Monday, April 22, 2013

Curved Shields and Captain America

I recently decided to start looking into making wooden shields. As a quick side project I built a round buckler just as a test run. It was a simple 20ish" planked shield. Assembled from 1x3 furring strips, the whole thing only cost about $10 worth of materials.

This started me further down the path. I was in the middle of working on a production of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe and the director asked for a shield for the battle. So I started doing some research for methods to make curved shields. So I got online and found plans and instructions for a shield press which I built in the shop with some scrap material. I called for hardwood in a couple of places which I should have listened to. under pressure it popped and I wrecked the first sheets. Reinforced for the second time it all worked.

How the press works
So what you see here is the press, the material inside it is 2 sheets of 1/4" ply. I cut both sheets into 4ths so this is about 2'x4' which leaves a shield anywhere up to that size. You cover the sheet with PLENTY of wood glue and then put it into the press. the 2x4's on top spread the pressure around and then ratchet straps press it all down and hold it in place. The 2 sheets of ply make it easier to bend and once the glue in the middle sets it holds the curve like a rock. I left it for 2 weeks but that's because I was out out town, after about 24 hours it would have been fine to release.

After the Press
After they are free take the jig saw and cut out your shield shape. Its much easier to draw the shield on before you curve it.Cut it out and you've got your rough shape. Sand all the edges to smooth it up and I like to round everything over just because it looks a little bit nicer and makes things a bit less rough on the skin if it hits you at some point. After cutting them out you end up with something like this:

Now I had the cut I needed to do the shield for LWW and I had an extra larger one sitting around. I wasn't sure what to do with it. I kept looking at it and eventually I realized it wasn't too far off from Captain America's World War Two shield. So that's where I went. Note the picture, on these kind of things photo references always rock and you really sort of  need them for anything that already exists otherwise it just won't be accurate.

The white on here was just a primer, which is nice to add once sanded just for a basic shield blank. For added strength and paint-ability people cover the blank with canvas just for another layer. I skipped that here. First step was to measure everything out and figure out spacing. If you look at the center stripe I wasn't perfectly centered but you don't notice it much in person. I'll also note that I use carriage bolts for the handle and straps mostly for ease of repair. If something breaks I can just unbolt it rather than using a rivet which is much more permanent. So I striped things out and hit the red stripes. I won't show it, but let things dry, pull the tape up, do the blue, do the white etc.
Here is a printed out star I used to figure out spacing and size, the center star on Cap's shield is a bit larger. partially because the top bumps up a bit as well, mine was cut straight across the top but there was still space for the larger star. I had to do this for both shields but I HATE HATE HATE painting white over colors. it takes so many layers to get good coverage, it just sucks. I still needed to do the white for all of this, but the primer was white and clean enough that I was able to just to small touch ups and call it good. After the stars are traced and painted I'm just going to add a coat of poly or clearcoat of some kind just to give it a nice shine. I doubt I'll ever use the cap shield for fighting since I want it to stay nice.

Last but not least here's the almost final product. It needs another coat of white on the stars but its basically done. After it I'll add in some more pictures just so you can see other in progress moments and what the other shield ended up looking like.
If I haven't covered everything real well or if anybody wants more details on how I did something just let me know and I can go into more depth. Also let me know if there is interest in any of these I've got the press now and I'm thinking about doing custom shields for people if enough people want them.

Nearly the final product
Size difference between the two shields. The bottom is the Cap shield. These both came out of the 2'x4' sheet I pressed.

The back of the cap sheild. I use a solid metal handle for the grip. Some people use crossed leather straps I like the metal just because its rigid, I don't care if its not accurate. The pad in the middle is nice to soften blows and make it more comfortable to hold.

The final shield for LWW. It was a little quick so my hand was rough in a couple places but this is basically what the custom shields would be. Give me a picture, colors, design of whatever and I'd make and paint them. The next ones I think will just have a coat of arms type center image

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Time for a wedding! ...almost.

Well it's getting to that point in our planning that we are needing to get on top of save the dates. Being a creative type that knows photoshop and our wanting to save money, we decided to design them ourselves. We had already talked out what we were thinking about doing so Heather sat down one day while I was at work and made a rough sketch. I got home and went from there. Our general wedding plan is do slip in the nerdy stuff we love without it being an overtly nerd wedding. Basically we're taking the classy parts and certain styles and building on them, if you know what to look for you will likely see the patterns and references but they'll be loose enough that we're expecting some "...did you guys mean to do this? is this _____?" and the answer is probably yes. Then we're fleshing it out with our love for art deco looks and we've got what is, (in my opinion) a pretty stylish wedding. Without further ado, here is the front of our save the date for what promises to be a rather.... timey wimey wedding.

Showing this around to a couple of people (the non nerd types) they immediately (thank god) picked up on the art deco theme. The fanned shape, the rays of light at the top, the background and of course the font helps sell that. But I'm sure all the Whovians out there probably noticed the tardis sitting in the middle and the Galifreyan on the edges. We'd both seen the real Doctor Who save the dates that are floating around, thanks to pinterest, but we both agreed that they were a little too overt for what we were doing. We, ironically enough, are hoping for a real timeless feel here. I suppose if you don't catch the references it could look like the music stand for a big swing band and you'd never know the difference.

For the most part this is our color scheme too, the tardis blue (though this is a bit darker for the purposes of the save the date), yellow, and grey.

The Galifreyan and background continue on the back side of the postcard just to help tie it all together and to keep the style consistent.

While it has been quite a time since I last updated the blog, expect there to be more wedding updates like this as we keep going through the planning. Now that the school year is slowing down I'll have some more time to get into a backlog of posts about my various projects through the year, the next one will likely be covering making curved wooden shields for a show, and a WW2 Captain America shield, so check back for more!