a couple harnesses of the first-age dwarves, as would have been worn by Azaghal's host at the Battle of Unnumbered Tears (complete with their "hideous" dwarven war-masks) This one, along with my recent numenorean studies, is another entry in the "middle-earth historic costume in pictures" book that I would make if I planned on living to a thousand (honestly though, since discovering this pen-and-marker medium, making such a volume seems infinitely more possible, I'm kicking myself in the head for not having ventured into markers sooner)
The First Age in Beleriand seems to have been something of a golden age for Dwarven craftsmanship; between them the artisans of Belegost and Nogrod had the building of Menegroth and Nargothrond, the Nauglamir, the Dragon Helm of Dor-Lomin, the knife Angrist, the sword Narsil and, perhaps most significantly in the long run, the invention of chainmail (more on that below) to their credit. I see it as this Italian Renaissance-like time of heated competition between the two dwarven city states, resulting in a lot of never-to-be-equaled high notes in weapons, armor, architecture and finery (I can imagine some magnificent but sadly not-remembered geniuses among the craftsmen of Belegost, living their whole lives and carreers in furious competition with the insurmountable Gamil Zirak and later his brilliant pupil Telchar) it was also a time of rare cooperation between the Dwarves and other free folk (I suppose having the Evil of the World incarnate and living a few days march away will do that) evidenced perhaps most compellingly by the dwarves' apparently open use of their khuzdul names (unheard-of in the later ages, even during the days of friendship between the dwarves of Khazad-Dum and the Noldor of Eregion)
The warriors who took part in the battle with Glaurung and his brood represent an all-time high water mark for dwarven strength and courage, and I wanted their armor to match. In the silmarillion it is remarked that the dwarves wore masks into battle as part of their custom, but I like to imagine that, in response to the first generation of fire breathing dragons (perhaps in later generations the dragons simply grew too big and their fire too hot for any armor) the dwarven armorers created a new style focused on effectively fireproofing the face and figure, with the traditional war-masks rendered as these elaborately detailed forge visors, and offering full body coverage (with the armor probably worn over some pre-modern type of asbestos cloth) I can see it as a proud, fearsome style, with many armors (once they'd been proven affective against dragon fire) adorned with mocking images of the beasts, gold teeth and mustaches, even horns, claws and fangs of the monsters themselves (probably cow horns in reality for the most part, meant to represent dragon-trophies, but perhaps one of the lesser members of glaurung's brood had been brought down under similar circumstances to Fingon's mounted hunt)
design-wise, I see dwarven armor as both eastern and western stylistically. They invented chainmail and are the best at making it, so I think they probably would have played around with all styles, from the simple, classic four-in-one weave pattern, to denser six-in-one, to those crazy intricate patterns you see in indian and persian chainplate (they came up with the stuff, i think they can play around with it some
) and since middle-earth is pretty much an all-chainmail world, I like to think (and this is my attempt at sort of retroactively assigning a consistent art history to a fictional universe) that you can sort of tell -very broadly speaking - where someone is from by the style and make of their maille; whereas the elves and the men in the west favor that classic european style four-in-one, guys out east are more inclined toward persian/turkish style chain plate, or more exotic weaves. Dwarves are the real geniuses when it comes to armor and, being far flung as they are out into the east and south, chainmail is their big "gift to the world" (kind of like Russia with the AK-47) so i like to think that in their armor you can see the origin of a lot of styles imitated (usually by less-skilled human craftsmen) by people and cultures all over the world, both good and evil.
Part of the Weekly Tolkien Sketchblog (now in technicolor!)