For DragonCon 2013 I decided to tackle Éomer’s armor, always my favorite since The Two Towers came out. I was inspired by JediElfQueen’s build log, and ended up using some of her patterns as the basis for my own. I hoped to be able to also complete the helmet, but that had to wait for next year.
The armor appears to be layered metal and leather, so I had to figure out what the budget version of that would be. (I have since decided that some of what looks like metal might actually be painted leather.) I settled on cheap, thin, flexible roofing aluminum available in rolls from Home Depot, covered by painted craft foam. JediElfQueen has a great video about making foam look like leather. I used this as a starting point, and added some of my own embellishments. She does not suggest painting the entire surface, which I did, and I also used a satin acrylic varnish (something like this). It’s been two years now – and three cons – and the only surface with slight cracking is the belt. Yes, I used craft foam to make a belt. More on that later. First, some photos of the first stages of the cuirass construction.
Vambraces and Greaves
I used JediElfQueen’s pattern for the vambraces, with some modifications. Then I adapted that for the greaves. Where I needed straps, I used real leather from Tandy, secured to the metal+foam with rivets. I added a rolled “leather” edge around all the armor pieces by using some craft foam that’s been ironed to seal it and folded over on itself with hot glue to form a nice rolled edge. Then I cut a bunch of triangles into the raw side so I could run it around curves, and hot-glued it to the edges of the armor. You can also see the progression from cut foam, to tooled foam, to painted and finished foam. I adhered the foam to the metal with a glue stick. Again, maybe not what I would choose today, but it worked, and is STILL holding after 2 years. In a couple spots I’ve needed to fix something that was coming up with super glue, but I definitely wouldn’t use all superglue from the start. Maybe something like Barge cement, but the glue stick had a really nice work time for adjustments once the piece was down.
For the pauldrons, I pretty much started from scratch. JediElfQueen had great patterns that worked for her, but they weren’t giving me the shape I wanted using my materials. I did some paper prototyping at a very small scale to figure out what shape I did want, and then scaled it up in Illustrator, printed, cut, and taped together a full-scale prototype. I’m pretty happy with what I came up with, but there is room for improvement. I would like it to curl around the shoulder more, and if I were using metal that held its shape or leather that I could wet-mold, I think it would be perfect. Anyway, once I had the shapes figured out I cut and assembled them from thicker craft foam, then skinned that with the roofing aluminum. Then I created a pattern for the decoration on the top of the pauldron, cut, tooled, painted, and attached the foam.
I did not have the time or budget in this project to learn leatherworking. So I used what I knew: foam. But there was no way a foam belt would be able to take any actual tension without ripping. I have heard of backing it with duct tape, but the end of this belt hangs down and the back is exposed, so that wouldn’t work. So I found this double-sided carpet tape, and used it to make a foam sandwich. This gave me the durability I needed, and I just tooled and painted the foam like I’d done for all the other pieces. I made the buckle by bending a piece of coat hanger into shape and covering it with epoxy putty.
More foam! I didn’t have enough time to order the black foam I needed, so I was stuck with the white foam they had at Michael’s, and had to paint it all black before finishing it with Rub-n-Buff. I was able to make cutting them slightly easier by doing rows two-at-a-time, as you can see in the photos. I then sewed the rows to a base of black fabric om the sewing machine.
I actually re-purposed the hauberk I made for my wife’s Queen Susan costume a couple years ago, although it took a lot of reconstruction to make it work for me. I used a cheater section of fabric in the middle where the armor covers it so I didn’t need quite so much maille. I also spray-painted it a metallic copper color to approximate what it looks like in the film.
My wife made the shirt, and made and embroidered the green skirt. I wore black pajama pants (since upgraded) and costume boots which I heavily weathered with acrylics. I also made a sword, which I will cover in another post. The wig is “It’s a Wig Lace Front Wig FINE” in color DX2216.
Did you recreate the designs by hand or did you have access to blueprints to cut out?
This looks awesome!
Sorry it took so long to reply – I have been neglecting this site. I drew all my patterns on the computer, then printed them, test-fit, and adjusted.