Medieval Sallet Project: part 1 working metal

With time on my hands in lock down, and possibly as a reaction to the general sense of fear, I decided to try building a medieval helmet. I had some scrap copper but the metal working equipment had to be improvised by trail and error. It certainly took my mind off things!

My inspiration came from a long term interest in the shape and articulation of armour. Whether natural and man made these extraordinary things are profoundly practical and very beautiful.

  Sleeping man at arms, medieval wood carving.

lobster. A detailed reference drawing showing the animal's construction , shape and character.
Lobster 40x30cm Detailed study from life, drawn in pencil

The process of shaping the metal involved cutting it to size and then alternately hammering and annealing it. I made a variety of wooden forms around which the metal could be gradually curved into shape using metal hammers. When repeated blows made it grow brittle it had to be annealed Рheated until glowing dull red and then plunged into cold water  Рto restore its elasticity. I found my little wood stove made an excellent forced draught forge.


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