Mar 30

Secret Places Drawings #2 & 3 Completed

“The Secret Places” is a book that I’ve been working on the illustrations for. There are going to be at least 5 drawings in this little children’s book, including the cover. I’ve managed to complete 3 of these so far, and have one about 25% of the way done. It’s an exciting little project for me, as I haven’t done any coloured pencil drawings in a long time and am enjoying this quite a bit!

One of the things that I really like about it is how my kids enjoy seeing the process of the drawings moving along. Coloured pencil takes quite a bit of time, so I can see why most book illustrations are done in other mediums. It’s simply a matter of the economy of time. But coloured pencil was decided upon for these in order to give it a certain style and feel that only coloured pencil allows.  Have a look at the illustrations so far! The one here is the second one in the series.

Choosing colours in these drawings is an interesting process. All of the drawings are supposed to reflect a night scene, as the story takes place at night, when the narrator is lost in the woods and finds this magical place with elves, fairies, talking animals, and more. It’s a simple story, aimed at 3 to 6-year-old kids. Part of the appeal of this story is that it allows the children to use their imagination in how big the “Secret Places” can be and what kind of people (or creatures) live there.

As the book is the first in a series, with the next one to be released sometime in mid-2012, the readers can look forward to more stories from these characters. In particular, one of the characters is central to all of the stories. This is Red Elf, a friendly little elf who dresses entirely in red. Through his guidance we are permitted to join those who are part of the Secret Places village and surrounding area. Future stories include character from the village, a lost kitten, and even a snowflake. I am looking forward to creating these drawings and seeing what we can discover in this whole series of books!

And I know it will help a lot with the development of my skills in using coloured pencil, a medium that I intend to use a lot more in the coming year.

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Mar 08

Drawing in Ink – Blue Butterfly

One of my favourite styles of drawing is using inks. I will often do a rough pencil in of whatever it is that I want drawn, then do the fine details afterwards with the inks. In some instances the ink needs to be put in using a very fine brush. Other times I can use a traditional nib pen, much like a calligraphy pen.

When doing something like the butterfly this is the exact methods that I used. The butterfly and Celtic knot-work were both penciled in carefully and very lightly. This gave the shape and dimensions that I wanted on these. Then, I decided on the colours. The butterfly, of course, was decided for me, since it was done from a photograph and the colours of the butterfly are already chosen for me. Whether you call it Nature or God, the beauty of the colours are already there, all I had to do was copy it as closely as possible with the tools I have at my disposal.

The next thing is, of course, choosing the colours that work with the natural colours of the butterfly. In this case I decided to do a very small landscape drawing as part of the whole endeavour. This was done entirely with inks and no pencil was used for this.

With the knotwork I colour the whole thing first, then do the outlines. This helps to keep it cleaner looking at the end. The interior of the knotwork is painted with the ink, but the outer edge is done using a pen with a nib that is dipped into the ink. There are some very fine drawing points available for this kind of ink work. I do recall once being stuck because my nib broke, so I actually used a pin. It doesn’t work nearly as well, because a nib has a reservoir that holds some ink above the drawing point and allows it to flow down as the ink on the tip is depleted. That makes it a lot easier and quicker when drawing.

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Dec 23

Making Family & Corporate Crests

One of the things that I really enjoy making is illuminated crests. While in the past I’ve always done crests (or sometimes called arms or escutcheons) using ink on acid free paper I have recently started to try these out of metal.

family crest, custom crest, SCA, heraldic crest, heraldry, heraldic device

Scaife Family Crest in Shadow Box

Using metal requires a special skill to make the crest work properly. There are often different colours on crests and rendering these in metal is quite often difficult. Therefore the crests sometimes have to be creatively made. This can be done using different metals to simulate similar colours. I tend to use copper, silver, bronze, and sometimes steel.

There is also the alternative of creating such a crest in a large rectangular shadow box that includes both a metal crest and a hand illuminated colour crest on acid proof heavy weight paper complete with the heraldic description of the crest. This would definitely be something to show off!

Scaife, Scaife crest, English family crest,handmade crest, family crest, custom crest, SCA, heraldic crest, heraldry, heraldic device

Scaife Family Crest

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Dec 14

2012 Calendars Created for Sale

Created these new calendars for 2012. Choose yours now!

2012 Metalsmithing Calendar

By Johanus Haidner

28 pages, published 14 DEC 2011

2012 Calendar features several projects by artist Johanus Haidner. Items featured include silversmithing and armour projects: rings, bracelets, pendants, tableware, art couture (metal ties), and arm armour. Includes several tips on caring for silver and blurbs on how metalsmithing is done. The artist not only creates fantastic works from metal, he also teaches this to others! Some student work is featured in the calendar.

2012 German Medieval Swordsmanship Calendar

By Johanus Haidner

28 pages, published 8 NOV 2011

Have an interest in the middle ages? Like swords? Martial arts? Well, it’s all here in this calendar! 2012 Mediaeval German Swordsmanship Calendar. Includes plates from 14 different medieval treatises on German martial arts from the 15th and 16th centuries. Talhoffer, Sutor, Meyer, Dürer, and more! Colour plates are shown when they were available (not all treatises had colour). Part o…

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Nov 28

The Secret Places children’s book to be released soon!

I am nearly done the illustrations for the children’s book The Secret Places. I enjoyed these illustrations, and read the story to my kids. While Daveed, my 7-year-old, says it’s too simple for him, my 5-year-old daughter enjoyed it quite a bit!

The story is about someone who gets distracted in the woods and ends up finding a secret place in the forest where fairies and elves are real. And so we get to meet Red Elf and some of the other people of The Secret Places.

There are more books in the series, so we can continue to follow the adventures of Red Elf and his companions. Two more of these books are scheduled to be released in 2012.

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Oct 20

Measuring for a Gauntlet

It’s often difficult to measure for someone’s custom armour in person. Getting things correct for the finest armour requires multiple measurements and multiple visits from the client unless there is a casting of whatever body part I need available. This is especially so for gauntlets, as the hand and wrist need to be measured in several positions. This only becomes more difficult through a distance. However, thanks to modern technology some of this difficulty is lessened. Photocopiers are our friends!

Most people can get easy access to a photocopier, either at work or at an office service place (such as Office Depot). And from there it’s a simple thing to be able to take a few essential copies of your hand. Each of these copies gives an important measurement to make sure that a custom made gauntlet will fit properly and ensure the best protection available for the design.

When creating a gauntlet I need to be sure that it will cover the hand completely, move with the wrist, fingers, and thumb, and that it will not bind in any fashion. Granted some designs will give some binding and some won’t fully cover every area of the hand. My favourite designs give the best compromise on those in their price range. Yes, I can make you a $2000 pair of gauntlets that will move completely with your hand, give a full range of motion and cover you extremely well. They will not be 100% historical (although to the untrained eye they will appear so). And they will be the best gauntlets you’ll ever find!

But most people can’t afford a $2000 pair of gauntlets. And there are reasonable compromises for less cost. The pictures here are what photocopies are needed in order to give that. The only one I am currently missing is one of the back of the the fingers extended, not including the rest of the hand. It’s simple enough to send me the measurements of the length of each finger from the back of the knuckle to the tip.

Each part of the hand that has a yellow line on it should be measured and the measurements sent along with the photocopies, just for assurance. So what are you waiting for? Order your gauntlets today!

Thumb side hand scan used for custom gauntlet measurements.

Thumb side hand scan used for custom gauntlet measurements

open hand scan used for custom gauntlet measurements.

Open hand scan used for custom gauntlet measurements

pinky side hand scan used for custom gauntlet measurements.

pinky side hand scan used for custom gauntlet measurements

fist hand scan used for custom gauntlet measurements.

fist hand scan used for custom gauntlet measurements

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Oct 01

Tools of the Trade – Armouring

In making armour there are a lot of different tools that need to be used. I have over 30 different hammers and mallets for the various metalsmithing “things” that I do. Most of the work, however, is done by a small core of hammers. I make most of my own hammers, as well. Well, I shouldn’t say that I actually make them. I modify existing hammers, such as the 2-pound sledge that I bought at Princess Auto, to suit my needs.

It’s very hard to find the actual working tools that are needed to do any decent kind of smithing by hand. There just isn’t enough of a demand any more for manufacturer’s to bother making the highly specialized tools. I recall an awesome sinking hammer that I used once (it was stolen), which had just the perfect angle to the head and was a great length for doing small sinking jobs (up to 4″ deep). Wow! Of course, I could make it myself now should I decide that I need to do that kind of sinking. I just need access to a forge to bend the base metal to the correct angle for the sinking that would be ideal for such work.

The raising stake that I use (armouring (smithing) tools - sinking hammer, raising hammer & raising stake resting on 150 pound anvilshown in the picture here) was fashioned from a solid bar of tool steel. I ground down the end to make it the curvature that I wanted. Then I sanded and polished it to a mirror finish, making it beautifully smooth. It’s easy to clamp into my multi-vise and angle it whatever angle I need it to be at for the project I am raising. It can be used for elbows, knees, helms, and even goblets! I am planning on making a larger one for helmet use, but that will take a couple of weeks before I get around to it. And I’m not certain that there will be any advantage to the bigger surface. It’ll be an experiment.

I’ve also discovered that I can obtain 1000 grit sandpaper for my sanding wheel! That really helps makes things go a lot faster. Now I can make more than minimum wage on polished armour. :) I know there are tools that I can use to speed up the finishing process, but they are hard to get (and the supplies are quite costly) where I live. It’ll happen in good time. I’m always expanding my tools and learning to be more efficient.

Everything starts with the most basic of tools, a pencil and paper. I draw out what I want the final product to look like, or do line drawings from the photos I get of the historical pieces. I try to draw a few different perspectives so that I can then picture how the metal has to move in order to become the shape that I need it to be when I’m done. Then I  will sometimes build a model out of simpler materials, which helps me picture it. And from there I will do the initial patterns for a piece. I’m rarely far off in my initial designs. And sometimes some mathematics are required. Yes, that high school trigonometry does pay off! When I teach metalsmithing students are often surprised that they have to remember such things. They often don’t know the formulas needed to calculate such things as diameter, area, and circumference, especially with circles, so I just give them a reference sheet for that. It’s just quicker to memorize these things. The application is what really counts!

Initial shaping is from the flat metal using hammers and mallets. From there fine shaping can be done through other hammers and/or mallets, sanding, and sometimes grinding. There is always some sanding involved, which is the part I enjoy the least. And then there can be brush finishing or polishing. And polishing can take as long, or longer, than the entire rest of the process. Better tools would probably help on that. I’m working on  that!

After everything is polished, then assembly begins. Some pieces require a fair bit of fiddling to get them just right. There are pieces that I do that have a tolerance of about 1 millimetre, which is very finicky. But most are not so definite. Straps, which I prefer customers to put on themselves, are usually only done for local clients, as I can fit them personally to make sure they’re correct. Strapping can be very personal. Of all the pieces I’ve built, I wish I had taken more photographs! I never took any before this year, and that is part of my downfall. Now, of course, I don’t have access to most of what I’ve done in the past. As I complete more, keep watching the site to see the newest and latest.

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Sep 12

Studio Armoury Partners

In thinking about what kind of things that we want in our mediaeval collection, it is often more than a suit of armour. I have often thought about learning to make a lot of the things that I enjoy and want for myself. But, honestly, there isn’t enough time in this world to learn to make everything and actually do it all myself. Armour, jewellery, tableware, and artwork are more than enough to keep me occupied. Not to mention the countless hours that it takes to run a business with administration, accounting, being the webmaster (such as it is), and the all around marketing and sales guru. Therefore I have formed partnerships with some other craftsmen and women.

hand made sword scabbard - belt detail showing Celtic knots

hand made sword scabbard - belt detail showing Celtic knots

I love that I have several talented friends and acquaintances. Sometimes I am surprised at the things people show me they have made. Most often pleasantly! Of course there are occasions when I do not like something that someone makes, whether because of quality or style. I try to be friendly in my assessment to them. But I would never carry their work on my site. In order to have the Haidner name associated with anything, it must be high quality. Therefore all of the hand-crafted work that I will ever show on here has to be of a high level of quality. It must meet my standards, things that I want to possess and show off myself. And I’m glad to have found three people now whose work meets that standard!

It’s awesome to be able to offer mediaeval wooden furniture (see the 14th century table), leather work of all kinds (pouches, mugs, scabbards, belts… pretty much anything from leather, mediaeval or modern), and period style chests. As well, we can now offer custom mediaeval clothing, upon request! And knives of a wide variety, including obsidian blades.

Are you interested in rounding out your mediaeval collection? Have an idea for something that you need to make your encampment perfect? How many people have a proper table? Or maybe you want that perfect belt or scabbard to match your ideal costume or even just for display. We can now do this for you!

Contact us today!

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Aug 12

Creating Custom Jewellery

hand crafted 18k ring with .41 carat e, VS1 princess cut diamond

hand crafted 18k ring with .41 carat, E, VS1 princess cut diamond

While jewellery is only a small part of what I create, it is one that I do enjoy immensely. I love being able to create unique and beautiful items. Check out the jewellery page for a few of the items I’ve made that are truly one-of-a-kind and of my own design. Some I’m not even sure where I got the ideas from.

When I get an idea I have to, at the very least, make a sketch of it. Sometimes it can be something as simple as one of my dinosaur brooches and other times it can be as complex as a ring or pendant that moves and has several settings in it. My sketch book has enough designs in it to keep my busy for 10 years or more. And I’m always coming up with new ideas. This means that when I make jewellery that isn’t straight from a commission I have to be choosy on which design I make. I’ll never be able to make them all.

I also enjoy working with people to create jewellery based on their own ideas. While I admit that this is harder than simply making something that I’ve dreamt up, it has some amazing rewards.

I think about how some people have just glowed after seeing their ideas come to life and they are able to don their custom-made jewellery for the first time. That is a true reward!

Do you have an idea for a custom piece of jewellery (gold or silver)? I can help realize the dream of having it made for you! Contact me now!

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Jul 14

Johanus Haidner, Artist & Armourer

Johanus HaidnerI began metalsmithing back in 1988. It feels like ages ago! It started with some early mediaeval Celtic jewellery, specifically a cloak pin that I wanted for a costume that I was working on. From there I expanded my skills into gold and silver and eventually armour making!

Of course the biggest reason that I got into metalsmithing was that I couldn’t find things that really suited my style. No-one made anything that I liked enough! And I have enough ideas to keep me going for at least one lifetime. :-)

I have a passion for creative metalsmithing, primarily armour and armour-based artwork. I love everything about it! It’s my dream to make a Henry the Eighth suit of armour someday as well as making a full suit of high Gothic armour for myself. Not that I would ever complain about making such beauties for someone else!

As a drawing major at the University of Calgary I realized that there were whole areas of art that seemed to be skipped over by the academic setting. There was nothing on the Celtic drawings of the early Middle Ages, nor was there anything on the folk art and clothing or armour. This baffled me. I often incorporate elements from these themes in my modern art, thus creating a more unique style than is present in most artists’ work. I love working on illuminations and using that style of work in my own drawings. Some of my work includes original written pieces that are also fully illuminated.

My current preference it to make custom historical armour, regardless of the century it is from. This means measuring the exact dimensions required to make the specific armour that you desire. It means deciding on some specific designs that may be exactly what you want to customize your suit of armour to how you want it to look and fit! Everything I make is meant to suit your image and project your personality. My son, who will be seven soon, has requested a suit of armour! So now one of my projects that I’m working on in my spare time (ha ha) is to make a child’s suit of plate armour. I hope to complete at least the main torso, arms and legs by early spring 2012. That will be one heck of a Purim costume!

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