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Greetings everybody, thanks so much for joining me. And a special thanks to our Facebook fans for 50K follows, I really appreciate the support you guys show me and Prince Armory in general.
A bit about me: I am the owner and lead designer at Prince Armory. I've been in business under this name about 10 years now and have created things like custom armor and costumes for clients all over the world.
What sort of things? Here's a new page on our site that has several abridged galleries of our works at Prince Armory https://www.princearmory.com/specializations/
Prince Armory is in the forefront of anything I do but I also like games, anime, sci-fi and fantasy TV shows and movies and more.
Feel free to ask about Prince Armory or myself and I'll do my best to answer any and all questions so go ahead and AMA!
Thanks to everyone who came out. If you want to leaves some more questions while I'm away, please feel free and I'll check this thread again soon.
If you want to follow us on facebook
If you want to request tips, tricks, tutorials and more see
And for more info about what we do and loads of galleries see
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Hello, how long is your current backlog?
It varies, but generally the standard queue is backed up around 2-3 years. I turned away a lot of projects over the last couple years with a goal to get that down to around 12-18 months since 2-3 years is just a very long time and deters a lot of potential clients with interesting projects. But at the same time, some people like it so they can make payments over the duration.
what is your most memorable custom design you had to make?
I put so much work in to all of my designs they're all memorable to me so it's really hard to say. Like pick your favorite kid right? I love the original designs and the medieval spin-off series as well. And I had so many awesome projects I don't think I can really answer this.
Do any of you guys have a favorite project that we've done?
What was your least favourite costume to make?
For various etiquette reasons I don't feel it would be prudent to ever bemoan a specific paying project a client has so graciously given me or my company.
That said, I can speak to the spirit of your question. I'm sure every artist and artisan has had their share of difficult, even problem clients and it's no different here. Fortunately I've learned to decline projects that raise red flags or even ones I know myself well enough to know I won't enjoy.
But sure, there have been some in the past. Again, while I wouldn't specifically name any particular project out of respect for the clients, I can tell you there have been times where, especially starting out and working on projects sometimes at a loss, I would get the occasional client who expected a full suit for less than materials would cost me. And then there have been times where an order is placed, work is done, and a spouse, life event or other delay, gets involved and obstructs final payment indefinitely.
And there have even been very big commercial projects that will get done and suddenly take their sweet ever-lovin time on that final payment when the project is shipped.
Situations like these are why I have simply adopted a more hard line policy on some of my terms and conditions. I'm sure it deters a lot of potential clients, but that's also kind of the point.
Fair enough, In a different sense, what was your worse child related experience?
My worst childhood experience? I actually don't know. I mean, there are experiences I'm sure would satisfy the criteria of your question, everything from power tool mishaps to problems with people in school, but all in all I think it all averages out in my mind and I feel pretty fortunate, really. I hope that isn't too much of a cop out answer.
Any directors you care to name drop?
I haven't been able to work closely with a director yet for a big project, though I would really like to. I would love to have worked on projects like Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones, and I very much would like to be a part of the upcoming Stormlight Archive movie adaptation (Author Brandon Sanderson) and Wheel of time adaptation (author Robert Jordan) or really any big fantasy series would be awesome, I'm just already a big fan of the aforementioned ones.
If you do work with them: what's the best thing a director can do for you?
My experiences with the commercial projects have mostly been via correspondence. So a producer, director, or assistant will reach out to me, tell me what they want, and if I get the project I'll make it and ship it to them. Honestly the best thing is just giving me an awesome gig, everything else is just me trying to live up to and exceeding expectations.
Thanks for the AMA!
What would you say is the biggest challenge in your field of work? What's something unexpectedly difficult about your field you dont think people think/kknow about?
Biggest challenge.... I would have to say it is the self imposed desire to raise the bar with each project. I always want to keep doing different techniques and making each project unique and interesting and I really try to avoid doing projects that are too similar to past works. I hope every project looks distinct and reflects the efforts we go to maintain that attribute.
Unexpectedly difficult... hmm... I'm not sure because I think most would understand the challenges of crafting highly ornate pieces. And I also don't quite think about it in terms of difficultly. I just set my mind to a task and figure it out as I go. And sometimes a task does require more attention and focus. But it's just a matter of spending the time and doing it.
But I also suppose I would say it is difficult to anticipate crowd reaction. So if I make a spin-off design, how much change is too much before people say it doesn't look anything like the concept, and how much is too little that it's just a luke warm replica. So finding a good design balance can be difficult for sure.
Hey man love the work! You are both a source of inspiration and an example of such skill perhaps a few tears have been spilt! (Haha...)
It would be great to have you over at /r/leathercraft!
A small list of questions... Sorry, I got greedy:
Thanks for your time, stay awesome!
Thank you. I didn't know it existed but I'll check it out.
Q: What are your favourite leather working tools and why?
A: Swivel Knife. I think that's the prerequisite tool for a lot of the higher end detail work.
Q: Least used tool?
A: I have hundreds, maybe thousands of least used tools but they're all sure nice to have when I do need them.
Q:Most used tool?
A: Swivel knife, Maul, and bevelers probably make up the majority of the work.
Q: Favorite stamp?
A: Any by Robert Beard because they're black and super high quality
Q:Are there any methods/opinions you use which the general leather working community would find... Unpopular?
A: I don't think so, I mean, I'm not sure I'm in tune enough with the community to say. I feel well received by the community in general, even by older leatherworkers you might except to shout "Get off my lawn, and stick to making saddles!"
Q:And to that point, do you hold disfavour to a generally well liked method/opinion
A:I don't know? It's not something I've thought about, I figure people like what they like. I'm sure some people do things the hard way, and there are some techniques I've heard about that just seem unnecessary (like casing leather in a fridge, does that even work?).
Q: What tool could you not go without?
A: None really, there's always another way to go about a particular task and new techniques to be thought up if a tool is missing.
I may imagine it would be patterns/getting tools to start off with... the initial set up cost is quite pricey!
Getting started isn't very costly. You don't have to buy the most expensive leather, you can often find scraps cheap or free. And you don't need a bunch of tools either, there are tons of way to start with next to nothing. The main thing is just being creative and working with what you've got. If it becomes a way to make money, sure, buy a bunch of tools along the way.
Been watching all of your stuff forever, awesome to see an AMA. 2 questions if you don't mind:
1) I saw in your previous work you had once made a rather large fish (It might have been a koi if I remember correctly) that I believe was wrapped with leather, the details in it were pretty amazing. Do you feel like you have more creative freedom in something like this compared to armour? Or vice-versa?
2) If you happened to have the free time & materials to make an armour set for yourself right now, what would you make for yourself? Would it be a replica you'd like to see brought to life? Or an original idea you'd really like to have made?
1) Oh yeah, the Koi fish wall art I made for a sushi restaurant in Orlando. There were 3 in all. http://azmal.deviantart.com/art/Koi-Fish-Wall-Art-346764721 They were made by wetmolding giant hides, (they are hollow) and each body is a single piece with the fins being separate pieces. I think 2 of them were something like 10ft long or more.
1B) the creative freedom is more dependant upon the client than the project. It's just a matter of how much the client wants to trust me to make something awesome, vs how much they want something very specific. However I will say that the more specific a project is, the less likely I am to agree to taking it on. Hence why I do very few actual replicas as I prefer some level of creative freedom.
2)I've still never finished a full suit for myself sadly. Just busy with client projects all the time. I've always figured I would make a really cool set of dragon themed armor if I ever had time but I don't see that happening any time soon, just too many other obligations for the foreseeable future.
I have been going to TRF for almost 20 years now and for the longest time I always saw the same few leather armor shops and designs both at TRF and online. I remember patterns online for DIY guys back then being same designs that were boring as well. My question to you is how long did it take to learn to make your own style in a market flooding with traditional items and how long of learning before you were confident enough to make a business of it? It seemed that there wasn't much info and the info there was around was lacking.
I think there are few important elements that speak to that point. One is my original mentor William, and for those in the know, yes he did unscrupulous things and made many enemies, but give credit where it is due I say and he did introduce me to the craft.
Two is that I just think about things from a standpoint of wanting to be as original as possible. When I was beginning I only looked at external reference to make sure it wasn't close to anything else out there.
And yes I saw the armor making echo chamber as well during my days of TRF attendance. A lot of times the other vendors you mention were maybe just trying to make a quick buck and they don't actually care that much about the designs. I do care, a lot. But to directly answer your question, in my mind at least, it was immediate. When I started Prince Armory all of the designs were unique and I always did the best I could given the budgets for the projects, which back then weren't much. Many I did at a loss.
How did you learn your craft?
I would say I've dabbled in many crafts over the years to augment what you are calling 'my craft'. Even back before I was 10 doing woodworking, and doing graphic and web design in my teens, to leather working, to metal working and so on, it all helps. And the most notable attributes of the products of this craft are all a result of various experimentation and some research. Trial, error, practice, research, etc.
What's a simple metal forming tool that a novice can acquire to start making something simple, like say a mask or helmet?
Basically you just need a hammer and a striking surface. An anvil ideally but any solid piece of metal. Plenty of people get started with a worn out hammer and old used chisels or sledge hammer heads. Metal work isn't my forte but I would say its more about practicing than tools. Having lots of 'good' tools isn't necessary to get started.
One of the most impressive things about your armor is your masterful molding and creasing. How do you get such sharp, precise creases and shapes when molding?
Well thank you, it is one of my more closely guarded tricks but I will be sharing this technique and many others with the upcoming guides for our Patreon. But here's a hint for now: While it is an uncommon technique in leather, its process is not all that different from fluting metal armor.
What is your approach to pattern-drafting and mockups?
That's a tough one to answer here. A lot of thought goes into each piece and I'm sure my process can appear fairly random. But basically I just have a general theme or concept in my head about how I want the project to look.
First, I consider the client's needs, the audience who will be seeing the project, and what their reaction should be and so one.
Then, I will often start working on full scale designs and just kind of go with the flow. If I have trouble deciding what I want to do on a component, I may do some small sketches to work it out, or I may just jump to another piece and perhaps by the time I come back to it I'll have a better idea of what to do.
So you could say a lot of it is very intuitive. But there are a lot of basics to observe as well, like making sure the components function properly, look consistent and good together, making sure everything fits.
This too is a topic I can expand upon on our upcoming Patreon guides if there is interest. I think a video demonstration is a better way to show the process.
I've been following Prince Armory's work for a while now and I find it really awesome and the pieces are absolutely beautiful.
How and why did you get into this sort of work? :)
Thank you. The why is easy, because it's cool, to me at least. I like it and it is an outlet for creativity.
The how is a longer story but I'll try to be as brief as possible: I've always been interested in creating stuff, even when very young, starting with woodworking and in my teens I became interested in digital creation like game design, web design, graphics, and 3D modeling. I figured I was on track to do something like that for a living but I think where the path started veering towards what I'm doing now was doing some craft things for LARP with some friends in my teen years, which led me to the ren fest scene, which led me to wanting a suit of armor, which then led me to joining an outfit that made weapons and armor.
Well, unfortunately that operation went under for various reasons but I stuck with it and ultimately created Prince Armory.
What was your favorite piece to make?
Good question, I think helmets are my favorite piece to build. Its because it's potentially the most character building piece of a suit. You can really set a theme and tone by the design of a helmet.
Fun fact - in movies helmets are not heavily utilized on main characters because the movie studios in part pay huge sums of money for the actors face to be on screen. Even when they have a helmet they'll usually lose it in a battle or something right?