In the Society for Creative Anachronism, the highest award you can get is being elevated to a peerage. There are five peerages: the Royal Peers, related to being King/Queen; the Order of the Chivalry, for armored combat; the Order of the Laurel, for arts and/or sciences; the Order of the Pelican, for service; and the Order of Defense, for rapier combat. Each peerage has various regalia associated with them. For the Masters and Mistresses of Defense, one of those pieces of regalia is a decorated leather pauldron (shoulder plate armor).
One of my best friends recently got elevated to the Order of Defense. This is a huge deal in the rapier community. I got the pleasure of surprising him with a custom-made pauldron at his elevation ceremony.
I based the shape off of an actual armored metal pauldron. The pieces fit together such that they articulate smoothly as it moves with the left arm.
Every piece of the design is deliberately chosen to match my friend’s clothing, heraldry, and awards. I did all of the work for this piece myself. The design of the heraldry is partially based off the design of another pauldron in the Middle Kingdom, though the overall composition is hand-drawn by myself. I created the design, cut the leather, tooled the design into the leather pieces, boiled and shaped the leather to harden it, painted it, riveted it to a support scaffold that allows it to articulate, cut and dyed the straps, and sewed the buckles on.
First, the design includes a Pelican shedding blood from its breast, the heraldry of the Order of the Pelican, of which he is also a Master. It symbolizes how the Pelican is always giving to others, down to its very own lifeblood.
The three swords is the heraldry of the Order of Defense, the rapier Peerage.
The black dragon is directly off of his personal heraldry.
The gear is also part of his personal heraldry.
The edges make a rainbow to match his always very colorful clothing, which often includes all the colors of the rainbow.
The white background with the red pale, or vertical stripe, is the heraldry of the Middle Kingdom. The SCA is broken up into twenty kingdoms all around the world. Michigan is the region of Pentamere in the Middle Kingdom, which covers the lower peninsula of Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and a smidge of Kentucky and Ontario (Windsor area).
The pauldron attaches through two straps: one across the chest and underneath the right arm (red), and another around the left arm, just above the elbow (purple).
The middle yellow-edged panel goes right over the ball of the shoulder. The top two panels rest up on the shoulder by the neck. The bottom panels cover the upper left arm.
Regalia for fencers is historically worn on the left arm. The penultimate award for rapier in the Middle Kingdom, the Order of the Bronze Ring, can be indicated by wearing a bronze cord or scarf worn around the left arm, typically just above the elbow or further up on the shoulder.
I am ecstatic with how it turned out. It was a lot of work, but worth it, to show my friend just how much he means to me.