The first project is this Zulu Warrior sheild (matching spear yet to come). Out of several options I showed the director and designer, they liked the shape and style of this one best.
I bought one yard of a fake leather/vinyl and doubled it with a piece of posterboard laminated between to give it some stability. I was worried about it being too rigid, as many of the images I looked at showed that the leather had a flexible wavy look to it. I clearly over compensated. Even with heavy stitching around the sides, and a coat of glue on the back, it was still far too flexible. If I were to do it again I would buy a yard of a fusible (read "iron-on") stableizer from the fabric store to go between the leather layers.
The stick I used was just a cheap broomstick I bought at the hardware store. I roughed it up and made it look much more natural by using my draw knife. I don't see many draw knives around anymore, but I think it is one of the best tools you can have around a prop shop for distressing. It's easy to use. Tip it almost flat and you can lightly shave the wood, tip it on a more extreme angle and you can take large gouges out of the wood along the grain.
I used a spool of suede lace to weave the shield onto the pole and tied it tight through holes I drilled in the pole at the top and bottom. I added the small dowel rods top and bottom to give the shield the sturdiness it was lacking.
At the top I tied more of the suede lace, tucking feathers underneath as I wrapped and sewing feathers onto the loose ends of the ties.
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