Saturday, June 4, 2011

Making Props

I am working on a job where I have to do three paintings of knights. Each painting will be 3' x 2'. They have asked for paintings in the style of 19th century romantic paintings. That is a tall order. I will talk about this and show process shots on this later.
So to get everything right; the poses, lighting and color, I will have to hire models and set up the scenes to paint from. I ordered costumes from a site online but I needed some shields.
I decided to make some of my own. I needed a few different styles from the later period of the knights Templar. With a limited budget I figured by making my own and would save at least $350. Plus I could customize them to my own liking. It also leaves open the possibility of mass producing a bunch of shields for assembling my own personal army- always a dream of mine.

I found a site online that had some great advice for crafting your own curved shields. Following the instruction on the site, I built my own shield press to make the curved shields I needed.

Above is the shield press. Two quarter inch sheets of plywood, each 2' x 4' can be glued back to back and clamped smoothy around this curve. I drew the designs of the shields on the top sheet. They were put in the press and clamped to the curve using ratchet straps. I will not go into detail here. As I said there is a great site to visit if you are interested. Check out Ye Olde Gaffers site if you want to read on the subject further.

Here is the plywood unclamped after a full day allowing the glue to dry. The two 1/4 sheets are now one 1/2 curved shape. I use a jig saw to cut the shape out.
The shield blank is sanded smooth the edges cleaned up with a belt sander. Next I glued a heavy fabric on the front, around the edges and to the back. This will add strength, smooth it out, and take paint better than the plywood.
I then got some old leather belts at the thrift store for straps on the back. The shields typically had a pad on the back to protect the arm. I used an old heavy blanket to make the pad and covered it with suede cut from one of Laura's old skirts. I tacked that on the back, drilled holes for the handled and bolted them on. They were typically riveted, but this was way easier.
Here are the finished shields painted and waiting for the crest to be added.
This is a the front of both shields. The one on the left is called a heater shield the one on the right a kite shield or cavalry shield.
The back showing the handles and arm pad. I will probably grind the bolts down a bit to make them look more like rivets. I still need to add a should strap which will just bolt on the top two bolts of each shield.

It may seem like over kill, but it was not too hard to do. Plus I love this kind of procrastinating project. 
Now I suppose I should paint the pictures.


  1. *Sigh* Ah, to be self-employed.... ;)

  2. I've seen that many people use ratchet straps to bind or tighten the things instead of lifting. It is really amazing for me because I always use rope to bind or tighten the things.

  3. Nicely done there! This looks like something I would love to be making. If I could I would definitely make myself a blank right-handed heater shield or something of the like because it sounds like fun and painting your own design can look to be your delightful preference. :D

  4. I have to say, it is great fun and pretty easy.
    Highly suggest
    you make one for yourself. Once you have the form- which I made out of scraps, you can pop out a shield blank every day if you want and begin handing them out to your own personal army. ;)