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Ben Kircher





Joined: 08 Feb 2015

Posts: 14

PostPosted: Tue 03 Nov, 2015 9:40 pm    Post subject: Shield Edging, Painting, and Adding a boss         Reply with quote

Hello everyone I was hoping to receive help with a few questions on customizing my kite shield. I recently acquired a wooden kite shield that is covered in a bonded fabric covering. I added padding and a leather carrying strap. I'm plan to start coating the shield to add a coat of arms which I have not yet decided on. I plan on using the shield for sparring and other martial practice, so I am looking to find a paint that would do well under these circumstances. Also in addition to the paint, I was considering adding a steel rim and boss to the shield to increase it's durability and protection. I have seen examples of bosses on a variety of kite shield sizes and believe it to be historically correct. The steel rim however I have not had as much luck in recognizing or identifying. Historical authenticity is an important factor in my recreations, so if anyone has evidence to disprove or prove my research I would gladly welcome it. Thank you in advance for any assistance lent.
Helfen, Wehren, Heilen
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Craig Peters




PostPosted: Tue 03 Nov, 2015 10:36 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

What era are you looking to represent with your kite shield? The reason I ask is that kite shields change over time. During the 11th century and the first half or so of the 12th century, kite shields almost always had bosses. After that, bosses became significantly rarer. The tendency was for kite shields to become flat at the top during the second half of the twelfth century, but those that retained their iconic "tear drop" shape (i.e. no flat top) tended to have no boss.

To my knowledge, there is no evidence of metal being used on shield rims. In fact, there are several pieces of artwork that show swords which have hewn part way into a shield. One of the earlier examples of this can be seen from the circa 1185 AD manuscript Hortus Deliciarum here: https://myartsyodyssey.files.wordpress.com/2015/08/hortus_deliciarum-1188-knights-on-horse.jpg .I believe the idea is that by leaving the shield unlined, the sword can cut into it and hopefully become temporarily stuck, allowing the defending swordsman to counterattack freely. Placing parchment over the surface of the shield seems to have been historical; steel-lined edges, not so much.
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Mark Griffin




Location: The Welsh Marches, in the hills above Newtown, Powys.
Joined: 28 Dec 2006

Posts: 801

PostPosted: Wed 04 Nov, 2015 2:07 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

As above, its a no on the metal rim. None of the surviving early medieval ones have evidence of leather/rawhide either.

The fact that you are talking about a coat of arms means you have a pretty late kite undoubtedly.

Basically you have several choices for paint but its as simple as this. Glue/binder and pigment.

The glue is usually an animal based glue although others are available. but if going onto primed canvas animal size glue is it. I won't go into oil, egg and varnish based as I can't recall it being detected on early shields.

Then you mix the pigment of choice, sticking to simple earth pigments is best unless you want to get complicated or costly in a period sense.

Black- Lamp black
Red - Red ochre
Yellow - Yellow ochre
Green - Terre verte
Blue - Indigo/woad
white - Titanium (lead substitute)

These are the basic pigments available to any medieval artist (plus the actual metals if you are feeling a bit posh)

There is a whole range of others available but are pretty specialised, not entirely suitable for this application, and need a fair bit of technical knowledge.

The pigments will need preparing before mixing and applying plus you'll need to make the glue of course.

That's if you want to go authentic as you state. However you could just use modern acrylics or emulsions and you'll have a quicker, easier and cheaper job. Acrylics will be waterproof too.

However a period paint that will 'do well' under sparring doesn't exist. They will all suffer damage and will need touching up if you want it to remain pristine. Shields are disposable/consumable items so I presume there must have come a point where running repairs to the paint job became less of an option than getting a new one made.

Currently working on projects ranging from Elizabethan pageants to a WW1 Tank, Victorian fairgrounds 1066 events and more. Oh and we joust loads!.. We run over 250 events for English Heritage each year plus many others for Historic Royal Palaces, Historic Scotland, the National Trust and more. If you live in the UK and are interested in working for us just drop us a line with a cv.
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Kevin Lehr




Location: Alexandria, Virginia, USA
Joined: 17 Jan 2015

Posts: 4

PostPosted: Thu 25 Feb, 2016 2:01 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'd say a steel rim is definitely out. Historically there is very little evidence for this. Any metallic rim used back then would have been of a malleable metal, like iron or bronze and would not have been much defense against a weapon strike in any event.

The purpose of a rawhide or leather rim, as in Germanic examples, was primarily to hold the planked shield together to resist splitting. Applied wet, it would shrink, and help bind the individual planks together. Neither would do much against a weapon strike.

Kite shields depicted in the Bayeux tapestry certainly appear to in include some sort of rim, most likely of rawhide or leather, and most seem to have a small boss.

Hope this helps.

Kevin Lehr
Owner/General Manager
Saxon Shield and Leather
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Mike Ruhala




Location: Stuart, Florida
Joined: 24 Jul 2011

Posts: 325

PostPosted: Thu 25 Feb, 2016 8:07 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

To put things into perspective there are vanishingly few examples of original kite shields or even fragments thereof. That basically leaves us with text or art evidence. I'm unfamiliar with any detailed description of kite shield construction but an enormous quantity of art treats the rim of the shields as being something very distinct from the face of the shield and I'll link to an image that I think is as unambiguous as its going to get.

http://manuscriptminiatures.com/3996/11386/

I don't think iron rims on kite shields were likely, not because of tactics but because of weight and materials efficiency. If you're wrapping multiple layers of facing material over the front of the shield and at least a few over the back of the shield you're automatically going to develop a thicker "rim" of facing material which could be sufficient in itself or augmented with some additional material in other cases.
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Mart Shearer




Location: Jackson, MS, USA
Joined: 18 Aug 2012

Posts: 1,263

PostPosted: Thu 25 Feb, 2016 9:27 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I wouldn't call that miniature "unabiguous". It shows the inside of the shield, and it might easily represent the outer cover being turned over the edge and nailed down rather than a separate edging. It should also be considered that some shields might have been edged, while others were not. There is no reason why everyone had to do it the same way, as there was no international mil-spec requirement.

While there is evidence for painted decoration, I have more concern (and agree with the earlier comment) concerning the simultaneous use of kite shields and true heraldry, as that considerably narrows the window for a period to research. The mid-12th century Temple Pyx figures seem to show a separate edging, and are roughly contemporary with the earliest heraldry of Geoffrey V, Count of Anjou, which has no edging.
https://c1.staticflickr.com/3/2363/2205703489_5f8e1f65b2_b.jpg
https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/1/12/Geoffrey_of_Anjou_Monument.jpg

And what to make of the gilt edges on the Winchester leaf (Morgan M.619)? Do they depict painted borders, brass, gilt iron...?
http://www.themorgan.org/collection/medieval-...erso?id=79

ferrum ferro acuitur et homo exacuit faciem amici sui
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Mike Ruhala




Location: Stuart, Florida
Joined: 24 Jul 2011

Posts: 325

PostPosted: Thu 25 Feb, 2016 10:51 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Mart Shearer wrote:
I wouldn't call that miniature "unabiguous". It shows the inside of the shield, and it might easily represent the outer cover being turned over the edge and nailed down rather than a separate edging.


If that image was all we had I might be more inclined towards that point of view but there is a preponderance of evidence in art and artifact that link a series of holes around the perimeter of a shield with some kind of rim reinforcement. I'm sure you're familiar with all the material but for the sake of others I will link to some images that show what the face of that shield probably looked like.

http://manuscriptminiatures.com/4113/12075/

http://manuscriptminiatures.com/4538/11278/

http://manuscriptminiatures.com/4762/7798/

I'll also attach a pic of a relief in stone.

Quote:

It should also be considered that some shields might have been edged, while others were not. There is no reason why everyone had to do it the same way, as there was no international mil-spec requirement.


That I totally agree with, not sure if it made it across in my prior post but that was a point I was trying to make. The buildup of layers of facing material on the edges of a shield can form a sufficient sort of rim all by itself. We know beyond any uncertainty that some similarly constructed shields did not have any kind of additional edging.

Quote:
While there is evidence for painted decoration, I have more concern (and agree with the earlier comment) concerning the simultaneous use of kite shields and true heraldry, as that considerably narrows the window for a period to research.


My gut tells me the OP would probably be happy with the kind of imagery you see earlier in the kite's history like in the BT but probably wasn't aware of the difference between that and true heraldry.

Quote:

The mid-12th century Temple Pyx figures seem to show a separate edging, and are roughly contemporary with the earliest heraldry of Geoffrey V, Count of Anjou, which has no edging.
https://c1.staticflickr.com/3/2363/2205703489_5f8e1f65b2_b.jpg
https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/1/12/Geoffrey_of_Anjou_Monument.jpg


I believe in edged and non-edged kites so I'll say the former may show the former and the later probably shows the latter. Wink

Quote:

And what to make of the gilt edges on the Winchester leaf (Morgan M.619)? Do they depict painted borders, brass, gilt iron...?
http://www.themorgan.org/collection/medieval-...erso?id=79


Hard to say, might just be painted or the artist might not have been trying to represent a high enough level of resolution to tell. If there's an attempt to depict something that looks like nails, rivets or stitching then I'd say there's a better case for additional edging.



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