Interview with Kingsley Armoury

Interview with Kingsley Armoury


Article by: Geek Girl Critical Miss

Critical Miss had the chance to sit down with a local leather worker in Ottawa, Ontario, Kingsley Armoury...

Critical Miss: Here I am with Daniel Kingsley of Kingsley Armoury Leather Workers, what's the whole title?

Daniel Kinsgley: Well we started off primarily as leather workers, leather armourers, but we've diversified now, we do weapons smithing as well as cosplay stuff.

CM: when did you first get started?

Daniel: I got started, let's say about six years ago. I was studying Ken Jitsu and Jiu Jitsu with the Jinenkan Dojo under Andy Keyworth. I had studied Hae Dong Gum Do when I lived in Korea for three years. I've been in martial arts for about twenty years, and I'd had some chronic injuries from my time in Korea and when I came back to Canada I had thought they had healed well enough and I guess they didn't so my left knee blew out. So martial arts were then the way of the Dodo bird for me but I'm pretty stubborn and I'd paid for the course (laughs) so I'd be dammed if I didn't go. So I'd go and sit in the back of the class and watch with the intent in my mind of going back to martial arts. Now, I kind of knew that I wasn't going to go back to martial arts, and I just wouldn't admit it. So I was sitting in the back of the class and one of the guys jokingly said that I could become their armourer. And I said well sure, I'll do it. So he gave me the money for the materials and the tools and I did all the labour and I built him an armoured vest, and it turned out I had a knack for it.

CM: Cool! So you started off just really simple, you work with a partner right now or is it just you?

Daniel: I took on an apprentice about three-four months ago, Justin Hayword Bell, he was actually one of my best customers. Every year he bugged me that he wanted to be an apprentice and I kept on saying no cause I didn't want an apprentice. But he was persistent enough and he was interested enough that it got to a point that I had so much work I couldn't do it all myself. Not and prepare for the cons, so I could do all the commission work but I wouldn't have a darn thing at comiccon or Pop Expo or anything like that. So to get those materials built I needed to bring someone in, so I brought in Justin and he is excellent. He really, really works hard. He had no core knowledge so I've had to teach him everything but he's been eager enough and keen enough that he's taken it all in, he does quite a good job.

CM: so you were alone up until only a few months ago. So what's your favourite part of doing leather working and working with cosplayers, is there a favourite costume piece that you like to make or something along those lines?

Daniel: What I really like to do is the problem solving. So someone will bring me a picture of something and say "can you make this?" and then I analyze it in my head and I say yes, and I have the plans in my head. So then I go from my head to a piece of paper to crafting foam to leather.

CM: What has been your most elaborate piece to date?

Daniel: I did a suit of Brigandine armour. It had five layers to it, so suede on the inside, then it had linen, then it had steel disks, then it had a layer of padding then another layer of leather. Then it had 350 individual rivets that had to go through each individual disk. It was custom fit to the wearer. It had arming points for the pauldrons. It turned out to be a really pretty piece.

CM: What is something that is on your wish list that you would like to create that you haven't yet had an opportunity to do so?

Daniel: So I have all these scraps of leather, and I'm going to get rid of some 'cause I have too much, but I want to cut a bunch of them into the shape of feathers and do acting, working wings. Almost like a set of angel wings out of all small leather pieces, multicolour, I think that would look really cool.

CM: That is pretty cool. Wow.

Daniel: But no one wants to pay for that (laughs)

CM: Right (laughs)

Daniel: I mean, it would be at least a 700$ piece and no one wants to pay 700$ for a pair of wings...well maybe! (laughs) If anyone wants to pay 700$ for a pair of wings just give me a call, man (laughs)

CM: What are your favourite events that you like to go to or what are the most lucrative for you, that do very well?

Daniel: Cons do well, so Pop Expo and Comiccon did very well for me last year. Those are the events that I import about 40% of my stock for, and I make 60%, but the medieval festivals I make about 90%. That might reduce a little bit because my volume is increasing so the more customers I have, the more I have to import. So there is one medieval festival now in Osgoode, and I am consulting with another group that is setting up another medieval festival in September of 2015. Most of the event is going to be for charity, so we are going to do the Kinsgley Armoury Mercenary Guild. So kids will be able to join the guild, they will get their contracts, they'll get their shilling, and they'll get to try on different pieces armour and hit the dummy. Costs 5$ and all the money goes to CHEO (Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario) . Then we are also going to do a princess/prince meet and greet with the king and queen, so kids can dress up and they come and meet the king and queen, 5$ again all to CHEO. You can pay a little bit extra, there will be a professional photographer there, who can take pictures. And we are planning the day before the event to go to CHEO, and we are going to bring the same things to CHEO so the sick kids can get a chance to do the same thing. I think that's really cool opportunity. We have a lot of volunteers making costumes, and I will make a lot of gear, my apprentice and I, that we will just re-use year after year.

CM: That is fantastic. And do you have any words of wisdom to anyone who wants to get into leather working, or that is doubting it or how you went about it or if you have any tips of things that you learned that you would have done differently?

Daniel: So, the three things that I tell my apprentice is trial and error. If you do not try, you will not succeed. Second of all, a piece does not look professional unless the sewing is good. The stitching needs to be perfect. Spend the money, spend the time, get your stitching perfect. Last thing, edges, edges, edges. If the edging of your product looks like crap, the whole thing looks like crap. Take the time, make the edges look good. If your stitching and your edging looks perfect, even if stuff's crooked, no one will notice, the first thing you are going to notice is the stitching and the edging.

CM: Thank you so much Dan.

Daniel: Thank you for the opportunity.

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March 03 2015

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