keskiviikko 21. heinäkuuta 2010

Elven armour in english

My kinda girl!  Luckily she's my wife Helena.

Dear reader,  I will not double-post all the pics which are in the finnish version. Yet this update is full of pics which do not include in the finnish version.

17.7.2010 I won the legendary Finncon Masquerade as a con-virgin. I was dressed to my best – the selfmade brass armour. This update is, however, not so much about the egocentric joy of received complimets and prizes, but how the armour itself was made. (I really feel my armour won, not me :) )

This wasn’t my THE first elven-fashioned garment I’ve done, but it was definitely the most complicated so far. Ever since I read the Lord of the Rings 1996, I have loved the elves in all their glory, beauty, sadness, joyfulness, skill, their connection to nature, well - everything. I will not go that deep, that I’d analyze why I like them, or why do I connect some art-styles (Art Nouveau, Celtic designs etc.) so intensively on them. When I saw PJ’s film trilogy, I was amazed by the designs they had made. And even though I’m a purist and didn’t like that the elves came to Helms Deep, the scene always scares me. Why? Because I always get so inspired by it, it’s like wanting to cry for joy, laugh, sing, and dance and put up a hell of a swordfight. :D
The elves ~ She is my personal lady Galadriel, my sister Maya Moonstone.

So, ever since I laid my hands on the Appendices, the documents of how they did it and all, I have been dreaming. I was still in college back then (2006) and all my important school notes were filled with sketches of helms, designs of armour, plans of assembly on cuirass etc. The college was full of “freaks”, but I guess I was a very rare kind of freak around there.

There were two different kinds of armours in Lord of the Rings movie. The 2nd age armour in prologue and the newer 3rd age armour, as seen in Helms Deep. Even though the 3rd age armour was fancy in all its curvy forms, and leaf-likeness, it looked too fragile in my eyes to be a credible piece of protection.  And that undoubtedly is the primary function of armour. Average cosplayer or whatever may think I’m crazy, but I don’t want to craft something that doesn’t work. I mean, if I make an elven bow, I want it to be a real bow, not lookalike. It’s the same as my mate Alberto Orso and his cooking philosophy: "It just does not make sense to cook with poor results"

The armour is made of 0,8mm brass plate, 2,4mm veg. tanned leather, silk and some recycled metal parts. If you wonder about the silk, it’s the decorative belt. In FinnCon I also wore a green woolen cloak (the Tengwar-writing wasn’t quite ready yet), leather bracers, boots I made 2009 for my wedding, leather helmet (not ready either), Bow (from Kassai I guess) quiver & arrows and a scabbard where I held my sword (from Albion).
Photo by Cheryl Morgan.

After dreaming and designing it for a looong time, I decided to make it come true. Since my only given education on blacksmithing is from elementary school, it wasn’t reasonable to start from the cuirass itself. So, I drew and cut this slightly Corinthian looking facemask-kinda helm with open top, and gave it a bit bashing with hammer, bent the sharp corners, carved some vines and gave it a antique finish with this smelly stuff called Potassium polysulfide. Oh yeah, there were originally also these funny winged pauldrons (=shoulder guards), but I discarded them after a while.

The work on the cuirass was interesting. First I drew the schematics on paper, and then made the whole thing out of cardboard. After seeing how it fits and all, I cut the same forms from the brass with some extra for rolling the edges. I labeled all plates so they’d stay in order.

Tools of the trade we’re very simple.  I worked at my father’s chaotic garage, using only vise (with tiny anvil integrated), two hammers, cutters and a big flat screwdriver. I have to say, my parents are obviously the patient sort, as every time I went to their place, I just ate like horse, hammered like a madman, disturbing the whole neighborhood and bathed in their sauna.

Here’s a little sidetrack. That summer (2008) our family went to Italy for a holiday. As I found an armory in Siena, Casa della Pelle, I was  inspired from the owner’s craftsmanship. Paolo was his name, but he didn’t speak any English. There I was trying to speak what little Italian I could (and all I can comes from 14th century fencing manuals, cooking-terms and Milo Manara-comics), sided with Finnish and universal body language. Well, it went reasonably well, as I managed to tell him that I’m trying to be an armourer myself too. I bought a gladius from him and he gave me a guided tour around he’s workshop. But what’s best for my elven plate at home, he gave me fistfuls of different kind of pretty, shiny rivets. These pretties ended up in my armour. How nice is that!

After that summer, the cuirass was finished. As I had learned heaps about coldforging, I quickly made the hip guards and new pauldrons as well. When I sent the pic, where I pose with all this and the purplish-gray cloak on, to Paolo in Sienna, he responded. Well, after half a year, but that’s not bad for italian :D He said he was re-designing he’s armours and asked if he could have the schematics for my plate. Well, as my parents went for the grape harvest to Tuscany, I sent the cardboard plates to Paolo and he returned the favor with a box full of leather accessories.

As I mentioned on the writing about the leather helmet, the old brass-mask was now looking too flimsy. So I just had to make a real helmet.

Phew! Thank you for reading this far, the rest is all about the unforgettable, lovely Saturday night at Finncon.
Cheryl Morgan and a very sweaty Soldier of Lorien. Photo by Pasi Välkkynen

As I said, I have never been in a masquerade contest like this, and it was simply an honor to participate it. I usually try not to brag or boast about anything, but I even said to lovely Ellen Kushner on Friday, that I’m going to win.

There were two über-sweet compliments I received. One was from a middle-aged lady as she said: “I have been a tolkienist for ages and I was first slightly dissapointed that Middle-Earth was not quite represented here – until you walked to the stage and blew our minds”.
The other was from a fellow-contestant Chiana, who by the way looked even better that the original. She said: ”did you make that yourself?” I nodded. ”I just wanted to say I love you!” Awww…
The Masquerade, Photo by Pasi Välkkynen

In my heart I felt very happy amongst friends old and new. I know this sounds like some hippie-shit or acid-talking, but I felt Finncon became like a one living organism, to which we all momentarily lent our personalities for common fun. So, every Con-man and –girl, I just wanted to say I love you!

Photo by Pasi Välkkynen, I did the shopping

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