Breastplate part 3

Time taken: 19 hours, making a total of 41 hours for the breastplate construction.
Materials: 1/2 inch stainless 18g jump rings, red drill fabric, charcoal linen, gold acetate satin, waxed thread, cotton thread, small pieces of 1-1.2mm leather, 4 x square full buckles 38mm to 40mm*, 2 leather straps 38mm to 40mm (each approximately 80cm long – measure your model), 810 cap 10-12mm shank rivets, paint – mars black and burnt umber, finishing varnish (mod podge works).
Tools: Craft knife, scissors, 2 pairs pliers, pins, edge bevelling tool, sewing machine, iron, speedy stitcher, mallet, rivet setter and anvil, paintbrushes.
Techniques: Leatherwork, basic sewing, maille making, applique, painting.
Difficulty level: Hard on the hands, a bit tedious and measuring is important, otherwise straightforward.

At the end of the last post, the body of the jacket had been formed and it was ready for its finishing touches. I was making maille flat out, because this is the sticking point in the process what with being so slow to do. But the ‘touches’ involved more than just maille. There’s all this other stuff too:

Cullen back viewTo start, there’s those leather straps on the back. For this, I used belt lengths because they are already cut a lot straighter than I can do it. First I cut them to length – two bits for the crossover at the back, two for the straps:

breastplate025Then they had to have their edges bevelled and to be dyed. I used an oil dye in ‘chocolate’ for this. You’ll see here I’ve also cut the four keepers and the wee square that finished the centre of the crossover at the back, which I’d forgotten in the first pic. Note also that I shaped them and punched the holes before dyeing – this means that you don’t get any natural coloured bits left over where you’ve cut bits off after dyeing.

breastplate026Then it was time to add the buckles. The ones I used had a nifty little attachment in which you put the end of the leather into a slot, and then flip over a wee hinge thing that has teeth that bite into it and hold it in place. No sewing, neat!

breastplate027And to put them in place, all I had to do was unpick a little of the seams on the back of the jerkin and sew the holding straps in*, then clip the buckles on:

breastplate028breastplate029And then for the other straps, threading them through the holes in the sides of the breastplate and jacket and riveting them in place:


And finally, adding the buckles on the ends and doing them up. This bit is where it’s a good idea to try it on the model again and trim off any extra length to get a perfect fit.

breastplate032Then that got put aside in favour of making the sleeves. For this, I used the same applique technique as for the back, only this time it was a narrow charcoal stripe over a broader gold one, and it seemed to be off-centre towards the back of the arm:

breastplate033I didn’t bother going to the bottom of the sleeve because he’ll be in gauntlets, and I also made a bit of overlap with the edge of the double thickness bit so that the edge of the underarm chainmail will be covered where it’s attached:

breastplate034And believe it or not, somehow during all this I also managed to finish the chainmail square, which was duly sewn on:

breastplate035*insert a hold-music easy-listening compilation of New Zealand artists including Bic Runga here while I make the other bit of chainmail and sew it on the other sleeve*

And then the sleeves got sewn into the jerkin using the same double row of stitching as the rest of it:

breastplate036Once the construction was complete, the flaming sword design needed to be coloured in using mars black acrylic:

breastplate037And the final touch was to add some weathering using a wash of burnt umber and mars black. I went more lightly on this than on the shield because in the ref pics it looks like Cullen spends a fair bit of time polishing his breastplate *ahem*notaeuphemism*ahem*, so just a light coating and a bit of ‘grime’ in the corners to make a vaguely aged-metal patina.

Then a coat of protective varnish in satin finish – I bought some special stuff but only because the shop I went to didn’t have Mod Podge, which would work just as well.

And then I carted it outside and took pictures, because well, you have to:

Breastplate finished smallNext bit: pauldrons!

If you’re a person who measures your creations by media, this was one season of Vikings and four of Skins. Just so you know.

*If I were smart I’d have left these gaps instead of having to unpick them, but what can I say? My foresight is limited apparently.

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