Over the last 4 months we have spent countless hours conceptualising, planning and diligently making over 100 limited release Vikings inspired beard balms for the release of "Vikings" Season 4 part 2 on Blu-ray and DVD.
It was one of the most challenging projects we've taken on to date with dozens of steps required to turn tin containers, thin slices of wood & linen into a Viking-inspired balm that taps into the heart of the show.
With each product our aim is to challenge user’s expectations in three key areas which we call "the 3 F's":
- Form: How the product looks having regard to the packaging, colour scheme, method of dispensing the product etc.
- Fragrance: How the product smells having regard to what we are trying to achieve & the experience we want to create for the user.
- Function: How the product performs with an emphasis on products that are effective at performing multiple functions for the user.
By getting these things right we give our customers the "fourth F", feeling. We want them to feel alive, confident & inspired.
The Viking Beard Vax.
Our approach to this project was no different. Our task was to create a promotional beard balm that captured the Vikings TV show, that would adhere to our 3 F's model. Our minds raced as we brainstormed concepts for the Vax. Some of our initial concepts included:
- A bone shaped tin with a two tone beard balm to represent the bones of animals after a feast.
- A rancid smelling beard balm that mimicked what an unwashed Viking beard might have smelt like.
- A balm made to smell of smoked meat and wood.
While these concepts were fun, we opted to do something a little more serious. We wanted to make something that extended beyond the cliches of Vikings history and tap into something deeper that reflected the show. With that in mind we came up with this concept.
- Form: We decided upon a blood spattered Vikings Sun Board atop a bronze tin, wrapped in a raw linen pouch. Fastened with a leather rope.
- Fragrance: We chose two fragrances that conveyed our message but were still humanistic and wearable. The first fragrance is an oceanic scent that we soaked into the raw linen and the wooden Sun Board. It represents the deep connection and intrinsic relationship the Vikings had with the ocean. The second was the balm itself, we chose one of our signature Milkman Fragrance from our Beard Candy product. It has big, masculine sandalwood and cedar scents, and is the perfect representation of the Vikings relationship and knowledge of the earth around them.Together these two fragrances represent the two worlds of the Vikings, the marriage of earth and sea and the important role of both on their lives.
- Function: We are very proud to include our signature beard balm formulation into this project. The Beard Candy product is one of Australia’s leading beard balms. It’s multi-function formulation is designed to, condition, moisturise, style and tame even the unruliest of Viking beards.
Why We Chose This Concept
When most people think of Vikings they see bloodthirsty, barbaric and violent savages. While there is no denying that a large portion of Viking history is stained with violence and blood, the Vikings TV show demonstrates the greater complexities and relationships of the time.
The Viking V logo taps into these elements. When deconstructed, the V gives us insight into the pillars of Viking life, and the experiences of the characters in the show. We used this as a model for our beard balm, with our aim being to incorporate all these elements into the one product.
What the V represents
The Left Arm:
- The top portion represents technology in ship building and craftsmanship. This is evidenced with Floki’s long boats as well as Ragnar’s use of the Sun Board to navigate across open seas.
- The middle portion represents brotherhood and their unbreakable bonds. This is evidenced in the show between brother Ragnar and Rollo as well as the brotherhood of the tribe.
- The lower section represents growth, life and connection with the world around them. This can be seen with the personal growth of the characters as well as their understanding of the land, ocean, religion and celestial bodies.
The Right Arm:
It represents the world of the Vikings that is more in alignment with most people’s perception of the Vikings. It is a sword depicting the, war, conflict, death and violence demonstrated in the show. This violence not only extends to the wars and raids but also the internal violence between Ragnar and his people.
The Building Process & Significance to the V
With the knowledge of the symbolism of the V and adopting our 3 F’s process we set about making “The Viking Beard Vax”.
The Balm & the Fragrances
The beard balm itself represents the connection to family and brotherhood. As the beard is a symbol of masculinity and strength, what better way to demonstrate this connection than with a balm fit for a Viking beard. The balm has a beeswax base, which was a resource available in the period as evidenced by the Vikings consumption of honey based mead.
The two fragrances used are representation of their connection with the earth and sea. Their use of wood in shipbuilding and knowledge of the land can be experienced in the scent of the balm, using notes of cedar and sandalwood, both of which can be found in the Nordic regions.
The second fragrance was used to scent the wooden sun board and the pouches was made specifically for the project. We chose a deep oceanic and mineral scents, to represent the deep connection and intrinsic relationship the Vikings had with the ocean.
As our early fragrance ideas included fragrances that were more conceptual than wearable, we opted for these two scents as it allows the user to enjoy the product beyond a novel visual piece and something they could use daily.
Making the tin proved quite time consuming. The tin itself is made of aluminium and had clean, polished veneer that we thought looked out of place in the world of the Vikings. Our aim was to transform it from a modern looking, machine made tin into like a crudely made bronze jar, that looked like a relic of the old world. This choice was also made as to better reflect the materials available in the period.
Each tin had to be textured using a fine grit sandpaper, providing a more honest visual and textural element. The tins were then beaten with a ball-peen hammer to give a sense that they were aged and well travel. They were then sprayed using a coat of black and then brass coloured spray paints. By using the black spray paint, we could create a tin that better resembled weather beaten and oxidised bronze rather than the clean golden colour.
The Sun board Lid
The lid atop the tin was made using the Scandinavian native Beachwood. It is a replica of the one used by the shows lead character Ragnar Lothbrok, played by Travis Fimmel. The number of points on the star is the exact same as the show. Using a laser engraver, we burned the pattern onto the wood, and cut them to the size of the lid.
Each spike was individually sharpened and cut using a razor blade, before being glued to both the tin and the wood. We found that drilling through the wood and the tin was needed to give the spike greater structural integrity. The last thing we wanted was to risk damaging the product in transport or when the Vax was in use.
The Lid was then splattered with our homemade fake blood, before being soaked with the oceanic fragrance. To seal the fragrance and to ensure the blood would better adhere to the wood, we treated it with MCT oil.
Rather than choosing a cliché image of Viking life, like the dragon heads used on their long boats or patterns used on Vikings shields we chose the Sun Board. It was an obvious choice for us for several reasons;
- It is a symbol of the technology and shipbuilding pillar of the Viking logo.
- It is a symbol of hope, growth and the beginning of Ragnar’s rise to power. Without the sun board he would never have been able to sail to England.
- It is a symbol of the Vikings deep connection with the ocean and as well as their understanding and use of celestial bodies for navigation.
The Torn Sail
The pouch encasing the balm was made to look like a bloody sail, torn in a raid and re-purposed as a sack. The material we used is a bespoke, wax-coated raw linen made for Sydney fashion house “Song For The Mute” and gifted to us for or use in the project. We chose linen was a material used heavily by the Vikings for both clothing and their ships sails.
To tie fasten the pouch we used a leather strap, as leather was heavily used in Viking jewelry and clothing. The strap based through a brass eye loops that were hit into place with a mallet, again a metal used in the period.
The final piece was the inclusion of the tags. We thought using modern looking paper that it would detract from the finished product. But by burning the edges of the tags and soaking them in tea solution we were able to replicate a paper more realistic to the time.
To say the entire project was stress free would be a lie. But seeing our hard work and our Vax come to fruition has been extremely rewarding. As a team we both happy and thankful to be a part of the project for a television show that we have watched religiously and loved over the past 4 ½ seasons. We hope those who are lucky to get their hands on our Vax are happy with our creation.
We were beyond thrilled that Clive Standen, the actor who plays Rollo Lothbrok, enjoyed our Vax.
For those of you who missed out you can still buy our wood-scented Beard Candy beard balm, the same one that is used in the Vax on our online store.
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