|Hello RPF folks ^-^v I've been a lurker for a few months now, and this is my first time posting a project here.I've been working on the costume of Legolas from The Lord of the Rings since early this year, specifically the version out of Lothlórien. I've finished a fair deal of the entire get-up; hopefully I can wrap up with the smaller details very soon.|
For now, I'd like to share one of my favorite builds in this project. One of the things that I had longed to make was the Lothlórien quiver. It posed a pretty big problem, since I was making it from scratch, and it was an extremely detailed piece that had very little exposure in the films — not to mention I have never worked on either a quiver or genuine leather before 6^^;;; But I've also seen a lot of talented people try their hand on this with such marvelous results, so with lots of inspiration from other cosplayers and costumers (most especially Celtic Ruins, Kropserkel, and the wonderful and creative people at LOTR Costume) I just up and gave it a shot.
(I am very sorry; this will be quite a long write-up <(_ _)> And my apologies also for the poor photographs.)
|Making the Lothlórien Quiver|
The first thing to figure out was the quiver design, which depicted a peacock figure overlaid with gold on its face. With a ton of research (thanks to Google) I was able to reconstruct the design by hand — I have very poor CG skills, so it is always laborious to draw designs and patterns — and customize the size according to the quiver measurements directly proportional to my back.
Working on hand-drawn motif.
Once that was good, it was just the matter of cutting out a template and trace the design on my colored leather. I used tracing paper for my template — very flimsy, but it worked so that was okay; I cut the design out and used white pigment pen to transfer the pattern. The leather that I used is actually black napa leather that I just colored with tan acrylic leather paint (which would explain the weird wood-like coloration.) I was in a great hurry back when I was making the entire costume, and I didn't have the luxury to go buy the proper kind and tint of leather, so I just had to make do with the materials that were at hand.
|The next step: engraving. I am aware (with my very scant knowledge of leatherworking) that engraving and carving is normally done on vegetable-tanned leather rather than on the more pliable chrome-tanned ones, so I could imagine the more experienced costumers here shaking their heads when I said "engraving" on napa leather, and on hand-painted napa leather to boot. I myself wasn't sure and not very optimistic about the venture, and was considering on having the design laser-etched initially since I did not have access to a wood burner, and a soldering iron wasn't good enough.|
So I was elated when the technique actually worked! It seemed like the acrylic paint layers (the number of which I have lost count in trying to completely cover the original black leather color) stabilized the soft leather surface enough for it to accept a reasonable score depth. I used a rotary tool changing among three different nibs depending on the proximity of the design lines, taking care of the vertical parallel ones most of all.
|Above, right: basic design template and design transferred on leather. There were still parts of the design, particularly around the tail feathers that I found troublesome to stencil because of the quills; I just engraved them directly onto the leather. Bottom: engraving WIP. Clockwise: tail feathers; scale-like feathers on breast and neck (free-handed); beginnings of the head.|
It took some gruelling hours to engrave the whole design out; very tedious work, and a pain in the behind too.
||Remember me saying that the leather was colored? The evidence is all over the design — the engraved lines show the black suede under the painted tanned surface I didn't bother cleaning up the white pigment marks inside the design area since it will be overlaid with gold later. I have to say, whoever drew this design is just amazing to have even conceptualized it.)|
Once the "fashion leather" is ready, it's time to make the quiver "shell". (Sorry for the use of weird terms ^^v ) I drew out a draft for the quiver having no experience whatsoever of quivermaking, so the draft ended up looking suspiciously like half a corset pattern with darts here and there to simulate the subtle curves. I transferred it on black pigskin leather (supposed to be used as a lining for the black napa leather), cut it out and used a strong graft adhesive (normally used on leather and shoemaking) to close the main back seam and the darts; the bottom end was handsewn. Then it was just a matter of fitting the "fashion leather" over the quiver "shell".
Left: completed motif engraving. Design area is roughly 6 1/2" x 22".
Left to right: quiver draft; pigskin; formed quiver.
|For the pigskin to maintain a more solid form while draping the outer leather on it, I stuffed it full with scrap fabric. Then after applying two layers of graft adhesive on both surfaces, I draped the engraved napa leather on the pigskin quiver, carefully smoothing and stretching over the curves. The top leather is closed at the back of the quiver itself.|
Right: fitted quiver beside the sheaths for Legolas's knives. The knife sheaths are a little over 15 inches and are size-relative along with the quiver (and the arrows and the knives and the bow as well), so you have a clear idea of the wearer / maker's stature.
The fun part after all that hand-numbing work is foiling. "Foiling", because I am using gold foil and not gold leaf. Two practical reasons for that is (1) foil is just a fraction of what gold leaf costs but looks just as good, and (2) it keeps nicely and doesn't tarnish like gold leaf. I have also used some PearlEx metallic powders on some areas that dictated colors other than gold. The process takes a bit of time, but it's really rewarding when all those blank spaces get filled in with the pretty shiny overlay. If you are curious what it looks like complete, just scroll down to the end of the post
Detail of motif before foiling, and in-progress.
The last parts to create are the collar and the "tail". (I do not know if I am using the proper terms here; please feel free to correct me if necessary ^-^v ) I basically drew these after a Lothlorien quiver replica I found on Google; unfortunately I have forgotten where it is from exactly. (I'll check it later and update this along with the details.)
Scrolling vine pattern on the "tail", front and back respectively; and collar base.
(The scrolling vine pattern for the collar is not shown here, since I had to butcher it along the way to figure out where and how the vines are "flowing" around the draft; but the design will be very visible in the next images.)
For construction I used the stiff type of 2mm EVA foam, cutting without allowances, and then sealed off the edges with cyanoacrylate glue. The raised designs are also 2mm craft foam (the softer type used in scrapbooking and sole insteps) cut into 2 (or 3) millimeter strips, and then applied with graft adhesive.
Quiver "tail" scrolling vine progress. There are plenty of small gaps to fill, but it's okay since the material is very forgiving. The key is to create the larger vine swirls with a single strip: the shorter, straighter vines will be easy to fill from there.
Fitting the tail with complete scrolling vine design, front and back.
Collar view and fitting.
Then all that's left is to foil the entire thing. This is a bit more difficult than the foiling done on the peacock engraving since the surface is uneven; you can see a bit of green craft foam on areas that weren't done properly.
Foiling on "tail" end.
After that, the foil is weathered a bit with a mixture of glue, a bit of water and PearlEx powder in Antique Gold. Once dried, the pieces are adhered to the quiver with graft adhesive.
The finished Lothlórien quiver (with arrows)
As of the moment there are some improvements that I would like to make, especially on the ends. I was planning to make them sturdier with a coating of resin since they are quite bendable, and a fresh coat of foil too. And drill in the holes for the findings to be tied onto the bow holster. But right now, I am just happy to have finished this. ^______^v
Will be happily writing the next segment soonish