by Willow Enright
While I was attending ECCC, earlier this month, I was asked what material was used to make your costume? Leather was not the first thing on everyone's mind. A few of the inquires were "Is it plastic?," "How did you get foam to form like that?," and "Did you bake it in the oven?" Educating people along the way that leather is of course expensive when compared to foam, but how it's more durable, malleable, and protective. Thus, giving you greater longevity along with a greater quality.
How durable is it you ask? My Mord-Sith outfit, which my girl was wearing this year, was created back in December of 2012. I'd like to see foam look this good four years later. Now I know what you're thinking, four years isn't a long time. I have friends who have sported belts or purses from their grandparents younger days. I can't wait to see how long and how well this leather holds up to decades of wear!
As far as malleability is concerned take a look at this wet formed figure below. I took a piece of leather, drowned it in a tub of water, then formed it to my girlfriend, Erin. The process took hours of drying and shaping while pressed against her, as I was helping form the breast shape into the leather. I would say that it was hard work, but I love an excuse to touch leather. The abs were situated under the leather as an added template, built out of sand and a rubber glove.
I can hear the comments now, "You claim that leather can be a protective layer, how's that possible?" Well, first off, historians have been in a decades long debate over the prevalence of leather armor and whether it was widely used. That being said, there's no argument against its existences; it did and does exist. Next you'll be saying, "But how effective is it?" My response to this question is, "Check out this video."
In conclusion, while most of my cosplay armor isn't designed for real combat weapons since the leather used is a 7-9 oz. and not 13-15 oz., one can clearly see via the video above, leather as armor is quite effective against historically accurate weapons. Note, there was a distinct lack of any mace weapons, which will break your bones no matter what armor you wear. Not to mention, that leather can be formed to fit like a glove against ones body. Googling the phrase, "how long does leather last," the response from Google is, "Good leather properly cleaned and polished should last a long, long time. There are saddles over 100 years old." That's right some saddles are over 100! Let's see foam do all that.
I started crafting out of leather in 2011, and now I am making it my life's work. I am writing this blog to help myself remember some of the small steps in past projects, sharing my triumphs and failures, as well as my love of leather.