Monday, May 13, 2013
Article in the Ottawa Sun
By Tony Spears ,Ottawa Sun
The Fourth Doctor, easily identifiable by his absurdly-long multi-coloured scarf, waited patiently in line for food ahead of a suspiciously feminine Robin, while the Mad Hatter dabbed relish on his hotdog in the company of a sexy White Rabbit and something purple with a tail.
Ottawa Comiccon burst into its second day on Saturday, packing the Ernst & Young Centre with a crush of colourful characters dressed to impress.
Some were out-of-the-box pre-fabricated costumes, others lovingly crafted.
But by far the best were beaten into being by blacksmith Bill Fedun, a brawny Metcalfe armourer busy strapping sexy dames into burnished steel suits.
“Can you believe it?” he grins through his white beard.
He and his South Tower Armouring Guild have been making custom battle armour for 22 years, and he teaches sword fighting at Algonquin College.
A woman peeps out from the neck piece of one of his creations; Fedun reaches out a hand to retract a piece of metal obscuring her face.
“We wouldn’t want to hide her,” he said.
She’s wearing what he calls “parade armour” — a comparatively light casing of steel “designed to shed arrows.”
“It’s a little light to be used for real combat,” he said.
It’s 18-gauge armour, or about 1/18th of an inch thick.
The more heavy-duty stuff is 16 gauge; a full suit weighs about 110 pounds.
But it’s fantastically mobile, with interlocking plates providing flexibility around the shoulders and elbows.
Fedun, a charmer, pauses to kiss the hand of a young woman asking about chainmail then starts to explain how he crafts a suit of armour.
It takes about 30 days, he says, and it all begins with a sheet of mild steel.
He cuts the shapes he needs based on an ever-evolving set of templates then he takes to a dishing stump — essentially a tree stump with a bowl-like depression — and gets to work.
Hundreds of hammer blows at long last give beautiful contours to what had been just a sheet of metal, and some time on an English wheel — “an iron for metal,” he says — smooths out the surfaces.
Fedun convinces the mild-mannered reporter for a major metropolitan newspaper to try on a chain mail shirt.
It sits heavily on the shoulders, but offers total freedom of movement — certainly more than enough to take notes with.
And they say the pen is mightier than the sword.