I am inspired by the skills and work of the Medieval to high Renaissance armourers with all the wonderful embellishing techniques and visual narratives that work includes. This is something that will take a lifetime to master, and I am ready for that journey! I particularly relish the way this practice preserves the ancient work of the armourer from the hand of one maker to another.
I have long been fascinated by the range and depth of skill involved in the creation of armoury and the tailoring of each individual artefact where well-designed suits and elements of armour worked with the human body to enable movement, protection, self-expression, and status signalling! The visual spectacle is also something that has captured my imagination and I want to continue to explore the multiplicity of European styles and armoury sub-cultures whilst developing my proficiency in interpreting and creating physical aspects of this work. My goal is to develop the bladesmithing element whilst remaining informed by the depth and rich panoply of wider armorial history; from the Greco-Romans to the early 20th century.
Early developments in this work included experimentation with 1 and 2mm steel as well as with fundamental techniques of dishing, doming, planishing to achieve even compound curves, creasing for strength and rigidity and aesthetic qualities as well as polishing and gluing, riveting for attaching and some welding. I was able to assess initial outcomes against the historical originals and my understanding of Historical European Martial Arts with which objects would have been utilised. The work was challenging – particularly the difficulty in amassing the right tools and skills; this has taken several years and there is still much work to be done. However, the vitality of the tools is fundamental, providing a wonderful link to past makers; ancient woodcuts of Emperor Maximilian with his armour-smith reveal scenes and tools I recognise and work with.
The possibilities of working with a contemporary community of practice is fantastically exciting for me and current outcomes have included helms, shields, and tooling. The making is both intuitive and therapeutic in its precision and ‘feel.’ I now want to work with master craftsmen to develop and refine my abilities as a smith.