Saturday, November 22, 2014

Armor Details - Really, This is the Last Post on Armor

For today's final post on the costume armor that I made, I took some detailed photos showing how the pieces were connected to each other. This was what I did in the last few days before my trip, bringing together all the little details to make a "working" suit of armor.

Backplate. Note the hanging flap in the middle...

...connected using two small leather straps, riveted to the flap and to the blackplate. Note also how I continued the gold paint around to the back side and in about 1/4 of an inch. This way if someone happens to get a brief glance at the backside, it still looks like brass or gold metal edging wrapped all the way around.

Lower left "ribcage" of the backplate. This leather strap connects to a matching strap (with real buckle) on the breastplate. I used a total of four of these straps to connect the breast- and backplates: one at each shoulder, and one under each at the ribcage.


Breastplate close-up. Note the three rivets holding the three pieces together. Remember the flap attached to the backplate? Here I apparently have two overlapping flaps, attached to the two-piece breastplate above them. It looks pretty complex, but you will see it was a bit simpler than it looks, below.

Lower ribcage end of the breastplate, showing the leather strap with buckle to connect it to the backplate. I used double rivets on some straps, where I was concerned that the stress on the strap might pull out a single rivet or possibly even warp or damage the armor itself. For the straps and buckles, I purchase a bag of 20 buckles and a 20-pack of 30-inch black leather straps. So I had to measure and cut every one of these pieces to length, make holes for rivets and a cut for the "tooth" of the buckle so it could move, and then rivet the buckle into the strap and rivet the strap to the armor. I got to be pretty good at it, but it was still time-consuming.

Inside of the breastplate. Note the three rivets... and that there is just a single piece showing. There actually is only one "flap" in front, and it's the middle piece (take a quick look above to see it again, it has a rivet right in the middle). The most difficult part of this was the rivets, as they are a bit short and can just barely pass through two sheets of Sintra to connect them. Three sheets of Sintra are too thick. So I had to get a bit creative in the placing of the rivets, to make sure they only passed through two sheets at a time. Also, just to be totally honest, I ended up gluing these pieces together between the sheets, as the rivets popped apart on me twice. Since I didn't want that happening at the Fest (or any time in the future), I just glued the pieces together to make it permanent.

Front view of the three-piece greave. I actually did not originally intend to connect all three pieces. My plan was to have the greave as a standalone piece, and then the knee-pieces would be connected as a separate unit. But when I tried wearing them together, the knee pieces kept sliding down over my shin. So, I just decided to rivet them to the greaves so that the whole thing would stay in place, which worked great.

Side view close-up of the connected pieces. More rivets, and the challenges of connecting two pieces of Sintra. The Worbla edging made it difficult, as that made them too thick for the rivets. Thus you see the rivets just inside the edging, in most cases. That top rivet overlapping the Worbla was a real pain.

The rivets permit a certain amount of movement, making this a truly articulated knee joint.

Inside view of the knee joint, showing riveted joints and leather straps, which wrapped around behind my legs and buckled together. In all, I think I used about 18 buckles on the complete set of armor.

Full inside view of the greave and knee pieces. I used three sets of straps and buckles to keep them held to my legs.

Thigh pieces. Even with two buckled straps, they tended to slide down my legs. Fortunately, the knee pieces kept them from sliding down too far, so I just let them slide. In the future I may add a vertical strap from the top center, that would go up and connected like a suspender to my belt ... or something.

Vambraces (forearm protectors). I was going to put one or two straps with buckles on these as well, but they fit so firmly it was not necessary.

Shoulder pauldrons. Note, once again, the rivets. You can't see them here, but each of the overlapping pieces is riveted to the one above it.

Top view of the pauldron. What are those extra pairs of rivets on the left side?

Inside view showing how I used rivets and little leather straps to connect the overlapping pieces. The middle piece was connected to the big piece using three short straps. The lower piece connected to the middle piece directly with rivets. Unfortunately I ran into more rivet-popping issues here, and I ended up just gluing the lower piece to the middle piece, so that it couldn't move (and thus pop out the rivets). I did not get the idea to use those short leather straps until right here, otherwise I would have connected the lower pieces to the middle ones using straps, instead of rivets and glue. Also... note the fuzzy velcro strap in the big piece.

OK, here you can see what those extra pairs of rivets were for. They connect those leather straps at the top. Each of the straps has a small strip of velcro stapled to the end, which you can just see here.

This was how I connected the pauldrons to the breastplate. Those two leather straps with velcro would slide under the shoulder sections of the connected breast and backplate, then come back and stick to the velcro strip which was glued to the inside of the big pauldron piece. I needed my wife to "hang" these on the breastplate while I was wearing it, and get everything connected. It would have been quite impossible for me to do it myself.

And, last but not least, the in-process hip protector flaps. They are conspicuously missing from the photos of me at the Ren Fest, although I think the armor looks pretty good even without them.

So that's about it. I just wanted to give y'all some extra details on the final construction of the armor, in case you were interested. All in all, making this armor was a great experience. I learned a lot about the "tricks" involved in costume making, and got a bunch of great ideas for my next suit of armor (yes, I am that crazy).