Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Armour Projects - A List

So, at Kingdom A&S, Avelyn was the subject of a Royal order to get her armour fixed up so that she can get back on the field.

So, with that in mind, we have some projects that need to get finished:

Lamellar armour: (made from plastic so not technically a leather project but I am making the straps and such out of leather). The main torso section is done but Avelyn needs to finish her padding for underneath it so I can finish the sizing. We'll also want to test it out to make sure it gives her enough protection. I'm not entirely sold on the thickness of the plastic. Back-up plan is to find someone to make steel plates for a new coat of plates so she can return the one she borrowed from Constance.

Shoulder/Upper arm protection: I was originally going to make the shoulder protection out of lamellar but will need to see how that will work once we can get it on Avelyn. We have her current lacross pads that can go under any upper-arm protection so lamellar could work I suppose. Would be worried about the tops of her shoulders though.

Legs/knees: Avelyn is looking into ordering some new knees, so we'll need to reconstruct her leg armour and probably her kidney belt that I made. I'm thinking metal strips backed by leather is the best bet. I think she was planning to build some of the leg armour into her fighting pants, so we'll have to see how that will work. Needs to be easier for her to armour herself up however we end up doing it.

That's the bulk of it for now I think. May be other projects as well but I'll update as they come up.

Monday, 21 November 2011

Pictures - My Kingdom A&S project

As promised, here are the pictures of my pouches from Kingdom A&S. As a bit of a pre-explanation, the main difference between the two pouches is the way the mouth of the pocket is formed. On the first pouch (the red one), the piece of leather that forms the pocket simply ends before you get to the flap, forming the pocket. In the second (black/grey one), and more documentable pouch, the front piece goes up past the flap, so I sew the three layers together and a slit is cut into it to form the pocket.

I actually like the design of the second one better anyway. It would help keep items in the pouch better given that they don't have a buckle and strap to keep them closed. It would also be harder to pickpocket.

So, here we go:

The first pouch which I didn't use:


The second pouch, which is the one I entered into Kingdom A&S (Notice the slit cut in the front pouch to form the pocket):


Update from Kingdom A&S

Well, I made it through my first Kingdom A&S. Fortunately, I approached it as an opportunity to get some feedback on how to improve, rather than entering hoping to win, because the lady who won the studio arts division (which is the category where leatherwork is listed) was amazing. She'd made several leather bottles, and also brought in semi-finished ones as well as the wooden moulds she'd made to shape them so you could see the process. They were really impressive. It was also really intimidating because her project was right next to mine on the table. Talk about contrast. Turns out she was the Pentathalon winner from last year, so she's obviously hard-core!

I think to summarize the comments I got, the pouch was structurally sound, it worked well as a pouch and my research was solid. We had a bit of a discussion around why the design would have been good for use in period, which was nice.

What I was missing was some refinement on my technique. I need to work on cleaning up the lines, making sure my cuts are straight and clean, and working on my stitching. They also gave me some tips on materials that would be more period.

I definitely think I made the right choice in scrapping my first attempted pouch, which was much better constructed but not accurate from a research perspective. This is Kingdom A&S after all, and I just couldn't put forward something that I knew was wrong.

I think at this point in my A&S career I'm just into making functional objects, rather than the ornate stuff that tends to do well in competition. I think that's why I really appreciated Aelfwyn's comment that it's nice to see a simple, well made project entered at Kingdom A&S. I might argue with the suggestion that it was "well made" given some of the things I think I could have done better, but I appreciate the point. It'll be interesting to see their comments on the judging forms.

The truth is if I had wanted to enter a stronger project I could have easily done a pouch design that I was more familiar with. I've made a number of falconry pouches that I know how to do well. That wasn't the point. The point was to expand myself and try something I hadn't done before, and then get suggestions on how to do it better. With that goal in mind, I would say it was a success.

Pictures of both versions of the pouch will follow in the next couple of days.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Update on Kingdom A&S

So, you know how I said I was done my Kingdom A&S project. Well, not so much.

I did finish a project that I was planning on using for Kingdom A&S, but I just wasn't happy with it. The pattern that I was using (from Period Patterns #93) just didn't match with my research (primarily from Purses in Pieces) and because the level of documentation that came with the pattern wasn't great I was feeling nervous about submitting it to Kingdom A&S for judging.

Since I have Purses in Pieces, and Goubitz includes all kinds of diagrams about how the pouches would have been constructed, I decided to scrap my previous project and do a new one that more closely followed what I have in my documentation. Seemed like the proper thing to do.

That's not to say that the pattern from Period Patterns isn't accurate, but I just couldn't find enough supporting information showing the construction was correct. Plus, from a structural perspective, it seemed like things would be falling out of the pouch - never a good thing.

So, last night while Avelyn was trying out Skyrim on the PS3, I retreated down to the leather cave (AKA the basement corner where my workshop is set-up) and finished off my second attempt at my project. I used some of the new green-ish leather that I bought (it actually looks black or dark grey in some light).

It turned out OK. I'm still not entirely happy with it, but that's just the perfectionist in me I expect. The stitching isn't straight, which annoys me, but the pattern makes a lot more sense. For a beginner level project, it should be fine. At least I know my research is solid.

Monday, 14 November 2011

Leather carving

So, I've decided to sign up for a five-week leather carving class being offered starting in January by our local leather store. I've been wanting to start learning some decoration and ornamentation techniques to make my projects a little nicer, so its a good opportunity. It also means I'll learn to use some of the gear that Avelyn bought me for Christmas last year that I haven't really been using.

Of course, so far most of my projects have been using garment weight leather so carving wouldn't really be helpful there. But I can see doing some heavier-weighted pouches, belts etc. I could also experiment a bit with carving hardened leather for armour, archery bracers etc.

If I do start working with heavier leather I'll probably need to work on some different stitch types, plus get some more specialized equipment. I'm working pretty basically right now with straight needles, an awl and a rotary punch.

Anyway, hopefully the class will be interesting. I may be missing rapier for those 5 weeks (rapier may be moving to Wednesdays, which is the same day as the course runs).