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 Has anyone ever made a Zulu battle shield?

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Bromhead1879



Posts : 29
Join date : 2016-09-11

PostSubject: Has anyone ever made a Zulu battle shield?   Thu Oct 20, 2016 1:31 am

Hello all. Since I'm new, I didn't know your good friend Mr. Gerrard who passed away but I would like to simply say your kind words and pictures of a man who's life was so immersed in this subject, of which I am so passionate, tells me your a good bunch of fellows. I was happy to see the memories recounted. With that said, has anyone ever tried to make a Zulu shield? I have purchased a cow hide and will be having a go at it. If anyone is interested.
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intombe



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Join date : 2011-08-27

PostSubject: Re: Has anyone ever made a Zulu battle shield?   Thu Oct 20, 2016 1:40 pm

Yes, I have made a large islangu shield and have enough hide to make some more. The problem is the quality of the hide material itself in that if it is raw and not treated and softened then you can make a better product. Let me know if you want more info.
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Bromhead1879



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Join date : 2016-09-11

PostSubject: Re: Has anyone ever made a Zulu battle shield?   Sat Oct 22, 2016 2:39 pm

Thanks for your reply Intombe. That is my dilema as well. The hide i just received is basically a rug and the suede side is dyed grey. Wish i had done more homework. Now i need to locate, as you said, an untanned natural hide. So im back to square 1. Did you ever post pics of your islangu
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intombe



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Join date : 2011-08-27

PostSubject: Re: Has anyone ever made a Zulu battle shield?   Sat Oct 22, 2016 2:56 pm

Hi Bromy,
All is not lost. You have the same problem as I had in that the suede has been treated and was too soft. My first attempt involved hardening the shield with tough waxes but I was not impressed. The shield ended up as a wall hanger for a friend. My next attempt will involve cutting he shape and treating the suede with layers of thin expoxy resin to stifffen it. The resin should soak in quite nicely. I bought a few cowhides which were made into rugs and had the idea of making some shields for myself and friends. Hope this helps.
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Bromhead1879



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Join date : 2016-09-11

PostSubject: Re: Has anyone ever made a Zulu battle shield?   Sun Oct 23, 2016 1:26 am

Intombe, thank you. I will try that. Maybe Spar urethane? But what about the color grey? Brown stain perhaps?
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intombe



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PostSubject: Re: Has anyone ever made a Zulu battle shield?   Sun Oct 23, 2016 9:02 pm

Good idea but make it the toughest urethane you can get, preferably for extreme elements protection. For the stain, best to use a diluted walnut stain solution. Please let me know your results.
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Bromhead1879



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PostSubject: Re: Has anyone ever made a Zulu battle shield?   Mon Oct 24, 2016 5:57 pm

Will do Intombe. Thank you!
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Bromhead1879



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PostSubject: Re: Has anyone ever made a Zulu battle shield?   Sat Nov 05, 2016 8:18 pm

Hello friends, started making my Zulu shields (making two) today. Took awhile for the layout to obtain that perfect eye shape on end. I made mine 5 ft. tall and 26 inches at the widest part. If Photobucket was up I would post some pics. I am now going to make a jig to perfectly apply slits for strips of cowhide. This will be more or less shaped like an "E" and constructed to not only allow me to cut 2 even slits, but also to space them perfectly. I'm using Ian Knight's wonderful book ZULU: Isandlwana and Rourke's Drift 22-23 January 1879. There are some very nice color plates of both sides. Intombe, going to apply stain after I boil hides and dry. Other issue is do I install strips AFTER I boil and harden shield or before? I'm thinking strips will cup or shrink smaller than slits. Thinking of testing some. Don't want to ruin $150 worth of cowhide.
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xhosa2000

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PostSubject: Re: Has anyone ever made a Zulu battle shield?   Sat Nov 05, 2016 10:50 pm

I would really like to see the finished piece. good luck.
how about boiling the strip's separately they will only
shrink once?, then be cut to size.. cheers xhosa
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intombe



Posts : 15
Join date : 2011-08-27

PostSubject: Re: Has anyone ever made a Zulu battle shield?   Sun Nov 06, 2016 2:07 am

Hi Brommy,
Great to hear that you are making progress. Be careful of boiling the hide as the hair might flake away. Best to harden the hide and stiffen it. Then cut the slits just like the Zulu craftsmen did. You will need a sharp stanley knife and this stage is tedious and takes a while. Use soft straps and once they are in then harden these almost to the point of gluing then to the shield hide itself. Do not let the hardener flow onto the outside or hair so best to use a brush. I bought my hides from ehides from the USA.
Good luck.
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Bromhead1879



Posts : 29
Join date : 2016-09-11

PostSubject: Re: Has anyone ever made a Zulu battle shield?   Sun Nov 06, 2016 12:11 pm

Xhosa, thank you for your reply. Outstanding idea. Will try that. Want to make clear also that I boiled the water for a test piece last night but waited for it to stop boiling until I introduced my test piece. piece is still wet this morning. just placed on baseboard heater. Measured test piece and will re-measure after it's dry to see how much it shrunk if at all.

http://www.personal.utulsa.edu/~marc-carlson/leather/hl.html This link is an excellent article on hardening and shaping leather. I think it's from a middle ages reenactor site and discusses making leather armor. Has some great tips and they say leather gets pretty hard after it gets wet and dries. Definitely says NOT to put leather in boiling water Intombe so good call on that. Making jig today for cutting and spacing slits. Will post pics as soon as Photo bucket is up and thank you for replying!
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Bromhead1879



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PostSubject: Re: Has anyone ever made a Zulu battle shield?   Mon Nov 07, 2016 10:24 pm

Ok. Immersing the leather test piece accomplished nothing. Didn't shrink it or stiffen it. So I'm going to have to create a recipe similar to paper mache' to apply to the shield to harden it. Of course only to the rawhide side not the hair side. Something that dries flat and clear. I still however need to change the color of the suede side from light grey to something that resembles the suede side of a real shield. So back to the drawing board. I did read that they sometimes removed the center staff and rolled them up to carry or store them. Found that interesting. More to come chaps.
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littlehand

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PostSubject: Re: Has anyone ever made a Zulu battle shield?   Mon Nov 07, 2016 11:47 pm

Back in the day!

http://web.prm.ox.ac.uk/weapons/index.php/tour-by-region/oceania/africa/arms-and-armour-africa-32/
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littlehand

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PostSubject: Re: Has anyone ever made a Zulu battle shield?   Mon Nov 07, 2016 11:51 pm

Or
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littlehand

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PostSubject: Re: Has anyone ever made a Zulu battle shield?   Mon Nov 07, 2016 11:53 pm

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intombe



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PostSubject: Re: Has anyone ever made a Zulu battle shield?   Tue Nov 08, 2016 12:25 am

The problem with a commercial rug type of hide is that you cannot reverse the physical properties to begin making the shield from the rawhide itself. So it is important to realize that you have to harden the leather by other means such as a hard varnish or epoxy resin which will be absorbed into the leather suede. Papier mache might work. The point about the Zulus rolling up the shields to carry them could only be possible if the leather was wet and pliable. However to unroll the shield would also mean soaking it again. I have "straightened" old original shields by this method and very successfully. In fact I have restored shields using the soaking and softening process.
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Bromhead1879



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Join date : 2016-09-11

PostSubject: Re: Has anyone ever made a Zulu battle shield?   Tue Nov 08, 2016 5:32 pm

Littlehand, thank you for those references. Itombe, Do you reside in South Africa? Do you own original examples?
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Bromhead1879



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PostSubject: Re: Has anyone ever made a Zulu battle shield?   Sun Nov 13, 2016 5:13 pm

Ok friends, started an album on Shutterfly. There are only 2 pics up. This is the first shield
I'm working on. I actually extrapolated the shape  of the shield from Ian Knight's book Zulu. It is 5 ft. High and 26" wide. I have 2 coats of white glue applied to the back and it's fairly stiff but not quite there. Last thing will be to stain it then cut slits and begin to weave strips of hide. Contrasting white hair against black hair and vise versa. Hope this link works!
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Bromhead1879



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PostSubject: Re: Has anyone ever made a Zulu battle shield?   Sun Nov 13, 2016 5:19 pm

Standby for link........................
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Bromhead1879



Posts : 29
Join date : 2016-09-11

PostSubject: Re: Has anyone ever made a Zulu battle shield?   Sun Nov 13, 2016 7:51 pm

https://zulushield.shutterfly.com/
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Bromhead1879



Posts : 29
Join date : 2016-09-11

PostSubject: Re: Has anyone ever made a Zulu battle shield?   Sat Dec 03, 2016 12:37 am

OK gentleman. I have made the above link open to anyone. I'm sorry for the delay. Ive been too busy to work on shield but you can see the general shape. More to come.
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