|Custom Qing helmet
If you are planning your armour to match a certain culture and period in history, you'll need to do some research. The best reference material is from primary sources such as artifacts, pictures, documents or recordings made at the time you want to reference. There are plenty of these available for the Qing period of Chinese history, from which I chose my helmet design.
The helmet is based on the taller parade design and is decorated, such as an officer would wear. One difference is that the plume holder would be much higher for an officer's helmet.
The steel we used is thick enough for reenactment but this makes the helmet quite heavy. Early Qing helmets were made of thinner but stronger steel, or iron, such as the original Qing officer's helmet I have in my collection.
The red helmet was made that way. I've seen some real helmets since that
|Custom Qing helmet
I'm proud of the end result. Handling real helmets first would've caused me to choose lighter steel or a lower design, but overall, this is the best of its type I've seen. I use it and I like it. No one else in the world has this exact design. Only one other person has a similar helmet, of different design, made by the same armourer.
That's the wonder of a custom helmet. It's a unique work of art.
Finding an armourerIt is best to try and find someone in your local area to make your custom helmet. They are very heavy items to post. Also, you will get a better fit if you appear in person for the armourer to measure you - perhaps more than once as the work progresses.
So where do you start looking for an armourer? I suggest checking out any reenactment groups that are in your area, as a good place to start. Look up the NVG or SCA on the internet. Email them about local groups or ask straight out about who might be willing to make a helmet. Another place to look is the local Renaissance Faire or similar medieval type event. I found my armourer at the Ironfest in Lithgow. I spoke to the blacksmiths and the reenactors who were there.
|Reenactors know where
to find armourers.
|You might find an armourer
at your local medieval event.
Once you have found an armourer to build your custom helmet, don't be impatient. He may have a long waiting list. He may have a day job or enjoy jousting or swordfighting, and he can't drop the rest of his life to make your helmet. It will be worth the wait. Once you do make it to the top of the list, there will be measurements, finding pictures, discussion of the details ....and it's expensive. A good quality custom helmet strong enough for swordfight with blunt steel blades, will cost you hundreds of dollars. The cost will depend on how many hours it takes to construct. My helmet pictured here today, needed brigandine plates. They take time to make. It needed a plume holder and a plume. Materials had to be sourced. The cutwork steel had to be carefully designed and made. Everything had to be shaped, cut and shaped again. Then we had to make a removeable grille that fit the helmet. It was a big job. No, I'm not going to tell you how much it cost, but that was two years ago and the price has surely gone up quite a bit since it was made.
|Adjustable suspension system
inside a custom helmet.
You will probably need someone to help you take the correct measurements. It's best if the armourer does it himself. He might even have a ruler with sliding horizontal bars, or something else especially made for the job.
Follow this link to look at Terry Tyndal's method. You will need to click the back arrow in your browser to return. That Guy's Measurement system.
|Helmet straps attached to the back
of the helmet in one place
and to the sides of chin straps.
|Another custom helmet by
Adam Mckay of Sydney, Australia.
If your helmet gets rusty, clean off the the old wax, etc, with methylated spirits. Then sand off the rust with car detailing paper or sandpaper, and rewax it. I keep mine inside.
If it is on display where I can see it every day, I can very quickly tell if rust is developing. It hasn't yet. The Renaissance Wax is really good and I've only had to wax it three times in two years.