Gondorian Vambraces DIY

September 23, 2012

Yesterday my entire family went to The Long Expected Party and had a BLAST! The dance was an English Country dance ball and was themed around The Lord of the Rings.

I DO have some pictures, but I was too busy getting my feet gloriously sore to take any myself. The rest of my family don't really qualify as photographers, especially when the camera settings get messed up. I'll see what I can do, photowise, however!

It was amazing, and nearly every one of the two or three hundred people were dressed in costumes. Most of them were handmade and had such a great attention to detail! Everything from Elves to Ents to Men to Hobbits to Tolkien Impersonators showed up!

You'll have to wait for photos of my costume, which was sewn by the talented Laura from Sew Many Seams. I'm going to get proper photos someday. :)

My brother W. wanted to wear the same Aragorn costume that I blogged about two years ago.  (Sidenote, I had a second post about our family's old LotR costumes, but the photos have all disappeared! Ack! Sometime I'll fix that.) Technically he still fits in it, since he is as skinny as a paper clip, but the sleeves of the fake chainmaille shirt were way too short. The past two weeks were very hectic for our family, so it was only the night before the dance that W. and I attempted to get his costume into working condition. 

Our solution? Vambraces.

(Many of these photos were taken by my brother at midnight with a very strong camera flash, but at least they give you a sense of what was going on at each step!)

Firstly, our reference photos. These vambraces were first worn by Boromir but Aragorn took them when Boromir died. (At least, we think so, but we can't remember because it's been a while since we've seen the movies).

lots of detailed photos from Alley Cat Scratch costume research site

image via
(Later on Aragorn got vambraces and greaves with the winged design that you later see on his crown... you can see pictures here)

We began by cutting some craft foam into a kind of wonky diamond shape.

Then I freehanded the design with a ball point pen. I pressed down fairly hard to give it some texture.

Next, Will used the tip of a crochet hook to make wider dents (to mimic tooled leather).

We ironed the foam to make it a little tougher and shinier, and I rolled it while it was warm so that it would be vaugely round.

We then applied a thin layer of black acrylic paint.

We also "tooled" the foam some more.

I set Will to work outlining the feathers/leaves in a gray-brown. (You can see how much too small his "chainmaille" shirt is!)

Then I painted on some White Trees and stars...

Voila! We added holes on the sides and used faux leather cording to hold it shut. The vambraces lasted almost the entire evening-- during one dance the cording got caught on something and tore off of the foam. But the decorative part is still intact. Unfortunately I didn't get ANY photos of Will in full costume, so you can't see it on him!


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  1. wow, those are awesome! :)

    and okay... So I FINALLY managed to find time to draw a picture, do you still have an opening for this month? If not, I totally understand: I am VERY late with this.

    :) This series of posts has been awesome, I love all the Tolkienesque things. :)

    God bless!

  2. Treskie-- yes, there is still an opening! I'm probably going to let all my Tolkienite posts spill into future months, because I've been too busy to write all the things I've wanted to! So don't worry about the timing. :) I'm glad you've enjoyed this series!

  3. See, this is why I love you and your family! And you were right about where they came from--Boromir's and then Aragorn took them. Excellent job!

  4. Cool idea! It was so awesome to see you at the dance!!!!!! You left before I got to say goodbye though, so GOODBYE!:P Your costume was amazing!

  5. I have been watching your blog for some time, but now I am an official follower! I love LOTR and can't wait for the finished product of "Tolkien Month" :) I am so excited. (I also follow Occassional Randomness... so you know me from somewhere!) I liked your avambraces. Can't wait to try them :-) God Bless

  6. Okay cool. So... let me get this straight. All I do is a blog post with a my Tokien-inspired work and send you that post's url?

  7. Kat-- I'm glad we remembered correctly! Such little details... lol, we are geeks!

    Lena-- I know, we were in a rush because it was getting late. It was so nice to visit with you!!!

    Bella-- aw, I'm glad you like it! :)

    Treksie-- yup, only put the HTML in a Word or Open Office doc because HTML won't send if copied/pasted in Gmail.

  8. Foam is SO great for imitation leather like that! It can be made even more durable and leatherlike by applying coats of a craft glue/elmar's glue/water mix and then more paint. Fabric paint can also be a cool add.


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