The following is a guest post by Peter Baggaley. Thanks, Peter!
The samurai armor pictured is a Halloween costume that I made using paper, string, and other household materials. Most high school students do not go trick-or-treating for Halloween. For the past few years, I have been a proud exception to this rule. My costumes are all handmade and reflect a historical warrior idea, in chronological order. First, I was a hoplite, a Greek heavy infantryman from the Bronze Age. I then progressed to a Roman centurion, followed by a Viking/barbarian. As I entered high school, I entered the middle ages in the guise of a crusader. Last year, I made the slight leap to Renaissance period infantry.
For this year’s costume, I was faced with a dilemma. I didn’t plan on trick-or-treating my senior year, so this would be my last costume; thus, I reasoned that it would have to be spectacularly elaborate. However, following the Renaissance was the age of gun-powder, and elaborate armors gave way to more simple cloth uniforms. That was no good, especially since I despise working with cloth. I was considering my options when I received an unexpected present. My aunt, Dr. Katharine Burnett, sent me a copy the 2009 summer issue of the AAM Treasures, featuring an amazing set of samurai armor on the cover. Traditional samurai armor, made from silk, lacquer, steel, gold, and other materials, was notoriously elaborate. Additionally, the samurai persisted as warriors until long after the Renaissance, until the late nineteenth century.
Having decided on an idea for a costume, and with a great picture to model it from, I was ready to begin. I worked on my costume for most of the summer, and much of the fall in my spare time. Most of the materials I used were paper and other common household materials. I used:
- poster board
- printer paper
- tissue paper
- construction paper
- black crafts paper
- foam board
- gold cloth
- white muslin
- black ribbon
- scotch tape
- lots of Elmer’s glue
- duct tape
- brass fasteners
- several gold-colored curtain rings
- 1 gold-colored shower curtain ring
- black netting w/ a gold floral embroidered design
- two different sizes of decorative red upholstery cording
- a black, long-sleeved shirt
By far the most time-consuming aspect of the costume was weaving the string into the body armor. The front of the main body piece (cuirass) also features hand-drawn floral designs with birds and animals. The back has two hand drawn butterflies and an elaborate knot modeled off a uniform I found in a book I was referencing. Arguably the most impressive feature of the armor is the pattern on the plates over the forearms of the costume. It features a golden plant design that I cut out using my Swiss Army knife. Of course, a samurai needs a weapon; I also created a paper katana (sword) and sheath.
I had planned to indulge my ego by showing off the costume in my neighborhood on Halloween night. Unfortunately, my tour of the area was cut short by rain. I intend, however, to make the necessary repairs. Then the samurai costume will be retired to my bedroom; paper may not last forever, but I hope it will be remembered through these pictures.
– Peter Baggaley
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