Protection of a Night Fury.
Over the past couple of days I’ve had the opportunity thanks to @cthep-leather to learn how to make a Leather Arm Guard and what better than to share with you what I’ve learnt.
First I traced the template onto the leather we were using before cutting it out with a safety craft knife. We double, triple, checked the measurements though cause once you’ve made a cut there’s no going back - so be sure!
I then had to pick my design, not an easy task but I was still disappointed I’d missed HTTYD’s 7th anniversary and from there it was just a case of picking from the show.
I ended up going for the symbol of the Night Fury, also the strike class symbol for those who’ve been paying attention :) , but then it was another decision - if anything that’s what this project has been made up of, choice after choice and being indecisive does not help.
My next choice may seem like an easy thing to decide but I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again it’s the little details that are the most annoying to get right and make a final decision on, this time it was the tail. This symbol comes in two forms, one with the prosthetic red tail and one without and after much deliberation and internal debate I ended up going with the one without purely because it felt more right to do.
I didn’t then, however, jump straight into tracing it, no no no, this was my first time tracing and carving onto leather a design like this so once I’d got the tracing paper picture all sorted @cthep-leather gave me a piece of scrap to practice with. It turned out surprisingly well and once I was confident enough I took to the real thing, remembering to wet the leather first cause I always forget that bit.
I thought tracing it on was nerve wracking but this was only the beginning - however like many people have told me you’re always nervous until you know how and how can you know if you’ve never been taught? (Thanks Uncle Chris)
I gotta say it didn’t turn out half as bad as I was thinking it could.
After tracing it came an even more nerve wracking experience - cutting it. Yeah that’s right, after I’d drawn a lovely picture I had to cut it into the leather talk about ahhhh.
Once again I practiced on the scrap - now lovingly called the test piece - before using a swivel knife, and that pointy thing I still don’t know the name of, on my actual piece.
Doing this made the lines deeper and that is essential for the next part, tooling. Again practicing on the test piece first I used a tool called something like bevel (I cannot be sure, I do not remember) and a weird white round thing like a hammer to make the deep lines stand out and add detail. I did not tool the eye! That would’ve been a disaster, believe me.
Taking time for progress shots was always going to end up with me opening on the front camera, why waste an opportunity for a work space photo :D
I probably took more photos than necessary when it came to this part purely because I was so amazed at how the tooling came out, I’m a newbie so of course there are little mistakes that professionals wouldn’t make but dang I am proud of the out come.
After tooling the outline of the Night Fury I then traced the rune letters and added then to the still damp leather with a tool that looks a lot like a ball point pen without the ink.
There was another one of those annoying little choices that are difficult to make at this point due to the runes, I personally like to write elder futhark or short twig sometimes slipping into younger as I go and it’s all about personal preference with certain letters. So with this piece it was a decision between what I would like to write it as or using what is shown in the original book of dragons.
I ended up going for how HTTYD have it and in a way I always knew I would because I love the film to pieces and this being my little nod to it was always going to be as accurate as possible.
After that it was a case of lining the edges which although fine the first time was (again) nerve wracking to go over if the line wasn’t deep enough because one slip and its game over on the straight line front.
I wouldn’t have gotten those edge lines (or any of this piece really) half as good if it wasn’t for the help of @cthep-leather so thank you :)
After using the ball point I then deepened the lines of the runes with the scratchy pointy thing I stillll don’t know the name of.
Again with the close ups but I just can’t help myself.
By this point day 1 is over, we could have kept going but we wanted to be sure about the dyes and eyelets and plus the weather was wayyyy to hot and I was tired beyond belief. It was worth waiting to get it right and after all it was only a day (not like I had to wait weeks or anything).
So come Day 2 and a quick trip to HobbyCraft and we’re back. Staring with another thing I’d never done before - punching holes.
Now there are a few things to mention here, firstly yes I know there’s a little tool/machine that can do this but I do not have the upper body strength to push the handles together to go through leather. Secondly I’m actually really glad I got to do it this way there’s just something I find almost better about using this punching tool and hammer that makes the other way pale in comparison. Both methods are great and work just as well but this is the one for me I think, and each to there own.
I should also probably mention that because my ears are terrible with little burst of loud noise I did have to wear ear protectors.
Once that was all done, and I have to admit that was one of the least scary parts even though you wouldn’t think it, it was onto the next stage…
Now I thought I was going to have a heart attack cutting the dragon well past me you don’t even know what’s gonna hit you - try dyeing the damn thing!
I was hardly breathing to say the least, now this may sound dramatic but please remember I have spent hours on this project by this point and I have never attempted partial dyeing before - ever!
The plan originally was to just dye the whole thing one colour but then my uncle thought it was great to suggest that cause “night furies are black right?” why don’t I “Dye the dragon black?”. I thought this was a brilliant idea until I realised exactly how that meant dyeing it.
I have never been good at colour in between the lines, but with leather? On a project I have spent hours on? Where one wrong shake of the hand could possibly ruin that project? Oh my gods talk about don’t panic.
Once I’d gotten over the little heart attack however it was actually really fun and quite calming even if it did take a while but even that was part of what made it so nice to do.
You can clearly tell I am a beginner but I don’t mind, cause that’s exactly what I am and for a first attempt I gotta say I am damn proud.
We had to wait for that to dry and then coat it in resolene (an acrylic) to make sure it didn’t mix with the other dyes we added.
I am so glad that @cthep-leather helped out with this bit cause after struggling with the lines once I was sooo not up for a second shot at the colouring book.
Once again we had to wait for it to dry before doing anything else but better to wait and get it right than rush and it go to pot.
After it was dry it was time to cross our fingers and hope we’d done it right enough for the dyes not to mix - we braved it, added the dye and damn look at how good it looks!
I mean look at that eye!
We took a risk using a dye that hadn’t been used on other projects but the test piece came out so nicely we thought it had to be done and even then it came out better than expected.
I then dyed the back black but @cthep-leather dyed around where we’d punched holes (because that was a stupid idea to do first and we should have waited until we dyed the silly thing) so as to not get any leaking through to the front.
We then had to wait for it to dry (again, but better that than it turn to mush) before adding Leather Balm to the front and buffing it so it was nice and shiny.
Next it was putting the eyelets in, now for several reasons the main being I was really invested in this ending well another being it’s really easy to screw up when putting these in and I am only a beginner I let @cthep-leather take over for this step.
The gold ended up looking even better against the dyes than I expected and I am super happy with it.
We noticed as well that the tooling of the dragon is such that you can see the outline of it on the back :D
Finally it was just a case of lacing it up and taking pictures to show just how cool it really is!
I have to say I am really proud of how this project turned out, for my first attempt it’s pretty good. I like to think this is something Hiccup would be proud of, when I was punching the holes through the leather with the hammer all I could think of was the tail making scene, I hope he would be at least.
Anyway, I hope you’ve liked reading this as much as I enjoyed making it, I’m still surprised it’s all done even though it only took two days I got used to having something to work on, it feels odd that it’s finished but now I have a Night Fury Arm Guard to be proud of and I really truly am.
Libby, out x