Garfeimao - California, USA
I used Webshots to host some photo albums. There are dozens of photos listed there: http://community.webshots.com/user/garfeimao
Eowyn in Armor - Dernhelm
Intro and background
The costume I chose to do is Dernhelm, which is actually Eowyn in armor. She is niece to King Theoden of Rohan, and she pretends to be a man so she can join the army in it's march to aid Gondor. I knew that I was going to have to do a lot of guesswork on the costume because we have not fully seen her yet. In The Two Towers, she is wearing dresses and surcoats, and only once handling a sword. Over the intervening months pictures of her action doll, preview material on the theatrical release of the DVD and images in the recently released trailer have hinted at what Dernhelm's armor will look like.
To fill in the gaps of my knowledge, I used what I knew about the character. Even though she is a member of the Royal family, she does not want to be recognized to avoid being sent home. So, if she has decorative armor like her uncle, King Theoden, or her brother, Eomer, she will not wear it. She will, however, most likely use her own sword and baldric, since she may be too small to use the larger swords the men would use. She will want to blend in with the rest of the Riders of Rohan, so she will be clad very much the same as the Riders seen with Eomer. She will wear a helm that will cover as much of her face as possible, to avoid her being recognized as Eowyn, or even as a woman.
I based these ideas on logic, what is said in the books, and what I could find out from others who have researched Middle Earth before me. One good source of info was the Lonely Mountain Forge website, which was a font of detailed Tolkien info and seemed to have a very nicely put together list of the history of armor and weapons for Middle Earth. I recommend it to anyone researching some of the more obscure cultures or personas of Middle Earth.
The text I most closely paid attention to were: "Theoden, Eomer, Eowyn, and many (if not all) the Riders of Rohan: Mail Coat, helm, shield, spear and sword. Some riders would be armed with short bows instead of spears. Much of the equipment was supplied by Gondor." and "A sampling of Rohirric heraldry is given in The Lord of the Rings. A white horse on a green field was a symbol of the House of Eorl. The sun on a green field was the symbol borne on the shields of Theoden's household warriors. Erkenbrand of Westfold is said to carry a red shield. It also seems that green gems were popular in Rohan. Green gems decorate the sword hilts of Theoden's guards before his doors, and the sheath of his sword, Herugrim, is decorated with such gems."
So, to now get on with describing what I found and what I made to put together my Dernhelm costume.
1) Brooch - I started with two brass belt buckles, only they both had orange stones in them. I figured I could take the stones out, replace the center stone with another of my choice, and then use something like sculpy or something like that to fill in the others, and change the design to what I wanted. Instead, I went with the idea to just paint the stones green , and used a metallic green enamel paint, which went on beautifully. Once the Theoden brooch became available at Noble Collections, I altered my color scheme a bit and went with a dark chocolate brown for the center stone and bronze on the outer stones that I aged a bit with a black aging solution.
As you can see from Theoden's brooch as shown on the Noble Collections site, these belt buckles, on their own, were a very near match in design. It turns out that the symbol of the house of Theoden was a sun or sunburst design, hence the banners in the great hall, and that the color stone associated with the family was green, even though they used a darker color for Theoden himself. This info I found on the Lonely Mountain Forge website, and was quite happy to learn those little tidbits of info. I was tempted to just order Theoden's brooch and use that, but when I saw it in person at a convention, it turned out to be half the size it is in reality. You can tell the one Bernard Hill wears is at least 2 inches wide, or more, but the one they sell is closer to one and a half inches, much too small to look effective.
For the back, you can see the belt buckle design, with the metal loop that is hinged, and the pointy bit that goes into the holes on the belt. I figured I'd be able to use the loop to attach one side of the cloak, meaning I'd just have to find a way to make the other side of the buckle usable to attach the rest of the cloak. I took one of the buckles to a jeweler, had them saw off the pointy bit, and then solder on a similar hinged metal loop. Thus, I ended up with two metal loops that were hinged. It is attached to the cloak in the following manner. One end of the part of the cloak the fits around the neck is looped through the loop and sewn shut. The other end has a hook and eye attachment sewn on, so that the end fits through the second loop, and then the hook is put onto the eye and it holds nicely. It's very easy to put on and take off, and the brooch is permanently in place on the neck of the cloak.
I've also found a second belt buckle to use as brooch, should I discover that Miranda Otto's portrayal of Dernhelm wears a silver brooch instead of a gold toned brooch. If so, I may just use this buckle unchanged, except to do the same to this backing as I did to the other backing. Namely, that was to saw off the pointy bit, and solder onto it a second metal loop thingy. (Sorry, no exact words come to mind to describe it, but you get the idea by looking at the pictures of the brooches, front and back.)
2) Helmut - For my current Helmut, I scanned all over Ebay for something I'd like. When I started this in November of 2002, I did not think I'd even want to attempt to make a helmet, metal, paper mache, plastic, whatever. Now, I may change that, but a few months ago, I was trying to find the real thing to make life simpler. I was looking at just about every armor maker who sold on Ebay, and some who didn't, until I found what proved to be a fairly good match. The Roseland artisans ( http://www.roselandartisans.com/ ) had some nice, and decidedly different, helmets up for auction. So, I emailed and inquired and asked loads of questions about all sorts of armor issues, and one day, got an email with photos of this helmet in it. Did I want it? Heck yeah, it was quite perfect for what I needed, and I felt confident that I'd be able to detail it a bit, if I wanted to, but that on it's own, it would work admirably. At the time I ordered it, I wanted something that resembled a cross between the royals of Rohan and the common Rohirrim, which it gives me.
I've now added some decoration to the helmet, with as thin a painted line as I could achieve, and put a Celtic horse symbol on the cheek guards and instead of a sunburst, I put the flower symbol associated with Eowyn on the front of the helm, split in two. The symbol is a cross between a flower and a sunburst, and I found it on the Eowyn long sleeve t-shirt. The paint job is not completely symmetrical, but since the designs are on the side, you won't usually be able to see them together at the same time, you can see that the horse is a little plumper on the left side. The overall look is actually supposed to be that it's etched in, so you actually have to look at it from a bit of a distance to get that effect.
The helm padding is a very firm, closed cell pad that appears to be similar to what might be used in martial arts padding. A very thick foam or rubber that came in a bit of a rectangle and was fairly easy to cut and shape inside the helm. I used glue to attach bits and pieces until the inside was fairly well lined, and then put a double layer at the top of the helm, and on either side, to keep the helm from wobbling sideways.
Halfway through this process, I realized I should have straps to attach the helm under my chin. Since it's so heavy, and the horsetail plume makes it tend to fall to the back, I needed to make sure that the helm was attached firmly to my head. I had some leather straps that came with a Sword Frog I bought, and therefore had loops in them. I cut one strap so that it was the loop and the buckle portion, and a second strap that was the loop and the longer section with the holes for the buckle. I then took thick cord, looped it onto a square of spare cloth and first glued it into place, and then stitched it in place and folded the cloth over so that the looped cord was firmly in place with one of the Leather strap halves on it. I did the same with the second leather strap loop and put it on a thick cord and stitched and glued that into a square of clothe. I then glued this square of clothe into the side of the helm so that the leather straps would hang down in front of my ears.
The second layer of padding was then put over this square of clothe so that the loops with the leather straps were now firmly attached to the helm. Once all dried, the helm fits very snugly now, the leather straps are adjustable due to several holes in the strap and fit just fine under my chin. The helm now looks completely presentable, and I think I can safely say it's done. I may add a spray of sealant to the painted design on the helm, but that's just to protect the design from washing off with it's future handling. The only adjustments might be in the design on the helm, or to make a second helm now that images of Dernhelm are slowly being let out. If I do decide to try for something more exact to what she appears to be wearing, I may actually try to build it from the beginning, and will archive that info as well.
3) Armor - I have recently discovered that it appears Eowyn will not be wearing all that much armor, and it won't be decorated too much either. Instead, she's going to have that pieced together look you saw with so many of the warriors before the battle of Helm's Deep. In fact, she'll have very little armor on at all, no greaves, no scale maille armor and possibly no spaulders. I don't care, I have spaulders and I like them, so I'm going to use them until I know for sure what she's got on. I've got gauntlets and bracers as well, and just need to work on a proper belt and a shoulder belt and frog for the sword, as well as changing the color of the wooden sheath for the sword to match the redder color her armor appears to be. She'll have a simple leather chest armor on, with tassets on the bottom, and a chain maille shirt to her knees, split up the sides and center for easier use walking and riding a horse.
For the Guantlets, I found a simple black pair on Ebay, and they fit fairly well, if a bit big on the fingers. They come up a goodly distance on my forearm, which is fine as they'd add more protection to my arms if I was really going into battle. I also found two different Vambraces I like, one with the design of a Selpy (Celtic Seahorse) and one with a simple Celtic Knot design. Until I can see some detail of what her bracers look like, I can go with these pre-made designs. If nothing else, I've noticed that to make life easier on set, they used alternative hookups for things like bracers, giving them laces, or hook and eye, or something similar to attach, instead of a much more traditional type of leather straps and buckles.
My bracers are both brown, the one of the Selpy is fairly light, while the Celtic Knot is almost reddish brown. The spaulders I bought on Ebay as well. They are actually replicas of the Legolas worn Spaulders. Since he got them at Helm's Deep, they are Rohan designed. You can see these items at http://www.vikingleathercrafts.com
For chest armor, I sort of winged it. I was not confident in my ability to sew thick pieces of leather together to make chest armor, so I made some out of a thinner leather jacket. The thinness means that when I wear it, and put the belt on, it gathers just like any fabric would, instead of being firm, like thick leather would, especially if it's purpose was to be armor. Anyhow, I took a very large brown leather jacket, removed the sleeves, tore out the lining, and cut off the buttons and pockets. I reversed the jacket, and used leather glue to close the jacket up my back. I then slit both sides, used glue to hem the edges, then punched holes in each part of each side, putting eyelets in. These brass eyelets then allowed me to use leather cords to lace up the sides. One side is laced and tied off, effectively closing it, while the other side I cut several individual laces for. This way, I can pull the now leather vest over my head, with one side closed, and the other side open, and then lace each pair of holes individually. I also cut a slit in the front, from the center of the neck to about 5 inches down, and put in brass eyelets as well, with leather laces. I open this up when I want to put it on or take it off over my head. With the leather lacing and the brass eyelets, the vest has the look of armor, but is still a bit on the thin side, meaning it bunches up when belted. I have not painted this yet, as I don't really intend to keep this version of the leather vest.
The chain maille was interesting. I chose not to try and learn how to make my own chain maille and thus avoided what could have been months of work. I found one chain maille shirt on ebay, and got that for the initial look, even though it was a shirt and therefore too short for what was needed. I really needed a hauberk, and got that later on. So, I currently have two chain maille shirts, one short and one much longer.
The first shirt was either 12 or 16 guage steel, but I no longer can remember which. I just know it's heavy as all heck, and was not the right size. The sleeves were pretty good, coming to well below my elbow, but just above the wrists. Eowyn is supposed to look like she's wearing a bigger man's outfit, including the maille, so the sleeve length is good. On the other hand, the shirt only went to a few inches below belt level, and is therefore too short. The fact that it is steel also didn't help, as it is way too heavy for any length of time to be worn. I'm not going to fight in any SCA events, so I don't really need battle ready armor. So, I went looking for something closer to the look I needed and more comfortable to wear.
In came http://www.dcwireworks.com/. This was one of many chain maille sites I looked at, but one of the few that offered costume weight aluminum chain maille. This is not made for SCA fighting, or any kind of fighting, and is just for looks. Perfect for me, since I had no intention of using it for fighting. A few emails and phone calls, and I'd arranged to purchase something much more inline with what you see all the riders wearing. A hauberk of maille coming to just above the knees, splits up the front and back to allow for walking, and slightly shorter sleeves (mine might be too short). I even added a little bit of vanity by having the sleeves, neck and bottom lined with gold links. As it stands now, the shirt is not any heavier than the previous one, but is nearly a foot longer. The only drawback to the aluminum is that it oxidizes, leaving a silvery grey residue on my hands and arms and clothing and gloves, etc. Not too bad a deal, since it will make the costume look appropriately dirty.
Building the Shield
4) Shield - The Riders of Rohan have round shields, so I thought possibly to use some plywood cut round, attach straps and paint, but I'm not into sawing. So,my next idea was to use a Snow Disk sled, which I ordered from Toys R'Us. I've got the perfect design for the shield, which is a wonderful celtic sun design, which can be seen in in one of the pictures.
I'll most likely go for that color scheme, and use something like sculpty on the bowl being used as the boss to give the center celtic knot some texture.
I received the Snow Disk sled shortly after ordering it and immediately set to work on it. Pics of the concave side show the part of the sled that kids sit on, which is a yellow firm foamy type plastic, with two black handles on either side. I did not get a picture of the bottom, which was a hard, white plastic, before I started painting. I was too eager to get underway to remember to document it. Anyhow, the white bottom was painted with Blonde Bronze Metallic Surfacer, and came out rather nice.
There are two pair of black plastic screws on the underside of the sled that are how the handles are attached on the topside. I was not sure how to cover those up, which is why I was originally thinking of going with material with a grainy feel to it. There is a picture to show the bronze layer, including the screws painted bronze. As it turns out, they look good as metallic screws, so I left them. Once painted bronze, I set to put down a layer or two of green patina on the shield, with a bit of black and red. The red was particularly for the screws, to give them a feel of a different metal from the rest. The black was used mostly near the edge of the shield. In the pics, you can see the bronze begin to change colors with the use of the Patina.
I then moved onto the underside of the shield, by painting it Bronze as well. The original Patina level did not hold, as the foamy plastic had texture and just didn't want to hold the paint, or the patina levels too well. It started flaking, so I had to laquer it and then laid a layer of the Metallic Surfacer base coat/sealant. This allowed me to lay another coat of bronze down, and then to Patina it.
I'm still in the process of seeing if this will hold on the topside of the sled, which will turn out to be the back of the shield. I wouldn't normally do too much work to it, but since it began as a bright yellow surface, the chances of that side being seen as yellow instead of something appropriate to the rest of the old armor look is too great a chance to take. So, hopefully, the topside will have held well, not be flaky, and be ready to start attaching other straps to. Since painting and patina coating the shield, there have been minor issues with it still flaking, but it's not too bad. There are bits and pieces where the yellow shows through, so I will need to touch up the shield paint job soon.
While waiting for the topside to set up and not peel, I started working on the design I want for the front of the shield. It will be a sun, with a Celtic Knot in the center, on the boss. I have pictures that show the progress of the initial sunburst design. I painted the center, which will mostly be covered with a boss, made from a bowl, but needed to know where the center was to do the rest. I had to put down several layers of the Acrylic Enamel, since the pen I used to mark out the design could be seen through the paint. The sunburst design isn't exactly like the artwork image, but it's close enough, and the color scheme isn't too bad either.
As to the design of the Shield Boss, the idea is to have a bowl, with a flat bottom, and then create the center arch with a design that fits the Celtic Knot on it. This has proven rather interesting to pull off.
The Celtic Knot is rather simple, but trying to recreate it in Sculpey has been most annoying. I tried for a 3D look to the knot, but that just wouldn't work out for me. The second idea worked better, and that was to create a simple dome out of the sculpey, made to fit the bowl, and then paint over that.
The pictures show various stages of making the bowl and sculpey dome and then bronzing, patina coating and then painting it. I've since finished the shield, except it's going to receive a few more coats of sealant just to be safe.
I attached the finished boss and glued it in real tight. In fact, I had to make a wide circle from cardboard to fit around the bowl, which gives the impression of a band of bronze attaching the shield boss in place.
I then used little sticky gemstones on the boss rim, painted them bronze to look like rivets holding the whole thing in place. I then found some decent cord or rope or whatever it was, and attached that to the back.
I made a long loop that stretches between the two handles and acts as a shoulder harness to carry the shield. I then took two smaller hoops and attached that to the top and bottom of the left handle. These I can then loop my left arm through up to the elbow, then grab the right handle with my left hand. This gives both sides fairly equal support, and I can now hold the shield and maneuver it with one arm, or hang it on my back or even over my head.
5) Clothing - I have an olive green tunic, that comes below the knees, and is split front and back and on both sides. The sleeves are 3/4 length, but too flared and baggy at the ends to stay inside the gauntlets. I need to cut the sleeves off and put a long sleeve shirt with tapered sleeves on under it. Have not found that yet.
For pants, I just used my martial arts pants, which were white, and dyed them dark brown. They keep fading, so I need to alter this plan a bit, but I really like the durability of the martial arts pants. If I can find a black, or ideally a brown pair, I will buy those. I have a back up pair of pants that are a faux suede, but they have some tears in them, and at the moment, they have a fake lacing system on the sides of the legs. If I can remove the lacing, and patch up the tears, these should be fine, and much more tapered at the ankle to fit in my boot tops better.
I have since mended the faux suede pants and used those for the first time. I took the fake lacing off, and mended the tears and holes. I then cut off the bottom a bit and hemmed the pants, and then attached an elastic band on each pant bottom to act as a stirrup. This will hold the pants in my boots when I put them on, and help tremendously to avoid bunching in the boot tops. The darker brown color is much better for this costume, and so I think I'll be keeping this pants for the long haul.
The boots are simple riding boots, but may be a bit too shiny and new looking. Since I don't think I'll ever use them for anything else, I may try and scuff them up and darken them a bit.
I got a few sword frogs, but I like the one I have that laces up the front, allowing it to tighten or open up, depending on the width of the sword scabbard it is holding. The sword I have been using is a Viking Practical by Paul Chen, which I bought at a Xena convention. The scabbard is wooden, but is close to the color I need it to be. I was thinking of making a new sword, scabbard and all, but I may just alter this one. I need to find or make a Baldric, with chains holding the frog that the sword is inserted into. Also, the sword needs to have two horses heads in a heart shape on the base of the hilt, as can be seen with Theoden's sword. The cloak was simply made of a really light, wool blend material in forest green. It's a simple circle cut, but with the front edges adjusted to make sure it opens and shows the costume, instead of naturally falling in a closed manner. The edges were all frayed, giving it a very worn out look. You have already seen how the brooch is attached.
This page was last updated 11/21/09