Introduction: Leather Valkyrie Headpiece

According to Wikipedia,

"In Norse mythology, a valkyrie (from Old Norse valkyrja "chooser of the slain") is one of a host of female figures who choose those who may die in battle and those who may live. Selecting half of those who die in battle, the valkyries bring their chosen to the afterlife hall of the slain, Valhalla, ruled over by the god Odin (the other half go to the goddess Freyja's afterlife field Fólkvangr). There, the deceased warriors become einherjar(Old Norse "single (or once) fighters"[1]). When the einherjar are not preparing for the events of Ragnarök, the valkyries bear them mead. Valkyries also appear as lovers of heroes and other mortals, where they are sometimes described as the daughters of royalty, sometimes accompanied by ravens and sometimes connected to swans or horses."

Basically, they are super powerful women.

I wanted to make a Valkyrie Headpiece out of leather, so I designed one and threw it together.

It looks harder than it is so please do not be discouraged.

I included a ton of pictures in the how-to. If my written directions confuse you, be sure to look closely at the pictures. They will help you a whole bunch.

I included links to videos that will help explain some of the basic leather working procedures. I didn't want to make this instructable any longer than it already is by going off on tangents explaining things like riveting and tooling.

I hope you enjoy this instructable!

Step 1: Tools and Materials Needed (and Pattern Files)

Here is a list of tools and materials you will need for this project. I also attached patterns that I used. You just cut them out and flip them over for the mirror image side. The headband part is cut directly in the middle so make sure to double it over.

Tools Needed:

  1. Razor Blade
  2. Scissors
  3. Small Pliers
  4. Leather Mallet
  5. Rubber Mallet
  6. Tape Measure
  7. Ruler
  8. Writing Implements
  9. Drill is drill bit
  10. Leather Awl
  11. Stylus
  12. Grooving tool
  13. Wool Daubers
  14. Riveting tool
  15. Leather Punches
  16. Swivel Knife
  17. Tooling Stamps
  18. Dremel with burnishing attachment

Materials Need:

  1. White Thick Leather
  2. Brown Tooling Leather
  3. Leather Strap
  4. Small Buckle
  5. Rivets
  6. Leather Dye
  7. Gum Tragacanth
  8. Two Silver Bottle Caps
  9. Pewter Rub N' Buff

Step 2: Cutting Out Pattern & Laying It Out

Print off the Patterns and double them so you get the reverse to have doubles.

Also staple it all together to make sure it fits you, if not, adjust accordingly.

When I found the angles I liked, I traced the whole thing on some cardboard so I could recreate it later.

The forehead pieces have marks on them so you can line them up like in the picture.

Step 3: Tracing Pattern on Leather and Cutting It Out

  1. Break up all the parts and trace it all out on the leather.
  2. Carefully using the razor, cut out all the pieces of leather.

Step 4: Basic Tooling of Leather

The first tooling I did on the leather was carving a groove around the whole edge of all the brown leather pieces with the Grooving tool.

Next, with the Stylus, I embossed the lines of the circles where the conchos will end up.

Step 5: Tooling the Wings

The wings are the most artistically difficult part of this. I practiced my pattern on the cutout pattern. Then I used the stylus to emboss the feather veins and outlines.

I then used the swivel knife to cut these lines.

Then I used the same tool to cut loads of the feathering- the hashmarks that make them look like feather.

Here is a Video on how to use a swivel knife.

Swivel Knife How-to

Step 6: Adding Some Character

For this step, I wanted my headpiece to have some Norse Runes that were somewhat attributed to Odin, who the Valkyries "work" for. I drew the runes out on paper then embossed them with the stylus on the leather while it was dampened. Then I used the Swivel Knife to cut the lines so I could tool them later.

I also did a patterning on the all of the brown leather as you can see in the pictures. This part is up to you. I just like the way it looks.

Step 7: Wet Molding the Headpiece

Wet Molding the headpiece is key to making it work in the end.

Run your water till its somewhat warm.

Soak the leather entirely .

I used a plastic head, but you can use your own if you'd like for this part. I tied it to the head and started hand shaping and molding the leather to the shape I wanted. The points at the top need to flair out somewhat to pull the wings out in the finished product.

Let it dry overnight.

Step 8: More Leather Tooling

For this step, you need to lightly dampen the two forehead pieces.

Using whichever tooling stamp you like best and the leather mallet, work on the Runes to make them pop. I did this step for both sections of the forehead pieces.

Here is a video outlining the basics of Leather tooling:

Leather Tooling Basics

Let the leather Dry.

Step 9: Burnishing the Edges

For this step, I only took pictures of the process for one piece of the brown leather. You need to do this step for the three brown leather parts.

Using a wool dauber, lightly apply the Gum T. to the edges of the brown leather.

Then, using a dremel with a wooden burnishing drum, burnish all the edges. You can also do this with a wooden hand slicker if you want.

Remember, repeat this for all the sections of brown leather.

Step 10: Dyeing the Leather

Dyeing the leather is a real matter of preference. The color, amount, and method is all up to you.

I like using a medium brown dye. I also like a mottled type finish that makes it look more like wood than one uniform color. Some would argue that this is just a bad dye job, but I do it on purpose.

Apply the dye lightly with a wool dauber. Do this for all the brown leather pieces. Wipe off any excess with some paper towels.

Let dry for a few hours.

You may want to wear gloves as the dye will color your leather too (I mean your skin.)

Step 11: Adding the Forehead Pieces

The forehead pieces are not meant to lay flat on each other. The outermost piece is supposed to bulge out some. To do this, you need to bring in the outer point to line up with the bigger piece.

Using an awl, poke your two bottom holes as pictured.

Then, take the bigger piece and center it on the main headpiece part and poke the location of the holes you just punched into the main piece.

Next, poke the two upper holes through the main piece and large forehead medallion.

Finally, enlarge your holes so the rivets will fit through all the holes you punched.

Step 12: Riveting the First Forehead Piece

Here is a link to video on how to use Tandy Rapid Rivets:

Setting Rivets

You are only going to rivet the top two holes at this point. This forehead piece lays flat on the main headpiece leather. Follow riveting instructions.

Step 13: Adding Some Contrast

I should have done this step earlier, but I decided to do it later in the design process.

I used Pewter Rub N' Buff and Q-tips to apply it. I lightly dabbed a little rub n' buff on the Q-tip, and rubbed it on all the runes I tooled. It dries pretty quickly and looks good. I also did the circles where the conchos are going.

This step really makes the Runes "pop."

I neglected to take pictures of adding the front forehead piece, but it goes the same way as the top two holes did. You just have an extra layer of leather to rivet down.

Step 14: Dyeing the Wings

I dyed the wings a little differently than the rest of the leather.

I used paper towels with a spot of some of the dye. Not very much though.

I rubbed it on the surface of the feathers so the lines all popped out more visibly.

Step 15: Preparing the Bottle Cap Conchos

I used silver bottle caps as Conchos rather than buying some from the store.

To prep the caps:

Using your small pliers, bend the sides of the cap outward some so that it will flare out more. This makes flattening more uniform and simple. Flare out the full thing.


Using the rubber mallet, Hammer the cap on your anvil surface so that it flattens out completely. You want it to be like a thin poker chip. Don't worry about little wrinkles or bumps as it adds to the overall aesthetic you are going for.


Drill a hole in the middle of each cap.

Lining up the Wings and Punch the Hole:

Now you want to set the wing pieces behind the crown exactly where you want them. Poke the holes through the headpiece and wings in the center of the circles that are at the temples of the crown.

Step 16: Riveting the Concho and the Wings

Using the same riveting method as earlier, add rivets through the wing, crown, and concho and hammer it down. I used contrasting brass rivets for this part. Do this on both sides.

Also, punch holes in the two points at the top of the headpiece and through the wings. Rivet these down. This will help flare the wings out so they look better.

Step 17: Adding the Head Strap

For this step, you are basically making a belt that is cut in half, and riveted down on the ends.

The pictures here will really help you conceptualize the process.

I will not comment on the lengths of the leather pieces. Everyone should figure this part out based on their own head size. I did make it adjustable like a belt, but you still should make it to fit your head.

  1. Punch a hole for the pokey part of the buckle to go through. Then thread the buckle on, poking the pokey bit through the hole, and fold the tail back to the strap. Punch a hole through both layers and rivet it to secure the buckle.
  2. You will rivet it to the headpiece wing underneath the brown leather to hide the rivet. Look at the pictures to figure this out.
  3. Then you will need to make the other half of the "belt."
  4. Cut it to a rounded point, and punch holes like a belt has. Rivet this part on the opposite side of the headpiece like in the pictures.
  5. Buckle it to make sure you assembled it all correctly.

Step 18: Enjoy the Final Product!

And now you are done!!!

Enjoy your headpiece and wear it with pride. I am a guy so I made this for my wife. Valkyries are women.

Its a pretty amazing looking final product for a simple construction.

This is good for cosplay and other costuming.

I hope you enjoyed this instructable! As always, if you have any questions, please don't hesitate to ask!

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