I was able to get a version of “Vera” from Firefly and Serenity completed prior to Phoenix Comicon 2015. I then decided to try to get as much of the costume completed as I could for the show. One of the iconic items, that can be made, not purchased, is the wrist cuff that Jayne wears on his right arm. It is made of leather, so, of course, I decided to make one.
First, I found some reference photos and information about the cuff. Fireflyfans.net, theverse and the Replica Prop Forum were all great sources to get started. I then grabbed some 5-6oz Craftsman Tooling leather, a ruler, my brain and got to work.
It was then a matter of working out how the cuff goes together, basically, coming up with the pattern. After looking at several photos, I decided on the following design. It may be a bit confusing, but when you see it completed, you will understand. Remember, this is my best guess by going with photos from the show.
In my opinion, making it one piece seemed the most logical. The straps will wrap around and come through in an interesting way. I used a straight edge to get the dimensions correct. I then used a compass for the curved parts. A simple box cutter is what I use for cutting leather most of the time, and was used here also. The holes are #2 sized, with #4 for the rivets holding the buckles in place. I also used a 1/4inch oblong punch for the areas the strap will run through.
I then dyed the entire piece using Fiebing’s Leather Oil Dye, Dark Brown, for the color. From many photos, the cuff actually looks dark brown, almost black, so that is where I decided to go. I believe I put a total of 5 coats to get the darkness I’m happy with. I will let it sit overnight to be sure. One thing to always remember, when using any dye, is to put on a coat and STOP. That was, and still is, one of my biggest problems when dyeing leather. I always want to get right back to it when it starts to dry and the color starts splotching, showing uneven. Let it sit for at least an hour and come back and look. You will notice a big difference. I have turned many a piece into sun baked jerky type objects by hitting it with too much dye. You can always go darker, never lighter. (almost)
Once the dye had dried, I use some leather spray sealer on the back. This is mostly to protect my skin from any rub off of dye, and to protect the piece from my sweat. There is no such thing as making leather completely waterproof. Without ruining it.
That done, it is all downhill. I installed the buckles, which are 1/2inch nickel, and threaded the straps through my convoluted setup. I am quite happy with the way it turned out, however, I know how to make it better for next time. This is usually how it works. Here you can see the buckles installed on the main portion of the cuff. The straps run around the inside of the cuff and emerge at one end. They then travel through the buckles and then into the keepers near the rivets. I started working on this at about 10am and was finished at around 2pm. The majority of that time was allowing the dye to settle.
There are some who will say it isn’t correct. Well, until you can show me the original, opened up and well photographed, this is the best there is. It’s similar to Imperator Furiosa’s belt in Fury Road. Something I am planning on making, by the way. On screen and in every picture so far, the belt looks like one thing. In one scene and photo, a very big difference shows itself.