Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Time watch tournaments


This is a youtube clip from "Time Watch". Take a half hour out and watch this!

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Sunday, December 18, 2011

Roman Britain Online

This has GOT to be one of the most entertaining four oh four error messages I have EVER found!

Enjoy! It almost makes it worth falling into the great "no file found" morass!


FUBAR Alert!

404 Error - Not Found

Something has gone horribly wrong

The resource you have requested could not be found on the server. There are so many possible reasons for this that we can only list some of them:

  • The file does not exist in the requested directory. It may have been on our server at some time in the dim and distant past but has since disappeared without trace. Perhaps we moved it. Perhaps it's been renamed. Who can tell?
  • The file exists but is not accessible. Possibly because the bloody server is having its weekly identity crisis just when you wanted to get some work done.
  • You used an out-of-date 'bookmark' or 'favourite' to reach our site. In which case, get your act together and bookmark us again, you apeth! ... Although we do not suggest that you bookmark this particular page. That would, indeed, be an exceedingly pointless exercise.
  • Your search engine returned an out-of-date listing for our site. If you used a search engine such as Yahoo, Bing or Google to arrive at this page, then we've absolutely no idea what's going on (but see point 2 below).
  • Someone posted a bad link on your Social Networking site. If you followed a link posted on a social networking site such as YouTube, MySpace or FaceBook, we are sorry to tell you that you may have been misled by idiots.
  • Some other, undefineable wierdness occurred while processing your request.

However you arrived at this Code 404, we suggest that you try the following steps to rectify the situation:

  1. If you manually typed the URL into the browser address bar, please verify that you have used the proper case, as all HTTP requests on our server are case-sensitive.
  2. Go to the RBO Home Page and look for links to the information you want.
  3. Go to our Site Map and see if you can find what you are looking for in the links listed.
  4. If all else fails please feel free to Go Back to wherever you came from and start again, but this time try not to screw things up.
  5. If difficulties persist, please contact the RBO Web-Master using the link below.

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Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Three dee modeling

I have been playing with some innovations. Like feathers for scale, or brass edging of steel that look like flames or just repeating patters, that sort of thing. Most of them take an excrutiatingly long time to cut out and attach to the metal. Often doing such work is soul destroying, repetitive, boring and sometimes not what the client wanted at all. There are software programs which can create these things as required. Below is the letter I wrote to a major three dee software designer I am evaluating at the present.

cut and paste follows

>Well, this is a sort of "chicken or the egg" isn't it! I am searching for an edge on my competition, and the use of machinery which uses three dee modeling might be the edge. Or it might not. And that means tools which can run that machinery. Or it might not. If there is a technological answer, it exists in 3-d modeling. Or it might not.

What I DO is make custom suits of armour for people. Right now, they are made the hard way....each one is a "one off custom job" with many similarities from one to t'other. By their nature, they tend to be very pricey.
They have to be able to be worn, and they have to be made from steel because, well, they have a function to perform as well as a look.

There are an increasingly large number of people doing this kind of work, many of them are offshore, and have access to remarkably inexpensive labour and some of that labour is quite skilled! Trust me, there are lots of suits of armour being made....there are plenty of people who have always wanted to be "the knight in shining armour". And the offshore people know this. For me to stay in business, I have to come up with something they don't have. That means imagination and quality and innovation.

The breakdown of processes involved in making a suit of armour is not very complicated. Imagine a tailor making a suit. You have the material. (aluminum for actors, stainless for rental firms, steel for re-enactors.) and cutting tools, hammers and rollers to fabricate the parts. And then there are the sales staff, designers, web developers, book keepers and shippers. There is a fair amount of room to grow, and not enough sales to accomplish that growth, but with a unique product, I can regain my top spot in this market.
Now, you have to remember Justin, that I am fifty six years old, and have been doing this job now for twenty two years. Its time I conserved by skills and time on the hammer and prepare for the future. And innovation is nothing new to me...every day I discover and have to master a new skill.

So what can three dee modeling do for me? Oh, lordy, who knows! However, lets start with something simple. A scale for a scale coat.
Right now, scales are labouriously cut by hand from scrap metal. Good use of scrap. Now they have to be cut, drilled, sanded and shaped into a little shield. Excellent concurrent activity for my staff who would be standing around with their thumbs up their tush anyway, but soul destroying work to do full time. So I accumulate several hundred pounds of business card sized scales on the off chance that somebody wants them someday. They sit there and go rusty and eventually I use them. But what if somebody wants an innovative scale coat? Say, one which uses scales of a different size? Or different material? Or different shape? Say, he wants feathers, or dragon scales, or fancy gauntlet fingers. I can't economically cut all the possible shapes out on the off chance that somebody might need them someday. But I CAN have the design as a template which I can get a contractor with a water jet cutter to manufactur as required. Heck, if this approach were to become popular, I might get a water jet or a trumph laser here in my shop, in which case, I would be able to bid on short time line contracts.

But for scales, Gimp or paint shop pro might be more appropriate. Perhaps easier to learn or be supported by more machinery or whatever. I don't know the answers to these questions. Which is why I am evaluationg all three at this time.

But a scale is not a three dee rendering. Nor does it require three dee software. What "would" require your product? Well, how about a steel gauntlet? Making a gauntlet is a very complex and difficult process at present. It involves a lot of cardboard and scissor work, and a lot of trial and error. Most gauntlets therefore do not have much compound curving to them. They look to be cut out of flat sheets because, well because they "are" cut out of flat sheet metal. Which provides a sort of look which is okay I guess, but that look is achieved at an ungodly low price by my competition off shore. I need to come up with ways to change it on "paper", model it on screen first, and them print out the templates. Again, it would be good to have those templates repeatable, and be able to cut out a hundred gauntlets as easily as one. To be able to have nesting compound curves is desirable and with difficulty, achievable with present methods. And then there is the issue of "sizes". Small, medium, large, and Xtra large come to mind. Or if it exists only on a program perhaps an infinite size range could be accomodated as required. (variables would be distance around the hand, length of fingers, that sort of thing.
Then there is labeling and surface details. A laser or a water cutter can be dialed back to allow for surface marking instead of cutting. To mark a size and part number into the back of every plate would ensure that we don't get them mixed up. Or imagine engraving stuff onto the surface to decorate it or texture it. Or even engrave the client's name into each piece.

This is what I have in mind for innovation. To do this, I am evaluating your product versus about three different flavors of auto cad.
So what do YOU think? So far, xxxxxx design seems to be winning out. Do you think xxxxxx 3-d modeling would accomplish my desired innovations?

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Thursday, November 24, 2011

Architectural Details

click on this image to enlarge. This was one of the pictures that Pierre brought back from his tour of Prague Castle. Again, I nothing of the provenance, but they are too good not to put up here!

Okay, so its not armour. But it IS medieval!
And not a bad starting point for anybody who seriously wants to build their own castle.
(Or cottage, whatever.)

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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

turning steel

from Dick Holdstock. It is on his CD, Winter in the Woods
For information go to:

Below are the lyrics.


You wake up in the morning,
The dawn's as black as night.
Your father's shouting down the hall
And you know she's winning the fight.
Well you best venture out of bed me lad
For the time is getting late.
Then down the stairs and up the street
And through the factory gate.

Turning steel how do you feel,
As in the chuck you spin?
If you felt like me,
You'd go right out right
And never turn again.

Wet and bleak the morning,
As you squeeze through the gate,
As the clock in the bell will ring,
Eight hours is your fate.
Off comes your coat all wet and damp
And "Right lads" is the cry.
With an eye on the lathe,
And the other on the clock,
You'll wish that time would fly.


The Gaffer's walking down the shop
And so it's work you must.
The dizzy, grinding, groaning metal,
The hot air and the dust.
But I'm often thinking of my girl
While walking through the park
While gazing at the blooming steel
And a million flying sparks.


Old Tom Black last Friday
His final bell did ring.
With his hair as white as his face beneath,
his oily sunken skin.
Well he's made a speech
And he's bid farewell
To a lifetime working here
As I shook his hand I knew that he
Had labored fifty years.


And when at last me time it comes,
And I can leave this place,
I'll walk out past the charge hand's desk
And I'll never turn me face.
Out through the gates into the sun,
I'll leave this place behind
With but one regret For the lads I've left
To carry on the ground.


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Monday, November 21, 2011

Doug Sneyd

How many people remember Doug Sneyd? Ah well. I remember him fondly. A Canadian, an illustrator he practically single handedly made Playboy into the classy magazine of my youth.
Here he is with me on Artist Alley at Fan Expo, admiring the lightly armoured and charming Mab.
A charming man, and a delight to be around. This is Doug Sneyd's home page for anyone who is trying to place his name....grin!


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Sunday, November 20, 2011

Red Dawn visited South Tower

A wallpaper.

photo manipulation

A black and white wallpaper for you.

Its so nice to see lovely ladies come by.

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Thursday, November 17, 2011

Prague Armour

Looks like the South Tower Armouring Guild lineup! Pierre took these in Prague a couple of years ago. I am not sure why they are in their museum at all! Its not like they date back farther than, say, 1990. But hey...they are nice armours, and worth checking out their details. Click on the above image to see details.

Starting from the top...that cool flip up visor face with the framed oculars! Very well done! Plus about two hundred holes for the chain mail. Good chain mail too. The four lame spadlers look nice, but four lames make it too long for my taste, when the owner lifts up his arm, the bottom lame will bite into the inside of his elbow. I would have made a longer rere brace.

The elbows are quite straight forward. I rather like the figure eight wings...they look like two big testicles driving a sword towards your tenders. Interesting design detail. The articulation is limited, the owner will not be able to bend his arm past about 90 degrees before it locks up. You need at least two more lames to get full mobility with elbows like that. On the other hand, most armour that has the wings throated to go around the inside limits your swing to a right angle anyway, so no doubt the training takes this into account.

The rolled edges are not like mine...these roll to the outside. A design detail which I used to think dated an armour to before 1460, but that little trick of dating an armour is really suspect, and must be used in conjunction with other evidentury details. It does its job though, and is really hard to do neatly.

The commercial hinges on the vambrace and cuisse are a glaring touch of modern that I don't like. If I use modern hinges (which I do all the time!) I hide the hinge inside, and leave a little slot for the barrel.

I love the gauntlets! Very tough looking! I especially like that the roll on the top of the gauntlet matches the roll at the top of the vambrace. Good detail.

The keeled breastplate has the keel coming very neatly onto the three lame faulds. Two thumbs up...and the bottom of the back fauld is rolled to protect the saddle from the armour. Most armour makers will have a problem stretching the metal out that far at the bottom...and normally just weld a piece in. I suspect that was done here since I can see no evidence of any hashing (what I call the stretching of the metal with a cross pein hammer) which is what I do. I see that the plaquart and breast plate are riveted together. I don't think that is right...unless there are slots in the breastplate underneath where you can't see them. The little clover leaf detail at the top is cute. The tassets are interesting...the keel ends about three fingerspans from the top to allow a smooth transition to the bottom fauld lame.

The two piece cuisse look really nice with the fairly straightforward ace of spades knee cops. I think they are supposed to articulate, and they may have pounded an extra rivet right at the top for who knows what reason. Lordy, check out the fabulous work on the greaves! This shows the true skill of the armour maker...to make greaves that good! (Bill is jealous!) The so neatly fit over the three down one up sabatons with those impossible to form points!
All in all, I think the work that comes out of my shop is this good, but remember, it has taken me some twenty years to get this far.

Now, after all the above description of a good armour, what do you think I would say about this one? I think that I shall just let it go...if I ever made such a bad armour in my shop I would deserve to go bankrupt. This shows the use of several machines which are not really made for a fine art project like this...the beader which puts the beads in the tassets is just the beginning....the single piece-articulated abortion which make up the elbows...this armour was made by a tin smith, not an armourer. There is, like NO comparison to the armour at the top. Pfffui.

Nice blued armour....this is done in a fire, and is difficult to get right. Looks good with brass and gold highlights though. There are enough pictures of knights in black armour to admit that they must have done that!

Well, details. Well, that big fancy grandguard. Now that is pretty cool. But there is something about it that doesn't ring true for me...I think there should be ridges to catch the lance, and the fence which obscures the face should be attached differently. But it may not be unexampled somewhere. And I really don't like the machine finished brass trim, though just possibly, it is hand made, I doubt it. You see more of that trim detail on the elbow cop, and very nicely done it is too! But hey....the rest of the armour is worth clicking on to enlarge and please join me in an enjoyable survey of a well made armour.

The breastplate is really well made...and correctly finished on a surface plate by hammering instead of on a wheel like most of mine is. The nine piece articulated lames match the articulated cuisses...something you don't see every day...and the elbow cops are correctly made with two up and two down lames, and enclosed wings. Nicely done! The gauntlets are mitten gaunts, which is what should be found on a jousting suit. The knee cops are fairly standard run of the mill, but check out the lower legs! Oh my gosh, that fancy articulation at the ankle! And it all blends into the well made sabotons. This armour maker spend more time on those ankles and shoes than he spent on the rest of the armour combined! Two thumbs up!

And a chain mail suit, just to give you a break from the heavy iron!
The helm at the bottom is kind of neat...it shows how the cross in the bottom of the barrel helm holds a chain, which in turn is holding a little shield. I have never seen a little shield being held by a chain that way, though of course it was common to attach a sword that way.

A three piece suit. Oh my!
Well, details would include the lovely keel down the front, and for some reason, the pieces are riveted together. Again, I wonder why...are they actually slotted to the piece underneath? I have been known to slot breastplates this way, but never five slots per placquart. They would shift around and jam up! I just have to shrug, and point out some nicer parts of this armour.
The rolls inside the vambrace at the inside of the elbow. Clearly not done by machine! It is done by hand, the same way I do it here in my shop.
I wish the same could be said for the tassetts and the pelvic arch.
The fluted shoulder cops. Now that is nicely done! Those are made over an anvil, not by a machine. And it shows. Wish I could do work that good.


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Monday, November 14, 2011


This was the big mirror I did for Tony. I think it looks kind of nice, very frou frou, not like me at all.

But it came out of my shop, and it is all MY work. And though it is not to MY taste, it gets a lot of WOW! when people see it. They are grape leaves, Italian cork oak leaves and those big edible dandelion leaves.

Lots of work. I rather like it.

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Friday, November 4, 2011

Summer Grads 2011

Above is the basic class at Algonquin which graduated in October of 2011. And below is the advanced class (or what is left of them after I got finished with them...its not an easy course of study!) Funny, every single one of them signed back up and joined the ones above in another advanced course which should finish just in time for Christmas.

Above is the Plante Rec Centre course which graduated the same week. Natalia, Dmitri, Jason, Trevor and Alex in the back. The usual suspects in the front.

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Monday, October 31, 2011

CBC Interview

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The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (Radio 1) did an interview with me on Saturday Morning. It aired Monday morning at way too early. But it can be heard on the CBC archive.

This was the chat leading up to it.

William Fedun 10/31/2011 8:02 am >>>
I listened to that interview Stu, and thought it was just fine. Very professional.
Thank you.

Bill Fedun
Armour Maker

I thought it turned out pretty well, too. Your workshop produced lots of great sound, and I think you came across as a thoughtful guy living a very interesting life!
By the end of today, you'll see your smilin' face at cbc.ca/ottawa, in my "12 Days of Pumpkin" feature.
— I told [a mutual friend and fellow reporter] and his producer about your big massacre this weekend, so you may see him down there,
Thanks again!

Stu Mills
Radio News & Current Affairs
CBC Radio Ottawa
(613) 288-6213
Twitter: StuMillsCBC

This face....it was MADE for radio!!!!

This is the link to the archive footage with the interview.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Three piece armour

These tassets were very pretty...they matched the faulds, and were made by grooving the plates with a chisel.

The armour looks good from the side....at one point I actually trimmed away the metal because it was coming up into the armpit. Client told me he wants to be able to sommersault in it. Safety suggested that we make sure nothing will dig in.

And I noticed that the front top tabs actually do NOT match up...client tugged it up and away. Should have been me that did that.

Unusual details would include the use of front opening buckles instead of my more usual buckles on the back. No squire needed.

Nice flare on that back. AJ did an especially good job there. Note the bulges over the top of the spine and the shoulder blades. Makes a good effect. Click on the picture to enlarge.

The front sections slide on concealed rivets. All you see is the attachment points. He is a tall man, and needed one extra lame in the fauld. (Normally there are only three lames.) However, the request to accomodate ten full inches of fauld was easily handled. I think the pelvic arch looks absolutely stunning. The faulds and tassets are laced on...that being the cheapest way. Buckles can be added later when the client gets more cash and wants to pretty up this armour a bit.
His only complaint was that the chest was a bit too broad for comfortable cross body strikes. Well, I suppose we "could" make them a bit narrower in front.
Sliding rivets in 18 gauge require a re-enforcement plate. So no time saved by going to 18 gauge.

The quality of the buckles and straps is second to none. Long after the cheap offshore leather breaks, these buffalo hide belts will be carrying on.

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Monday, October 24, 2011

William Wallace

Uploaded from the Internet Archive.

Click on the images to embiggen, as usual.

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