It's been a while and I won't be progressing any builds before the new year against this project. that's not to say I don't constantly return to it in my thoughts and from those thoughts hatch plans.
I am hoping that by the end of 2021, I will have a new home and within that home will be a dedicated wargames room. So, my mind turns already to how to decorate said space and here I come to my point.
Other than a framed print of the Thin Red Line I have no objects to represent my love of Balaclava or the Crimean War. I have for some years been indulging in my love of design and items of military antiquity - not original antiques (though I have one) but best quality reproductions. Featuring high on this fetish is headgear.
I greatly covet three pieces of headgear from the Crimean War - a Russian spiked helmet (or perhaps also labelled a Pickelhaube?) a British dragoon brass helmet and a 17th Lancer Czapka (or Chapka). Alas, only original antiques present themselves on the internet and at price-points far beyond the sort of money I'd spend on decoration. No one seems to supply reproductions of these items although if I were capable of searching the Russian Web it could be out there somewhere. So, what to do?
Of the three items, the Lancer Czapka seems to present as the most likely subject capable of reproduction. I probably need to clarify here that I'm not talking about the full dress parade Czapka, but rather the 'foul weather' cap that the 17th Lancers took on campaign and charged in famously in 1854. I could perhaps commission this reproduction if any sutlers or reproductions specialists were interested in manufacturing one. I have the happy option of an alternative.
My good friend Michael Hunter is a leather working specialist with a living history background. I have seen his leather work over the years (art really) and it just so happens he is fascinated with the battle of Balaclava also. I broached the subject with him yesterday and he is keen to work with me to create our own foul weather caps. I say caps, as craftsmen learn so much with their first attempt that a second effort is preferable and we would both like to possess a cap each.
I intend to closely document the process for anyone else interesting in undertaking a similar project. The whole build will feature on this Blog and I may consider posting a video on Youtube but that would be a first for me. At this early stage we have a few considerations of how to approach the task.
As we both live in Australia we have no access to an original example. As such, we do not have precise dimensions or measurements and features of construction can only be gleaned through photographs. I do have a reproduction Prussian Infantry Pickelhaube which should provide us with some design and construction concepts to work from in the absence of other references. If anyone reading this blog is able to supply any details concerning the foul weather cap please do reach out.
We would like to make our reproduction as faithful as we can to the original and as much of a true facsimile as we can make it.
An optional approach would be to model the shape of the cap and clad it in the four part leather cover. The cap is intended to spend it's life on a stand or bust for show after all. From the outside it will look like a foul weather cap but would not be capable of being worn as a riding helmet. This is not my preferred option.
I have no particular interest in owning a German Uhlan leather cap but they are nice looking and they are readily available from the abovementioned Pickelhaube suppliers. I surmise that such an example would provide further construction comparisons.
I will be reaching out to the Crimean War group on Facebook to see if anyone there can assist with guidance. I will need to source fitments such as the cap chords, chin-straps and scull clasps or worse still, I may need to cast them myself (a project within a project).
In the end, this will be two blokes just trying to breath some life into the past. I'll do most of the research and fund it whilst Michael is the real talent. I'll be sure to keep you and this Blog posted.