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Incredible Post-apocalyptic Pirate Coat Stuns Fans

Post-apocalyptic Pirate Coat by Scott Johnson
Photograph ©David Droke Photography

We recently caught up with Karol Bartoszynski, one of the original founders of Wasteland Weekend, to discuss an incredible pirate coat designed and fabricated by his friend Scott Johnson. The coat is so imaginatively conceived, so well crafted, and so immaculately distressed that it could have stepped right off the screen of the most recent installment of the Mad Max series. They’ve been kind enough to let us share some photos of the coat and to provide some back story on how it came to be. Note: while this coat may be “one-of-a-kind”, Scott has plenty more ideas where this one came from! You can reach him through his Facebook page Squirrel Wurx.

How did you get into pirate stuff?

I started going to renaissance faires when I was a little kid, which started with the original renaissance faire in Agoura, California.

I was also once heavily involved in the native pow wow community as a competitive northern traditional dancer, so I learned a bit about history & clothing making then.

When I started getting back into ren faires recently, I didn’t like most of what I saw. A lot of the people were costume nazis, but didn’t really know what they were talking about.

But the pirates were cool. I think they fit more of my personality – a bit roguish.

Photograph ©David Droke Photography

How did you get into making pirate clothing?

I ended up in Las Vegas. It was 2014. I was building race cars & welding.

I wanted to make something for myself, but couldn’t afford to build a car. So I started thinking about building costumes for myself. They were on a smaller scale that I could afford.

I knew some leather work, but not much else. I started talking to ren faire groups & asking people to help me make stuff, but all I got was a lot of promises & no follow through. So I taught myself.

There used to be a tiny faire outside Las Vegas called Boulder City Renaissance Faire. 2015 was the first time I dressed as a pirate. I looked horrible.

A couple weeks later I went to Pirate Fest in Las Vegas. I was dressed a little better, but still not great. But I remember thinking, “This is fun. I can do this.”

A couple weeks later, I was on a road trip to Renaissance Pleasure Faire in Irwindale, California.

By this time, I made my own sword baldrick, but didn’t own a sword! I had a drinking horn, shitty cowboy boots, dress pants, a borrowed pirate shirt & a head wrap. It was bad. But I managed to buy a sword at the faire, so now I was officially a pirate!

Post-apocalyptic Pirate Coat
Photograph ©David Droke Photography

I got drunk as hell & started talking shit to the patrons, had a great time & met a lot of great people.

From there I knew I was into it & started making more stuff. I couldn’t get help, so I found patterns and started teaching myself how to sew. I made a waistcoat, made a kilt. My look started coming together. Made a whole new leather baldrick.

I went to Pirate Invasion in Long Beach & joined the Pirates for Tender. They’re not around anymore, but they included actors from the Pirates of the Caribbean films.

I started focusing on my character development & began adding items to my costume from all over the world. This included my trademark west African hat, a beaded Cheyenne pipe bag from the Americas, a Damascus blade from the Middle-East, a kilt from that character’s Scottish heritage, a Spanish sword, English style turndown boots, a sash with trade beads woven into its braids. Even some elephant hide from Asia.

“I found some netting I had lying around to push the nautical look” – Designer, Scott Johnson
Photograph ©David Droke Photography

My stuff was pretty crappy for the first 3 years, but I knew I needed a pirate coat. I couldn’t afford $500 & I didn’t want to wear what everyone else was wearing. So I made my own.

I showed up at the High Desert Pirate Festival in California in 2017 with my new, green pirate coat. It still didn’t have buttons on it. But people fell in love with it & my popularity in the pirate community grew.

When did you decide to go post-apocalyptic?

There’s a post-apocalyptic festival out in California called Wasteland Weekend. I knew about it for years, wanted to go & had friends in the pirate scene in Las Vegas who attended.

In 2017, I moved back to California to help my mom & went to Wasteland Weekend for the first time. I fell in love with it. I spent about a month before the event putting together the early version of the pirate coat.

Can you tell us more about the coat & how you made it?

Before I attended Wasteland Weekend, I knew I wanted to do a pirate thing & had a good idea of what it would look like.

I wanted to use scavenged materials which might be plentiful or cheap in that setting, so I decided to use painters drop cloths from Harbor Freight.

I made some modifications to my pattern to make the pirate coat longer, fuller & give it a more modern style.

In keeping with the found & repurposed theme, I found some rusty metal in my shop. I used washers for buttons & added some pennies to add some color.

I found some netting I had lying around to push the nautical look. It also helped me give it some asymmetry & mute the bright red brand logo I painted on the back.

The brand logo is best revealed when the coat is flared…

Post-apocalyptic Pirate Coat by Scott Johnson
Photograph ©David Droke Photography

The pirate coat started off a natural cream color. I weathered the coat using watered-down leather dyes to give it that stained, gray look. I wanted it to look very random yet purposeful. The pockets, underarms & high-wear areas were accented to tell the story –  to make it look like it’s been worn for many years. I used a serrated blade to add some texture as well.

One of the main things that I was inspired to add to the pirate coat from the beginning was shoulder boards. I wanted old captain’s coat shoulder boards made out of cord and chain. To make them, I used spring, EVA foam & mountain bike tires.

Although the coat evolved for over a year & I’m done with it now, the shoulder boards are one aspect of the pirate coat where I can continue to add little trinkets to.

Post-apocalyptic Pirate Coat by Scott Johnson
“What really sets off the look is when I wear the coat with my kilt, waistcoat, leatherwork, etc.” – Designer, Scott Johnson
Photograph ©David Droke Photography

How has the coat affected your life?

The pirate coat is a great example of what you can do when you teach yourself new skills. Sometimes doing it yourself is the only option & that’s the way i’ve done things all my life.

When I moved back to California, I was in a bad place. Last year, I was broke & didn’t even know how I would pay my phone bill. I went to Pirate Ball in Anaheim, determined to win their costume contest. I ended up winning the $150 grand prize & I couldn’t have been happier. People went nuts over my costume. They were blown away by it.

And funny enough, everything in life got better after that. I ended up getting a job as operations manager for Squatchboxx, a cooler company.

A lot of things have come together in the last year. I’m doing a lot of photo shoots & modeling with my outfit.

I’m ready to start a new outfit: a post-apocalyptic knight costume.

Visit Karol’s website to purchase one of your own.

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