Aged Leather Knee Brace

My best friend wanted to play a character with a bad knee, in a medieval fantasy setting. For the most part he has healthy knees, and really just needed something to visually demonstrate to others the weakness, and maybe gently remind himself to incorporate it into his physical acting. He tried a run of several real and fake braces. Past attempts ranged from compression sleeves wrapped with cloth bandages, to some truly Mad Max shenanigans.

All of these ended up being either too painful or impractical for frequent use. After months we came across this wee beasty: 

 

It looked pretty good, leather with a compression sleeve. Of course, even on the largest size of this model the compression sleeve was too tight. Thankfully this brace only needed to be cosmetic, no medical grade functionality required. There was however one downside, when it showed up, it was not the color we thought it would be. While the store depicted a lovely light brown, what we got was a sickly grey-green monstrosity.
This simply would not do. Additionally the two thin straps it came with cut in rather hard when they were tightened enough to hold the steel bars in place. So my friend asked two things of me: “Can you make it more comfortable, and can you fix the ugly problem?” The first was easy, there were already slots for two additional straps on the brace, and that would allow the pressure to be distributed across a much wider area. The ugly problem was harder. I tried several things. Paint either wouldn’t stick or left a nasty sticky residue on the pseudo-leather material. Shoe polish on it’s own wouldn’t stick at all. Out of desperation I tried a two in one leather dye and finish that I had left over from my Utility-Quiver. This stuff stuck, but only in really thin coats. It took about five coats before I could get a deep brown color that didn’t let the sickly green-gray show through. The next photo shows that even then I couldn’t get the dye to stay on evenly. Conveniently this ended up making it look like old and worn leather rather than something fresh and new. Even after this many coats and a day of drying, the finish was kind of sticky. Working on a hunch I applied a clear shoe-polish in hopes that it would seal in the dye and give the whole thing a more waxy finish. It totally worked!

Thread all those belts through and the finished piece looks like this:

We’re actually really pleased with the two tone look of the thing. It makes it feel like new straps have been added to it as old ones wear out.

Here it is with the finished costume!

And a close up!

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About Brianalana

is the web-admin for The Crooked Thimble. She designs and fabricates costumes to help dreams come true. She’s a bachelor of psychology, novice programmer, and freelance artist.
Check out her shop on Etsy

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