Intro: Life-size Spartan Shield Made From a Papasan!
Unlike many modern day movie replicas, the shield used by Spartan Hoplites were very large- oftentimes more than 3 feet in diameter and capable of covering from the shoulder to the knee. Also called the hoplon or aspis, these shields were unique in design in that they had rounded edges, with the top rim resting on the shoulder. Indeed, the heavy shield would be hard to maneuver without that critical design aspect that allowed the user to use both the shoulder and forearm to carry it. Most DIYers build shields using trash can lids or cardboard as the base, but for the sake of making it life-sized I decided to use an actual wooden frame salvaged from an unused papasan chair and gold duct tape to create this enormous shield.
Step 1: Gather Your Materials
What you'll need:
A wooden papasan chair frame
A long piece of wood for the arm support- I used a 36" piece of banister
Gold duct tape- around 30' total
Other duct tape- around 20', if you want to highlight your shield with other colors
Some bubble wrap sheets- to place around the inner frame and make the shield easier to hold
Step 2: Build the Arm Support
You'll want to use your long wood banister piece as an arm support inside the shield. Real Hoplite shields use leather grips on the inside, but because of the concavity of the papasan frame it wasn't really possible to carry the shield using that sort of support.
As shown in the pictures, I placed the 36" banister to span three of the eight segments of the frame and secured both ends with copious amounts of duct tape.
To hold the shield, you'll wrap your forearm around the top of the support and grip it from underneath, letting the top rim of the frame rest on your shoulder.
Step 3: Apply the Duct Tape From the Middle
Starting the most tedious part, apply the gold duct tape in a sort of star formation from the center of the frame. This gives the tape the most support from underneath and keeps it from sagging. Then, switch to applying horizontal strips in a square from segment to segment.
Step 4: Keep Applying Duct Tape...
Once you get far each, you'll need to switch the taping pattern again. Tape across each of the eight segments in the shape of an octagon. Finally, close to the rim, I created tape supports in a V shape underneath the gold duct tape, again so that the duct tape doesn't sag into the frame.
At the rim I used different colors to highlight the shield a bit... at the bottom rim it doesn't particularly matter what color you use as no one will be able to see that part while you're standing and holding the shield.
Step 5: Soften the Frame a Bit
I added a couple layers of bubble wrap to the inside of the frame where it will rest on the shoulder. The shield does get a bit heavy after adding all that tape, and the wood digs in a little bit, so the bubble wrap helps soften it a bit.
Step 6: Carry It With Your Costume!
Add in a red cape and a cardboard sword and you're done!