Thursday, August 6, 2015

How to Make Eowyn's Medallion Belt from Recycling: Analysis and Ideas

 I'll update this post with links to the finished belts as I make them.

I've been trying to figure out how to make Eowyn's Medallion belts for a while. Here is my write up and analysis of how to make Eowyn's belt. There's a full analysis on the alleyscratch website, which all these pictures are from.
Medallion Belt worn with her Green Gown

Medallion belt  on her White Wool Dress (really just a silver version of the Green Gown one, sewn onto a gold trimmed fabric belt)
Alleyscratch has a very good analysis, with diagrams and breakdowns of the medallions' constructions.
link to full page here.
The medallion belts are made of 2 medallions, a bigger central one, and a smaller side one.
front of belt.

Here are some nice fan-made examples that I have analyzed.

Yvette's Costume Site Example---clay and wire
Yvette (check out her amazing Arwen dresses, especially this one, scroll to the bottom of the page...) made them from metal clay and silver wire (scroll down to the bottom of the page to see them).
Like so.
close-up of Yvette's finished medallion, LINK HERE

Yvette's finished belt. LINK HERE

I don't think its necessary to make them from metal clay or silver wire, since baking the clay seems to tarnish the wire. Also, if you are going to paint it anyway, there isn't a need to use metallic clay.

 In my past obsession with wire-work, I've found steel utility wire is a lot cheaper than craft wire, and can be bent well with 2 pairs of pliers.
But if you want something that is really easy to bend with your fingers, skip the copper and get aluminum wire (which is still cheaper copper).

Yvette's version is lovely, and I like how she spaces the medallions nicely, it really gives it a medallion feel. Things I would do differently, is I like the medallions to be bigger, giving a visually thicker belt (which I think is slenderizing on fuller figures). I also would use a gauge 16 wire at least, as I think gauge 18 and above are a little thin for my taste, I like the wire flower loops to have more "pop."

Kairi G Design's version---3D printed plastic
LINK AND PICTURE FROM HERE. I really like the size of her medallions, they're a lot larger than Yvette's belt (perhaps even larger than in the film?). They were 3D printed from plastic, so its not an option for me
 Print my Props version---3D printed plastic.
You can hire people to do it for you....picture below
link to etsy shop here.

Mia's costume Site rings and wire.
LINK HERE. This captures so much of the feel of Eowyn's belt, using instead of medallions, metal rings which the wire then is strung into, and spray painted.

Quite well done. LINK HERE. I like especially how she translated the medallion shapes to wires. I also like how nice and plump she made the "petals" of wire.
The finished look is quite good. I think the openness of the rings works especially well in the white belt version, since it works more on a lace-like feel.
From HERE on Mia's Costume site, more pictures and a write up
You could also do it with plastic rings for cheaper...

Cation designs ----Eowyn Inspired Belt from filigrees and jump rings
LINK HERE. I think this captures the most of the spirit of Eowyn's belt without having absolute screen accuracy. She simply strung together filigrees with jump rings (and also painted it a bit).
Pictures of her dress are here, her write up of the making of here.

It's real metal, so feels more authentic, and looks awesome. Filigrees are very thin stamped metal, that looks kinda like lace. Etsy is full of various filigrees, Hobby Lobby also has a fair amount.
I think this one especially looks reminiscient of Eowyn's belt. I wish it were just a tad larger though.
Antique gold scalloped round filigrees
I am going to make one using these filigrees. You can either string them together with jump rings and a lobster clasp (like her Green Gown belt) or sew them onto a fabric belt with trim/beading (like Eowyn's white wool gown belt) which gives you the option of more visually thickening the belt, if you would like.

Ideas for making Eowyn's medallion belt from Plastic and aluminum wire.
If you are going to go the plastic route at home, I would think a good start is to look at the alleyscratch break down of the medallion, and cut out the base metal part from plastic sheeting with a utility knife (on a glass cutting mat!). You could use yogurt lids, or pretty much any rigid plastic in the recyclying bin. Or craft foam. I would like to do it with something a little more rigid than yogurt lid plastic, maybe the bottom of those big plastic icecream tubs??? If you have an idea, please let me know in the comments!

Then you'd sand the plastic pieces with sandpaper, to make them more textured (and hold paint).
The wire parts I'd make from gauge 16 or 14 aluminum wire (since the plastic is soft anyway), lightly hammered. I want to use thicker gauge wire, because to me, a lot of the beauty of the belt comes from the wire loops not looking spindly.
Then you'd stack the pieces together with rivets through the centers. (preferably the big sewology push on kinds? Or furniture tacks with the ends sanded off, and bent with pliers?)

Lastly, spray paint with a darker color, and rub progressively brighter layers of metallic gold acrylic paint on it ($2 for those little 4 oz bottles from Walmart or Hobby Lobby) to make it look like metal (you want to go from the most "antique" colors of gold, to the brightest color of gold last, to give it depth.)

Ideas for making Eowyn's medallion belt from metal...recycling & steel utility wire! Cold forging!!
If you want to go the all-metal route, I would use can lids (6 oz. tomato paste, and frozen juice concentrate lids) opened with a NO SHARP EDGES CAN OPENER. (I don't know the correct name, except that there are sharp edges, just on the can, and not the lid, it cuts from the side, like this one). You don't want the lid part to have sharp edges, it will snag on your dress and cut your fingers)

You would punch the hole through the center with a hammer and nail (scrap wood underneath). This hole will be for the rivet, to hold it all together.

Because this is a sturdier version than the plastic, I am going to use real steel utility wire gauge 16 (so cheap at Lowes! BlueHawk brand at Lowes 100 ft for 8 bucks)
I've found with thicker gauge steel wire, the best shaping I get is with careful measuring, and using 2 sturdy pairs of pliers. I'd hammer it (carefully) lightly afterward, to help it keep its shape. The "seam" where the wire ends meet, will be at the center, where they will be covered up with the rivet.

I'd use real sturdy Tandy type of rivets for this, since I'm not as afraid to bang it with a hammer since its all metal.

Painting it, I'd spray paint it with Rustoleum matte dark colored spray paint, then build up brighter layers of gold with acrylic metallic paints and a rag.

Lastly, I'd string it together with jump rings.

This belt will not be screen authentic as it won't have large decorative holes in the medallions (if you had a punch and die set, you could do this easily), but the trade off is worth it to me to have something all metal, versus metal and plastic.

Ideas for making Eowyn's medallion belt from filigrees and fabric trim.
This is inspired by the belt on her white wool gown. You can get a lot more "bang" visually, with fewer filigrees. I really like these versions from,
Check out their galleries, they're beautiful.
Gorgeous dress MORE PICTURES HERE.
From HERE,. This is under this gallery. I love how visually thick it is. The neckband is amazing too.

And the belt on this is
From HERE (this is under the historic gallery) I just love how they used the square medallions, matching the color perfectly with the trim on the dark red. I think I am going to try something like this, on a brown or black velveteen fabric. We'll see.
These ones from Fashionsintime are pretty good too. Although I think those are more medallions and not filigrees.
from HERE from fashions in time
So here are a few of my ideas. You would use trim or braid, sewn with thread onto the fabric (a techinque called "couching"). You would sew the filigrees on, and could even do rivets or beading if you were feeling up to it. One of the advantages of this method is you could control the visual "thickness" of the belt, even if your filigrees were small, by how you placed your trim or braid.

I'm even considering using my stencils and fabric paint for the central fabric part of the belt, with the filigrees sewn on in strategic places as accents. I'd border the whole thing with trim or braid.

I'll update this post with links to the finished belts as I make them.

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