Modular Phoenix Arm Harness prototype closeup, stress testing & DesignerCon sneak peek! October 28, 2019 15:00
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What’s covered in this blog post:
- Arm harness demonstration video with Adam Savage on Tested at NYCC
- Armor research and crediting your sources
- 2018 versus 2019 arm harness comparisons
Modular styling options (still a WIP)
- 3D printing the prototype (and mishaps)
- NYCC stress testing
- What else is new? DesignerCon sneak peek! (November 22-24)
- ICYMI: Oculus and Tested VR App featuring eight makers including me!
I know some of you may remember when I unveiled my first attempt at making an arm harness at NYCC 2018, but I couldn’t just stop there! So, this year, I went in with my first modular Phoenix arm harness prototype.
The outfit was supposed to have a mini smoke machine too but NYCC didn’t allow it… My latest modular Phoenix Arm Harness prototype with my Dreamer Mask: Breakthrough.
You may or may not have noticed but the mask I’m wearing is a favorite mask design of mine called Dreamer Mask: Breakthrough. It’s also the mask you see on my Lumecluster social media profiles.
NYCC is also a good chance to stress test my early prototypes and to work out all the major issues. You learn a lot about your design’s durability when you put them through massive and tightly packed crowds that have no mercy haha…
While this year’s latest prototype still needs a lot of work, I’m proud to see my improvements. Last year, I was focused on trying to incorporate some of my favorite 15th and 16th century elements and just making it look good enough…but I didn’t get to put much thought into anything beyond how it looked since I did it last minute.
Photos by Norman Chan of Tested. I am wearing my latest modular Phoenix Arm Harness prototype with my Dreamer Mask: Breakthrough.
This year, I wanted to actually experiment with some modularity or see if I could add some fashionable interpretations to it like I did with my modular Phoenix Gauntlets. So, we did just that by showing a little demonstration at NYCC with Adam Savage on Tested!
I’m still reeling from the first silent pre-order (only email subscribers are notified) and it was thrilling to know so many people were just as interested as me in the possibilities for modular armor. Still hard at work on all those orders.
You’ll get to see a clearer style breakdown (it’s still a work-in-progress) later on in the article!
So, what makes this modular Phoenix Arm Harness prototype different from last year? Let’s start with some thoughts on research and references first.
While I’m flattered to know so many people think I’m some kind of armor genius, I want to remind everyone that I use a TON of references and worked with educators who opened my eyes to the world of armor. I’ve learned so much and still have a very long way to go! I’m a big fan of crediting and sharing my research and inspirations, which I encourage others to do as well.
I also get countless emails and messages everyday asking about how I designed or assembled my armor. I always list my research and resources in my FAQ and the ones below will be added as well. I have to say this pretty often but I am not a DIY site and I am not a cosplayer. All my time and energy is spent designing and producing my own artwork for clients, but I do my best to share who I have learned from when it comes to armor design, especially when they can explain it better than me.
So, I’d like to start by talking about how amazing armorer Robert MacPherson is and specifically highlight his St. Florian project. Since probably before 2014, he has been documenting AND sharing every little detail behind a 15th century gothic armor reproduction on a massive thread on the Armour Archive. You really have to see this thread to understand this huge undertaking.
When I was getting serious about understanding armor in 2016, arms and armor educator Ian LaSpina (aka Knyght Errant) introduced me to this thread and it was thanks to this that I was even able to start wrapping my head around the inner workings of armor functionality. Ian LaSpina also continues to by one of my favorite people to turn to when learning about armor (and you’ll almost always see one of his videos in my armor posts). Check out the educational medieval armor playlist below:
If you do learn and study from these resources, PLEASE properly credit and thank these amazing fellows. They are both gems for painstakingly sharing their knowledge online!
Museums are always a great way to study armor. Even if you can’t visit them, you can see tons of high resolution photographs online or even see armor in 3D viewers!
Like last year, I drew heavily from my favorite parts in 15th and 16th century arm harnesses.
I also drew inspiration from images of extant 15th Century German Gothic Armour, which you can see in more detail on MyArmoury.com.
[LEFT TWO IMAGES] 1484 – Vienna, Austria, Kunsthistorisches Museum, A 62, armour for Archduke Sigismund von Tirol, by Lorenz Helmschmid, AugsburgFront image courtesy of Blaz Berlec, AAF ID, back image from Flickr gallery of Roel Renmans, roelipilami. [RIGHT TWO IMAGES] Philadelphia, USA, Philadelphia Museum of Art, composite armour, parts are from fortress of Chalcis on the island of Euboea, Greece, known as the “Chalcis Hoard” Images courtesy of Todd Hoogerland, AAF ID
I had to completely scrap last year’s design and start all over again to make it consistent with my modular Phoenix Gauntlets. New pauldrons, fluted detail, and multiple looks (of course).
After my first rough prototype in 2018, I was very unhappy with my articulation. Granted, it was a last minute thing, but the design needed a lot of changes.
As I mentioned in the Tested video, real armor offers more space to fit a gambeson and/or maille under the plate armor. But since I’m trying to make armor that is also fashionable with modern day clothing, I wanted to make it much more close fitting, comfortable (don’t want any pinching, right?), and still offer a lot of arm mobility.
Getting fluting detail that I was satisfied with was also more challenging than I thought. I wanted to create fluting that had my own flair but still make sure it made sense. The last thing I wanted was to look like I just took some pretty part I liked and butcher it without understanding its purpose or function…and I hope I achieved that to some degree. I’m still learning! XD I guess you could say my fantasy armor designs are kind of an ode to gothic armor, so it always makes me happy knowing that someone might look at it and go, “Hey, I can see the gothic inspiration in there!”
Closeup of the vambrace, couter (elbow defence), and rerebrace detailing and fluting. I used small rhinestone rivets on the couter
Just like my modular Phoenix Gauntlets, I wanted an arm harness design that could swing between feeling very fantasy and somewhat historical while offering the freedom to pair with different fashion styles.
I took a picture next to a pair of gauntlets of Maximillian I South German (Augsburg), ca. 1490 at The Last Knight exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. OF COURSE I had to wear my modular Phoenix Gauntlet too! I scaled back on a lot of engraving and punchwork because I was concerned it could be too overwhelming and prevent people from being able to pair it with a wider range of fashion styles and costumes.
I still have to test it with a variety of outfit styles like I did with the Phoenix Gauntlet photoshoots…but one thing at a time, haha. For now, you can see various ways the Phoenix Arm Harness can be worn. Again, this is still a work-in-progress and may change in the next prototype!
In the image above, you can see the various ways the full arm harness can be divided to create multiple looks. The Phoenix Diadem is also used on the pauldron and upper cannon (bicep defense) to add some fantasy embellishment.
You can remove even more of the arm harness for a more simplified look with just the pauldrons and spaulders. Above, you can also see Phoenix Gauntlets tiers 2 and 3 being worn. Tier 2 Phoenix Gauntlets offer a somewhat toned down look.
Unfortunately, when it came to finally 3D printing the arm harness prototypes, one of my 3D printers suddenly had to break down.
I didn’t leave myself much time either. Thankfully, Sean Charlesworth of Tested was able to help me stay on schedule and managed to 3D print half of the arm harness components on his Form 2 in durable resin.
And then I 3D printed the remaining pieces on my Taz 6 in PCTPE. Shortly after that, I had to do some repairs on my Taz 6 too…haha. I was really pushing my luck and kicked myself for not working on everything earlier.
Raw 3D prints on the left and dyed 3D prints on the right.
I chose durable resin and PCTPE because it was close enough to the shore hardness of the material I might cast in IF I decide to make this available for pre-order in the future.
Once they were all printed and dyed, my sister (Fiona Ng aka Darthasterisk) and I spent a good amount of time sanding, filling, and sanding some more. After that, I primed it, airbrushed it gunmetal using Turbodork’s metallic colors and clear coated it with a highly abrasion resistant and flexible coating.
Then there was the stress testing at NYCC and mentally preparing myself for all the pushing, pulling, and shoving. So, how did everything hold up?
The image below is the version of the modular Phoenix Arm Harness that I wore on the first day of stress testing.
Bags snagged on my arm, people walked straight into me, and there was the endless shuffling/squeezing through the crowd. Fortunately, the arm harnesses held up really well and experienced no major scuffs or damage.
And I’m lucky everything was relatively unscathed because I also got to share my latest design explorations with Adam Savage in another video with Tested.
Looking back, it was nerve wracking because it was the first time my friend, Dellario Designs, and I actually tried out the demonstration together. She flew in from the west coast and we didn’t have any time to try it all out until the day of the interview.
[LEFT] My outfit at the start of the Tested interview. [RIGHT] My outfit after I removed several armor elements and added them onto Megan Dellario’s (Dellario Designs / Breakers Cosplay) custom Alita-inspired jacket design.
[LEFT] Megan Dellario (Dellario Designs aka Breakers Cosplay) is wearing her custom made Alita-inspired jacket. [RIGHT] We alter her jacket but adding the pauldrons and spaulders from my arm harness. Click on the image to see more of her work.
Good thing it was pretty smooth sailing! And while it all worked out like how I imagined and I survived all the stress testing, I came up with a number of ways on how I could improve the modularity and design. Let’s just say I want to redo most of it again hahaha.
Time to go back to the drawing board! But with all the Phoenix Gauntlet pre-orders I’m still working on it’ll probably be a while so, until then…
What else is new? I’ll be at DesignerCon in Anaheim, California from November 22-24! Booth #2713
This will be my very first DesignerCon and my first time with a booth, which I’ll be sharing with artist Bryan Lie of IMCMPLX. It’s a huge honor for me especially since I’ve admired his work for years!
My sister, Fiona Ng (aka Darthasterisk), will also be taking on a larger role in helping me create new artwork and products, mostly in the world of handmade art toys / figurines since that’s her specialty. Check out her artwork and the sneak peek below! I’m so lucky to have a sister and a business partner like her in my life. She helps me keep Lumecluster together and she’s the reason I’m still sane.
Sneak peek of some of the little creations I’ll be bringing to DesignerCon.
If you can’t make it to Designercon, don’t worry! I’ll be writing up a full blog post about my creations. Some designs will remain convention exclusives but many will also move into the Lumecluster shop (minus the DesignerCon special though). As always, newsletter subscribers are the first to know about new designs! Subscribe to the free newsletter here.
P.S. In case you missed it, Tested and Adam Savage partnered with Oculus to launch the Tested VR App.
It features the VR stories of eight creators including me! You get to see my little office space in VR and learn about my creative process. Check it out here!