The Making of a Leather Breastplate

Last week I shared the inspiration behind Stephanie Jefferson’s novel, PRINCESS KANDAKE – Warrior By Choice….Appointed to Rule. If you missed it, you can read it here.

Today, I’d like to cover the fascinating process Stephanie went through to make the leather breastplate for her model, Makeda, to wear during the photo shoot. Stephanie knocked herself out to get every detail of the costume as authentic as possible.

Here’s a cool shot Stephanie 
considered using for the book cover.
If the model’s breastplate looks like it was made to fit,
that’s because Stephanie designed it specifically for Makeda. 
Watch the video clip below to hear how she did it!

Here’s the cover shot Stephanie decided on.
I have to say I think it makes a beautiful cover.

After wrapping Makeda (wearing a t-shirt) with duct tape to make the mold, Stephanie formed the breastplate out of calf skin. She figured out this whole process on her own. Very impressive! She made the sarong, too, designed the pattern and dyed it so it was the color of dried grass. Beads give it a nice touch. You can read Stephanie’s post about it here
But that post doesn’t explain the making of the mold, which she created with plaster strips.

 Watch this video clip to hear Stephanie explain 
how she designed the sarong and made the leather breastplate.
(This video was shot a month before she
suffered a massive heart attack in September.
Thankfully, she’s making an astonishing recovery.)

Here’s a comical excerpt from her blog post of July 12, 2011. She had a bad morning trying to accomplish other things, so she decided to work on the breastplate instead:

I’m  in the craft room setting up the mold, taping everything in place so that the bloomin’ thing won’t shift when I pour the plaster in it. The duct tape is sticking to the plastic drop cloths. The braces shift because I’m removing the tape from the plastic.Finally I get it all set up. So now I’m mixing the plaster. The dog runs by. I still don’t know how he got caught in the plastic sheeting, but the mold starts sliding off of the table. Now remember I’m mixing plaster and have a short window of time to get it poured.

I grab at the plastic to keep the mold from hitting the floor. The piece of board I’m using to stir falls on the floor. Now I have to mop up the spill before the dog gets into it. I get it all cleaned up and I’m ready to finish mixing the plaster, but it’s hardened in the bucket. SCREAM!!

Okay, so that day was a bust. Some things have gone delightfully well for Stephanie. She lucked out by finding a bow for $10 at a garage sale. When she showed the archery dude who was going to lend her a bow to use for the photo shoot, he told her what a bargain she got and he offered to buy it for $300. 

Stephanie isn’t selling the bow. It will make an awesome visual aid at book signings and speaking engagements, along with the breastplate and sarong. She also plans to use gemstones that would be found in Nubia and will grind some of them to demonstrate how to make eye shadow. Now, that sounds like something that would interest Tween girls!

In addition to designing the costume, Stephanie spent hours braiding Makeda’s hair for the photo shoot. All that work on the cover paid off. Stephanie googled “Princess Kandake” to see what came up and was delighted to discover that her book won Royal Book Cover of the Month for January 2012 from the World of Royalty Blog. You can view the link here

These are just a few glimpses into Stephanie’s inspiring and amazing journey, which has taken years of hard work and dedication. You can follow her blog here to keep up with the latest in her adventures. If you love history, Stephanie is doing a series about the ancient land of Nubia. Read the first in the series here.

Stephanie visited family in California for the holidays, 
so some of the members of our critique group met 
with her to see her book in print and to celebrate this milestone 
in her writing career, plus the fact that she survived the heart attack 
and is making a remarkable recovery. 
She passed out trading cards. How cool!
Julie was able to join us later. 
Left to right: Stephanie Jefferson, Julie Fredericksen, 
Tommy Kovac, Steve Attkisson, Melissa Salazar, Maria Toth.

On February 1st, print copies of PRINCESS KANDAKE – Warrior By Choice….Appointed to Rule will be available at Createspace and Amazon. 

Note:  If you buy from Createspace (a division of Amazon), the author gets a much better royalty!

Ebooks will be available through Smashwords, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble.

I can’t tell you how happy I am that my friend survived such a close call with death and is living out her dream. I’ll leave you with this question, friends: If you had a close call with death, do you think it would spur you on to accomplish your goals sooner rather than later?

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19 Responses to The Making of a Leather Breastplate

  1. Hi, Lynn,This post makes it clear how much love and work Stephanie put into her book above and beyond the writing of it. The breastplate and sarong are beautiful–and the cover turned out to be an eye-catcher. The book Stephanie created for her granddaughter will influence and inspire many, many girls. I'm glad Stephanie is going to stick around to see it happen.

  2. Ed Pilolla says:

    congratulations to stephanie for loving her work enough to pore over the details of fashion for the cover. that sort of care and dedication bodes well for a successful project. the book looks terrific. and she has a good friend who highlights this interesting process in her blog:)

  3. Now that's dedication to her cover! And it turned out really, really nice.

  4. Old Kitty says:

    Thanks so much lovely Lynn for a truly fabulous post about Stephanie! She is truly aweswome! I love the dedication to her craft – the sarong and breastplate are works of ART!Take carex

  5. It's cool to hear the stories behind ho the book was set up. We don't usually get that kind of information. Thanks for sharing it!

  6. So cool! It's amazing all the behind the scenes work that goes into creating something!

  7. Munir says:

    This is the first time that I heard and saw how much work a writer has put in designing the cover for her book.My prayers are with Stephanie. She must have been stressed out, and we just have to thank God, that she is recovering steaily. Now I realize how much goes in a book. Thanks for sharing.

  8. Thanks for sharing. It was very interesting to find out the back story on the book cover. Good luck to you Stephanie.

  9. Oh man. She is sooo cool and what a woman! And I am so thankful that she is doing so well. You're lucky to have her and she's really lucky to have you. What an awesome cover. I read the post under this one. I've been a bad girl. Plus, I owe you some emails. I promise. I will by tomorrow. I miss talking to you. Our business is over. More in the email. :(Love you. xoxoxoxo Smooches.

  10. Uh, not our business (you and me), our as in the hubby's business. I cannot even talk today.

  11. Wow, the breastplate is so beautiful. What amazing work. And I love Stephanie's cover!Thanks for the introduction to a new-to-me author. 🙂

  12. You are all so wonderful the way you have encouraged me! Ed and Robin, you two are absolutely right about what a great friend I have in Lynn. She's doing all of this while her own life is in whirlwind mode.To let you in on a little secret, I love crafting so making the costume was a blast!Thanks again.

  13. I love hearing how covers and stories come about. this one is very special. thanks for sharing.

  14. oceangirl says:

    Love and passion put into love and passion. Wonderful post and I am glad Stephanie is recovering.

  15. jerzey72 says:

    lovely story. Thanks for the share 🙂

  16. This is an amazing process. I admire Stephanie's creativity and skill. The book cover is fantastic. I would never suspect it was a "home-made" breastplate.Good luck with the book, Stephanie!

  17. And I was proud of the beef stew I made yesterday!!Thanks for sharing her story with us!

  18. I'm still dealing with some major stuff, so I haven't been able to comment individually, but I want to say that you guys rock. You are the reason I love blogging. All the supportive, inspiring comments make it all so worthwhile! Thanks, blogger buds!

  19. cleemckenzie says:

    I really loved your post last week about your friend and her book, so having more details this week is wonderful.I have to speculate about how a brush with my own death would affect me, but I think I'd re-prioritize very quickly and take a close look at those goals of mine. Some would definitely drop down or off the list. I think I'd put "give/get more hugs" at the top.

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