Time taken: 8 hours.
Materials: Camping mat foam 8mm, gesso, acrylic paint (gold, precious gold, raw umber, mars black), satin varnish, contact glue, 2x short leather straps, 20mm buckles, 810 cap 9mm shank antique brass rivets.
Tools: Craft knife, scissors, dremel with sanding head and dust mask, rivet setter and anvil, hammer.
Techniques: Leatherwork, carving, fabrication.
Difficulty level: Easy.
The chains are the part of the Saarebas’s costume that pull the whole collar/belt arrangement together and mark this qunari as something different. Anyone who sees the colllar and chains recognises Saarebas, and they are quite distinctive.
I used these three pictures as references:
You can see the links are square rather than rounded, and that the front set have two links for every second loop. To achieve this I made a wee template and drew a grid of squares the right size on the foam. The links that attach to the collar needed to be longer to allow for the extra distance between the holes and the edge. In the pictures they aren’t, but that’s because of the magic of pixels. I cut 60 of the normal shaped ones, 6 of the longer ones, 2 slightly larger links for the back, and the rounded middle front one.
Once they were all cut out, the edges had to be bevelled to make them slightly rounded. To do this I first cut along the edges with scissors to remove the bulk, then followed up with a dremel. I found that having the rpm at about 10,000 allowed the surface to be sanded without melting, and while it was still a tedious job, it was way less tedious than doing it by hand.
Once I was happy with the basic shape, it was time to paint them. Foam tends to absorb paint if you put it straight on, so I primed them with gesso first, then painted them in the following order: 2 coats of precious gold, 1 coat of gold (slightly lighter, whitish gold) brushed lightly on the highlights, then a couple of coats of weathering in the usual umber/mars black combination. Note that this time I used raw umber instead of burnt, because the greenish tinge of the raw umber I thought would hint at verdigris.
Each coat took about half an hour, and since I could only do one side at a time it got quite tedious. Adding the satin varnish to finish was very satisfying!
Then the links had to be linked together. To avoid having to cut every link, I worked out that for the double-linked parts I needed to only cut the single link that would join them which meant each cut link would have four other, uncut ones threaded onto it. The cut was then sealed shut with hot glue.
Once I had the chains as long as I thought they should be, I attached them to the collar at the top and tried it on with the belt. It quickly emerged that I’d need more links. Luckily I’d made more than I thought I’d need, and it ended up being exactly the right amount.
Finally, the chains needed to attach to the belt somehow. I chose to make leather loops with buckles so that the collar could be put on and taken off easily and separately from the belt. It was just a matter of making a couple of short straps and riveting them onto the belt at the sides.
The final step was, of course, to put it all onto The Hoff and see what it looked like. The belt doesn’t fit Hoff very well, but you can get the general idea: