Alexander Clarke – 14th Century Shield with Raised Charges

Here is a reconstruction of a tournament or funerary shield based on existing shields of the mid-to late 14th and early 15th centuries, such as the funerary shield of Edward of Woodstock (The Black Prince). 

The shield’s heraldic charges are raised, meaning three dimensional, using leather and gesso, and then gilded in 23k gold leaf. The field has a blue and gold diapered pattern, with white highlights. 

For this project the artist used a birch plywood shield blank, leather, rabbit hide glue, gesso, egg tempera paints, acrylic paint, 23k gold leaf, iron nails, wool felt, and modern spray sealant.  The artist crafted the iron nails, egg tempera, gesso (using slaked plaster method), and hide glue, and leather straps, used in the creation of the piece. Some other elements were purchased for the project. 

Slideshow with full documentation and additional pictures

6 thoughts on “Alexander Clarke – 14th Century Shield with Raised Charges

  1. Holy gold leaf, Swanman! This was obviously a labor of love, and it came out beautifully. I had no background in shield-making, so I really appreciated your documentation walking me through the process and all of the materials you used. I hope that you’re able to salvage it after the damage — that’s a bummer, but it sounds like you have a workable plan…good luck!

  2. I told you that you could do it! Sure, you have some tweaks to make, yes, the bole would have worked magic on the gold, but it still held up for the most part. Another cool thing about bole is that you can press designs into the gold. *eyebrow waggle*

    No pressure.

    Anna, OL. Trimaris.

  3. This is a really cool project! I am fascinated by the process you used to make the raised motif on the shield. I am very interested to see how your process continues while you fix challenges the shield has presented you. Thank you for sharing!

  4. Very interesting project! I have not seen a built-up object like this before. It was great to learn about the techniques and materials you used, and how they succeeded or failed. I look forward to talking to you and seeing your shield at the exhibit!

  5. Really fascinating project! Thanks for sharing your process, and especially the failures. We often learn more from failure than success – so I hope you get to revisit this process and see if your proposed solutions work.

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