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Making Heater Shields With The Templars

For a long time, medieval groups in Queensland have kept to themselves, only getting together at events when responsibilities and commitments kept them from interacting on anything more than a cursory level.

But this year groups are making a concerted effort to get together in “real life” too, meeting up for socialization, medieval projects, and planning sessions.

Over the weekend a few Blackwolf members and a couple of blokes from Companie of Knights Bachelor were invited to join the Templars in making “heater shields” in preparation for their joint medieval tournament at Abbey Medieval Festival in July.

The Duke and Sir Richard are both participating in the spectacle, so they were invited to make shields so they could fit in visually with their Templar comrades. At the last minute the Templars also included Yliana, our medicine woman, making a smaller shield blank just for her. She was thrilled!

The day began by everyone rubbing leather conditioner into the black straps that would later be affixed to the backs of their shields.

The Templars had kindly prepared the shield blanks ahead of time, cutting the shapes, steaming and molding them into the required curved design. Fabric was glued to the back to provide an extra layer of strength, and they were dried and ready for us when we arrived.

With all that hard stuff done, our job was pretty simple: trimming off the excess fabric. It didn’t take Sir Richard long to finish his once he exchanged the dull leather trimming knife for Yliana’s Christmas pressie – a super sharp Italian folding knife.

Next up was painting the fabric backs a solid black. Shields get mighty dirty in combat, and black keeps them looking good fight after fight.

Once the first layer of paint was applied, we set the shield blanks in the sun to dry.

Then we eased the kinks out of our rusty hand-sewing skills and used waxed thread to secure buckles to straps.

Measuring and drilling followed as the straps were fitted to the shields at the exact places we needed them for our left arm measurements. 

We used solid copper rivets to attach the straps, hammering them into place so the straps won’t budge even under the fiercest attacks.

Then it was a team effort as Templars Terry and James showed us how to nail thick 4 mm leather onto our shields.

First the leather was wet, then spread over the front, pulled tight to the back, and nailed securely in place. Terry uses long black tacks, pounding them through the shield and against a steel block so a natural hook is formed, holding the leather in place even more securely. Each of us took turns holding the shields in place, keeping them flat against the steel block so the hammer blows would fall straight and true.

Once the leather work was finished, the shields were placed in the sun to dry. This process causes the leather to shrink, forming a tight cover with a smoother finish than even gluing can provide.

While the shields dried, we gathered on the back veranda to feast on grilled sausages on fresh bread, crispy chips, chocolate chip cookies, and cold drinks. It was so great to sit out there in the Winter sunshine with views of bush and river as we talked about medieval adventures past and present.

Then it was time to clean up and head for home, new shields in tow.

Later this week we will paint our shields in our personal colors with personal devices. The Duke’s shield will be in his colors of red, black, and white with the Blackwolf device. Sir Richard’s shield is in brilliant blue with a white lion device. Yliana’s shield will bear the Blackwolf background and her own dragonfly device.

It was a great day out with good mates, and we look forward to our next encounter.


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