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Thread: From Jennie to Dammit

  1. #21
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    Since I wanted to start off with transportable, do-it-yourself armour, we're going to do lamellar armour. This is an old, old technology. We've got examples in bronze, leather, even bone in some cultures. Lamellar is nothing more or less than pieces strung together to form a whole. It can be as ugly as deer shoulderblades drilled and stitched or as beautiful as Samurai battle armour.

    When making lamellar, you first need to decide on your shape. I went with basic scale shape seen in history from London to Rome to Byzantium to Siberia to Tokyo to Anchorage.



    Now, here is the important part. When you've decided on the shape of your scale, and the pattern you want (links for examples on the bottom), you find the smallest piece of leather you've got that will take that pattern and make your prototype. Cut it out, look at it, fiddle with it, make SURE that is what you want. Then you get a piece of cardboard, metal, wood, what-have-you and you make your stencil. Trace your prototype, then cut it out on the INSIDE of the lines. One of the interesting bits of working with harvested leather is figuring out how to get the most scales for your piece. Depending on the boot, I could get anywhere from ten (for a cheap summer boot) to two dozen for a nice winter boot scales per boot. Trace them out on your leather and cut them out. I've found that chef's scissors work great for this. Might want to ask the cook in the house, or go buy a set just for crafts.

    Before we get in a rush, you need to decide what kind of armour you want. Do you want just a vest that plops down over your head? Do you want a suit that is one solid piece with a head-hole that ties in the side? Do you want a suit that fastens in the front? This is all up to you. Browse the internet and find something that looks cool and interesting. Then take you an old t-shirt and put it on. Take a metric TONNE of duct tape and tape that thing all over till it's stiff. Then carefully cut up the back. You've now got a mold of your body. From here you can take cloth, or newspaper or whatever and make a template of what that awesome armour looked like, and how it fits to your body.

    Or you can be a dumb-ass like ME, do NO planning and just try and make it fit as you go along. This works better with the vest-over-the-head kind of armour, which is why I picked it. Easy, but a bit restrictive. The amount of work you want to put into it is up to you. But don't be afraid to experiment.
    Last edited by Dominic; 11-19-2012 at 05:25 PM.
    Why gentlemen, I am positively quaking in my sexy boots.

  2. #22
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    Now, you don't HAVE to do this bit. If you want a nice, flexible suit of armour that looks pretty, skip on over this. But it won't last as long and won't be as weather-proof.

    There are quite a few techniques for "stiffening" armour. You can soak it in oil and bake it, or just in water and let it dry in a form. You can roast it, stitch designs in it, reinforce it, rub poo on it and let it soak in, hundreds of things through the ages. I wanted mine to be extra ugly, so I chose waxing.

    This is best done outside. I've found a campfire is perfectly suited to this process, as you can move the pot nearer or farther away from the flames to control temperature. Some waxes (not many these days) give off fumes that can make you a bit wonky. If you're using found candles for your found leather, do it outside. There's also less chance that you'll spill wax on your stove and have to scrape it off, or that you'll boil the wax like I'm going to tell you not to and it'll catch fire and you, because you weren't smart enough to not boil the wax won't be smart enough to just put a lid on the burning pot and will instead panic and throw it in the SINK and burn your house down.

    Oh. If you do this inside, do it with the window open and a fire extinguisher at hand. And keep a close eye on it, wax boils fast. No, I don't think YOU'RE an idiot, this message is for the ones I DO think are idiots.

    Waxing is soaking a piece of leather in hot, but not boiling wax, and then setting it into a form or a press. This stiffens the leather, which helps it stand up to blunt trauma. There is debate on it's use against piercing weapons and arrows, as the give could be a benefit in some cases. Oh. This seems a good time to put this in here:

    DON'T MAKE A SUIT OF ARMOUR OUT OF AN OLD COUCH, PUT IT ON AND HAVE YOUR BUDDY WACK YOU WITH AN AXE!

    Never thought it would need to be said, but I had people always asking me if this is what I planned on doing. I'm just a humble armourer. I haven't even been in one place long enough to hop onto the NERO bandwagon and go LARPing. Yeesh.

    SO. Once you've got your pieces cut out, you need a wax pot. This here is important: Wax is DAMN NEAR impossible to get out of cookware, and some of it is toxic to imbibe. So get ye to the dollar store and pick up an old pot and clearly label it. While you're there, buy a pair of cookie sheets. Me, I used a tin can. You're also going to want some way to fish your scales out of the hot-Hot-HOT wax, so either buy yourself two pots and a strainer, or make yourself a wire basket like they do fries in at the fast food joints. I took a hanger and made a spiral that sat on the bottom of my can. Put the basket in first, melt your wax, then drop in the scales.

    Now, the wax is going to be hot and it's going to expand, so don't fill the pot more than say a quarter of the way. If you need more, you can add more. Bee's wax works best for this kind of project, but any candle will work. Try to stick with non-toxic non-perfumed candles, as they can irritate your skin.

    Once you've got the wax melted. MELTED. NOT boiling. Some waxes WILL catch fire from heat, and a few WILL explode if you boil them. Gradual, slow heat. Doesn't take much. I liked to do mine over a camp fire. In Iraq I melted the wax in a tin can over a candle. Doesn't take much heat, folks.

    So, drop your leather scales in and wait till the bubbles stop. This ensures that your leather is soaked all the way through with wax. Then you pull them out, set them on a flat surface, put something else flat (and smooth) on top of them and top the whole thing with a light weight. I used CDs for this, since it's what I had, and set a rock on them. Remember those cookie sheets? Here's where you use them.

    Let your first batch cool. I've found colder is better, so if you're doing this in the cool months take them outside and let them sit. If not, let them cool by the window. If you've bought three sheets like a clever armourer, you can just lay another layer on the top and squish the whole lot down. With four sheets you can be laying one sheet down while the other cools, boosting your productivity. Whatever you like. You'll end up with something a little like this:

    Why gentlemen, I am positively quaking in my sexy boots.

  3. #23
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    Now you've got yourself a batch of flat, shiny scales. I know, they're SO shiny. They're also easy to store. Here's what 100 of the scales looks like:


    Here's where having the RIGHT tools helps. I went down to my local farmer's store and bought a set of these:

    http://www.mjtrim.com/media/catalog/...264-silver.jpg

    It's a leather hole punch. Goes right in your little leather bag, easy-peasy. Now, I will tell you that you'll want to spend a bit more money on these. It may end up being the most expensive part of your project. Try and find a set with a lifetime grantee. Then put the receipt in a plastic bag right in your leather bag. Because you are putting these things through some hardcore use.

    Or you can use a nail. Or a screw. Or a pointy bit of rock, whatever floats your boat. I suppose if you're a good enough shot, you could shoot the holes in, but *I* wouldn't.

    There are, again, MANY patterns you can use for this. I went with what has been used the world over, and what I was working out in my own brain. Good to see that I can invent a technique that's been around for five thousand years. Take your prototype and carefully mark out where the holes will go. Don't put them too close to the edge, as the leather WILL wear over time and break-throughs are a pain. Punch your holes, have a good careful look at it, and if it's right use it to mark more scales.

    Now, here it's going to depend on YOU. If you want nice, uniform, pretty scales, use your prototype on every single scale to make sure the holes are all completely uniform. Me, I'm making Ork armour. After I figured out where the limits were, I just eyeballed it. It's up to you. Here's what mine looked like all pretty:



    Now, note that you CAN see the wax on the scale. That's going to happen. It's also going to rub OFF of the scale, and drip when it gets over 95 out. So you're going to want to store this bad boy in a cloth bag inside a not-cloth bag, and don't wear pretty cloths under it. You're going to want to wear atleast one thick layer under this stuff just to avoid chaffing. This is a good time to let a secret slip: Armour? It's uncomfortable. Always has been, and I've worn styles from just about always on. This, lorica segmentata from the Romans, maille, a full plate harnass all the way up to a flack vest and an IBA. It all sucks, and it all restricts your motion. One of the benefits of making your own is that you can truely customize it and play with it over the months and years till it REALLY fits you.

    Once you've got your scales together, it's time to string them. String choice is up to you. Any rope, thread, wire or chain which will go through the holes will work. This goes for all lamellar, by the way. I've seen it made out of old five-gallon buckets or from trays stolen from McDonalds. I plan on making my next suit out of bone. I picked leather because I had it on hand and wanted an all-leather suit.

    Stringing is easy. Here, I'll give you a picture:



    Now, this is actually two steps. You want to ignore the top and bottom holes for now, and just look at the ones in the sides. It's probably the simplest, though one of the more time-consuming, parts of the project. To start your string, I'd make a good sized know, run the string through a washer and then thread it up through the first hole. Finish it the same way. That'll keep your knot from pulling through the hole. You can also tie your string to itself, which is what I did.
    Last edited by Dominic; 11-19-2012 at 05:29 PM.
    Why gentlemen, I am positively quaking in my sexy boots.

  4. #24
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    Remember at the top of the page, when I said to make a form of your body and a template? This is where that's going to come in handy. You should have a bunch of these:



    Very shiny strings. How do we know how wide to make them? Simple. Follow your pattern. It really is that easy. Lay your pattern out flat. Now, starting from the bottom edge, make your first "belt" of scales the width of the pattern. Please note that I didn't say lay the scales out that wide. The scales are going to stretch and flex, so you'll only know how many you need when you get there. When you've got the first row done, make the second. When you've got the second row done, string the first and second together. Now do the same starting from the opposite side. This is where you use the "Top and bottom holes" that I said to ignore the last post.

    Now, if you want a suit that drops down over your head, you just make a belt that goes around the widest part of your torso and make a hoop out of it, then work your way up with more hoops till you come to your armpits. This is called making a "body barrel". From your armpits just measure across your front and back, and build up accordingly.

    Here's my most current picture. It's laying sideways, but I'm sure you can work that out:



    As you can see, I no longer have the body barrel. See, when you blow out your knee and can't run anymore you start to get fat and when you start to get fat your armour doesn't fit any more SO I'm on a diet and I decided to make my armour a bit more adjustable.

    This is just the very, very basics. There is SO much more you can do with leather scales. You can include various shoulder armour, you can make helmets, shields, bracers, greaves, barding (my dog may go Larping with me as a warg with scale dog barding), it's up to YOU. Figure out what you want, and make it. And watch these posts, as my own armour progresses, pictures will come here. I have plans for a lamellar/maille helmet as well... as soon as I find me more boots. Let me know if there are any questions, or if there is a specific piece anyone would like to see instructions for.

    And the promised links:
    Scale/hole patterns:
    http://www.armourarchive.org/pattern...ar_templarbob/
    http://members.ozemail.com.au/~chris.../lamellar.html
    http://kyb0417.blogspot.com/2010/08/...th-centry.html
    http://www.insulaedraconis.org/docum...ar/armour4.htm

    Armour:
    http://armstreet.com/catalogue/full/...ody-suit-9.jpg
    http://www3.uakron.edu/worldciv/china/ch-armor.html
    http://getasword.com/blog/wp-content...llar-armor.jpg
    http://www.skornictwo.pl/english/armours_1.htm
    http://www.medievalists.net/wp-conte...lar-armour.jpg

    Helmets, bracers, greaves:
    http://img176.imageshack.us/img176/4493/aaadp.jpg
    http://www.dagorhir.com/forums/index.php?topic=15452.0
    http://armstreet.com/catalogue/full/...lmet-armor.jpg
    http://images.metmuseum.org/CRDImage...t/DP124328.jpg
    http://fc05.deviantart.net/fs70/i/20...ry-d5cghzo.jpg
    http://www.asianart.com/exhibitions/...mall/03_11.jpg
    http://fc06.deviantart.net/fs71/f/20...no-d37fhkd.jpg
    Why gentlemen, I am positively quaking in my sexy boots.

  5. #25
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    Sam: It's 106 miles to the Crack of Doom, we've got a magic ring, two daggers, it's dark, and we're wearing sunglasses.
    Frodo: Hit it!

  6. #26
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    You know, I've heard great things about airbrushing, has anyone got any experience with putting makeup on with one?
    Why gentlemen, I am positively quaking in my sexy boots.

  7. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dominic View Post
    I chose waxing. This is best done outside. I've found a campfire is perfectly suited to this process, as you can move the pot nearer or farther away from the flames to control temperature. ... or that you'll boil the wax like I'm going to tell you not to and it'll catch fire and you, because you weren't smart enough to not boil the wax won't be smart enough to just put a lid on the burning pot and will instead panic and throw it in the SINK and burn your house down. Oh. If you do this inside, do it with the window open and a fire extinguisher at hand. And keep a close eye on it, wax boils fast. No, I don't think YOU'RE an idiot, this message is for the ones I DO think are idiots. Once you've got the wax melted. MELTED. NOT boiling. Some waxes WILL catch fire from heat, and a few WILL explode if you boil them. Gradual, slow heat. Doesn't take much. I liked to do mine over a camp fire. In Iraq I melted the wax in a tin can over a candle. Doesn't take much heat, folks.
    A suggestion from GCSE Chemistry, also used in university microbiology labs: water bath. You don't hold a test-tube of hexane in a bunsen flame. You put it in a beaker of water on a gauze over a bunsen flame. You can still boil hexane that way, and produce some really pretty fireballs, but it's a lot easier to NOT boil it that way. Likewise, you don't put your flask of bacterial culture on the hob to keep it warm. You put it in a water bath and keep the water warm. Water has huge specific heat capacity, which will smooth the surges produced by a thermostat switching the heater on and off, thereby avoiding overheating stuff, and it has a 100 centigrade boiling point.

    Your wax probably melts below 100 centigrade. Most waxes do.

    It probably boils above 100 centigrade. Most waxes do.

    As long as your wax pot is in a big pot of (nearly pure) water with water under it as well as to both sides, the wax in the pot can't be (much) above 100 centigrade ... unless some bastard bolts a tight-fitting lid down over it just to prove me wrong, in which case you should make sure the explosion hits him in the face.
    When I was fifteen, my father thought I knew nothing. When I was twenty-five, I was amazed by how little he thought I'd learned in such a long time.

  8. #28
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    Why gentlemen, I am positively quaking in my sexy boots.

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