Pauldrons part 1

Time taken: 13 hours
Materials: Cardboard, sellotape, expanded PVC foam board, air-dry modelling clay, 1.2mm dark brown leather, wool batting, 4 x stainless steel dog whistles, 4 x metal rectangles 38mm (long side), waxed thread, 810 cap 12mm shank rivets, hot glue, Rub ‘n’ Buff (silver leaf), paint (graphite, mars black, burnt umber), satin varnish.
Tools: Craft knife, heat gun, scissors, edge bevelling tool, dremel with cutting disc attached, speedy stitcher, mallet, rivet setter and anvil, paintbrushes.
Techniques: Pattern making, leatherwork, plastic heat moulding, basic metal cutting, painting.
Difficulty level: Getting the shape of the shoulder bits right was hard, the rest is about moderate difficulty.
So now that our Cullen has his cuirass, he needs some neck and shoulder protection – those lovely giant fuckoff pauldrons that Sirinne reckons will crush his head if he lifts his arms up. But they look really complicated. Where to start?

Well, I used these two pics as my main reference:

gorget pauldronsgorget pauldrons backHave I mentioned how glad I am that I got that back view screenshot? Anyway, in the pics you can see that the main armour of the pauldrons is attached onto leather shoulder pads, which are stitched to a metal collar (apparently called a gorget). The leather shoulder pads are also hooked on to the jerkin part of the cuirass using some kind of metal rectangle loop thing. I assumed that the bit you can’t see is a hook of some sort, so the whole arrangement would be removable and lift off over his head.

So, before making giant metal pauldrons, it’s pretty important to get this bit sorted. The first step being to make the collar that holds the whole thing together. So, it was back to the cardboard and sellotape..

pauldrons009This part was mostly trial and error on The Hoff, until I thought I had it about right. Then I tried it on my model and made some minor adjustments because he’s got bigger shoulders than this mannequin. Then using this template, I was able to cut some pieces from the PVC foam:

pauldrons010These were then bent using the heat gun, and glued together with hot glue to form the basic shape of the collar. PVC foam board doesn’t stick to itself well without you having to overheat it, and then it gives off toxic fumes. Hot glue, however, bonds with it really well.

pauldrons011Once I had the basic shape, I tried it on my model* again and made minor adjustments until it fit snugly in the position I wanted. Then it was a matter of carving it with a craft knife and sanding to get rounded edges (this stuff is really easy to carve and sand), and adding some modelling clay to smooth the bits where the hot glue was obvious:

pauldrons012At this point I also hit it a lot with a ball peen hammer to make it look hammered *cough* and added some bumps and scrapes to it. And finally, a coat of Rub ‘n’ Buff, because it’s loads easier to do a good job of this before you attach any fabric or leather bits to it.

pauldrons018After that, it was time to add the shoulder pad things. To get the basic shape for these, I used the wool batting that would eventually be sandwiched between the leather pieces, because it’s cheap and easy to cut and form. It was done by putting the collar on the model and laying the batting in place. I came up with some vaguely kidney-shaped bits:

pauldrons013Which were then cut from the leather. This was one of those cases of “Oh god I hope it works!” because I didn’t have enough leather to fix it if it went wrong.

pauldrons014Also, those smaller bits over the back were going to be stitched over the top, but I realised I wouldn’t need them as I was doing the main lot of stitching.

There were also the small bits for the stand-up collar part. I couldn’t work out how to do all of the pads and collar out of one bit (making a right angle corner that also runs over a curved shoulder while bending around a neck is beyond my pattern making skills sadly), so I cheated and made them separately then glued them on.

pauldrons019As you can see, I also punched holes for the other stitching, but I realised quickly that with PVC foam board you can just stick the awl straight through. That saved some time.

Then I stitched up the darts in the shoulders to form their cups, then stitched the main pad parts on to get them sitting right, before going all around the outside using a form of blanket stitch. My stitches aren’t as close together as in the picture, but they’ll definitely hold and give the right effect:

pauldrons020So now we have a collar and shoulder pads, they have to somehow attach onto the jerkin. For this I used four stainless steel shepherd’s whistles, which hook through four metal rectangular loops on the jerkin. But, the whistles were too wide to fit through the loops and needed to be cut down. Enter the Dremel. I love my Dremel, it can do so many things! This time, it was being a mini angle grinder, and running at 20,000rpm it got sparks and made short work of the thin steel of the whistles:

pauldrons025They don’t have to be perfect because they will not be visible, but I did grind the edges to remove the sharp bits.

So these were then riveted onto the inside of the shoulder pads like so. I used the pics as a reference for their placement, with the main consideration that they couldn’t be seen from outside.

pauldrons021You can also see my fantastic *cough* straight stitching in that pic. It’s straight on the outside, honest! And also where I ran that second row of stitching around the edges of the shoulders just because there’s one in the pic. Anal, me? Never.

Then for the corresponding loops, I needed to try it all on my model again. This is because their placement will affect a) how snugly the shoulders fit onto the jerkin, and b) where the whole setup will sit in relation to everything else. I needed the point of the collar to just overlap the top of the breastplate, and placed the rivets accordingly.

pauldrons022After that, I added the usual graphite/mars black/burnt umber weathering to the collar, and finished with a coat of satin varnish. It was at this point that I realised the back of the collar had four little rivets on it and added those too.

And then it was time to put it all together:

shoulders finishedSo there you have it. 13 hours’ work to create a base for Cullen’s pauldrons.

* This business of trying it on the model every 5 minutes is one of the reasons commission work is so hard. Without a model of exactly the right shape who’s there whenever you need them, it’s almost impossible to get a custom fit. I take my hat off to those who can achieve this.

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