Game of Thrones - Brynden "Blackfish" Tully build


Jr Member
Hello gentlefolk.

I'm building a dream costume of mine. I've put most of the work on the back end here, and left myself with too little time (6 weeks) to build the majority of the costume. It's entirely possible that I can do this, but I'll be pressed.

So for those unfamiliar, here's the inspiration.

Brynden Blackfish

The build has several elements which I'll break down by status. This will be my master list during the build and I'll edit this post with my intention, and the outcome as it comes.

Let's start nice and simple. I already have boots that will work. Boots complete!

The plan is a short sleeve, knee length gambeson - Ordered a sleeveless knee length Gambeson
Very dark green shirt (almost black) - Purchased some black waffle cloth, 95% complete. Need to hem the bottom and it's done.
Black peasant pants, Ordered - two week turnaround

If you take a look at the photo, you'll see a sigil of a fish, painted black, in the center of his chest. This may be rough. I looked into getting the stuff to resin cast, and given everything else, there's no way I'll have time to carve out and resin cast the tully crest. I'm hoping I can find someone who can make me one at a reasonable cost (reference my WTB thread, if interested) but I'm very interested in hearing ideas. Are there better options than resin casting the sigil? Both as far as time to make, and cost to produce? I don't really know what my options are.
Update: Bought resin casting stuff. Going to take a whack at it.

Short Term - Butted Chainmaille sleeves (completed, pictures to come) attached to the inside of the leather armor
Long Term- Wedge Riveted haubergeon (to purchase) or U-dome riveted haubergeon (to make) depending on finances/time

Shout Out to SmilingOtter for keeping a brother in mind. I have a half sleeve dome riveted shirt enroute. It's not my dream (still want to make a U riveted gambeson at some point, but that'll be a several year project that I haven't started on. This is a great piece to cover me in the intervening time.)
Update: Medium term accomplished. I have received my dome riveted shirt (not haubergeon length) which will keep me for a good amount of time. Will replace when I can (long term)

Leather Armor (fish scales):
Here's the prize. The whole thing, really. All the rest is just details compared to this.
So obviously this is the part I need to get moving on. I've set up all of the ground work, got all the materials and tools, and I've made a proof of concept. I've just been sitting on the project for like 3 months.

So the intent here is making a clearly ahistoric piece of armor as historical as possible, so I'm making this armor from extended lamellar plates. The plates will be oriented the opposite way lamellar normally is, with a tab hanging off the bottom, which will obscure the plates below it.

I know that may not be very intuitive, or clearly explained, so lucky for me, I've got pictures.

Tools and materials:
I found someone who was selling 1.5 inch wide leftovers from his belt making business. Every one is long enough to make at least 1 lamellar plate, some long enough for two. I've upgraded my mallet to a proper maul and things are moving much quicker.

30 pounds of belt scrap:
Should be plenty. It's a LOT of leather.

The cutting process:
My end cutter is 1.5 inches wide, same size as the leather. I'm using a "Master Mold" for the guide both for length and hole punch

Some cut and punched plates:
The top and bottom holes are offset so it looks more like fish scales and less like lamellar plates

Proof of Concept:
Once there's lace running through, the tabs will be pushed off of the scale under it, giving it more volume. Otherwise, the scales (after some alteration, getting the holes lined up correctly) look like they're work exactly as intended.

As far as dyeing them black, I plan to use vinegaroon (an ancient recipe for staining leather black). It's a great process, and I suggest anyone who does leather work look it up. Completely historically accurate, simple, and cheap to produce (and a better result than black dye, less messy, and easier to care for).
The process is essentially two ingredients. White vinegar (or urine, if you believe the tales), and rust (most easily achieved with steel wool, right out of the package) together in a mason jar for a few days and it's ready. If you plan to use it, look up recipes, and how to stabilize the leather afterwards. The vinegaroon changes the Ph balance of the leather, so you need to dip it in water, dry immediately, and oil immediately to normalize it. It's a process.
The reason I love vinegaroon, though. Is because it doesn't dye the leather. It doesn't add anything to the top of it, it chemically changes the composition of the leather, which interacts with the tannins I guess, and the change in composition manifests by showing up black. What this means is that it's not a thin layer of color. If you cut the leather in half, it's black all the way through, so scratches and wear wont discolor the leather. Sorry about the in depth explanation, it's just fascinating to me.

I hope you like following along as much as I'm enjoying making the thing!
And if anyone will be at CONvergence in Minneapolis this summer, maybe you'll see me!

Deadline: 4th of July weekend. (God, only six weeks!)
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Welcome aboard! And always glad to see another Armour Archiver! :) (Also, if your screen name is a Serenity reference, you get bonus cool points.)
Otter, I swear to god you are the first person to ever get that reference. It's definitely a serenity reference. Firefly/Serenity was my first cosplay (Jayne) and it's how I met my wife! She was dressed as Saffron. It's a story, for sure, let me know if you'd like the whole telling.

And I actually saw someone mention RPF over at AA. That's how I found my way here!
I really enjoy making historically accurate(ish) costumes, but I'll definitely need to utilize some of the methods I hope to learn here for my wife's costumes (she isn't as committed to the weight of history as I am. She'll require armor made of something other than metal. Maybe aluminum. We'll see.)
A story about Jayne and Saffron hooking up? Now you've GOT to tell it... :D

As for your sigil, what are you thinking it's supposed to be made of? Looks to me like it could be leather, in which case wet forming over a wooden form would be the way I'd go (and how I assume it would have been done in-story.)

If it's supposed to be metal, then yeah a resin cast would probably be the easiest way to replicate it.

(BTW rusty vinegar will blacken some species of wood as well, for the same reasons - tannins in the wood.)
I'm not sure what it's intended to be made of in the show. My knee-jerk is Leather, but his nephew, Edmure Tully has a similar sigil, presumably the same material, but it's shiny blue and ... brass?

Looks like a metal plaque to me.

Honestly, though. I'm not super interested in staying true to the material, so long as the method of recreation makes a fair approximation.

And the story:
I was on R&R from Iraq, with the Army, back in my homestate of Minnesota, and it happened to coincide with CONvergence, a sci-fi and fantasy convention in Minneapolis. I had 4 days to make a costume, so I did an iron-on print of the Blue Sun logo on a T-shirt, and hit a military surplus store for a nice military belt, a couple decommed grenades and grenade pouches. Man, I made a hell of a four day costume with under $100. It was great, not that this is the point of my story. I'm just pretty proud of my first cosplay. So I went to the four day long convention with absolutely no plans on where I was sleeping at night, or a car. It was a mess. But I went to the Serenity room, and hit it off with the folks there, to include a beautiful redhead dressed as Saffron. We probably said less than a dozen words to each other during CON, but after heading back to Iraq, I joined the MNFirefly site (the people responsible for the Serenity room), and chatted with her on the chat function about 5 times over the next six months. Then, we land on January 2nd. Shortly after both of our relationships had ended. Due to a very fortuitous mishap, I had 3 days off, in one of the rare locations with wifi out in the middle east, and we spent probably 50 of those 72 hours talking. I took every opportunity to speak with her over the next two months, until Feb 14th, the day I got on a plane on got my butt out of that country, and while I was out of communication for a couple days, I had a bouquet of flowers at her door, along with a note professing my love.
I landed at my home station, The beautiful Schofield Barracks Hawaii, and bought her a plane ticket to come visit that weekend. We went hiking through a beautiful mountain range, and I proposed. We were married three months later, 51 weeks after we met, and we spent our honeymoon at CONvergence, the year after we'd met.

Unfortunately, I had six years more in the Army, and last year was the first year we were able to return for CON, and we didn't have anything complicated set up for CON, though it was the first year I've ever had anyone stop and ask for photos. We dressed up as Bob and Linda Belcher from Bob's Burgers. Super easy costumes, very recognizable, and we dressed our two year old (for the one day she was at CON) as Louise.

And now you're all caught up. I'm ready to do a hard costume that few people will recognize.
Well, after re-evaluating my life choices, and determining that I had severely over engineered this armor, I decided to do a less historical lamellar in a more traditional way, as opposed to a more historical lamellar in a much less traditional way. I was reinventing the wheel, but it's unnecessary and significantly more time consuming. So I'm doing this the easy way instead.

I did some math, and it looks like I need 600 lamellar plates, which sounds like an insane amount, but I sat down for a good three hours (which is rough, cross legged, on the floor) and knocked out 200 blanks. Couple more days and I'll be ready to try out proof of concept on the new design. Gotta order some cord, dye it all, and lace it all up! Easy!!

I can't wait either! Now that I'm focused, I think it'll come together quick. I just need to tap the brakes on my other hobbies and make sure my free time goes towards completing this.
Spent the last few days taking a break from the leather scales, but have significant updates in other departments.

Pants and Gambeson purchased, 2 week wait time
Good looking out from SmilingOtter earned me a darn good price on a dome riveted chainmaille shirt, enroute
I purchased some black fabric and am making a shirt (should be finished tonight. Hand-stitching it all, my first run at hand stitching)
And I purchased some clay and clay tools to make a (probably one time) mold for the resin cast

Only one item left to purchase-
Gloves ($40)

Only three things left to make-
Leather armor (15% complete)
Black shirt (85% complete)
Resin cast (items purchased)

As we all knew, this will come down to the armor, but it's really nice to see everything else coming together.
For your viewing pleasure:

600 ***** leather plates (now I have to punch 8 holes in each one. This is what may keep me from finishing)

And the main attraction.

This will work just fine for my needs. Looks great, feels great. When bent (like to contour a human torso) there's a beautiful amount of flare as the scales press off of the lower rows.
This is going to work, and it is going to look amazing (after an absurd amount of work)
Batfan, I'll be coloring before assembly. The proof of concept was just to ensure the holes lined up correctly and allowed for proper fit. I'll be taking them apart to color.

Now it's just a matter of punching 4800 holes.

Man this is a daunting task. Just have to set a daily goal and keep at it!
Mygod, this is significantly worse than cutting out the blanks.

Anyways, I punched out 100 today. 1/6th of the way there!

This is going to be a long week.
And I better start preparing the vinagaroon. I need much more than I have currently.
It's something ive considered, and Ive done it before for leatherwork, but the accuract required outweighs the driving need for convenience. If I'm a millimeter off on a single hole, I ruin a whole stack.

But then again, I only need to be accurate like 25 times and Im done.

It is very, very tempting. Let me think on it.
I've never had to drill anywhere near that many holes, so you've already surpassed me in that department. If I were to try it with a drill press, I'd probably make some sort of box/structure that would keep the stack of scales as immobile as possible. Then, to be redundant, after each hole was drilled I'd insert a nail or something similar to keep anything from moving.

OTOH, the armor would have been made by hand (in-universe) so constructing it with mathematical precision and symmetry would actually be inauthentic. (My two cents.)
Well, I gave it a shot with a hand drill, and ruined a stack of 6.

Definitely drill press, and an enclosure would be the way to go, but Im not sure I want to build it. Im already 150/600, by the time I build an enclosure for it, I think it would be a wash for time spent, (though we'll see how my hand feels in 3-4 days)

Also, the drill bit left a bit of a mess. It was fairly clean drilling through a single layer, but when drilling multiple layers, the holes left were pretty unusable as is. They would require time cleaning the holes up before I could reliably run a cord through them.

I wanted to believe there was an easier way (and there might be, with better planning) but since Im a telecommuter (my office is at my house) I can sit in meetings all day and punch holes, so Im at least making good use of my time, even if it is tedious.
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