By Liisa Andreassen
Ever wonder what it would feel like to be a medieval wonder woman or to walk in Aquaman’s shoes? From medieval legends and superheroes to knights in shining armor, leathercraft master Samuel Lee is helping people realize their fantasies – one leather creation at a time.
“I first became interested in making armor while I was in high school and doing live action play/ role play at Renaissance festivals,” Lee says. I created Prince Armory in 2007 to do this full time as a craft, but I’ve always had a fascination with armor, knights and fantasy realms and enjoy being creative and making things.”
Currently, Lee is most excited about his Medieval Legends series of works where he takes iconic superheroes and villains and reimagines their outfits. He asks himself, “What if this character was a knight in a medieval high-fantasy universe?” And, what follows next are showstopping incarnations.
Each of Lee’s creations are exclusive and original and he only accepts a project if there is enough budget to do justice to the concept. Clients use his leather works of wonder to attend anything from Renaissance festivals and comic conventions to fantasy-themed weddings.
“Each client has a story to tell,” Lee says. “Finding the right balance of form and function is the key.”
Lee’s leather works of art have also appeared in films, commercials and on stage. A recent creation, Elven Knight Armor, was crafted for a Samsung Smart TV commercial. He only had a few weeks to get it done and it appeared in theater previews, during the Super Bowl and was all over TV for a while. He only had a vague set of parameters to base his design on, but the outcome had a definite “wow factor.”
In addition to full suits, Lee is also often commissioned to do single item projects such as helmets and shields. The Celestial Helmet project was one of his more elaborate single item projects and the Tiger Dragon Helmet was for a client who wanted a very high-end, creature themed helmet show piece.
“I mostly only accept full suit projects, but sometimes I’ll accept projects to make single items if the detail requirement is high enough,” Lee says.
For Lee, there’s just no other medium he’d rather work in than leather.
“It’s universally recognized as a premium material and is amazingly versatile,” he says.
Lee has also figured out a way to share his skills with others through his Prince Armor Academy – a resource for larpers, cosplayers, leatherworkers and anyone who wants to learn how to craft similar pieces. He’s crafted an arsenal of free video content, tutorials and blogs, and also has a host of patterns for purchase.
When working with leather, it starts out two dimensional; but, with its great wet forming capabilities, Lee says people can create works that rival sculpted projects in shape and form.
“Leather can droop, bend and deform if abused, but if you design with its limitations in mind –you can produce some amazing things that will last a lifetime,” Lee says.
Lee says he may have taken many paths in life, but he’s sure he’d always end up making things.
“I just like to make stuff,” he says.
For more information, princearmory.com/