Shield Building!


I’m a newbie to the world of LARP, but I’ve spent the last eight years of my life trawling con halls and cosplaying, so I’m pretty good at costume building.

Because of that, I’ve been looking at making my own shield so I can a) customise it, b) run it a little under budget and c) have fun.

Now, obviously LARP shields have got to be a lot stronger than cosplay foam props, and I’m thinking that the foam is gonna need layering, as well as to be a denser type than the usual stuff I go for.

My current working plan is a layer of 5mm craft foam, a layer of playmat foam for thickness, and then another layer of 5mm craft foam. All wrapped up in a calico layer, then with a foam strip around the outer edge, then decoration.

Does this sound like it’ll work? Maybe. Help.
yet another newbie who’s headed to Wintermark

Hey there merrywanderer!

Welcome to the hobby, the game and the forums!

Normally I’d be deeply skeptical about anyone making their own weaponry. Anything with a core is easy to waste a lot of time and money on.

A shield, on the other hand, is a slightly safer bet. I’d strongly reccomend getting a good look at several LARP shields first, to check construction techniques. However, if you’re feeling keen and happy to take a chance…

  1. You’re going to need a grip of some sort. Probably the safest (in terms of LARP safety) is going to be some wide leather straps, going between the inner layers of the shield (heck, almost to the front). Heavily reinforced around their entry points, maybe with further leather or fabric glued on to the foam?

  2. It’s got to be reasonably rigid. A little bit bendy, but fairly solid. I’m not sure what you mean by

but I hope it’s something to give it some rigidity, but not provide too much.

  1. It’s got to be safe for fighting. So my test is to hit myself in the face with it. This of course rules out solid bosses, rivets, wing-nuts, hard shield rims, and so on.

  2. It’s also going to have to pass weapons check. A solid foam shield has a better chance than most home-made weapons of doing so, but I’ve seen a good few projects fail at this hurdle. Good luck.

  3. I take it you’ve looked at the Wintermark designs and costume feels? There are a lot of good photos of their shields etc up as well. If you can make a shield that looks “Wintermarkish”, that’ll help. What sort of finish are you putting on the whole thing? Painted latex? Cloth? Gaffa tape? You may want a shield cover (see below).

Have you joined (or planned on) a group? Some groups have their own shield designs, insignias, of colours. Could be of note in decorations. Not as much as in Dawn or Highguard, though :slight_smile:

Here’s a thought, but it requires a slightly different skill set.

Once you’ve made the solid disc (I’m assuming classic viking round shield here) and grip, don’t decorate it too much. If you can make a shield cover for it, you can then decorate that, and upgrade your shield at a later date?

For that I’m thinking a large circle of cloth, maybe russet or tan or brown, with a drawstring sewn into the edge. So you can place it over your shield and tighten it into place. You can then paint that with something generic (the three interlocking circles of the Three Kindreds of Wintermark, perhaps)?

Have you asked on the Wintermark facebook group? There may well be some shield-crafters there as well.

I’m not much of a crafter, and you’ll likely get some more answers on this topic, but some sorts of photos or similar designs would help us evaluate it.

Sounds reasonably good so far…?

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Welcome to Empire! Have you had a look at the wiki, particularly the section on weapon checking? That might give you some useful pointers.

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