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Dmitry Z~G





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PostPosted: Sun 21 Nov, 2010 4:25 pm    Post subject: What was used to paint hafts of staff weapons in 16-18 c.?         Reply with quote

I'm gearing up to fabricate the haft for a late 16th c. South German or Italian halberd, as well as a couple of 18th c. spontoons, and would like to have it reasonably-adherent to the period.
What kind of paint/mixture was common on this type of weapon?
I've read about a mix of soot and linseed oil.

Thank you!
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Sean Flynt
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PostPosted: Sun 21 Nov, 2010 6:21 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

No paint. No soot. Only boiled linseed oil. Seasoned hafts were finished by a long soak in the stuff before mounting.
-Sean

"Everywhere I have searched for peace and nowhere found it, except in a corner with a book"- Thomas a Kempis (d. 1471)
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Christopher Treichel




Location: Metro D.C.
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PostPosted: Sun 21 Nov, 2010 8:15 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

interesting, for muzzleloader ramrods... you soak them in oil for a few weeks to make them really flexible... might be the same concept
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Dmitry Z~G





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PostPosted: Mon 22 Nov, 2010 5:19 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I would like to achieve an appearance similar to the dark, patinated surfaces on some of these pole-arms.
I would wager that a large part of them had their hafts replaced.
Would a linseed oil alone, with no colorants, give the ash this dark patina?



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Sam Gordon Campbell




Location: Australia.
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PostPosted: Mon 22 Nov, 2010 5:34 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'd imagine that that dark colour only comes from being oiled over nad over again for a century or two...
That or it's a modern varnish on replacement hafts to make them look cooler. Laughing Out Loud

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Sean Flynt
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PostPosted: Mon 22 Nov, 2010 7:31 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

It depends on what you want to produce. If you want a piece that would be appropriate for living history you should use only linseed oil. If you want a piece that looks like a 500 year-old antique, read the "Wood" section of this article: http://www.myArmoury.com/feature_antique.html Then treat the steel accordingly.

Linseed oil will darken the wood over time, but you'd never live to see it get as dark as the antiques in museums.

-Sean

"Everywhere I have searched for peace and nowhere found it, except in a corner with a book"- Thomas a Kempis (d. 1471)
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Glen A Cleeton




Location: Nipmuc USA
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PostPosted: Mon 22 Nov, 2010 9:59 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi Dmitry,

I would consider the two periods being discussed and as somewhat a spontoon nut, had a niggly bothersome remembrance.

While i am not quickly finding the reference for white painted infantry spontoon hafts, it is regarded/related in Boarders Away under the paragraph writing of finish and marking of the Royal Navy. Both black and white are referenced there. There's a section I need to re-read for sure. In the case of the instance of a white painted haft for infantry was (iirc) for visibility of the officer/nco and as much a flag staff for signaling as for a weapon (which doesn't explain the naval reference of white for me).

Maybe hail the erudite Paul Guiti for more on the spontoon front but the later use of finishes does pop up and even earlier in the Asian and Japanese culture of lacquering the hafts. I note the Papal Swiss Guard as shown on the wiki page show a natural rubbed finish, so period and purpose may make a real reason to look at to different eras of western use.

I cheated with my reproduction spontoon and bought a medium brown finished 6' martial arts bo staff.

Cheers

GC
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Sean Flynt
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PostPosted: Mon 22 Nov, 2010 10:12 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I should make clear that my comments are appropriate only for the 16th c. piece. There might even be exceptions in that period, as in the case of ceremonial arms, but in those cases I think you'd be more likely to see tassles, fine coverings (velvet) and decorative nails as opposed to paint. I know nothing about spontoons, but will advance my theory that colored tassles (which became more common as the halberd became more a badge of rank than field weapon) may have addressed the officer's need for visibility. I wonder if late marine polearms were finished with a heavier substance like pine tar....
-Sean

"Everywhere I have searched for peace and nowhere found it, except in a corner with a book"- Thomas a Kempis (d. 1471)
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Glen A Cleeton




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PostPosted: Mon 22 Nov, 2010 11:34 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I should also maybe clarify the black and white mentioned in Boarders Away.

"The pikes [are to have their] handles either scraped very clean, or painted white, and the pike black"

Somewhere in here is the author Gilkerson's Japanning recipe and that indeed was used to coat a great many things and the book lists a lot of boarding axes and others with Japanned hafts.

The white spontoons for infantry may also have been the intent of showing them white, or in the white.

Cheers

GC
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Dmitry Z~G





Joined: 22 Jun 2008

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PostPosted: Mon 22 Nov, 2010 7:52 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'll try some linseed oil and play with various colorants to see if I can achieve an aged appearance. Succumbing to a modern wood stain would be my last resort.
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Scott Hrouda




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PostPosted: Mon 22 Nov, 2010 10:10 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I had some very nice results using boiled linseed oil combined with the natural rust coloring I was removing from an artifically antiqued polearm. The two combined gave a rich and dark color to the ash haft. If this is a period solution is anyones guess, but I liked the end product.
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Paul Mullins





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PostPosted: Tue 23 Nov, 2010 7:53 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Soot mixed with linseed oil was a common finish for gunstocks of the period, so this is possibly why some period wood surfaces appear darker.

Plus, most of the linseed oil we have access to today is mixed with plastic binders that do not result in the same finish as many period pieces that were finished with linseed oil.

I recently finished a 1750's gunstock replica with a wood finish formula from the 17th century. You mix equal parts of melted beeswax with mineral oil (what mineral oil they used I have no idea) and it produces a very nice and very duriable finish. It does not cure with the glossy finish that can occur with BLO.
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Allen Foster





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PostPosted: Tue 23 Nov, 2010 8:39 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

What about jousting lances? Were they painted or is that just another modern day myth? I realize jousting lances weren't used for combat but if they were painted and war lances were not, what was the reason?
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Paul Hansen




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PostPosted: Tue 23 Nov, 2010 1:34 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I keep thinking that I saw some town militia pole-arms that were painted in the city's heraldic colours. Probably 17th C. or so... But I can't find a picture...
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Christopher Treichel




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PostPosted: Tue 23 Nov, 2010 7:20 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

aqua fortis at least that is one historical substance used for bringing out features and darkening woods
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Jason Daub




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PostPosted: Tue 23 Nov, 2010 9:31 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Linseed oil on wood will naturally turn black on exposure to sunlight for enough time. You can see this on any outdoor items that have a linseed oil or tung oil finish, so long as the oils don't have resins or dryers in them. I've seen it most often on garden benches and on traditionally built wooden boats. A neighbour's bench was black after a month of summer sun.
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Jared Smith




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PostPosted: Wed 24 Nov, 2010 8:50 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I you have an oak haft that has not yet been finished or oiled, you can expose it to ammonia fumes. (For furniture sized items I made a tent out of plastic sheet, but for a haft sized object you could just duct tape two garbage bags together and leave the hazardous fumes out in a garage for a day. 10% janitor strength ammonia poured into a bowl inside the bag or tent will work, but take longer than 30% Baume grade or the concentrated ammonia that blueprint drawing printing machines use.) It is the tannin in the wood that reacts. Brushing strong tea onto many other woods will enable them to respond to ammonia fumes as well. This essentially does replicate chemically what happens to old wood that has been in museums or up high inside old church ceilings for 100's of years with only indirect sunlight and slow absorption of chemicals from the atmosphere known to have altered the color of the wood.....not repeated oiling. It is also a very deep penetrating effect, typically at least 1/16" or 1.5 mm depth within a day for trials that I did. (Hard to beat for effectiveness on something that might get scratches and nicks...it will still look great!) A couple of articles I read described new and expensive bars or restaurants in Paris having it done to wood paneled walls and ceilings in order to give the impression of being a very old establishment. You don't see much color change immediately after the fuming. It is when you wipe the linseed oil onto the fumed wood that the color difference from the fuming abruptly emerges as a nice surprise!
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Dmitry Z~G





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PostPosted: Wed 24 Nov, 2010 9:31 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jared, that sounds very interesting. Do you have any 'before and after' photos?
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Jared Smith




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PostPosted: Wed 24 Nov, 2010 10:28 am    Post subject: photos of oak finishes         Reply with quote

I took a couple of photos of two things that I made for my daughter. The TV stand has an artificial red tint look. It was finished with MinWax and Watco Danish oil products. The table top is a fumed piece. Both are oak, but the patina from fuming is much more brown and "genuine antique" in appearance. I fumed it a couple of days and had an almost black finish. I sanded it a lot, as in between 1/32" and 1/16" wood depth removal to lighten it back up to where the tone of color is more brown as opposed to Hershey's chocolate bar black-brown. The fumed finish does not have to use linseed oil. I just put Watco brand Danish oil on it after I discovered that just about any mineral oil based product, even most polyurethane products, would cause the fumed wood to darken when moistened. If you do this, put small test scraps in the fuming bag or tent. Oil a test scrap roughly once every 12 hours to see if it is dark enough. This is not a finish you just sand off.... It is deep and permanent.


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Dmitry Z~G





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PostPosted: Wed 24 Nov, 2010 2:25 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jared, thank you for such an extensive input! I will try this on an ash plank, to see how it comes out. First, the ammonia bag, followed by the linseed oil on one side, and beeswax on the other.
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