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Shane Allee
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PostPosted: Mon 23 Oct, 2006 7:56 am    Post subject: Julie's rondel         Reply with quote

My wife Julie has been working on this rondel in her free time and it is getting pretty close to being finished. The blade is was made by Ollin Sword Design and is double edged and hollow ground to give it a nice strong medial ridge. The hilt is english walnut with steel plates. She is really to the point where she needs to add the small decorative details if she is going too. The problem is that she isn't sure if she should add any and if so what they might be. We have tossed around the idea of doing some carving on the handle or some kind of pierce/filework on the plates, but we just aren't sure. If anyone has any ideas or suggestions we would be more than happy to hear them.





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Torsten F.H. Wilke




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PostPosted: Mon 23 Oct, 2006 9:21 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Would you consider a guard and pommel made from dark alabaster type stone? And how about circumferencial ribbing on the hilt? Like being wrapped with cord, but carved from the wood itself. Piercework on the plates would then expose details of the stone. Simple, yet elegant?
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Geoff Wood




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PostPosted: Mon 23 Oct, 2006 9:43 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Looks very good as it is, but since you ask, I'd be inclined to make it a little more slender (particularly as it goes away from the blade) and, if you haven;t already done so, make the section oval ratherthan circular (but I accept I may just be missing that in the pictures - good as they are). I've seen spiral grooves look good in this context as both grip enhancement and decoration, but I expect they're a s*d to do and you'd lose some of the grain detail which would be a pity perhaps.
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Charles G.





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PostPosted: Mon 23 Oct, 2006 10:15 am    Post subject: Wow!         Reply with quote

That's a real beauty!

The main thing I would pay attention to (as pointed out above) is the overall shape of the hilt components, esp. the grip. Optionally, some piercework on the metal components of the guard in pommel may be in order, but are not really necessary. Spiral grooves on the grip might not hurt, but are not necessary.

One possibility might be to put a roped design on the wood used in the guard/hilt. That might look good.

I really need to start work on a few of these type daggers myself. There is a surprisingly wide range of styles for this type.
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Nathan Robinson
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PostPosted: Mon 23 Oct, 2006 3:23 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Wow, nice work overall. This is going to be good.

I'm not sure I've seen many bare-wood grips that are unadorned like that. My input would be to cover the wooden grip, perhaps just leather wrap it with some under-cord or a spiraled wrap of copper wire over the leather within incised grooves. The cross-section of the grip looks a bit odd to me, too. The taper is throwing me off, not so much the "roundness" but the swell.. often rondel daggers have grips larger at the base than the pommel side or, it seems more often than not, an even size throughout the length with a median swell.

Some filework on the edges of the metal discs (jimping?) would be nice too. Perhaps the sandwiched wooden roundels would look better less rounded, but rather made flush with the metal plates.

I think overall, things are just too rounded for my own eye.

All this is purely personal opinion and input based on your request for it....

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Jonathon Janusz





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PostPosted: Mon 23 Oct, 2006 3:51 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Great effort so far Happy. Here's my $.02

The grip looks like the shape would be counter supportive to your hand if the dagger would be used to thrust - nothing for your hand to push against. As mentioned before, either moving the swell to the center or away from the pommel would help in that regard.

I also agree that it looks too big - the hilt seems to be overpowering the blade in the design.

As far as decorative elements, I like piercework as it is not very often done. Wire wrap on the grip might be nice, too. Maybe some etching on the guard plates? Lastly, to solve the "roundness" problem, might I suggest not only bringing the wooden parts of the guards closer to the plates, but maybe make the outer diameter concave rather than convex - a little more gothic style?

Something that just came to mind following the thought on the wooden parts of the guards - concave faceted outer diameter with filed steel/silver tacks set into the facets?
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Nathan Robinson
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PostPosted: Mon 23 Oct, 2006 3:57 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Great input, Jonathon .. particulary the concave idea. That would follow many examples very well. Nicely done.
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Jean Thibodeau




PostPosted: Mon 23 Oct, 2006 5:34 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I agree the concave idea for the wood between the steel plates with some nice file work on the plates.

Just from a practical point of view the convex wood would be more vulnerable to damage as they are now and the function of the metal plates would seem to be to protect the wood if function is the design priority.

In a way are all these suggestions " improvements " Question or maybe just alternate design decisions Exclamation I say this because the present handle does look nice the way it is now. Wink

Things like reversing the taper of the handle are more difficult to ignore because they impact the using qualities, comfort and possibly effectiveness.

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Shane Allee
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PostPosted: Mon 23 Oct, 2006 10:17 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Well, looks like I ended up giving Julie some bad ideas with this little project. I know that I'm well out of my area of interest, but honestly I did attempt some research to help her out. I guess that I was under the impression that this blade design was more of an earlier style, and tried to base hilt idea on that. Seemed like the sandwich style construction as well as handles that taper from the upper guard/rondel to the lower guard/rondel were more of an earlier feature as well. This style of tapered grip also seems to be common on contemporary ballock daggers and something that transitioned on with the Landsknecht daggers. It also seemed to be something that fit, at least to my hand, well when used in the icepick fashion. I am attaching one depiction that we used somewhat for inspiration, although the grips are wider and have more taper to them. Can't say for sure what we will do with this one at this point, other than just maybe put it aside for awhile.

By the way the whole idea of it not being functional to have the wood outside of the metal is as much bunk in my opinion as the idea that bronze hilt fittings aren't function. It isn't the first time and I'm sure it won't be the last time I have to say this around here, but organic hilts were used for a very long time throughout history. They were very functional, not mear dress items, and killed countless number of men over a very long period of time.

Shane

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Nathan Robinson
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PostPosted: Mon 23 Oct, 2006 10:44 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Shane Allee wrote:
Well, looks like I ended up giving Julie some bad ideas with this little project. I know that I'm well out of my area of interest, but honestly I did attempt some research to help her out. I guess that I was under the impression that this blade design was more of an earlier style, and tried to base hilt idea on that. Seemed like the sandwich style construction as well as handles that taper from the upper guard/rondel to the lower guard/rondel were more of an earlier feature as well.

Hi Shane-

With all the recent attention to rondel daggers on this site, and in particular Alexi's article on it, I've become interested in this subject much more than I was even a year ago. They fascinate me. I'm aware of many late-15th and 16th century examples of the "sandwiched" grip construction, but I can't recall seeing earlier examples. I'd love to see them if you can reference them for me. This happens to be my favorite type and I find it extremely attractive. The combined use of various organic materials, in particular, is something that I find appealing. The use of bone, wood, horn, and combinations of all these really gets me going. I really would love to see such examples dating from before, say, 1350. Very cool stuff.

Quote:
This style of tapered grip also seems to be common on contemporary ballock daggers and something that transitioned on with the Landsknecht daggers.

Excellent! I'm glad you said that. Now that I see the photos of your piece, I see the similarity to many grip shapes found on ballock daggers. I would not have noticed that before. In terms of grip shape, I'm not sure that the study of ballock daggers is really going to tell us a whole lot about rondel daggers, but I honestly don't know. The artwork you attached isn't showing rondel daggers.. or is it? At first look, they looked like ballock daggers to me... or maybe dudgeon daggers?

Quote:
By the way the whole idea of it not being functional to have the wood outside of the metal is as much bunk in my opinion as the idea that bronze hilt fittings aren't function. It isn't the first time and I'm sure it won't be the last time I have to say this around here, but organic hilts were used for a very long time throughout history. They were very functional, not mear dress items, and killed countless number of men over a very long period of time.

I agree.

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Al Muckart




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PostPosted: Tue 24 Oct, 2006 1:52 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Nathan Robinson wrote:
Excellent! I'm glad you said that. Now that I see the photos of your piece, I see the similarity to many grip shapes found on ballock daggers. I would not have noticed that before. In terms of grip shape, I'm not sure that the study of ballock daggers is really going to tell us a whole lot about rondel daggers, but I honestly don't know. The artwork you attached isn't showing rondel daggers.. or is it? At first look, they looked like a ballock daggers to me...


I'm in the process of building a bollock dagger (well, the hilt at least. I did some of the rough grinding but the blade is someone else's work) so I've been staring at lots of pictures of ballock daggers and that's what the daggers in that picture looked like to me. At that length though they are really blurring the line between dagger and short sword.

As an aside, if anyone has good pictures of bollock dagger hilts I'd love to see them Happy

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Jean Thibodeau




PostPosted: Tue 24 Oct, 2006 2:50 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Shane Allee wrote:
By the way the whole idea of it not being functional to have the wood outside of the metal is as much bunk in my opinion as the idea that bronze hilt fittings aren't function. It isn't the first time and I'm sure it won't be the last time I have to say this around here, but organic hilts were used for a very long time throughout history. They were very functional, not mear dress items, and killed countless number of men over a very long period of time.

Shane



Oh, I'll concede the fact that my knowledge of " organic grip " is low to non-existant: My own opinion about the wood being outside the metal is just based on a " guess " that the wood would be better protected from " cosmetic " damage if flush with the edge of the metal and just a personal design choice I might make not being aware that it is historically something commonly done.

I'm also not an expert on rondel daggers and the way their styles might vary by time period or geographical location.

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Malcolm A




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PostPosted: Tue 24 Oct, 2006 5:04 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hello all,
I hope this suggestion of mine doesn't come across as frivolous or in bad taste etc. It is cetainly not intended to be so.

FIghting with swords etc would have been a very personal, in your face situation, and with knives / rondels especially so. I believe that rondels were often used to finish off an opponent, or to kill one that was on his back in the melee - pretty personal sounding to me.
I also know, from a TV documentary, that Roman Army slingers used to peronalise their lead slingshot with etchings such as "Take that" or "Death" - a little like the way aircraft bombs are personalised by groundcrews in WW2 and today.
Anecdotal stories have come my way [no evidence sadly] that medieval soldiers were not adverse to giving names to their weapons such as we sometimes see in fantasy scenarios, though maybe less fanciful.
Giving verbal abuse and rude gestures to the enemy was certainly common [eg the English archers waving their first two fingers at the French; still in use today]

My idea would be to etch / engrave onto the handle or the end disc, a similar personal message to one's opponent.
Not rude / crude word[s] but maybe like "Death take thee", "Death's kiss", etc

Again, I hope the above is not taken / seen as frivolous or on bad taste.

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Shane Allee
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PostPosted: Tue 24 Oct, 2006 7:53 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I have to say that I'm getting very frustrated and confused with this. Ok, so why would the ones in the picture I posted be ballock daggers and not rondels? They don't have "balls," but do have a rondels. The middle one has both upper and lower rondels and the "filling" of the upper one is the same color as the handle, but has vertical bands or something when you zoom into the picture. The one on the right has a lower rondel and a slightly domed plate over the handle I believe. Can't say much about the one of the left though.

What is the problem with having a wider grip at the upper rondel that tapers to the lower one? In the spot light article an number of the metal hilted ones have the taper, they are generally just smaller in diameter. The Arms and Armor #110 has the handle wider at the upper guard as well as the DT 2155 and the Kris Cutlery, and they all appear to be round in cross section. Ours is oval to match the rondels and narrows to a round cross section...?

Here is a picture posted by Sean that we though showed a similar taper to the handle.


I kind of took this one on the right as having a plate over an organic bit that was larger.


In my free time today and tonight I'll see about sifting through and scanning a few things that I have. Starting to get the feeling that Julie has washed her hands with the project since she probably won't have time to work on it until christmas break. If I do anything with it, I'll more than likely at this point just grind the handle straight, slap some leather on it and be done with it. Then I can go back to the realm of organic hilts where stuff makes since to me.

Shane
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Nathan Robinson
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PostPosted: Tue 24 Oct, 2006 12:07 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Shane Allee wrote:
I have to say that I'm getting very frustrated and confused with this.

Okay. I was kind of jazzed about this conversation, but I think it's probably best to discuss rondel daggers elsewhere. I think all the feedback given was intended to be constructive and helpful, and was a result of your request for input and suggestions. I know mine was. I hope it was received as such.

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Al Muckart




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PostPosted: Tue 24 Oct, 2006 2:53 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi Shane,

Shane Allee wrote:
I have to say that I'm getting very frustrated and confused with this. Ok, so why would the ones in the picture I posted be ballock daggers and not rondels? They don't have "balls," but do have a rondels. The middle one has both upper and lower rondels and the "filling" of the upper one is the same color as the handle, but has vertical bands or something when you zoom into the picture. The one on the right has a lower rondel and a slightly domed plate over the handle I believe. Can't say much about the one of the left though.


Sorry if I'm contributing to your frustration. I'll explain why I think that picture shows bollock daggers rather than rondels.

The first thing is the style of the clothing. To me that places the picture pretty firmly in the 4th quarter of the 14th century, and bollock daggers are the vastly predominant form of dagger accompanying civilian clothing in that period, both in illustration and effigy. The Rondel dagger does exist in that period but from what I've seen (and please correct me if I'm wrong) seems to be uniquely a military weapon worn by people in armour.

The second thing is that the lower guard "droops" over the top of the scabbard on all three knives in a direction which is inconsistent with a circular guard drawn from that perspective but is consistent with the guard of a bollock dagger.

The last thing is the shape of the upper grip. Some rondels may taper so they are wider at the pommel end than the guard end but in my limited experience of rondels, the defining feature is that they either have a rondel at the pommel which is of larger diameter than the guard, i.e, it's an actual rondel rather than just being a pommel plate, or they taper outwards very sharply just at the pommel. None of those daggers show that, they taper pretty linearly from guard to pommel. They do show a fairly obvious pommel nut 'bump' on the pommels, but that's a feature of peened construction rather than of a particular style of dagger.

Quote:

What is the problem with having a wider grip at the upper rondel that tapers to the lower one? In the spot light article an number of the metal hilted ones have the taper, they are generally just smaller in diameter. The Arms and Armor #110 has the handle wider at the upper guard as well as the DT 2155 and the Kris Cutlery, and they all appear to be round in cross section. Ours is oval to match the rondels and narrows to a round cross section...?


I don't know a huge amount about rondel daggers, beyond what I've read on this forum and seen of high-end reproductions, but I don't think there's anything necessarily wrong with having a grip which tapers so that it is narrower at the guard than at the pommel.

I think that what you have there is a pretty good looking dagger. It's not immediately obvious from the photographs that the rondels are oval rather than circular. I can't really comment on having non-circular rondels other than to say that if you like 'em like that then it's all good.

There are two things which make that grip look slighly "off" to my eye. The convex taper in the grip - the ones I've seen wich a convex bulge tend to be the very skinny metal grips you see on later 15th century rondels - turning it into a straight taper would make it look better IMO, but it's not my dagger Happy The other thing is the bulge of the wood between the metal plates in the rondels. I can't quite put my finger on why, but I think this would look better if they were either concave as previously suggested or patternened with carved "roping" or something.

Completely smooth surfaces like that seem to be a pretty rare aesthetic in period daggers. The expensive ones were embellished and the cheap ones weren't as perfectly smoothed as that. That may just be bias from looking a lots of ones which have hundreds of years wear though. Kind of like the impression people have of castles being sort of grey and dull when in period they tended to be whitewashed on the outside and brightly painted to the point of being gaudy on the inside.

Overall I think that's a nice piece and I look forward to seeing what it looks like when it's complete.

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Shane Allee
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PostPosted: Tue 24 Oct, 2006 3:33 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Yeah I'm frustrated, but that isn't a reason to just drop it. I just don't understand and really want to know why.

This is kind of how I'm seeing it...

We asked for input and suggestions for the final detail elements of a near completed piece. Most of the replies seemed to be to scrap major elements of it and do it again. Aspects like the handle taper and bare wood were brought up as being wrong. I guess that I'm just not the type to change things without knowing why. To my eyes it seems like there are examples where the handle tapers that way, but if I'm not seeing things right could someone help explain it to me. I also don't understand why the taper and bare wood seem to be a problem with this one, but not something anyone has mentioned concerning the vast majority of reproduction that are this way and have been discussed on this site. If what I posted is a ballock dagger, what makes it a ballock dagger and not a rondel?

For the first picture I posted of the ballock/rondels, that is from the Chronicles of Emperor Charles V. The next picture I have seems to be Lancelot in a scene from The Knight of the Cart, the book it is in doesn't give me much beyond that though.

The nice little coffee table book where these are coming from lets me down yet again by not giving me any more info about this last picture other than "An illustration from a fifteenth century manuscript showing single combat on foot with battle axes."



After talking with her this morning she said she wanted me to take the handle down more to make it smaller around, but didn't really say if she if she decided to carve any on it or not. Don't have a clue one way or the other if it would be historical, but we both liked Malcom's idea of a latin inscription on the top rondel plate. Finally she decided that she was just going to finish it in a way that made her happy and looks nice to her. If someone ends up buying it great, but if not that it would make a great christmas or birthday present for our nephew who would love it. I kind of think that it is about the best idea that we have had for the entire project.

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PostPosted: Tue 24 Oct, 2006 3:43 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks for trying to explain things Al.

I will have to take your word for most everything. The one thing that I'm not sure about is the curved guards on the ballock/rondels. It may just be because I can zoom in on the higher res picture, but it just looks like it is depicting a 3D view of a rondel rather than a curved guard. At this point I just may be seeing things.

Part of what seems to be getting me about some of what looks earlier in some cases I think is that much of the time they are showing things from other time periods. The Chronicles for example is showing a scene from 1099 from the end of the first Crusade. Of course the dress and all isn't correct for that time period, but looks at least to me older styles than when it was done. I really don't know...*G*

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PostPosted: Tue 24 Oct, 2006 6:31 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi shane,

Shane Allee wrote:
Thanks for trying to explain things Al.

I will have to take your word for most everything. The one thing that I'm not sure about is the curved guards on the ballock/rondels. It may just be because I can zoom in on the higher res picture, but it just looks like it is depicting a 3D view of a rondel rather than a curved guard. At this point I just may be seeing things.


No problem, I hope I'm adding clarity rather than confusion Happy

Can you zoom in the higher res picture and crop out one of the daggers so we can see what you mean about the zoomed in thing?

A lot of what I'm seeing is colored by what other dagger styles I've seen depicted as being carried by people dressed like that, but I've attached a crude drawing (I can't draw very well, sorry) of the difference I'm seeing in those hilts. I've drawn the hilt in black and the guard in red. On the left of the picture is the shape I'd expect to see if this were a rondel - the lower edge is convex. On the right of the picture is the shape I'd expect to see if this were a bollock dagger with a "droopy" guard. The lower edge of the guard is concave.

It's very subjective though, especially given that the artistic style of the period isn't ultra-realistic and they were still doing odd things with perspective at the end of the 14th century.

There is an excellent picture in the spotlight on rondel article which shows a rondel dagger with a flared pommel like you are seeing in one of the other pictures you linked to.

The link to the picture is http://www.myArmoury.com/view.html?features/pic_spot_rondel07.jpg. Check out the top dagger.


Quote:

Part of what seems to be getting me about some of what looks earlier in some cases I think is that much of the time they are showing things from other time periods. The Chronicles for example is showing a scene from 1099 from the end of the first Crusade. Of course the dress and all isn't correct for that time period, but looks at least to me older styles than when it was done. I really don't know...*G*


Welcome to the conundrum of trying to document things from iconographic sources Big Grin

As a general rule with iconographical sources the clothing depicted will be the predominant style around the period when the manuscript was illuminated. Bear in mind that this can be decades different to when it was written. The Romance of Alexander is great like this because it had additions made decades after it was originally done and the evolution of styles, particularly in armour is very evident.

The exceptions to this rule seem to be religious figures, particularly the virgin Mary and Jesus, or figures which are deliberately being depicted in an antiquated style - but when that happens the antiquated style depicted tends to be the perception of that style during the period the illustrations were done and frequently bears no resemlbance to what we know of the actual style being depicted.

Gah, I hope that makes sense Happy What I'm trying to say is that a 14th century illustrator depicting someone as being from the 12th century will frequently draw what they think a 12th century chap should look like, and not what a 12th century chap actually looked like.

To further muddy the waters, my first reaction to the dagger in the Lancelot picture is that it was a baselard rather than a rondel. I'm perfectly willing to be wrong about that though.

Anyway, back to your dagger. This is a tricky problem because it comes down to getting a feel for an aesthetic in quite a general sense and then trying to pin down specifics of why something doesn't quite fit that aesthetic. This is much harder to do than it sounds, lord knows I can only do it a bit for objects I'm really familiar with (mostly shoes).

What I'm seeing looking at the pictures of period daggers in the spotlight article is that, shape and material aside, they are invariably decorated and textured rather than being plain, so if you want to do something to your hilt to make it more period, then consider texturing and decorating it. This is particularly evident in this picture from the spotlight topic:

http://www.myArmoury.com/view.html?features/pic_spot_rondel09.jpg

I wouldn't worry too much about the form of your hilt. In terms of the shape it's plausible, and there was a lot of variation in form in period daggers so don't stress about it too much. Most of the suggestions made in this thread are valid, but IMO if you want to lift the look of the whole piece then decorate it and break up the large smooth surfaces.



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rondelbollockhilts.gif
Bad drawing of rondel vs bollock dagger guards

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Jean Thibodeau




PostPosted: Tue 24 Oct, 2006 9:57 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Shane Allee wrote:
We asked for input and suggestions for the final detail elements of a near completed piece. Most of the replies seemed to be to scrap major elements of it and do it again.

Shane


I completely agree that we got sidetracked " redesigning " or going off in a tangent about Rondel daggers in general or our own ideas about what we would like.

I just want to say that all the " blah blah blah " aside it's a very attractive Rondel: The only issue is should it stay plain or should it be detailed with some sort of carving or file work ? I really don't know as the plain version is very nice.
( If the plainness is a problem it's only that historically it's been said that people of those times liked to decorate profusely or even to excess to our eyes. So, keep it smooth and appealing to the modern eye or go historical ? In a good way obviously. )

The blade's pronounced mid-rib is also very appealing.

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