Time taken: 22 hours
Materials: Expanded PVC foam board, hot glue, Wonderflex, Rub ‘n’ Buff in silver leaf, acrylic paints (graphite, mars black, burnt umber), 810 cap 10mm and 12mm shank rivets, 2 x 32mm belt blanks, 1 x 20mm belt blank, 4 x 25mm chrome rectangles, 4 x 32mm buckles, waxed thread, Chocolate coloured leather dye, mod podge, pair of suede gloves.
Tools: Craft knife, heat gun, glue gun, paintbrushes, mallet, hole punch, rivet setter and anvil, rubber gloves, sponge, speedy stitcher.
Techniques: Plastic thermomoulding and fabrication, painting, leatherwork, riveting.
Difficulty level: Fiddly. Easier than shaping the pauldrons, but only marginally, and much more faffing around.
I used this pic for reference:
My skills are not yet up to glove making, so I had bought a pair of suede gloves that looked the part online:
They weren’t quite the right colour, so I used a whole bottle of chocolate coloured leather dye making them a bit darker to go with the rest of the costume. Dyeing is messy and stinky and it goes right through the latex gloves I normally use, so out came the heavy duty ones..
Once those were done they were set aside and I started work on the elbow guards. Making the template for these was just trial and error – they are a very strange shape and it took several goes to get it even close to right. Then I cut the shapes from PVC foam board, heated and shaped them, and glued them together using hot glue.
Because they were such a weird shape, you can see in that picture that they didn’t fit together all that well. While I know the hot glue makes a bond that will hold, I wanted them to look as if they are properly made, so I used quite a lot of modelling clay to fill in the gaps and smooth the edges.
Then they also went to one side, and I started on the endless bits of Wonderflex that make up the articulated gauntlet part. This involved more trial and error, and measuring against the glove, and remembering that my model has much bigger hands than me. Eventually I had a bunch of pieces of cardboard in more or less the right shapes, that translated after cutting to 48 pieces of Wonderflex, each of which had to be marked to make sure they stayed in the right order. You can cut Wonderflex with scissors so that part didn’t actually take that long.
And then there was about an hour spent carefully heating and shaping each piece to fit in its place. Wonderflex is floppy when it’s heated and also sticky, so I had to be careful not to get it stuck to anything, and there was a lot of sitting holding stuff while it cooled enough to maintain its own shape. And then I couldn’t resist stacking them together to see what they’d look like:
I wasn’t happy with that bit at the bottom of the bracer by the wrist. It was misshapen and no amount of modelling clay was going to fix that. I ended up adding an outer cover for it that is longer and flares a bit more. It’s a divergence from the ref pic, but not by much and it looks a lot better. Once that was done, I added a narrow strip to the edges of all the bracer pieces, and each piece got its imperfections filled in with modelling clay. And then, 3 coats of gesso. Gesso fills in the slightly mottled look Wonderflex has, and once sanded makes a smooth surface that paint will stick to, but that will retain their metallic shine.
Then they too got put aside, and it was time to make the leather straps. Cullen’s gauntlets have an extension that covers his elbow and straps around his bicep, along with a strap to hold the elbow guards on, and the bracers each have two thin leather straps on their backs. Each of these had to be cut from leather, their edges bevelled, holes punched and dyed to a deep chocolate brown. I also cut and added darts to the leather gauntlet extensions at this time.
Then they were left to dry and it was back to the armour. Before painting the fingers, each piece had to be fitted, cut to shape and marked individually to its place on the glove. I’ve never made articulated gauntlets before so I didn’t really have much idea how long they needed to be, and this seemed like the best way to get them to move together and not rub while still being the right length to look the part.
And then it was time for painting and weathering. Anyone who’s read any of my tutorials before will know this process – a layer of Rub ‘n’ Buff in silver leaf, followed by a layer of graphite washed on and partly rubbed off to darken and remove some of the ‘new penny’ shine. Then burnt umber mixed with mars black and coated heavily on, then dabbed off with a damp paper towel to leave bits in the corners and hollows. The paint lightens a couple of shades as it dries, so I usually go heavier than seems sensible – otherwise I end up doing umpteen coats and swearing a lot.
They are finished with two coats of mod podge, but any finishing varnish in satin or matt will do. Finishing this part meant that all the parts for the gauntlets were complete, and it was time for fabrication. First, all the straps needed their buckles attached and the elbow guard straps were riveted onto the guards themselves.
The gnome in that picture is relevant – his hat is a nice little cone that fits inside the bracers and makes the perfect anvil for adding rivets to the fiddly insides of things:
You can see there that I’ve added a bit of weathering to the leather using sandpaper, because I don’t think any of Cullen’s stuff is new.
For the articulated finger armour, I started off stitching it on using the sewing awl, but after about an hour I was over that. It’s really hard to stitch properly when you’re tying off inside the fingertip of a glove! So I tried hot glue, and it worked! In less than an hour, all of the gluable bits were glued on!
I put a couple of stitches in the hand and arm parts to hold them in place, then threaded the bracers over the top and stitched them in place too. The final part was stitching the gauntlet extension and bicep strap to the top of the gloves, and voila! Articulated gauntlets!
I am quite pleased with how they look. Eventually I’ll fix the flare on the bracers because it is too wide – however I’m going to take a rest from them for a while because making them was quite a mission!