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Painting scabbards?
#1
Hello yet again.

I'm looking into having some new early Achaemenid akinakes scabbards (by a professional this time; I don't have access to a wood shop anymore).  I'd like to paint them again, but this time I'd like to use a historically-plausible paint, like casein.  So I need to come up with a combination of facing (or not) and paint that can be made water-resistant enough to not bleed in the rain.

The only facing I'm aware of that was used on akinakes scabbards other than embossed gold sheet is leather (the Issyk Golden Man burial).  I understand that leather during the Achaemenid period was sueded and something like buckskin or chamois, and my experiment with hide glue paint on suede showed that it dissolved very quickly when wet even if I added aluminum sulfate for water resistance.

What I'd like to try is linen, since I understand glued linen is easy to paint with casein, casein itself is somewhat water-resistant, and it can have a wax top coat applied, but AFAIK it would highly speculative to use linen for an Achaemenid scabbard.  The other, more parsimonious answer would be to leave off the facing entirely, though I've also heard it suggested that a scabbard with no facing or other reinforcement to keep the front and back halves together is at risk of splitting along the seams as it's jostled with the sword inside.

So I'm looking for evidence and opinions:
-  Were other cultures in West or western Central Asia, the Aegean, or Egypt using linen-covered scabbards in the early 5th century BCE?
-  Absent evidence for Persia specifically, is a linen-covered scabbard too speculative for your personal standards?
-  Can I make milk paint over suede work?  Perhaps by soaking the suede in glue to ensure a rigid surface? 
-  Is a scabbard with no facing at all likely to be too weak for use?
Dan D'Silva

Far beyond the rising sun
I ride the winds of fate
Prepared to go where my heart belongs,
Back to the past again.

--  Gamma Ray

Well, I'm tough, rough, ready and I'm able
To pick myself up from under this table...

--  Thin Lizzy

Join the Horde! - http://xerxesmillion.blogspot.com/
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#2
I think it might be tough to paint with casein on suede and not have trouble. Stiffening the suede with hide glue would make it very hygroscopic, and I doubt it would work. It is possible to purchase casein emulsified with linseed oil, but it a isn't great. These same questions aren't really answered for depictions of tube-and-yoke armours, linen, etc. it would work best to dye the leather with cochineal, and seal it with the oil / wax mixture. Whatever you do, perform exhaustive tests on small samples, first, would be my suggestion.
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#3
Thanks. I've set up a board with chamois swatches and I hope to eventually test out every combination of glue-soaking, sanding soaked and dried pieces, gesso, and wax top coats, and I guess I'll start ordering paints and associate materials soon.

The dyed and sealed leather is probably the most realistic option, but I find a solid-colored scabbard really dull. Plus, I'm not only designing one for myself, but also for this guy in California who is hoping for something very fancy, as he's portraying an Immortal. So I want to explore all the possibilities for complex paint designs using period-appropriate materials before admitting defeat.
Dan D'Silva

Far beyond the rising sun
I ride the winds of fate
Prepared to go where my heart belongs,
Back to the past again.

--  Gamma Ray

Well, I'm tough, rough, ready and I'm able
To pick myself up from under this table...

--  Thin Lizzy

Join the Horde! - http://xerxesmillion.blogspot.com/
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#4
(10-13-2018, 03:00 PM)Dan D\Silva Wrote: Thanks.  I've set up a board with chamois swatches and I hope to eventually test out every combination of glue-soaking, sanding soaked and dried pieces, gesso, and wax top coats, and I guess I'll start ordering paints and associate materials soon.

The dyed and sealed leather is probably the most realistic option, but I find a solid-colored scabbard really dull.  Plus, I'm not only designing one for myself, but also for this guy in California who is hoping for something very fancy, as he's portraying an Immortal.  So I want to explore all the possibilities for complex paint designs using period-appropriate materials before admitting defeat.
You Might consider oil paints.  I know their origin is very controversial, but I suspect that pigment ground in oil and wax is older than folks think.
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#5
You might consider applique and solid color, really the sky's the limit here, there are examples in leather objects throughout history.. the one drawback is its very time consuming to produce, take a look at the following:

Various titles many include applique examples etc all free to view...
https://www.sidestone.com/books/?m=all&q=leather

With a section on Persian leatherwork 525-332bc ish
https://www.sidestone.com/books/leatherw...swan-egypt

The perhaps most impressive decorative work:
https://www.sidestone.com/books/tutankhamun-s-footwear

Wink
Ivor

"And the four bare walls stand on the seashore. a wreck a skeleton a monument of that instability and vicissitude to which all things human are subject. Not a dwelling within sight, and the farm labourer, and curious traveller, are the only persons that ever visit the scene where once so many thousands were congregated." T.Lewin 1867
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#6
(10-13-2018, 09:18 PM)Crispianus Wrote: You might consider applique and solid color, really the sky's the limit here, there are examples in leather objects throughout history.. the one drawback is its very time consuming to produce, take a look at the following:

Various titles many include applique examples etc all free to view...
https://www.sidestone.com/books/?m=all&q=leather

With a section on Persian leatherwork 525-332bc ish
https://www.sidestone.com/books/leatherw...swan-egypt

The perhaps most impressive decorative work:
https://www.sidestone.com/books/tutankhamun-s-footwear

Wink

That would indeed be the best solution.  :-)
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#7
(Also seem to be unable to quote anyone)  Applique is pretty plausible I suppose...  I remember trying it with my gorytos about six years ago and getting frustrated at how time-consuming it was, but all of this is time-consuming. I could give oil paint a try but as I recall, when I put it on veg-tan, the leather sucked the oil out and caused the pigment to crumble away. I imagine any porous leather would have to be prepped with oil or wax beforehand.

And, wow.  The Elephantine book seems to have some VERY interesting things in it.
Dan D'Silva

Far beyond the rising sun
I ride the winds of fate
Prepared to go where my heart belongs,
Back to the past again.

--  Gamma Ray

Well, I'm tough, rough, ready and I'm able
To pick myself up from under this table...

--  Thin Lizzy

Join the Horde! - http://xerxesmillion.blogspot.com/
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#8
Dan,
What you could do is get a piece of veg. tanned leather, wet it and let it dry to leather hard, and then tool it with a stylus. when dry cut the pattern out. then you could usr casein on it, in washes, with little impasto; it will essentially tint the leather like dyeing it. Red will work best, as blues and greens and blues could be used too, though they will appear much darker as they aren't opaque and are the complement of the leather color. When everything is painted and totally dry, you could apply a drying oil such as linseed orvperhaps safflower, very gently applying it carefully to the center of each color area working toward the edges in case there is some lifting of color, and it will soak in and and dry nice and glossy. Then when that is dry, you could apply a final coat of wax / drying oil mixture, let dry, done.
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#9
I haven't heard of that approach before. I'll add it to the tests once the casein and paste wax comes in.

Thing is, for the past five years I've been working under the assumption that the Achaemenids didn't have veg-tan. As a matter of fact, what I found really interesting about Leatherwork from Elephantine is that it's the first claim I've seen for veg-tan from a part of the Persian empire.
Dan D'Silva

Far beyond the rising sun
I ride the winds of fate
Prepared to go where my heart belongs,
Back to the past again.

--  Gamma Ray

Well, I'm tough, rough, ready and I'm able
To pick myself up from under this table...

--  Thin Lizzy

Join the Horde! - http://xerxesmillion.blogspot.com/
Reply
#10
Oak galls:
https://books.google.com/books?id=Zqg3AA...nt&f=false
Were also used in ancient Egypt.
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#11
(10-15-2018, 08:20 PM)Dan D\Silva Wrote: I haven't heard of that approach before.  I'll add it to the tests once the casein and paste wax comes in.

Thing is, for the past five years I've been working under the assumption that the Achaemenids didn't have veg-tan.  As a matter of fact, what I found really interesting about Leatherwork from Elephantine is that it's the first claim I've seen for veg-tan from a part of the Persian empire.

I believe the tests show the presence of Tannic acid, whats interesting is different pieces of leather in the same item test differently...

Its probable that if it is the case that these items are veg tanned then they would be most likely tanned using acacia pods (Theophrastus "On Plants" circa 400bc mentions three types of veg tanning), but theres always a possibility its secondary ie veg dyes or colouring ...

Wink
Ivor

"And the four bare walls stand on the seashore. a wreck a skeleton a monument of that instability and vicissitude to which all things human are subject. Not a dwelling within sight, and the farm labourer, and curious traveller, are the only persons that ever visit the scene where once so many thousands were congregated." T.Lewin 1867
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#12
https://books.google.com/books?id=O_aFGK...ng&f=false
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#13
I think the problem lies with the interpretation of "Huratu" as oak galls, this apparantly has been discredited and is likely madder used to colour the skins.. for a better explanation see here:

Page 305 last paragraph first column: Ancient Egyptian Materials and Technology
Ivor

"And the four bare walls stand on the seashore. a wreck a skeleton a monument of that instability and vicissitude to which all things human are subject. Not a dwelling within sight, and the farm labourer, and curious traveller, are the only persons that ever visit the scene where once so many thousands were congregated." T.Lewin 1867
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#14
Interesting! Thanks for the information, Crispianus. I actually have that book currently checked out through interlibrary loan.
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#15
Indeed, that book was what precipitated my shake-up five years ago when I started trying to avoid relying on veg-tan. Which was possibly itself precipitated by wondering whether it was historically accurate to paint veg-tan, something I had wanted to do back in 2012.
Dan D'Silva

Far beyond the rising sun
I ride the winds of fate
Prepared to go where my heart belongs,
Back to the past again.

--  Gamma Ray

Well, I'm tough, rough, ready and I'm able
To pick myself up from under this table...

--  Thin Lizzy

Join the Horde! - http://xerxesmillion.blogspot.com/
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