Tuesday, 20 December 2011
Another winter project
Now I know some of you will be thinking that I already have a lot to be getting on with this winter, but it will also probably come as no surprise when you read I have another project to be getting on with too. One of the problems with being a medieval reenactor is looking after the kit, especially the armour. I believe that it was unlikely that there would have been many really shiny harnesses of armour on the battlefield. In many campaigns there just wouldn't have been the time to keep armour in shiny condition and only the wealthy men who had servants with them would have had their armour regularly cleaned. Well that is certainly my excuse for why my armour is allowed to tarnish.
So what did they do? Armour was often left to 'brown' get a slight tarnish which was then rubbed down and this prevents further rust issues. In some cases armour was painted. This protected the metal and added a certain degree of indiviuality. Armour could also be 'blued' or 'blackened'. Let's face it black armour is cool! Ever since I started playing wargames I have painted men in black armour. There are many images of black armour in medieval paintings and the 'Black Knight' often appears in stories. We all know he can carry on fighting when he has lost both arms and legs, they are just flesh wounds.
So blackening is what I aim to do to some of my armour this winter. Now I have never done this before and I don't want to ruin my medieval stuff that I fight in so I am going to start on something I don't worry about as much. It looks like 2012 might see my group going out and doing more Elizabethan soldiery type events and I will probably end up being out the front swanking around being the bloke in charge, mostly due to my Playground Voice which is good for commentaries. Being a commander type then, I want some swanky kit. Knocking around in my garage is a, rather cheap, burgonet helmet and gorget. And something that would definitely improve the look would be making them black.
The look we are going for is the same as this Warhammer Pistolier from my Empire army.
Now technically this is a fantasy army, but it was designed by a Perry and they are spot on correct. There are many examples of black burgonets worn by reiters and others so this will be my guinea pig piece.
First what you need is a friend who is an armourer and then he might talk you through it. (Cheers Jon) The process will involve taking all the brass fittings off the helmet; then taking a blow torch to it. you heat the metal until it's jolly warm (this is technical term), you then apply a liberal coating of oil (I am using used non synthetic engine oil) which you then heat up until it is also jolly warm it then dries out leaving a hardened black coating. In the medieval period they were most likely to use a paste made from oil and lamp black (soot). While the metal is still hot you add a layer of beeswax which allows you to polish to a bit of a shine. This is all done outside as the fumes are pretty pungent.
Then all the brass fittings will need to be replaced. I also intend to add a web inside the helmet as as the pictures show there is currently no padding or web inside at the moment and it just perches on several arming caps, which is very unsatisfactory.
This cheek piece is my first attempt and I am pretty pleased, going to do the rest over the holiday, I will keep you posted.
Come back and check out how I am getting on. Good Yule everyone!