Surprise! Story Ideas Come When You’re Out in the World

I love museum exhibits. I always come away with at least one story idea. Yesterday we finally made it to the armor exhibit at the St. Louis Art Museum. Among the pieces that really grabbed my attention were were the engineer’s helmet and a set of jousting armor.

What caught my attention with this engineer’s helmet is that it was “proofed.” See that pronounced dent on the left? That’s shows the wearer that it would resist being shot. To proof it, they literally shot it with a musket. Yikes!

The various displays showed a real war hammer which looked more like something from the hard ware store than Thor’s hammer and various helms and suits that had been constructed so as to color the metal. If you see armor that is iridescent like a peacocks feather or a shiny red-brown it has been heated and then cooled with oil to alter the color. I’m sure there are specific methods to get one color or the other but that’s the basic technique.

Another display that caught my attention was a full suit of jousting armor. Jousting armor was heavier than armor worn in battle because riders sometimes galloped their horses full tilt before engaging. That’s why the half wall between the competitors was called a tilt. It kept them from running their horses into each other.

But what really grabbed my attention is right there near the top of the visor. It’s a giant wing nut! Imagine having your armor placed and then fastened down with a wing nut. I hope no one ever got one cross threaded and couldn’t get it off!

I failed to get a photograph of the piece that may have inspired a story. It was pieces of very small armor from Germany – a child’s suit of armor. This would not have been worn in battle because by the time it was made firearms had made armor obsolete in combat. This was when many suits were refitted with an even greater number of decorative elements because the suits still served ceremonial functions.

Given the helmets and visors, I keep imagining having the wrong child outfitted in the armor. It isn’t something the child could carry out on their own which hints at a conspiracy and intrigue. The ripples would certainly be felt throughout the court and perhaps the kingdom.