Thursday, January 29, 2009

Auction Sales

This arrived in my inbox last week. I am not sure that I am interested in it, but the concept of a global based online auction seems very reasonable. I certainly found some excellent buys on EBay though I notice that generally speaking, antiques on EBay rarely have any provenance, and are often (what is referred in the trade as) buildups. Maybe somebody with a bundle of cash would like to check out the site, and can report back to me!


cut and paste follows.

Auctions Imperial will be offering select antique edged weapons from the Collection of the Maharaj of Pratapgarh, Rajasthan in our March 21, 2009 antique arms auction!We are pleased to offer five lots bearing an unparalleled provenance from the collection of The Maharaj of Pratapgarh in Rajasthan, India. Rajasthan, once known as Rajputana, is a region long celebrated for the bravery and skill of its warriors.We are particularly proud to offer the jeweled tulwar of His Highness the Maharawat Sir Raghunathsinhji KCIE, 21st ruler of Pratapgarh, Rajasthan (1858-1929.) Each lot from this collection will be accompanied by a signed letter of authenticity from the Respected Maharaj Saheb of Pratapgarh, Rajasthan. Order your catalog and register to bid now at our website

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Saturday, January 24, 2009

Helmet considerations

click on these images to enlarge.
Here we have a barrel helm with a grill face. I tried something different this time...I got Lee to tack the bars on the outside of the nasal rather than on the inside. The actual welding is contracted out, but the fairing, shaping and finishing is all done right here. When I finished all the grinding and polishing, I torched it all over to turn all that shiney metal a sort of blue colour. Fits in better with the mill scale on the 14 gauge barrel, and also allows the rivets to stand out. Please note that the pop rivets in the nasal are only there for temporary fastenings.

Doesn't look all that bad, but I think the metal is too far away from the face.

The go-no-go gauge says it is fine along the left side.

But it fails in the middle of the eye openings.

And it is about an eighth of an inch too wide on the right. Well, nothing worth doing was ever easy! Looks like I have a ton of work to figure out how to bring this grill face into "legal" limits. Yet again we see why I detest grill faces...
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Friday, January 23, 2009


(This was sent to me by Trench Tai, the organizer of the event on Saturday. I found it interesting that he mentioned that advertising material should not promote any religious or political views. Guess you can tell who the sponsors are. Anyway, if anybody is reading this and will be performing with me on Saturday, I'll be there at half past five in the afternoon at Carleton U. )

Dear Sifu, Master and Sensei,

The Martial arts gala is just 1.5 day ahead, just want to remind that we rented the place starting at 5pm, so we can do stage preparation work. We will be setting up 4 tables in the lobby. In which one table for the media/newspaper company etc, and the other 3 tables to be shared with all martial arts school. You can place your advertising material to promote your school. (please do not place religious or political related material).Parking is free on Saturday. You can also start using the stage for rehearsal starting at 5:30. We are hoping to see you guys no later than 6:30, and the event will start at 7:00 sharp.We thank you for your supports and we look forward to see you and your team this Saturday. Regards,Trench Tai,Daido AcademyTel: 613-302-8972

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Thursday, January 22, 2009

Chinese Fighting Recital and Gala

January 24, 2009
Saturday 7pm

Kailash Mital Theatre
(Alumni A), Southam Hall,
Carleton University, Ottawa

$12 & $18
(100% SOLD)

Featuring Shaolin Monks all the way from the world famous Shaolin Temple (China), the coming 2009 Martial Arts Gala is for sure a hot one. The Monks will be doing martial arts performances, including feats such as throwing needles through thick glass; break steel plates with heads and breaking various objects using their bodies.
In addition to the Monk’s demonstration, there are varies martial arts schools also performing wushu, kung-fu, ving tsun, taekwondo, karate, aikido, Chen’s taichi and medieval swords.
Additional entertainment includes tap dances, cultural dances, musical instrument performances and door prizes.
It is normally expensive to watch such an exciting Gala; however, this event ticket is very affordable. We acknowledge the support from the Government of Ontario & the Chinese Embassy to make this event possible.

This is where I am going to be on Saturday. Showing off my art. More information here...and if you are performing, you don't have to buy a ticket. Considering that they are sold out, that is a consideration.

See you there.

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Wednesday, January 21, 2009


The faceplate, welded up, but not cleaned up. This shows the tricky spacing.
Above, when you click on the picture to enlarge, you can see the initial grinding which fairs the bars out. They end up being pretty smooth, and not likely to catch a sword...or anything else. Smoothing out the corners, called "fairing" is required for safety because if you don't do this, the sword will snag on a protruding bit and twist the wearer's neck.

This last pic is a sort of three quarters head on view. Lots of work left to do!

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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Susanna's Armour

click on these images to enlarge. The breastplate, pretty much finished, with the backplate in the background.
closeup of the breastplate.

The backplate, all rolled, shaped, with picadills installed. The picadills are sacrificial leather pieces which muffle the movement of the steel pieces as she walks around in it. Keeps it from sounding like a hockey bag full of pots and pans. In this case, just for a change, they show, forming part of the design. Below is a better close up. The picadills are very clear and the shoulder blades are clearly defined in a beautiful sweep. Please note when you examine this armour that there has been absolutely NO sanding of the surface...this is the way it comes from the wheel.

The armour will likely be delivered this way, unless Susanna asked me to put a 100 grit finish on it. This adds to the price, so most often folks who pick up my armour are content to do it themselves. The armour is delivered with a gloss lacquer finish. Easy to fix. Easy to re-apply. Easy to remove if you need to sand it down.

This armour is a little fancier than usual because I wanted to give my assistant some experience in fluting and rolling.

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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Dan P's breast plate and faulds

Here we go...the most basic armour I make, yet I think it is right up there among the prettiest. This is the three piece armour, and I recon it takes 21 hours to make the whole kit, breast plate, back plate, faulds and tassets. I'll have to get faster at that.
Here it is from the front. I wonder if it really IS hanging a bit low on the left side? Ah well, I'll double check that, but I think it is just because it is not hanging on a real body, but rather on a piece of machinery in my shop.
The other thing you don't see is the picadills on the front. I didn't put them in before doing this picture. Mind you, you would not see the picadills in any case, they are hiding in behind the plates where they will provide a chafe guard and won't get in the way.
This is the faulds, fully open. The holes in the top line up with the holes in the breastplate above, and there are two rows of holes in the bottom lame. Dan can choose the higher or lower ones to suit himself.

The tassets are nothing special, just rounded on the bottom, with a compound curve at the top to match the compound curve (a ten foot ball) in the faulds.

The steel at the top won't dig in because there is that leather strap protecting him. As long as I had the leather strap there, I added a couple of eyelets to it for Dan to hang his arms. Or his shoulder harness. Or whatever. The big buckles in front look pretty industrial, but then, they ARE made from new tool belts. They are strong enough to provide years of service, and if Dan chooses to go with a handmade buckle, or for that matter, any other buckle, well, its easy to drill out that copper rivet and put in a different buckle. Might change the whole look of the armour. The centre buckle is just a cute little thing I found at the Sally Ann, a buckle off a one dollar belt. I cut off the cheap belt, and mounted the buckle on a decent leather strap. An excellent use for a lonely but pretty buckle.
Under the buckle you see two eyelets. They match a couple of eyeletted holes in the middle lame....(the placquart). Although in period, the middle lame was a "floating" lame, that is to say, it was not attached to anything at the front, a couple of eyelets help to centre it. Not really necessary, but nice to have.
I made the centre belt an inch too long on purpose...if it is annoying, then Dan can cut the excess off with a pair of kitchen scissors. If it was too short, then we would have had a much bigger problem.
And the strap goes under the bottom lame (called the cinqulette) and on a whim I decided a little decoration was needed. The lions are cheap (like five bucks) but I think they "make" the look of the armour.
This armour has been sprayed with a coating of clear lacquer. The leather has been masked off, so Dan can colour the leather straps with common dye if it suits him. Or he could leave it plain, to turn a nice brown sun tanned Arizona saddle colour.
(Oh, and Dan, I need your shipping address.....I'll be shipping on Thursday)

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Friday, January 9, 2009

Dan Pike's Armour

Dan wants an armour for SCA fighting in Estrella War in Arizona. On a recommendation, he found me, and found this blog, where he saw the effort I put into making armour that looks good. I think I do that, and the price stays down because I stick to my knitting...basic good armour. My armour is pretty basic armour, and seems to not take a huge amount of time to get reasonably good results. The armour below is completely sixteen gauge steel front and back, the buckles are industrial roll buckles and belts from the harware store (they are usually used to hold tool belts onto construction workers) Not period, I know, but cheap and easily changed if Dan decides to go for my handmade buckles in the future.
The first picture below is the breastplate in the morning sun. As I write this, a lot more work has been done. But it is all in the leathering...grin!
Below is a fine picture of the backplate. Dan decided to try out the three piece suit. I call it the three piece because it is three pieces in the chest, three pieces in the back, and three pieces in the faulds. The result is really nice. I installed buckles made by my apprentice Andrea, and a fine job she did too! Those big square centre bar buckles are solid brass. And please note that those buckles are included in the price...harumph.

Below you can see the "reveal", that is to say, the shadow line formed by the armour. If you look closely, you can see the leather which I install on the steel to prevent it from scratching the piece below it. This leather has a name..."picadills". Normally it is made so that you can't see them, like in this example, (though you can "just" when you click on the picture and look closely) but sometimes when you want them to show, they can provide a nice contrasting line of colour. The picadills are made to wear out instead of the armour wearing out. Sometimes in museums of real battle armour, you can see slots and gaps worn into the underlying armour by the constant wearing and scratching of the top armour, particularly on the back plates which tend to be thinner anyway. The picadills are normally mounted with copper nails so that they will be easier to replace when the time comes. As has been done here.

Above you can see a real side angle shot of the armour. The strap has been mounted to fit underneath the metal (giving Dan's shoulders a much appreciated cushion) and as you can see, it is pretty stiff. Needs some neatsfoot oil me-thinks. Oh well, leather maintenance is one of the fun jobs, along with sanding. Speaking of which, please note that there has not been any sanding of the steel after it was shaped...that shiny look is entirly from the wheel. If he wants to sand the armour, there will be plenty of time to do that in the next few years as it WILL rust a bit, from his sweat if nothing else.
I especially like this view since it shows the space I made for his shoulder blades really nicely.
Tomorrow, I'll put up the pics of the breastplate. Leava a comment somebody!!!!

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Friday, January 2, 2009

Charles A's Armour complete

This is a long bodied (21 inch from collarbone to navel!) large two piece suit of armour. Very pretty in my not so humble opinion. The tassets and faulds are fairly straightforward...and the sliding rivet works perfectly. The belts "may" have to moved up a bit, right now they are sitting in the second to last hole. That doesn't give a whole lot of wiggle room. OTOH, these fancy holes sort of force it.

From the side, you can see the nice profile. I know it will look much better ON him than it does draped over some random machinery in my shop. The straps are untouched by lacquer, and can be dyed by Charles if he chooses. Otherwise, in the sun, they will sun tan to get a rich hazelnut brown like an old saddle.

So, another two piece down. And Charles wants a gorget with this armour. Well, I didn't have plans for the evening....
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Charles A's Breastplate, revisited

This is the part of the job I call the "leathering". The finicky part after which, when everything is fitted properly, I can add the internal leather to keep it that way. This is the "tailoring" part, and it normally takes four to five hours. This is no exception. The two piece armours take longer to leather than the three piece armours. The single piece armours just take longer to bash out. Ya can't win!
If the leather is not done right, the armour will sag, bind and generally be a pain to wear. So the skill set is less of a metalworker, and more that of a tailor. Except instead of sewing buttons on, I am drilling holes for strap mounts. These five pics show different considerations, some contradictory, which go into making an armour like this. Right now, not counting writing on this blog, we are sitting at five hours.....that includes eyeletting the fauld line, and sanding the steel. Starting to look like an armour!
A big two piece breastplate....always a lot of work. In this case, however, I know that Charles has a flat stomach, large chest, and long trunk. This means I have to heavily shape the breastplate, leave the placquart fairly flat (but still fair it up onto the breastplate) and in general, make it "work". Damn, he is high on the side! I hope he made the measurement right...I would not want to have to cut out a scoop under his arm. Oh well, its period to be tight and high like that.
Above, you can see how I have set the measurements he provided for me, drilled an index hole, and snapped in a pop rivet to hold it in place. A couple of clamps holds it at the side. Right now, we are looking (in the above picture) at the maximum extension...properly called the maximum reveal. If Charles sits down, the bottom plate, the plaquart, will slide up over the breastplate. How far it will slide will depend upon the length of the slot I have to finish cutting. I have also drilled the mounting holes for the front straps, the ones which go over the shoulders. Because the breastplate shown is a full sixteen gauge in thickness, there is no need to insert extra plates to strengthen the attachment point.
Below, you can see how I laid in a couple of big thick horizontal straps that server dual purposes. The strap on the bottom protects Charles' shoulders from the corner of the armour, as well as providing mounting eyelets for the big South Tower Shoulders he bought last month. I used the same strap to provide eyelets to mount his arms (when he gets them), so there are four eyelets in all. The process he would normally follow would be...put on the breast-back plate, hang the arms with laces through the outside eyelets, fold the leather strap over from the inside, and tie the shoulders onto those. No need to use a tab on the gorget or holes in the shoulder straps.
I like to use big thick belts for the safety tongue. The lighter top strap (the red coloured strap) is only there to hold the "keeper" in place. By hanging the shoulder spaulders this way, he protects the shoulder straps from the edges of his spaulders.

Below is a closeup which shows how the slot is made. No great mystery here....just find a perfect centre line, then drill a series of holes, and file them into a slot. This fairly simple job will take about a half hour, and possibly another half hour of cursing, sanding, and complaining. But the end result will be worth it.
The longer the slot is, the more mobility the client will have, but the weaker the placquart will become. If you make it too long, it might flex, and bind the sliding rivet. And inch and a half is about the most you should push it, maybe two inches in sixteen gauge. Although jousters love the look, they never like what the lances do to the sliders, and so their sliding rivets tend to be no more than a half inch or so, and their waists are by necessity raised up as much as three inches. Thats why jousters armour doesn't "look right" when they are walking around. This armour is made for a foot soldier.

A side view of the armour. The breastplate is not in its final position...when Charles wears it, there will be a straight line along the side. I hope. If the slot is long enough. If the plaquart is straightened up a bit. This is the stage where I would prefer that he was right here in my shop so that I could make adjustments.

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