After years of sporadic, hate filled work, the panzar is finished. It has left me with a feeling of emptiness, but more important – a will to make a new, better one. This one isn’t perfect from a cosmetic poin of view, and it doesn’t fit as good as it could. It is in part based on an Italian fresco (this was a long time before I decided not to use Italian sources), but I have made a lot of changes (i.e. mistakes), because I am simply not a craftsman. This picture of the original is scanned from my copy of Medieval Military Costume by Gerry Embleton – a must have for the military reenactor. I am certain I have a photo of the same fresco somewhere, but I can’t seem to find it.
This is how I went about. The top of the shoulders are heavily padded to reduce chafing from my plata (coat-of-plate), as are the outside of the arms and the chest (four layers of woolen blanket). The waistline and the lower arms have very little padding (2 layers or less), whilst the inside of the arms plus the armpits have no padding at all. This is to allow easy movement.
So far so good. You veteran readers have certainly read about my ”button making industry” earlier (check earlier posts under the topic ”arms and armour” for example). I made 70 buttons – 15 for each arm and 40 for the chest. It was a tedious work, but it came out alright. The help to give the armour a tight, nice fit. Plus it looks gorgeous.
If only it was true. Let’s look at how it really turned out. I look more or less like a stuffed crab in it. When this picture was taken, in Morimondo this year, I was just about finished with it. I very soon realized that I had to remove tons of padding from the elbow joint, as I couldn’t bend my arms. To look a bit normal I also needed to remove padding from under the arm. You can have a closer look on how this turned out at the picture labelled ”4” below. The patches and the extra, tacky seams are clearly visible. And by the way – the ”elbow bags” are nowhere to be seen…
Next error: The damned patching. My opinion is that a panzar was made by a professional, and that would mean that beginners mistakes like mine would be absent in a finished panzar. My biggest mistake was to forget that the outermost layer have to be bigger than the ones closer to the body. This mistake cost me lots of extra work, as I had to patch every edge keeping the armour together. The patching can be seen at the pictures labelled 1 (the side), 2 (back) and 3 (front) below. As the quilting form a quite special pattern, the patches form really distinct contrasts. And it looks ugly.
Next, we have the chest (labelled 3). It is also patched (it’s hard to see in the picture, but I marked the seams with yellow), but the big thing is that I was forced to abandon buttoning; the edge was simply to stiff (and the panzar itself too tight) to allow buttoning. I
tried at first, but it took me about 5 minutes to button two of them, so I decided to skip the buttons and go for lacing instead. 70 buttons in the bin, and another step away from the main plan…
I also needed to remove quite a lot of padding from the cuffs, as my gauntlets couldn’t fit over them.
All in all, it’s crap. And I have already started to buy new materials for the next one. Hopefully I won’t be making all those mistakes again.