onto an underlying tunic in much the same fashion as the scales were laced on. It is possible that the underlying tunic might be a chain mail shirt, but that is unlikely....there are no really good reason to double up the armour. More likely, it is a softer leather tunic, or a linen coat underneath. The skirt which is coming out from under the kilt looks like chain mail...though it could be a heavy linen tunic. It hangs like chain though, not like the beautiful woolen cloak in behind.

If anybody wishes to add anything to this analysis....the comments section is open. And if anybody knows who took this photograph, I am happy to give credit where credit is due.

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Friday, January 4, 2008

Mr Montgomery's Armour

These are the faulds. Tassets follow along with the faulds. Kind of neat...

A two piece breastplate. Slides mostly the full way along that slot. You can see all the picadills I had to put into that armour to keep it from scratching itself to death.

Not too bad....globose without being pot bellied.

The back plate is a "three piece" backplate, but instead of sinking sharp ridges, I rounded out the scapula in a more gentle fashion.

The faulds and tassets, closeup from the side.

The faulds and tassets from the front.

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Thursday, January 3, 2008

Erik's Armour

click on the images to enlarge.

This is Erik's armour, not quite done, but I figured the world should see the armour I made for him. It is a standard globose three piece suit...I call it a three piece suit because there are three pieces in the breast, three pieces in the back and three pieces in the faulds. I have not got around to drilling and eyeletting the holes for his faulds yet, and the tassets are on the drawing board still. But everything else is done!

Above is a closeup of the buckles. I scored a bunch of really robust, really pretty belts which I used for this armour. Unfortunately, they are roll type buckles, and they are not period. I chose solid, and heavy utility over period this time because Erik will most definitely be fighting in this armour. The belts came with a really nice stamped design....I rather like it. Too bad the design doesnt show when the straps are all buckled up.

From the side, the armour gives Erik a bit of a "pot bellied" look...that is the nature of the globose breastplate. It supposedly helps to deflect lances aimed at your stomach. I find that once he pulls all the straps nice and tight, it will look less "globose", and a lot more "tough".

The backplate is my standard three piece, with the characteristic South Tower scapula grooves in the back. Because the back plate is heavy sixteen gauge, the hammer needed to be pounded a lot harder to shift the metal, and not even a half hour of rolling on the wheel could get all the hammer marks out. Oh well...it looks like it has been built by hand because, gosh dang it, it WAS built by hand. I could have sanded those hammer marks out totally, but why...they show well.
What you don't see in the above pic is the flare in the middle placqart piece which covers and protects the buckle

Jess D.'s Armour

Click on the below images to enlarge.

Jess wanted an armour similar to what the delightful Mila J. wore in the movie "the Messenger". Essentially a gorget, placquart, and chain mail shirt. No faulds, no other armour, at least, not for now.
Above is the view of the armour from the back. It is very plain, very high in back. The lions may not stay...they are only there because they are held on with a screw set in from the back, and this means it will be comparatively easy to shorten those long straps, or perhaps move them around a bit. Building in some adjustment room is always a good thing. (I think these straps are a bit long in this picture, but hey, better than being too short!)

From the side. Jess is quite slim, a somotype which resembles Ms. J. pretty closely, so this armour will look good on her. Here you can see a little too much overlap, but on the other hand, the manniquin is a post in my shop, so what can you expect! The placqart comes down a bit in front, sort of Roman like, but not too far...Jess has to ride in this after all! If she buckles on a sword belt, it won't slip off the armour.

This front view shows a nice long, very plain placquart with safety rolls at the top and bottom edges. The safety roll on an outside curve is a real pain...and on an outward flare it is even worse. I won't do them unless I absolutely HAVE to...too much liklihood of creating an irregular line. The gorget is rolled in front, and actually came out not too bad withall. If for some reason that fancy buckle combo in front is too long, Jess can easily drill a hole farther down on the placquart. It is a tough, medieval looking belt...I rather like it. A nice choice. Again, a lion on the front which can be unscrewed from the back in order to move the attachment point if desired.

Here is a closeup of that nice belt I found.

The gorget is not the standard type of gorget...Jess is LARPing with this armour, not fighting in it, so I gave her a non fighting gorget. The inside edge is half rolled, which allows a leather thong to tuck down into it, and tie behind the back of her neck. There is no front neck guard at all, which hopefully means fewer corners and snag areas for her to catch her hair in. A scarf would still be a good idea though! Above you see the gorget with the keyhole fastener open, and below, clearly, it is closed. It takes awhile to get used to these keyhole fasteners, but hopefully she will have a friend for the first half dozen times she uses it.

All gorgets never fit right first time. Fortunately, this style, which is perfectly medieval and in period, is easy to squeeze into submission without worrying that you might spindle it into unuseability.

Above you can see how the leather thong or shoelace just ties in back. Nothing special, just effective.
And here you see a closeup of the gorget and attachment points in back. I suppose this pic should have been at the top, but hey, as long as it makes it to the blog!

click on the images to enlarge.