Get a Grip

The originally intended “We Live in the Past” post was going to be a review of my fencing outfit I got for Christmas, but that’s going to need to wait for a chance to take some decent pictures, so instead here’s a bit about some current props projects. With the semester just starting, I still have a little time to play with other things I’ve been wanting to do:


Rayskin wrap:






I’ve long been a fan of rayskin sword grips. Any sword geek knows they make the base layer on Japanese katana, covered by highly decorative (and practical) cord wraps and some metal ornamentation. What’s less well known is their use in European swords, but they’re there- often in basket hilts or military sabers, where it’s a bit harder to see, but it’s there. I got some last Fall to play with, and used a piece on a brush handle as an anniversary present for my wife (grip done katana style)- but the Japanese style just uses strips of the rayskin. Euro grips are complete wraps, and if anything just have sparse additions over the top (wire spiral, end caps, etc).

This was a Zen Warrior Armoury (formerly Triplette) rapier I picked up used a couple years ago. It’s cut down a bit short for most people, but was perfect for (as example) the private lesson I gave to a 14yo last week. The plain wood grip made it a great candidate for experimentation.

Rayskin -at least as I got it via eBay-  doesn’t have the flex that leather does. It can’t stretch over the curves of a grip the way deerskin does, for example… making it harder to do. I had to cut a small wedge out of the non-seam side at one end, to accommodate that. Still, I think it worked fine (now epoxied on), and it does feel great in the hand. Should wear fine too- I have a rayskin wallet that’s held up great for years, even though the inside (regular leather) is starting to fall apart.

Leather grip:


This was an aluminum blade I got a deal on though the Albion moat sale last year, and some brass hardware stolen of a cheap Agincourt type sword that had to be put out to pasture. It’s a work in progress- carved wood, deerskin wrap. The cord won’t stay on, but it helps give some texture to the deerskin if you put it on while the glue is wet, and I think I may leave it on while dying the leather as well, just to see what that does.


The PVC in the background is going to be the base of a smallsword scabbard I’m making for Legacy of Light, since one character will be using a scabbard to fight with briefly in a three-way swordfight. I should be getting the fabric tonight to cover it.


In terms of other people’s projects: I mentioned the Medieval Fightbook segment that National Geographic is doing, but now that it’s aired, we’re getting more response – although I haven’t been able to see it myself.  John Clements has a blog entry about it, including video outtakes, and there’s some interesting counterpoint discussion going on over at MyArmoury.  In addition to the fight stuff from Tallhoffer that so many of us know, they also went in to his sketches of war machines, and even a diving suit. Hadn’t seen that stuff before- interesting, and some of it looks straight out of a horror/steampunk mashup:


I hope to be posting an update about the productions and workshops and classes I’ve been involved in later this week, time permitting.


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