In the season six finale of “Game of Thrones,” Cersei wears two dresses that have the same pattern. The first is her dress when she blows up the sept – it’s made of solid black leather and has epaulettes. The second is her coronation dress, which is made of perforated black leather with pauldrons. I’ve been working on the second dress.
Figuring out how to make the pauldrons admittedly took me longer than I thought, and I messed up a lot. From failed paper patterns to trying Worbla with and without foam, nothing I did seemed to give me the look I wanted. That is, until I finally figured it out. Here’s how I ultimately made the pauldrons:
Getting a Pattern
I think the pattern is what really tripped me up in the beginning. I didn’t know how to make an accurate one for armor, so I decided to do what I would for a garment: drape. I had my boyfriend cover my shoulder in plastic wrap and then tightly tape it up with duct tape. This method may be a little different than draping a garment, but both use a body (or body dummy) to inform the pattern.
Once that was done, I removed the tape pauldron and drew on the shape I wanted. Then I cut it right down the middle, giving me a front and back. The goal of cutting up the tape is to make it lay flat so I know how to bring it the other way (from flat to curved). To do that, I cut right where my shoulder rounds into the middle, producing a dart.
Then I cut out the shape and transferred that to foam and Worbla. I cut a front and back piece for each shoulder, which meant four identical pieces in total.
Putting it Together
Next, I heat-shaped my Worbla. First, I brought the dart edges together and rounded the top. Then, I fixed the front and back together. I used a ball throughout the process to help give me the curves I was looking for.
Once each shoulder piece was assembled, I heated them and formed them on my shoulders so they’d fit snugly.
The seams stuck together because Worbla sticks to itself, but I wanted the pauldrons to have more stability. I reinforced the seams by attaching strips of Worbla to the inside of the pauldron right on top of the seams.
The pauldrons have three main details:
- The lion heads.
- Beaded edging.
Here’s how I made each of those:
I drew a face-on view of a lion head on a piece of paper that was the size I wanted for the actual pauldrons. I then used that to trace a silhouette out of Worbla.
Next, I draw on details with pencil. I used a heat gun to warm the Worbla up, and then pressed on the back side with a sculpting tool to sort of emboss the Worbla. Basically, I wanted to make a relief so the contours would give the idea of the lion head.
Once each lion was all bumpy, I heated it and stuck it on the pauldron.
Cersei’s actual pauldrons have cutouts of leaves and flowers. I couldn’t come up with a good way to actually cut out the patterns and have them still look the way I wanted, so I fudged it a little.
I drew the pattern on the pauldrons, then used sculpting tools to put dents in the plastic. I later painted them in with black acrylic. Now, if you run your hand over the pauldron, you’ll feel the filigree texture, even if it’s not totally cut through.
I cut out a long, thin strip of Worbla and folded it in half. Then I wrapped it around the edge of each pauldron.
Once the edge was in place, I used a sculpting tool to press in lines to give it that beaded metal look.
At this point, the pauldrons were coming together, but paint is what really brought them to life. I had to make them look like metal, which meant lots of silver!
First, I covered each pauldron in three coats of Mod Podge. In the past, I used wood glue, but I was all out this time. I tried sanding the Mod Podge, but the glue just rubbed off, so I nixed that plan and just went straight to spray paint. This left me with some brushstrokes, but they aren’t too noticeable. In the future, I’ll exclusively use wood glue for Worbla builds.
I covered the pauldrons with two coats each of black and then silver spray paint. Once the layers were all dry, I could go in with acrylic.
Step one was making all of the raised edges stand out. So, I painted lines of black along the edging and lion heads and smudged them with a round brush to blend the lines out. Secondly, I used black and white to contour and highlight the lion. Really, I painted it like you would a 2-D painting of lion.
Next, I filled in the filigree with black paint. The last step was adding thin white edging along the black filigree to make it look like the pauldrons are reflecting light.
I’m sure there’s more painting work I could do to make these look real, but I don’t know what. For now, they’ll stay as they are.
In order to attach the chain Cersei wears, I had to add hooks to the pauldrons. Each one has two hooks, which I attached with pieces of Worbla. I had to reinforce the Worbla with some hot glue to keep them in place, but once I did, the hooks were good to go.
Additionally, I hot glued two strips of Velcro to the inside of each. I will also add Velcro to the dress shoulders so the pauldrons will stick. Velcro may not be the most historically inspired addition to this costume, but it kept the pauldrons on the entire day at the con, even with bumping into people and interacting – worth it!
The Finished Pauldrons
This armor didn’t turn out exactly as I had envisioned. Despite that, I’m pleased with the results and felt proud wearing the costume. The pauldrons really do polish off the outfit as a whole.