Wednesday, 13 January 2016

New throwing axe cover for Baroness Christiana (with pictures)

So this one has been a long time posting but I couldn't share it publicly until the big reveal for Her Excellency Christiana. She was elevated to the Order of the Pelican over a year ago now at 12th Night in January of last year. At the time I promised to make her a fancy throwing axe cover. Unfortunately, last year was not a fun year for us at home so I've fallen way behind on my backlog of promised projects. I finally got this one done in the fall but because I haven't been to many events in the southern part of Ealdormere this year, we haven't really crossed paths. Fortunately, Lady Augusta came up for a visit for Feast of the Hare in November, and I was able to send it via Talfryn courier. She delivered it to Christiana at Wassail.

I had the advantage in making the pattern in that Christiana and I use the same type of throwing axes. HE Percival also sent me a tracing of one of her axes, but in the end I just used one of mine as a 3D model.

It isn't necessarily a period design, but I think the technique of wrapping leather around an item and making a case/sheath is probably period appropriate. I did try to search out some period axe covers but I didn't really find much. Maybe a future research project?

In any case, the first picture below shows the pattern shape I settled on based on the shape of the axe. I tooled in the Pelican on one side and then did a series of small winged snails along the front flap (Christiana's primary charge in her heraldry). 

I had a hard time settling on a main colour because I wanted good contrast and was concerned if I used red the little blood drops from the pelican would be lost. In the end I used two different reds, a darker read as the main colour (which is a bit like a brick-red) and then a brighter red for the blood drops. It doesn't pop as much as if I used a contrasting colour but the white snails and pelican sure do, and it is Ealdormere after all so there has to be lots of red.

I then folded the cover around the axe and laced the bottom and the edge using artificial sinew (I thought about using waxed linen thread for authenticity but thought the artificial sinew would be more durable given that a sharp axe would be sliding in and out of the item). This is the pelican side of the cover on one of my axes.

Here's the back with the flap tied down using leather laces. Next time I'll have to rethink the closing laces as they get in the way a bit this way when you try to put the axe in or take it out. It's a bit of an awkward design, so there's room for improvement in the engineering. You'll also notice there are only four snails on the final piece while there were five in the picture above. I had to modify the size and shape of the flap once it was assembled, and one of the snails had to be sacrificed. That'll teach me not to do a mock-up of a new design.

Here's the final piece fully assembled, just before it went out the door. I'm hoping she likes it. :)