Monday, 20 April 2015

Alexander's water resistant armour

In their book on linothorakes, Aldrete and colleagues note that the laminated linen construction can withstand getting soaked (Alexander's army, after all, was crossing rivers in this armour).  They said that the glued linen will stick itself back together when it dries.

Well, it does.

As my Wellington readers know, the weather here changes quickly.  To cut a long story short, I misjudged the weather and my linothorax got rained on.  It took ages for all those layers of linen to dry, but when they did the piece was fine.  This appears to be a benefit of using rabbit skin glue.  I doubt something like PVA would cope with water anywhere near as well.

The body of my linothorax.  Some water stains, but it is structurally sound.

The shoulder flaps of my linothorax.  Those aren't water stains; the glue is still a bit wet in this photo.

Another thing I've learned about linen laminated with rabbit glue is that you don't want to bark your knuckles on it.  It's like sandpaper.

So rabbit glue has a lot of advantages.  The pot currently sitting on my stove has congealed and been re-liquefied at least four times and seems none the worse for it.  All it needs is a splash more water and a low heat, and it's ready to go in half an hour.  It's easy to use.  Aldrete et al applied it to the fabric with a putty scraper, but I use my fingers and you could also use a brush.  It does take a long time to dry though.  I don't think I'll be able to get this project done in time for the challenge due date.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. You still have a week; that may yet be enough time even with the slow-drying glue.

    Are you going to paint it? What type of paint do you intend to use, and what color/design scheme?

    1. Fingers crossed! I'm not sure about painting it. I don't want to paint it with modern acrylics since I've gone to such a lot of trouble to make it period accurate, but I need to research period-appropriate paints and see if I can get hold of some. I think I'd do a fairly simple paint job with those star/sun designs that seem to have been popular.