I have been a leather worker since childhood. My mother did traditional leather carving and had my brother and I stamping, sewing and dyeing leather by the fifth grade. I made belts, knife sheaths and later, armored vests and sword scabbards. Various sets of my armor have been lost over the years, but I still have my last two sets.
The first set is leather brigandine, a vest, shoulders and bracers with helmet, and it kind of sucks. I had little money at the time for craft materials and made do with steel from Home Depot ducts, rivets, scrap leather, artificial sinew and a dremel. The full set can be worn but is not polished and finished like I like it to be.
The second set I went all out on. I call it the Nightshade set for the designs I branded on to it. That set took a year to build. First off, I wanted it to be functional and able to stop a slashing sword blow. So I used heavy oak tanned leather to build a set that is reminiscent of a cross between a Roman Lorica Segmentata and the Elven armor from Lord of the Rings. The website www.armorarchive.com was helpful, but in 2004 no one had patterns online yet for making female armored breast cups that I could find. I ended up cutting up several bras and fiddling with scrap leather until I found something functional, then using Chicago screws and rivets to put them together. The whole set is made from belt leather on top, then riveted 18 gauge mild steel plates that were enamel painted to stop rust riveted to the outside, then a layer of castoff upholstery leather, and finally sewn in padding.
I did a really crappy helm that I have since lost, a cuirass, bracers, pauldrons, a neck and shoulder guard and greaves with integral knee guards all out of that combo. It fit me beautifully at the time, and I even made it so that I could lose or gain a little weight and still fit it. I oiled the whole thing and waterproofed it with beeswax as well as decorating it all over. Then I stopped working in the security field and the armor ended up in my closet for several years.
Eventually I dropped a lot of weight due to starting to get back into shape and a long illness. I pulled the Nightshade set back out of my closet and found that I had lost so much weight I could no longer wear it, even on the smallest setting. Then I picked up on a Tumblr project called Repair Her Armor.
The idea is to take absurd and pointless combat outfits that some idiots call armor from fantasy, RPG and gaming and redraw them for full coverage. That is fine, well and good for flat media artists, but I prefer three dimensional work. So I decided to post my past work with armor here and talk about the next set I am making.
The next set is based on the Fantasy and RPG and D&D idea of the thief or rogue. The rogue wears light armor, can use two weapons, usually short swords and short bows, picks locks, hides in shadows, back stabs and can set or disarm traps. He or she needs to use speed, mobility and agility to their advantage. This means heavy, clunking or shiny armor is right out, as the rogue must be able to hide. Their armor must have pockets and room for hidden pouches, throwing weapons, powders and potions, daggers, garroting cords and the like. Rogues are rarely rich, so the armor must not look too fancy. In the RPG fantasy setting, characters pick up random armor from bandits, so the armor must be adjustable within reason. For the sake of agility the wearer must be able to crouch, kneel, crawl on all fours, jump and do a forward or side roll for evasion.
That is a tall order, especially on a budget. So I will be utilizing some pre made pieces that I adapt to this project and a lot of elbow grease. The first piece was a gambeson purchased from www.museumreplicas.com/p-429-r…
. It is a nice piece, but not exactly what I wanted. So I took the padded sleeves off the under shirt and sewed them to the vest, took the lacing out of the vest sides, and used the remaining fabric from the under shirt to make a hood. Then I took all the studs off for later use in other costumes. That leaves me with a nice brown padded jacket to use as the padding for the torso. The rest of the padding comes from www.darkknightarmoury.com/c-45…
. The upper leg padding came with useless steel knee pieces that will have to be cut out, and the torso split up the sides for a female hip structure. I also bought two nice cheap leather vests for lining the inside of the armored leather pieces. Next will be the oil tanned leather for the actual armor from www.tandyleatherfactory.com/en…
I will be adding photos as my work on this project progresses, plus some of the jewelry I am also making.