Butterfly Archery Armguard

This was a project for Lady Amalie Reinhardt, Æthelmearc Webminister. She’s a deadeye with a knife or an axe, but wanted to improve at archery, and needed a better archery armguard. She had found a picture of one she liked but wanted it in her colors, so I offered to make it for her. Her arms are:

armguard_8so we wanted something that would go nicely, and protect well. Female elbows usually work differently than male elbows – they hyperextend a bit, and the soft part of the inside of the elbow can get snapped with a string sometimes, so you have to design a bracer that extends up over that part of the elbow to be truly useful for an archer lacking a Y chromosome.

Naturally, the first one I cut out was the wrong way. Any female, left-handed archers out there need a bracer? 😀

Once my false start was past me, I started off with addressing the edges, then carved in the basic shapes, and started adding texture.


Leather holds paint a LOT better if it’s on texture, rather than smooth skin, so I pounded down all the colored sections with pebble backgrounders.


Eventually, the whole thing was finished. This took a LONG time.


After that, I started adding color. I was using Fiebing’s Spirit Dyes, diluted 1:8 with 96% rubbing alcohol.

Yes, really.

I take a 32 ounce bottle of rubbing alcohol, pour out 4 ounces, and pour in a 4 ounce bottle of Fiebing’s dye. This is how I use all my dyes except black. It lets me carefully control the hue and saturation, which is SUPER important with Fiebing’s spirit dyes, because long exposure to the sun causes all their colored dyes to darken – some will darken until they’re indistinguishable from black (blue and green in particular have this problem).

When I cut the dye this severely, the darkening that happens is much more subtle, and I’ve found that most items eventually darken to the correct hue. Anyways, I started to apply dye, carefully, with small paintbrushes.


I decided that the yellow just wasn’t ever going to be vibrant enough, so I went back over the yellow areas with a yellow oil-based paint marker. I use these things all the time on leather, and love them. I filled in the white spots with a white marker, and started CAREFULLY applying black dye to the edges.


Eventually, all the black areas got two coats.


Final steps involved applying beeswax to the edges and burnishing them smooth and hard with a small cocobolo wood wheel in my Dremel, and spraying the front side with a lanolin-based preservative spray. I also added a piece of latigo lace.

Here it is on Lady Amalie’s arm, ready to shoot. Note how it extends up over the inside of her elbow for complete protection from errant string snaps.


No documentation. While armguards did exist in-period, this one falls quite firmly into the “Ren Faire Fabulous” camp.

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