Friday, November 22, 2013

Making armour for Gods!

My latest attempt to make  Toronto client happy....
Wings should be big enough now!
Lots of snow for a ninth of November.  Later on, there was enough that we called it a "winter Wonderland.
     Thats MY war hammer.  Hits hard.  Kicks ass.  Kicks pumpkins too!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Wall of weapons!

When the Turks attacked Vienna, they were thrown back.  There was a lot of good stuff lying on the battle field, and it all ended up in the War Museum.   At the very bottom of this pile of closeups is the original wall.
      Some of the pics are a little blurry.  Oh well....

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Sunday, October 20, 2013

Nice little cuirass

nice little armour     

This is one of the Armours in the War Museum in Vienna.  I like it because it  is so clearly USED!

Wonder how it got used.  Who did the damage.  And most importantly, why was such a fat man going into combat?    (Well, I suppose I only need to look to myself)

It is fire blackened, with those nice lead lines across the top.  No buckles under the arms, but a belt to go under that rather cool peascod placqart.

Its a heavy one though...likely 16, maybe even 14 gauge.  The back is light 18 gauge iron.  The surface plate was probably a plain anvil which left a lot of scars on the surface.  The owner probably liked it that way!

Monday, October 14, 2013

A Vienna Armour, close up.

 A random piece of armour in the war Museum in Vienna.   Unlike the Kuntsthistorisches Museum in Vienna. (a monument to the sport of jousting.  Over there in the new palace is the huge collection brought together by the Hapsburgs.  Basically,  Arch Duke Ferdinand of Tyrol,  Maximillian's collection. There is a war armour section as well.  There will be a lot more of that in the months coming!)   The war museum on the other hand,  is  Below are some close ups with some of my commentary.  First of all...check out the above full view.  A beautiful fire coloured armour with symmetrical shoulders.  This does not look like a jousting or sport armour...the fellow who wore this was prepared for some serious war work.  Its footman's armour...

Lots of good visibility.  I note that the cheek pieces are long enough to be intercepted by the gorget. So its not as open as you might think.  OTOH, I would not want to look up into the arrow storm. 

The barrels on the upper arms are very interesting.  I don't think they are attached to the spauldlers. That is to say, they don't have that interlocking rotating thing that was all the rage at the time.  I suspect the arms are held up by internal leather strapping.  Same as most of the arms that come out of my shop come to think of it.  But the total wrap around of the upper arm is unusual enough for me to point it out.      And look at that beautiful spaldler.  The body is in lames as well as the usual lames up above.  Mobility would be stunning.  I love the matching armour nails (rivets) for the picadills on the topo and bottom.   Lend a nice "boiler" look.

If you look closely, you can see that the harnesshmidt  made the upper arms rounded to fit the arm underneath.  I "should" do them that way...but it takes time and adds to the price. I just leave them flat, same as most of them did back in the day.

The gorget in the picture above is interesting.  It seems almost like a "dog collar" gorget.  Never saw one like it anywhere else.  I wonder if the row of rivets we see along the top held a sort of grande guard of heavy leather once upon a time.  I see that the breastplate is uncomplicated. 

The elbow is very nice.  It would have a LOT of mobility 

The gauntlets are, again, very "ordinance".  The deep flute in the thumb base is interesting. 

 And you can so easily see how nice the tassets and the leg armour come together with those pins at the waist.

Well, there you go.  A nice close up of a random Vienna armour.  I have no idea of its provenance, its age, or anything else.  But it IS the bar we try to conquer here in the shop.

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Sunday, October 13, 2013

Metal-work books.

There are so many great books on the subject of metal work and armouring.  Here is one which I really enjoyed.

Knowledge is priceless.  But I won't leave you with a homeword assignment like that.  How about a sneak peak at one of the Vienna armours.  Pictures from the back of armour are rather rare.  Lets see what knowledge we can squeeze from this one hmmmm.  

The picture above is worth examining closely.  Its pretty late period, what with the big buff coat.  However, keep in mind that it is pretty much at the end of the armoured period, and of course, it would be state of the art.   So lets look at it closely.
      First of all, the  crisp clean lines show stunning workmanship.  The metal has never seen a wheel, every hammer mark on the surface plate shows clearly. ( Once in a rare while, I have been asked to make a surface finish which looks like that rather than using the wheel. The double price usually changes their minds! You have to do it all )  The protective picadills have all vanished of course, one wonders how it would look in the day with bright red or gold frills on those spaudlers.  Or maybe not...this is pretty "ordinance" and maybe the picadills didn't show. 
      I will have to make a proper rolling stake to be able to do that beautiful outside roll.  Oh, how envious I am of that! 
       The cute little fan like flutes on the backplate argue that this is not just an ordinance armour, but it is certainly a functional one.  This is not a parade armour for sure.  How heavy would it be?  Well, having lifted many of  the real armours  over the years, they tend to run in the eighteen gauge range.   This armour might even be steel and tempered, though I doubt it highly.  Back plates tend to be pretty light and assay out as mostly iron.

        The faulds are beautiful.  Note the flat surface which would fit neatly to his saddle. I kind of like the turn key which allows his squire to unclip it if he decides to use a riding saddle instead of a high back jousting saddle.   This was sufficiently unusual to warrant a picture on its own!

        Keep in mind by this time, the armours were commonly being made from old armours.  So the blacksmiths in Northern Italy were cutting up old bullet ridden stuff and forming it into new stuff all the time. You can often see the joins on the inside, but NEVER on the outside.  So a lot of armours will assay differently depending upon where you take the sample from.  An assay of a helmet in the Palace Museum in Malta I had the honour to peruse noted that there was high grade steel on the brow, and the rest was iron.  You could not tell that from just looking at it.  This phenomon has resulted in hundreds of on line forum hours of nonsense.  Clearly they used what they had, not what would be best for the purpose. (Now that threw the cat in amongst the pigeons.)
             Comments are welcome.  Positive ones.  

Friday, August 16, 2013


The breast and back plate is actually a size "small", so the spauldlers look a bit big in this display. 

Not too bad.  I think in future, I shall send the pivot rivets (the rivets on the lames are sliders as well as pivot rivets) out in the open instead of hiding them away under the aillettes.  We had some clearance issues...nothing a side grinder could not fix, but in fact, the lame rivets in the original are about an inch closer to the centre.

Actually, the above shot from the back is a really pretty picture.  Remember, this entire armour is "from the wheel", and has never been sanded or ground. 

The above pic shows that high top lame.  I think in the future, I will round those corners off.  Its hard to imagine swinging an arm back enough for that corner to crank into the neck, but well, it "might" happen.  Always I agonize over every little detail.  This is just another.  

I think I like the flares a LOT better than outside rolls.  Its an economic thing actually...outside rolls cost about 4 dollars an inch.  Flares are just about a buck an inch, if that.

So much more space on the back than on the front!  I suppose I should put more eyelets....say a row of them so the customer can pick and choose as it suits him.  

The articulation is good.  You can put your arm pretty much right over your head.

Just a quick note on the articulation of the lames....the lame rivets are fixed down the back, and they each have a quarter inch of slide on the inside, half an inch on the top lame.  This means the inside of the lames can be collapsed a good inch.   This gives room for the arm to bend without biting the bottom lame.
        Completer pieces for this armour would be either a rotating barrel joint, or a leather (or metal) circle which would enclose the upper arm, and keep the lames from flipping up.  You can see the holes in the bottom lame below to mount whatever the customer wants.  Economic considerations apply.
         So what do people think of the stuff coming out of my shop THIS summer? 

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Saturday, July 20, 2013

Virtual tour of the Sutton Hoo ship burial

Is there anything that Google can't do?

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

MH Hickey sword page


MH Hickey reviewed my sword on his web page.  
Check it out....

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Saturday, June 29, 2013

More on the Staffordshire Hoarde

The Staffordshire Hoard

Has been called Britains King Tut because of its importance.
Actually, I believe that name should be reserved for the Sutton Hoo treasure, but hey, thats just me. 

More gold and silver, including a gold and garnet cross, an eagle-shaped mount, and what could be a helmet cheek piece, have been churned up by ploughing in Staffordshire in the same field which three years ago yielded one of the most spectacular Anglo Saxon hauls.
When archaeologists first scoured farmer Fred Johnson's field in Hammerwich and discovered the hoard, which comprised more than 3,500 fragments of metalwork including sword, shield and helmet mounts inlaid with pieces of garnet and enamel, they left convinced they had emptied it of every scrap of treasure. Now a 90 further pieces have been found.
The workmanship in the new finds appears identical to pieces from the original haul; the helmet cheek piece appears to match one found three years ago.
Experts from English Heritage and Staffordshire county council, who were confident they had uncovered the field's secrets when the hoard was found by amateur metal detectorist Terry Herbert, believe the latest finds must be connected, but a formal decision on that will be taken by the local coroner, Andrew Haigh, in a treasure inquest next month.

When Brenda and I visited the British Museum a few years ago, there was quite a line up to see the Staffordshire Hoard.  They were displayed in glass topped display cases, and the dirt from the excavation were still clogging the cloissonee.  Now, they have found another ninety pieces.  Oh my!

More of the article is here in the Guardian.  So why is this important on an "armouring" blog?  Well, it seems that most of the pieces are actually helmet decorations and sword counterweights.  Anybody who wishes to take advantage of the new fashions in Norse and Anglo Saxon decoration would do well to study this hoard, among others.  It is being exhibited at the Potteries Museum at Stoke-on-Trent until September.

Study of Viking swords is a HUGE undertaking.  For one thing, unlike most swords, the blade is usually very noteworthy.  For another thing, the pommels and grips were unique to various regions, and one can track migrations, battles and raids through finds of swords.
         This site is one which I have found which will take you by the hand through the thickest part of the study!  Leave a couple of hours to study this site...  

above are a couple of studies of the original Staffordshire Hoard discovery, and below is a helmet cheek piece from the latest discovery.

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Wednesday, June 26, 2013

More Ancient Irish Weapons

Above is a priceless find.  Oh, no, not the "rapier" in back, but the soapstone mould into which the rapier and dirks were poured.  Once you have such a mould, all you need then is a supply of bronze and you have weapons.  There is a legend that Peter the Great (three and a half thousand years later!) ordered his boyars to silence, and said "The next sound I hear will be the answer to where I shall get the bronze for my cannons".  Into the deadly silence that followed, a churchbell rang outside the palace...and Peter realized that there was plenty of bronze about, all in the form of bells.
       Which to my mind simply goes to show the value of bronze!

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