Most people who know me will know that I’m crazy-addicted to the TV show Vikings. It’s not for the faint-hearted, and definitely worthy of it’s R18 rating. But it’s a fantastic show, and has inspired this quirky blackboard paint craft project. Here’s how to make a Viking shield and axe – DIY chalkboard. 

So just who are these Vikings?

I think the Vikings TV show must speak to the Nordic ancestry in my blood.

Sure they were warriors, and there was plenty of blatant warring and land-pillaging. But the show is careful to tell the story of who the Vikings really were. They were successful seafaring tribes, who were highly advanced farmers, looking for more arable land to grow their families on.

The Vikings really are a fascinating part of history. I liken them to Maori tribes. Amazing navigators who took on the seas to strike out and find new lands. And like Maori, the Vikings only had oral histories, much of which was lost over time.

Because of this there’s a lot of myth in the Viking myth and legends! One thing that is absolutely true though is how successful the Vikings were at colonising much of Europe, including Ireland, the UK, France, Spain and Italy, as well as settling in Iceland, Greenland, Russia, Turkey, the Middle East, and even being the first Europeans to discover America!

So why a Viking shield and axe craft project? Well, we’ve been wanting to experiment a bit more with blackboard paint. We wanted to try and make a chalkboard that was also something else. This helps with creative play, as children can merge more than one idea into the object.

The second reason is because I have a nutty idea of making a full Viking longboat sandpit out of pallets. But that’s another project for another day!

Just before we get started, I also wanted to make a note about health and safety. No doubt we’ll get a bunch of parents write in and say, ‘this toy is too dangerous’, or ‘this to just promotes violence’.

Well sorry to you lot, but I’m from the ‘bullrush’ philosophy.

Kids are meant to play, and occasionally kids will get hurt when they play. That’s how they learn to take measured risks. And if they don’t learn what hurts, and what their limits are when they’re kids (in a relatively safe environment), they’re really going to learn the hard way as young adults.

Viking shield and axe inspiration

I got lots of inspiration online for the design of the shield and axes. For the shield, I wanted something similar to this wood and metal shield, with the large metal dome in the middle:

Source: Viking-shield.com

When it came to Viking axes, there were lots of different shapes and styles of axe to choose from. We ended up just freehand drawing an axe shape onto our plywood. But I think I was going for a similar shape to this:

Viking axe
Source: gdfb.co.uk

Finally, I wanted to add some Viking-stylised insignia to the shields. I think the classic Viking design is just big blocks of colour. But I wanted to do something fun and simple that the kids could recreate. We got inspired by dragons and simple geometric designs like these:

Source: Darkknightarmoury.com
Source: Darkknightarmoury.com

This craft project has been a whole heap of fun to make. And the kids are having a great time getting outside into the fresh air and yelling like warriors. So this one is a real win-win for me.

The Viking shield and axe – DIY chalkboard is one part toy, one part art project and one part history lesson. Isn’t it funny how often the best toys are the ones you make yourself?

Viking shield and axe – DIY chalkboard

You will need

1 sheet of 12mm untreated plywood (1200mm x 600mm sheet is ideal)
1 old leather belt
4 small screws
1L white primer
1L blackboard paint
1 testpot silver paint
Small foam roller
Pencil and string
Craft knife
Hot glue gun
Silver sticky gems

What to do

  1. Draw 2 circles on the sheet of ply using the pencil and string. If your sheet is 60cm wide, you’ll get 2 30cm circles (you can make larger circles, but if you go much larger than 45cm, they become to heavy for small children to hold). To make 30cm circles, measure along the bottom edge 15cm, then straight up 15cm. Make a mark. Tie the string around the pencil, and make the string 15cm long. Hold the string on your mark, pull the pencil out tight, and draw your circle.
  2. Now draw 2 axe shapes onto the plywood. The easiest way to do this is to just freehand draw them onto the ply.
  3. Cut out all the shapes using the jigsaw.
  4. Sand all the edges, and faces, to remove any splinters, rough cuts, and round off all the edges for safety.
  5. Once you have your shapes cut out and sanded smooth, use the foam roller to apply 2-3 coats of primer (we used Resene Quick Dry Primer and applied 3 coats on the same day). Gently sand between each coat, to ensure the face remains smooth.
  6. Clean out the foam roller, and apply 2-3 coats of Resene Blackboard Paint. We applied 3 coats, so we did this over 2 days, as you must leave each coat to dry for at least 3 hours. Gently sand between each coat of paint.
  7. Use the silver paint (we used Resene So Cool) to paint the axe ‘blade’ and a small ‘metal dome’ in the middle of each shield. You could also paint right around the outside edge to recreate metal edging.
  8. Cut out 2 20cm lengths from the leather belt. Use the screws and screwdriver to attach these to the back of the shields. Stick the sticky gems around the ‘metal dome’ on the front of each shield. You could also stick gems right around the outside edge, if you have the patience for such things!
  9. Cut 4 more thin, leather strips from the belt. Use the hotglue gun to glue these around the axehead in an X pattern.
  10. Finally, use the chalk to draw awesome Viking symbols and clan insignia onto the shields. You get one chance to do this before the kids take over and turn your awesome dragons into smiley faces, flowers and rainbows…
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This information was compiled by the Kiwi Families team.

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