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.