I have continued to work on my metal and leather buckler, I have now made the leather rim for the steel boss. The leather in 6mm thick veg-tanned shoulder I also use to make singlestick basket hilts. I find that at this thickness the leather loses a lot in the way of flexibility but when it is hardened it can be really tough. I started by plotting out a 12″ diameter circle on cardboard, then measured the inner rim of my boss to determine how big a hole to cut in the middle.
I cut it out, rounded the edges and gave it a light cuirbouilli treatment, enough to massively stiffen it without making it deform, crack or shrink too much. I could have used it as is, but its a nice sunny Sunday here so I sat at the kitchen table and did some really simple freehand carving that should make it “pop” a little more. I used a couple of leather gouges that I got really cheaply off eBay, and to be honest they aren’t bad at all. Here it is after carving:
I included the circle cut out of the centre to give an idea of the different levels of colour the hardening gives. The disk is the colour it all started out as. The boiling darkened it to the mid brown at the tips of the petals, the lines were then cut into the lighter core. I also did some faded staining to give the petals additional volume. I used iron oxide (rust from the forge) in solution in water and painted on lots of thin coats to give a gradated finish. I’m glad I did as it took a pleasing design and made it fit with the boss in a way that it would otherwise have failed to do. Here they are dry fitted:
I think the dark boss fits in nicely, I need to decide whether to engrave through the bluing or not. It would be cool, but I don’t want to make it too busy or spend a silly amount of time on what is a test run!
Here is the back, with really simple staining and engraving just to take advantage of the fact that leather is such a fun medium to work in. The holes are for the joining rivets:
This buckler is quite a bit bigger than the last one, here is a comparison picture:
Cant wait to finish it and have a go with it! Next time I’ll be fitting the handle and riveting the whole thing together. Any views on whether to engrave the boss would be welcome as I am really torn!