I’m new here at VHS but thought I would post a bit about a project I’ve recently begun. I’m endeavoring to build a complete Darth Vader costume from each of the original Star Wars trilogy movies, recreating every last detail to the best of my ability and learn new skills along the way. The first component I’m really digging in to is Vader’s belt and belt boxes as seen in “A New Hope”.
Earlier this summer, before I discovered that VHS existed, I had taken a stab at my first prototype of the belt using some limited tools and a little improvising. I used an old leather belt blank that I bought years back from Tandy leather that I trimmed down to the correct width, cut grooves along the edges, and dyed black. I riveted on an accurate replica buckle (that I had helped design a long time ago for some folks on a Star Wars costuming forum) with a Tandy buckle ring and hook thingy.
The next step was to figure out the dimensions for the belt boxes, scaling from photo reference and some of the correct original found parts used on the screen used piece (lights and such), and then cut some sheet aluminum with some shears to the appropriate shape before bending them into the boxes using some sheet metal vise grips.
After that I cut some sheet stainless steel into shape to create the hook used to hang his lightsaber on his belt. A cobbled together little jig let me add the needed bends and it was ready to go.
Then a little paint and assembly led to a reasonable prototype I was satisfied with. Here’s a quick and dirty comparison to the screen used belt.
I shared this prototype on some costuming forums and got several interested parties requesting one, so I thought I would try doing a short production run of 10 of these completed belts to see how I go with the concept. It was while I was researching options for how I might actually produce this run that I discovered VHS and immediately signed up. I have drawn up plans for all the various components, ordered some custom laser cut sheet metal parts online (I’ll share the link once I get the parts in hand and see that the quality is good), and have sourced all the lights and things I’ll need. While I wait for things to arrive in the mail, I’ve made a stop at Lonsdale Leather here in Vancouver to pick up a hide or two, some basic leather work tools, and some black dye to start making the belts themselves, which is what I have been working on in the shop at VHS.
I used a strap cutter tool to slice up some 8-9 oz veg tan leather into enough belt blanks for this run.
Then I used the groover tool to cut the grooves that run along the edges of the belts.
Then all that was left was to dye them all a nice rich black.
So that’s where I’m at now. I’ll cut them to length and add the sizing holes once I have everything else together. Once other parts start coming in I’ll be in the shop working on the next steps.