Monday, April 2, 2012

Building a greave (first of three parts)

As usual, click on any or all these pictures to enlarge them. These thumbnails are not quite good enough...

A closeup of these German greaves show a very narrow ankle, rolled bottoms and a very neatly done back part. No hinge, like so many of the armours on special built stands in museums, the front and back are held on my magic. Or double sided tape. Or something. Oh wait, there is a buckle on the outside, accessible by his squire. I think the front and back parts are separate, and just held together by cinches. (small belts which have become lost over the years.) You can see the line on the inside of the leg, but the outside line is quite far back, the greave wraps three quarters around to the outside.
The ones I made for Phil are not so fancy, or as expensive. I made it wrap around his calf muscles, and there will be an opening at the back, which can be filled in at a later time if he desires. So these are really just shin pads, but they will protect more than the shin, they protect the sides as well. I made them out of eighteen gauge because you really don't need it that heavy down there. And if he gets 'em dented, well, he knows an armourer. Actually, since there is not a square centimetre that does not have a compound curve, dents are unlikely. Not impossible....just unlikely.
It is surprising to most people that the greaves would be so wide...these are three quarter greaves, so they look quite wide when laid out on the pattern. Unlike the German "Ritter" ones above, these wrap three quarters around both the inside and the outside.

Greaves are interesting things. Mr. Stroud of the Palace Museum used to say that he would judge an armour maker by how well he did the legs. They are not that difficult to make, but they are not a beginner's project! Unlike most armours, greaves are invariably required to look like the flesh they are protecting. So you have to create the muscles, the bones, and the joints.
Lower leg armour is also one of the most expensive armours simply because of the sheer time it takes to pound them out. And there is a lot of fussy, inside work that has to be done with tiny little hammers and annoying short strokes. I think most armourers charge as much as they do for greaves because they are so annoying to make.
This post shows how to make them the easy way. You should be able to get a pair of greaves finished and ready for the customer within six hours, seven tops. I have made so many of them that I can usually get them done in five. Not counting the fitting or leathering.

The greave above has been shaped to cover the ankle, swell out over the calf, and make a nice shin bone line. That shin bone is dead straight (unlike a real shin bone come to think of it) and like all straight lines, it shows in the harsh light. My shop light, with its horizontal bars of flourescent lights is very unforgiving of any wonkiness or dents. (as is the "sharpening and enhance tools I have used to make these pictures presentable.) So it behooves me to do it right. The armour in the above picture is "from the hammer", no sanding or grinding whatsoever.

Above is a close up of the little flare in front. It is a two part flare, the first part goes to forty five degrees, the second part sits at ninety degrees...and it is short so that it won't dig into the top of his foot when he is running. The original brought this curve out to a full roll. I find the flare to be more comfortable. If in the future, Phil decides that the roll is preferable, that is easy enough to do.

Sighting down the length of it, you can see if any bad lines.

From the side, you can see the nice "anthromorphic" lines. Anthromorphic means the metal follows the human lines underneath as it it too had real muscles. To get them right, you need a little knowledge of anatomy, and a measurement of the distance between the points of the ankle and the "heads" of the muscles is also required.
That being said, you can also idealize the sculpture. This is not so important with a lower leg, which in this century is not as sexy and subject to fashion as it has been in previous centuries, but you can imagine how useful it might be to make a flat six back belly, or a sculpted chest.

Tomorrow I shall put the second part up, which shows how to do the sculpting, and then the last part will show the fitting and leathering.

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