Tuesday, December 20, 2016

The Forging trip

In November I went to The Forging, which was organized by some of the guys on the United League of Armourers group on Facebook.  John Gruber hosted it at his shop in Asheville, North Carolina.  I took a body casting class with David Haliburton, which showed how to use quick fiberglass casts to get a better model for customers.
He did a great class on finishing techniques, which covered hammer finishing, hot planishing, and a range of polishing and grinding tricks.
  John Meyer taught a class I really enjoyed on making the center mount bascinet hinges.
Eric Dube walked us through grieves, and built a breastplate.  You can also see him using a power hammer that Travis Blankenbaker made (and taught a class on.)

Wade Allen brought out his antiquities, which I'd seen at the Texas hammer in years ago.  He sculpted this greave cold.  No idea how or why exactly he didn't use heat, but it's excellent work.
I love how narrow the ankle is, and how pronounced the asymmetry of the muscle is.
  I've started using some of the things I learned there.  I got a new gas saver, and switched from using oxy-acetylene for hot work to oxy-propane, which allows me to ditch the dark shade glasses.  I assembled all the components and Scot helped me build my first fiberglass body mold, so I can make far better fitting body armour now.  I just need to finish up the great bascinet, and fix the arms I was working on...

Late 14th century arm observations

I've been tinkering with arm designs for years and something Ian Laspina said got me digging into a trend in the late 14th century originals.  From 1375 to 1410, in England, we see a three things:
1. The entries in effigies and brasses (great web site, totally explore it) show far more flat brasses than the same span in France, Germany and Belgium, which favors full sculptures.
2. The English examples are more homogeneous.  It's like they had a vacuforming storm trooper mold that they popped these guys out of.
3. The English guys are more likely to have a long rerebrace and a short spaulder.
Here are the English guys.
Here are the French, Belgian, Austrian and German guys.
It's harder to give an example of the look that was typical on the content, because there's so much variety.  A lot of them have partially obscured, damaged, or just vague shoulder protection.  Some of them are a lot like the English guys, though they're more likely to have pauldron lames that go down to the middle of the upper arm, while the English guys tend to have a smallish spaulder cop and a few short lames that stop in the dip between the shoulder muscles and the swell of the tricep.
  I've collected a hundred images of late 14th century arms on Pinterest here.  Seems like my eye is drawn toward the long rerebrace versions.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Great bascinet project

I've taken a few swings at making a King Renee style great bascinet, because they look cool, and appear to give a great balance of protection, vision, and authenticity, yet you hardly ever see reenactors using them.  I think there are a few reasons for that.
1. They're pretty difficult to make.
2. People are easily pleased with less accurate, easier to build helmets that don't really look all that much like these.
3. There's some concern about head mobility and being able to feel shots.  I really don't know if either of those concerns is warranted, but fighting in this might tell me. 
  I collected my research pictures over on Pinterest here.
  I've thrown out the sad evidence of my first attempt.  I decided to raise the whole thing and managed to punch a hole though it because I really didn't know what the hell I was doing.
  The second attempt is still lurking in my shop, but may never see the light of day because it was both colossally large, and a colossal failure.  I tried measuring all kinds of things, but they didn't get me in the right size ball park.  This one too, was a raising attempt, and I had a better feel for raising by the time I embarked on it, but because it was so big, by the time I got it to be vaguely helmet shaped, the edges were something like 10 gauge, and emphatically refused to move any more.
  So behold, take three, which is a raised/dished/welded combo, done in 410.  I started with a slightly oval disk in 13 gauge, which I dished and raised into the main bowl of the skull.  The process pics start in the bottom right and progress to the top left for some reason.  The pic in the bottom left is a template I used to gauge the depth.

It took a long time, a ton of gas, and a lot of sweat. I trust my TIG welding skills more now, so my next rendition of this will probably use a two or four piece bowl.  I welded on the tail and formed the bevor here:
Another thing I'll do differently next time is use oxy-propane instead of oxy-acetylene for the hot work parts.  The other guys at the Forging in North Carolina were all using oxy-propane and besides being cheaper, gives them a flame that doesn't scorch your retina, so you can do hot planishing without shade 3 goggles.  I'm somewhat proud of having done most of this half blind, but that doesn't get you any extra credit.  Examples of what I'm trying to create are tacked to the wall behind the work bench.
   Because I'm doing this in 410, which hardens after any hot work, I had to anneal this a couple times to get it to this state.  Some of the planishing is just too difficult to do well hot, and if it's not annealed, the steel is too hard to do it cold.  Some really impressive armourers, like Eric Dube really don't work in spring steel at all, or like Wade Allen, work in 1050 and don't always even heat treat their work.  I'm considering spending some time working in mild steel like Eric, or going back to 4130 like John Gruber prefers for a while to improve my skills and make some neat pieces.
In the illustrations it's not obvious how the bevor and the visor come together exactly.  There's a hinge that seems a little unnecessary, but it's in all but a couple of  the extant great bascinets, and the visors of the side mounted regular bascinet visors.  Why not just rivet the visor straight to the helmet?  This approach does allow you to swap in different face plates, but it's a lot harder to get everything to come together just right.  The other thing you'll notice is that the forehead part of the face plate and the chin part don't all attach together in one pivot point in the extant examples, so I screwed that detail up.

    I don't like the hinge.  Next one needs at least one more knuckle, probably two, which would be easier if I start using real cut off wheels instead of just grabbing another grinding wheel from the crate my dad gave me back in the 1990s.  I think it would be easier to place the hole in the helmet after the visor is shaped, rather than while I'm figuring it all out. Because I punched those pivots early, I ended up welding some awkward extensions into the top of the visor, and the knuckles of the hinge are a mass of little welds.  They ground down OK, but it could have been far easier and more elegant.
    I decided to weld the vertical bars on, hoping it would be a cleaner look.  The illustration lacks detail on how the artist thinks the originals were done, though honestly they were probably all riveted.  To get a roughly equal spacing between the bars as they arc out, each bar has to have some bend to it, so the flat patterns for the outer bars are all C shaped.  I don't find that as aesthetically pleasing, so I tried to keep that as subtle as I could.

So I still have the horizontal bars to put in place, some shaping to refine, and holes for ventilation, the liner, a chin strap, and crests to put in.  I was very pleasantly surprised to find hot punching is really damn easy, so I'll be doing a lot of that.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Pushing arm harness design

I've been beating myself up for some things in my arm harness design.  I've been doing a decent job on the elbows, but my upper arm game has been weak.

Monday, November 2, 2015

One set of arms finished, and another in progress

I finished Toby's arms:
And I've made some more progress on my own set of late 14th century arms.  The cops are raised which makes the points much thicker than other approaches I'd tried, while giving me more control over the shape.
 Having good pictures easily available in the shop makes comparing your work to originals much easier.  I like the depth and angle I'm getting on mine, though the neck (the bit near where the fan starts) is a little thicker than it should be, at least compared to the Churburg #13 arms.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Gwynn Breastplate

There aren't many pictures of this breastplate floating around.  It's a lot like the Churburg 14.