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Warrior Vase Shield
Topic Started: Sep 27 2006, 05:25 PM (2,603 Views)
Matthew Amt
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Khairete!

High time I posted progress photos of this project. This shield is based on those shown on the Warrior Vase from Mycenae. Because of the stylization, it is usually thought that the shields shown are round, even though they are not visible between the soldiers' legs. But at least a couple definitely show the bottom corners turning up to form an inverted pelta shape, so that's what I'm doing this time.

I also decided to go with a plank base, mainly because the little scalloped effect around the edge implied to me a covering of hide or leather folded around the back of a wood core. It could certainly just be one layer of hide or leather over another, or something else entirely, but I figured wood was a good possibility.

The planks are poplar, 3/4 inch thick and 6" wide, glued edge to edge with hide glue. I thinned the edges on the front, mostly by drawknife, and then soaked and fit the rawhide to it. At the back, I cut the rawhide into tabs and stapled them to the back, then left it all to dry. Once it was dry, I pulled out the staples, trimmed the tabs into rounded shapes, and removed the rawhide from the wood.

Now I am chiseling out the back of the wood, hoping to thin the entire board to about 1/4" to 3/8". Once that is done, I'll put the rawhide back on with hide glue, tack the tabs down at the back, and add handle and probably a brace or two to the back. The front will have a central boss and probably 2 or more smaller ones. Not sure if I'll cover the back with anything--I kinda like the idea of leaving the planks visible.

As usual, all of this is also on my website, on the Armor page:

http://www.larp.com/hoplite/BAarmor.html

Here are the pictures!

Matthew
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Matthew Amt
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Oh, the height and width are about 31 inches.

Here is the back with the rawhide stapled in place while drying. The rawhide is translucent so you can see the planks through it--kinda neat.

I think the rawhide wasn't QUITE dry when I took it off (impatient!!), so I'll have to resoak it to get it back on. At which point it hopefully won't shrink too much and wreck the wood...

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Matthew Amt
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Chiseling out the back. Very educational! Moving along pretty well, but it will take a few more hours. I'm leaving the wood full thickness along the seams until last, just for strength--I don't want the thing coming apart as I work. I have a milk crate full of chips and shavings so far, and the board is noticeably lighter. I might use the belt sander to smooth it all after chiseling--but maybe not!

And how to paint the front?? And should I paint the back as well?? Casein paints, of course. Have to look at some old vase paintings for ideas.

Enjoy!

Matthew
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Todd Feinman
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Matt, really nice!! That is going to be superb when its done. Rivers of drool to you!
Todd
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Steve L.
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Looks good - and like an shield-contest between us!? B)

The rawhide is an tricky stuff - i do some "counter-bending" from inside the shield with belts to keep it in shape. Without that, the rawhide will bow the shield in the wrong direction! <_<

Today i painted the first dot-lines with red casein on the not-primed rawhide, the ducks will follow...

It is an very cool effect, to see the rawhide under the painting - very rustic, but on an strange kind noble!
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Todd Feinman
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Matt,
I like that rawhide! It looks more natural than what I have. Where did you find it?

Drool,

Todd
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Matthew Amt
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How the heck did I manage to post this in the European section instead of the Aegean?? Any chance the thread can be moved, Gregory?

Thanks, all! I think I got the rawhide from Siegel of California, Todd. Might have been Leather Unlimited, but I don't think so. Siegel has some good deals, and often has sales on certain things. This hide has a greenish hue to it, but yeah, it's a lot better than rawhide doggy chews.

Steve, I'm definitely planning to brace the board in some way when I put the hide back on. And I'll be very careful not to stretch it too much. I've seen what rawhide can do to a shield board! As for the shield contest, well sure, aren't we all? My list for the future includes the round Mycenaean one, an earlier tower shield (also layered hide, with a furry face), the one-piece wooden Irish shield already in progress, an Irish leather shield (like the Clonbrin), a Sumerian shield, and maybe another bronze shield or two if I get more bronze.

Of course, I already have 3 Roman shields, a Greek hoplon, a German Hjortspring shield, about 5 medieval shields, a Scottish targe, and 5 fantasy orc shields!

Khairete,

Matthew
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Edwin Deady
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two targe, one Pictish, three Anglo-Saxon round, genuine brass Arabian, two bucklers and the copper alloy shield plus some not (never to be?) finished efforts.

Kit gets silly, last year at the Battle of Camlann, Tintagel, Cormwall it ocurred to me, loading up the car to come back, that to take eight helmets was bordering on stupid. Made do with one this year, Sutton Hoo type and a mail coif, worked well.

Edwin
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Matthew Amt
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Khairete!

Finally a little progress on this, sort of. Got the back all chiseled out at last, and smoothed with the rasp disc. I resoaked the rawhide enough to put it back on the front, with a coating of hide glue on the wood, and I tacked the tabs down at the back with copper tacks. Then left the whole thing propped up with some weights so that the drying rawhide wouldn't curl it the wrong way.

But it seems I didn't let it dry enough! Because a couple days later it had indeed turned concave on me, with the middle about 1-1/2 inches deeper than the sides. Sigh... I decided that it didn't matter enough, nailed the handle on the back, and painted the front (casein paint). Yes, impatience wins again.

Then I decided that I didn't like it curved the wrong way! So I re-wet the front with some towels, put even bigger weights on it, and it's going to STAY like that for a whole week! With a dehumidifier on it for the last couple days.

I made a nifty boss for the middle, and might make a couple smaller ones and some little studs as well. Don't have a photo of that, yet, but here's one of the miscreant shield under weights. The cans are full of lead printer's type, and the anvil is 75 pounds alone.

Whew! This better work...

Matthew
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Todd Feinman
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Looks very nice Matt! :o It will also look great with the rest of your kit!!
As for rawhide, sure it's damn near bullet-proof, but attaching it to shields is hell for sure. Keeping it from shrinking and warping shields seems very difficult. I have read that a stone shield press was found in the Ruins of Per-Ramesses -it would certainly help if one was trying to glue a hide to a curved shield! Tut's more functional shields had a layer of calcium carbonate over their wood planks and under their hides. I was perplexed about these layers for some time, until I got my mitts on some calcium carbonate. Interestingly, if a calcium carbonate paste with glue and water (gesso) is applied to a plank shield, the shield warps in a convex manner (desirable), and then dries in a very similar position! This calcium carbonate yields a bone-like layer when dry, which provides some tooth to glue the hide on, and the strength to resist the contraction of the hide. I could never seem to get the hide to completely glue to the planks -probably because it had enough moisture left in it to foil a strong bond. I'm hoping the calcium carbonate is the key, at least for Egyptian shields. I am in the middle of making a new curved plank Egyptian shield this way, so I'll let you know how it goes.

Todd
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Steve L.
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Cool workshop board! :lol: <duck&cover>
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Matthew Amt
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Well, it's done, but it's a potato chip. Re-wetting and re-weighting did not work, so it is now concave in the wrong direction, a full 2 inches deep. Rats. Tired with messing with it, and can't really afford to just chuck it a try again, so I put the boss and neck strap on it and it will just have to do for now. It is about 30 inches in height and width.

The boss is based on one of those from the grave at Liatovouni. I believe it was Andrea who kindly posted the photos of those. The museum has them set up as pectoral plates, but since they were found at the feet of the body it's pretty clear to me that they were shield bosses. Mine is a little smaller than the largest one, and has 2 concentric rows of embossed dots. I can't see any holes at the rim for nails or stitching, so I just went with 4 nail holes.

http://www.larp.com/hoplite/WVshld9.jpg

The handle is oak, secured with 2 nails at each end plus the top and bottom nails that hold the boss. The neck strap is also riveted on with 2 large copper nails and bronze washers.

If the thing had stayed flat, I was going to add at least 2 more smaller bosses. At this point I might trim a little more wood off the back to lighten it a bit. Haven't had a chance to weigh it--it's not horribly heavy, I just wouldn't mind it being a tad lighter.

I have no idea why the paint has that lighter band around the edge! Nor what the darker oily stains are down at the lower left. Sigh... Well, it's certainly been educational!

Enjoy,

Matthew
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Matthew Amt
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Here's a view of the back, and a link to an edge-on photo showing the concavity.

http://www.larp.com/hoplite/WVshld11.jpg

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Steve L.
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But it looks good! Top work!
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Todd Feinman
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Steve L.,Dec 10 2006
09:41 PM
But it looks good! Top work!

Absolutely!! Very nice work Matt! The warping seems to happen to just about everyone trying to glue a wet or damp hide (or sinew!) to a wood substrate...

Todd
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Edwin Deady
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Yes, very nice. If it is any comfort concave is the usual state of a lot of African and Indian hide shields.

Edwin
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Stefanos Skarmintzos
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Nice Job Matt!

I feel though that this thread should be in the Aegean section

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Sean Manning
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Beautiful! At least you have things like these, even if it didn't come out perfectly. As others have said, the originals may often have had similar flaws- they were (probably) made by professional craftsmen who knew tricks we don't, but might not have been such labours of love.
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Matthew Amt
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Thanks, guys, much appreciated! The frustrating part is that the first time I put the rawhide on the board, it worked fine. It was only after I removed it and hollowed out the back and then reapplied the hide that it warped. But yeah, I'd never expect perfection, even from the originals, and it should still work fine.

Matthew

PS: Yeah, I managed to post this in the wrong section somehow! I'll see if Gregory can move it.
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Richard Robinson
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I also have had warpage with my aspis. :o
however i think that stretching the rawhide prior to stitching is perhaps the way around this. The harris brothers made their hoplon/aspis this way. Apparently tieing / nailing one (sodden ) edge to a beam and tieing a weight( like an anvil to the bottom edge and leaving it suspended for about a week was the way they started the process. when actually stitching the hide to their base they had a coke bottle inside maintaining the stretch until they had almost completed the stitching, withrew it and then stiched up the last "opening". I tried this on a basket lid years ago but got puckering for my trouble. Very hard and durable shield that one.

Long ago I read up on Plains Indians and how they made their buffalo hide shields. It involved digging a forming pit and a fire. I cant remember any other detail except that the fire made the hide "shrink" (like a shrinky ) and get extra thick. I always wished to simulate this experiment.

Good luck on the 12 hide shield Matthew. My friend Mark Reynolds projects that Brahmas have the right markings for this shield. What do others think?
regardz
:rolleyes:
richard r
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