Berwickshire flash

I’ve been making a flash for my LARP character, Mardnotkiln. A flash is usually a bit of fabric with a symbol or heraldry on it. It can be hung from the belt, or worn as an arm band, sash etc. It lets people see your allegiance quickly and easily. I wanted something a little more subtle though, a flash I could show if needs be but wouldn’t show all the time.

The symbol I needed on my flash was a natural stag head on a blue shield. You’d think that would be simple – find a decent heraldic stag head on Goolge images, add blue background. Unfortunately, all the heraldic stags I could find had very silly faces. To modern eyes, they looked more comical and cartoony than serious and heraldic. So, I drew one out myself. I’m not great at drawing, but I pilfered the general shape from one of the silly looking stags and added in some serious eyeballing from a tattoo design stag.

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My stag;

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He’s not great, but he’ll do the job. At this point I went hunting in my loft for fabric to start putting him together, and discovered at I didn’t have any suitable blue to hand. I could have went and bought some, but I wanted to get it done. I could have used blue felt, but I wasn’t feeling quite that desperate (I’ll save my rant at felt heraldry for another day!). I could have embroidered something, or dyed something, or woven something. After digging around a bit thought, I discovered I did have some bits of blue leather. So, background sorted I dug out some other leather scraps and started work.

I was going to try and embroider the details of the design, but now that I was using leather, that wasn’t really an option. Instead I tried layering the design, kind of like those tacky decoupage cards with 3D cherubs on them. I cut out my original drawing to use as a stencil, cutting off more sections for each layer of leather.

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After everything was cut out, I started sticking the whole mess down. I used copydex latex glue, hoping that would hold but leave it with some flexibility. Once it was all glued down, I decided I didn’t like the stacked up edges on the deeper parts of the design, so cut some slivers on leather and glued them down to cover the edges.

The copydex wasn’t quite up to the job. The edges of the fiddly little bits were lifting up. As this is going to be seeing a fair hit of wear and tear, I wanted to toughen it up a bit. I sat it in a shallow dish of tin foil, and slopped a 50/50 PVA and water mix over the whole thing. Luckily, this seemed to work. After it had soaked in, I sponged any pooling PVA off the surface of the design and let it dry overnight.

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In the morning, it had dried fairly well. It looks a little more shiny, and has the odd glue blob here and there, but hopefully it will last much better. To add a bit of discretion, I picked out a long, narrow, rectangle of leather for the backing. It folds over my belt with an equal amount on each side. I added a Sam Browne stud and hole to keep it closed, about halfway down. Below that, on the front facing, inside, part of the backing, I sewed down the design. This way, the flash can hang from my belt, looking like a bit of plain leather, but if I need to, I can lift up the outside flap and flash my flash!

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