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Julien M




Location: Austin TX
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PostPosted: Sun 18 Mar, 2012 1:28 pm    Post subject: Eating knife scabbard         Reply with quote

Given that I have a bunch of sword scabbards in the works involving some serious leather carving, I thought it would be a good time to train on a smaller scale...and the eating knife made during Tod's course was in need of a sheath (the knife itself is still in the works as I want to work a bit on the pommel, but anyway it is very very sharp.

I'm glad I did practice on this before tackling something bigger again. I find leather carving especially hard (the forming, sewing, of the scabbard I find relatively straight forward).

I had a dragon beast design in mind from the book "knives and scabbards" for a long time now. I carved it on a dagger handle (documented somewhere on this forum) but was not satisfied because I overworked the leather trying to get the correct tracing done...and that's my problem. I approach leather carving pretty much like drawing, searching for the right line scratching away as I go. With leather it can't work that way. Once you've cut the leather, you have to be happy with it and move on. Tool wise, I have yet to find what works best for me. Also I soak the leather way too much before starting.

Anyway, pictures of the attempt below. I stripped the upper layer of the scabbard and binned it right after dying it. Too much scratching going on, too damn clumsy, but again, useful as a learning curve and I'd rather make mistakes on a 1.5 hour job like this than on a top grain full length sword scabbard.






Moving on, I've decided to have a design completed before starting the carving (these things are supposed to be done freehand and quickly, so I'm taking a different approach here). I'll transfer the pattern on the leather and will carve it from there). This beast is inspired by a dragon found on a 15th century manuscript. I'll give it a go again as soon as I can have a couple of hours to spare.



Last edited by Julien M on Sun 18 Mar, 2012 2:04 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Leo Todeschini
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PostPosted: Sun 18 Mar, 2012 1:40 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Julien,

That is damn fantastic. Straight out of medieval London. You are right that these are done freehand and quickly, people then had bills to pay just like now and 'knocking it out' satisfies that requirement. Looking through knives and scabbards you come across the odd scabbard that has clearly been made by a stunning craftsman, but the vast majority have been quickly done to achieve an effect by a person well skilled in their craft.

Your scabbard fits that perfectly. The scabbard front has been split into a number of sections, the back has been decorated, the decoration covers the whole scabbard, the thonging is well done, the carving depicts a beast well and is well defined and in a medieval style. Everything is there.

Inspiring work for all those 'amateurs' (and us professionals) out there.

Want a job?

Tod

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Glennan Carnie




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PostPosted: Sun 18 Mar, 2012 1:46 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Excellent work Julien. Really stunning stuff. I so need to get round to making a scabbard for mine.
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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Sun 18 Mar, 2012 10:43 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Very nice work Julien and very period looking like Leo commented. Big Grin Cool
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Julien M




Location: Austin TX
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PostPosted: Mon 19 Mar, 2012 4:33 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hey Leo,

I appreciate your comments (though I don't deserve such praise and I have seen you turn scabbards 3 times as good as this one in less than 20 min including comments Happy. I know you are right, I've seen some historical examples that were even worse than mine as far as the carving technique was concerned. My design is not improper regarding the medieval context either...yet I can't be happy with the scabbard such as it is. I'm going to build a pen style handle for my swivel blade, and give the design drawn above a go. I'm not shooting for saddle carving style perfect lines, just cleaner lines and less scratching all over the place.

Glen, you definitely should. The scabbard itself is rather pleasnt and easy to make (can be done by watching your favourite tv show, that's how I managed to stick my owl in my finger though Happy )...

And cheers Jean!

J
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Matthew Bunker




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PostPosted: Mon 19 Mar, 2012 10:08 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Good stuff Julien.

Julien M wrote:
. I'm going to build a pen style handle for my swivel blade,


Bin it. I find swivel knives too cumbersome for detailed work, I do most of mine with a standard flat awl blade mounted in a slim section of antler tine. Much more control, you can actually see what you're doing and I can use it on site when demonstrating to the public

"If a Greek can do it, two Englishman certainly can !"
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David Huggins




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PostPosted: Mon 19 Mar, 2012 1:10 pm    Post subject: Eating knife scabbard         Reply with quote

Hi Julien

A couple of 'cheats' I've used in the past to bring of a nice result is simply to use tracing paper with the design drawn freehand to fit the appropriate area to be tooled, dampen the area of leather very lightly with a sponge or wad of cloth , place the tracing on the area and using a ball point pen that has previously had all of the ink used draw over the tracing. This will when dry leave an impression that can be re-worked, again just lightly dampening the area and using the tool of your preferred choice,and continue to move on to to the next area repeating this. I prefer much as Matt describes but the awl end filed and polished to a 'ball' end.

best
Dave

and he who stands and sheds blood with us, shall be as a brother.
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Julien M




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PostPosted: Tue 20 Mar, 2012 2:39 am    Post subject: Re: Eating knife scabbard         Reply with quote

Matthew Bunker wrote:
Bin it. I find swivel knives too cumbersome for detailed work, I do most of mine with a standard flat awl blade mounted in a slim section of antler tine. Much more control, you can actually see what you're doing and I can use it on site when demonstrating to the public


Yes swivel knifes are worthless for that kind of work. Good enough for broad lines, such as creating borders or clean sections on a sword scabbard. Thanks for the tip (hehe), I'll give the awl blade a go (to be honnest I have been scratching my head to find a suitable tool, and the best I had so far was a half cissor...the bevel produced good results but again worthless for the finer details.


David Huggins wrote:
A couple of 'cheats' I've used in the pastDave


Thanks David! Funny enough I was tinking of tracing paper too, and even more about the empty pen technique. To that end, I stripped a pen of his reservoir sometime last year, put the head in the dishwasher, and tried the pen after that shock treatment. The damn thing was still producing ink and I gave up after covering and entire A4 sheet with lines trying to exhaust it Happy I'll give it another go!

Cheers,

J
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Nathan Robinson
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PostPosted: Tue 20 Mar, 2012 3:40 am    Post subject: Re: Eating knife scabbard         Reply with quote

Matthew Bunker wrote:
I find swivel knives too cumbersome for detailed work


Julien M wrote:
Yes swivel knifes are worthless for that kind of work. Good enough for broad lines, such as creating borders or clean sections on a sword scabbard.


I remember watching a professional saddle maker using a swivel knife to do some extremely detailed, intricate and small designs and do it quickly. I've never been able to replicate the type of work that guy did. I imagine it's one of those things that requires 10,000 hours of work to be amazing.

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Nathan Robinson
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PostPosted: Tue 20 Mar, 2012 3:45 am    Post subject: Re: Eating knife scabbard         Reply with quote

David Huggins wrote:
A couple of 'cheats' I've used in the past to bring of a nice result is simply to use tracing paper with the design drawn freehand to fit the appropriate area to be tooled, dampen the area of leather very lightly with a sponge or wad of cloth , place the tracing on the area and using a ball point pen that has previously had all of the ink used draw over the tracing. This will when dry leave an impression that can be re-worked, again just lightly dampening the area and using the tool of your preferred choice,and continue to move on to to the next area repeating this. I prefer much as Matt describes but the awl end filed and polished to a 'ball' end.


I use a bodkin made of polished bone for the same purpose. I find it's rounded enough not to cut the leather, but comes to a fine enough point to still compress a fine line ready for tooling. A pencil works, too, as any graphite left comes off during the leather-working steps to follow.

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Julien M




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PostPosted: Mon 06 Jan, 2014 6:44 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Ok, Took advantage of Matthew and David's excellent advices above. Got myself a flat awl blade, transferred my design by tracing it on paper above the damp leather beforehand.

I did not manage to take proper pictures as I have broken my SLR camera so flash it is.

I've progressed a lot in the carving, and I'm happy with it. I might dye it black at some point, but for now it will do.
Now that my hand is steady doing this, I will turn to a sword scabbard I've begun a while ago, which I want to decorate in details (possibly using medieval glass work as a base, a kind of tiny comic strip telling a story. Over ambitious maybe, let's see where that lands Happy

Two mistakes I made: I formed the leather along the knife as soon as I completed the stitching, then changed my mind and tried to get rid of it (it splits the upper section in two, along the knife handle). I reduced it a lot with a bone knife, but it is still there...leather remembers, whatever you do!

I messed up the second leg of the beast, then managed to correct it, but the many sketching with the tip on the awl blade made it hard to see what to finally draw. So I went with an ink pen, thinking I would dye black. I changed my mind to red and could not fully clean the are. It's barely noticeable but it's there.

I think I got this where I want it. It took me much more than a couple of hours though Happy I hope I did justice to this knife made during Tod excellent course in Oxford.

let me know what you think (after many hours spent on this, I can't even tell if it looks true to style or not...hard really).

J





Inspiration for this project was multiple, the book medieval knives and scabbard as usual, plus manuscript images, like the two below I used for the beast (early XV century unless I'm mistaken).


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Matthew Bunker




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PostPosted: Tue 07 Jan, 2014 3:27 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Nice work Julien.
When you tried to clean out the ink, did you try acetone? That usually works

The Fiebing's prep that I use prior to dyeing is ammonia based and it does a good job of cleaning crap off the leather.

"If a Greek can do it, two Englishman certainly can !"
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Radovan Geist




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PostPosted: Tue 07 Jan, 2014 4:28 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I liked your first sheath, but this is a HUGE upgrade. Very nice indeed.
May I have one technical question? You have used an awl for "drawing" the lines. But what tool do you use for "shading" (densely dotted areas around the beast, above the gate tower, etc)? Do you just make dots with the same awl, or is it something else?
Im really looking forward to your sword scabbard project!
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Julien M




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PostPosted: Tue 07 Jan, 2014 11:48 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Matthew Bunker wrote:
When you tried to clean out the ink, did you try acetone? That usually works


Thanks Matthew. I haven't. I've never been successful at cleaning off anything off leather. I have some Lexol cleaning product which has always proven useless. I did have some nail cleaning solution in the house, but I did not dare to try on veg tan. I really like the current dye color, but this slight stain will bug me until I dye the all thing black I'm sure. I'll try the Fiebing's prep.

Radovan Geist wrote:
But what tool do you use for "shading" (densely dotted areas around the beast, above the gate tower, etc)?


Thanks Radovan. Yep I used an awl, grossly mounted to a regular ink pen (I stuffed it with milliput before sticking the blade in), so it's not elegant but rock solid. The tool used for shading is one that you will find included in every basic leather carving kit. (http://www.northcoastknives.com/Supplies3_BasicStampSetLrg.gif, this one for instance, the A104).

I'm using this because I never had the chance to make my own stamps, but one should for best results. These one are a bit too "even" to look medieval. If you look around peter Johnsson posted his custom made stamp sets.
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Sean Flynt
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PostPosted: Tue 07 Jan, 2014 11:51 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Excellent work, as usual!
-Sean

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G Ezell
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PostPosted: Tue 07 Jan, 2014 12:39 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Excellent work, both design and technique.

Concerning layout work, I've found an orange fine-tipped marker to be ideal, easy to see on wet leather, but easily hidden by even lighter-colored dyes afterwards.

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Leo Todeschini
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PostPosted: Tue 14 Jan, 2014 12:55 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Fabulous work Julien,

The detail is really good as is the design and of course the quality of execution that we have come to expect from you.

Really great work.

Keep it up - just not too much of it!

Tod

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