Sunday, January 24, 2010

Helm progress

I've been home for 2 days with a respiratory virus, so I've used the time to make some progress on my helm.

I've mounted the ridge to the brow band and trimmed the ridge to the correct length, then dished and punched holes and added the side bands.

I spent some time with a wooden hammer, adjusting the fit of the side bands so the fit tightly with the brow and the ridge. Then I drafted a pattern for the panels, made a prototype out of 18g. mild steel, tweaked the pattern a bit, and marked out the 4 panels on my remaining metal.

I'm going to need some more 16g. 410 alloy steel to finish this project because the pattern pieces do not nest as well as I had planned in my original layout, and it was always going to be tight getting both of the cheek pieces out of the available metal.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Helm Padding

A linen helm liner stuffed with natural fibers (wool, linen, cotton, bamboo) provides a nice progressively resilient padding, wicks sweat away from your face, allows for air flow, and resembles historical examples. Foam does not.

I like to sew channels 1.5" wide so that when stuffed more-or-less round and uncompressed it is about 1" thick. Compressed between my head and the helm this provides about .75" of padding which means the helm circumference needs to be 4.71" (2*pi*0.75") larger than my head circumference. Note that the unstuffed liner will need to be about 1.5 times the circumference of your head so that it will fit when the channels are stuffed.

SCA minimun is 0.5" of padding, which is only recommended if you have too many brain cells and you want to kill some off through repeated concussions.

Some bascinet helms have holes drilled along the edge for sewing in the liner, but for other helm designs I like to sew a strip of leather along the brow line of the liner and then glue it into the helm with shoegoo. I use c-clamps to hold the leather in place until the glue dries. This gives a strong but resilient bond that will not let the liner get into my eyes, but still allows me to peel it out and wash the liner from time to time.

These pictures show a loaner helm with a new liner. The blue foam has been added to make this spun-dome helm begin to fit a human head which is typically more oval than round.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Helm progress

My lovely fiance got me some new swage blocks for Christmas, which I have used to complete the ridge for my new ridge helm. Now I need to set the final size of the brow band and begin marking and punching or drilling holes. I'm not sure how well the .062 inch thick 410 alloy steel will work with a hand punch, but I am about to find out.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Late Roman Shields

By the 5th century nearly all Roman shields appear to have been oval in shape. The earlier ones found at Dura Europos and seen in the mosaics at Piazza Armentaria seem to be a bit larger than the one I use. See also the Wikipedia article on Scutum Shields which I will quote here:

The 5th century writer Vegetius added that scuta helped in identification: "Lest the soldiers in the confusion of battle should be separated from their comrades, every cohort had its shields painted in a manner peculiar to itself. The name of each soldier was also written on his shield, together with the number of the cohort and century to which he belonged."

The surviving shields seem to include both plank and plywood examples with linen facings and rawhide edging. Unit insiginia like those depicted in the Notitia Dignitatum is painted on the front of the shield while the back is painted with more personalized depictions of saints, nude women, or other inspirational images along with floral and geometric design elements.

I have a photocopy of some shield images from the Dura Europos report in my collection if anyone would like to take a closer look. The full citation for that report is:

James, Simon (2004). Excavations at Dura-Europos 1928—1937. Final Report VII. The Arms and Armour and Other Military Equipment. London: British Museum Press. ISBN 0-7141-2248-3.