Crafting battle armor in Strathmore

February 18, 2013 12:00:00 AM PST
A visit to the Hanford Renaissance Faire 23 years ago forever changed the life of a South Valley man.

It wasn't enough to just learn about the middle ages. Bart Remling wanted to experience the life of a knight in battle.

The constant banging gives shape to carbon steel.

Bart Remling: "The coordination and learning how to form and shape and not everybody has the talent. You have to have a gift."

Bart Remling is a modern day craftsman with a medieval mindset. Preparing knights in shining armor in his calling.

They are not costumes. Remling produces battle armor straight out of the 15th century.

Bart Remling: "If I go into battle and it fails, heads will roll so it cannot fail."

The suits of armor, the helmets and shields he makes in his Strathmore workshop are all based on actual suits.

Bart Remling: "I went to Europe. I got to go to castles and museums and these places where there was good armor so I got good exposure to what the real stuff looked like."

It is a painstaking process. Remling and his buddy Louis Martinez need the assistance of trusted squire Larry Wagner and family members to don the armor.

No detail is spared. The handmade chainmail offers added protection. For the past two decades, armor has been his passion.

Bart Remling: "I think you're born into it."

The work allowed Remling to see chivalry is not dead. He says time-honored values like respect are lost on many people.

Bart Remling: "If it something you made, that you put your heart and soul into it's a treasure."

But you're also carrying 65 pounds of treasure onto the battlefield. The transformation into Sir Barticus Blackhorse is impressive. All the hard work is worth it when you draw your sword.

Bart Remling: "You can hit pretty hard and still not break bones. that's the whole fun thing about armor is you can cut loose pretty good and not worry about being injured."

Louis Martinez works as a draftsman during the day but his suit of armor takes him to a different place, one where he gets to wail on his battle buddy.

Louis Martinez: "It's something to do with the chivalry and the honor and it takes great skill to do it. It's very labor intensive to get to this point to fight in a full suit of armor."

Both Martinez and Remling have traveled around the country to take part in battle and jousting tournaments.

Bart Remling: "We have a fight to the death. You're gonna fight until one man yields. What happens is you run out of air quickly."

A little water break and the battle resumes. Bart says some folks never get past the claustrophobic feeling.

Bart Remling: "You put this stuff on you have to learn to think like a tank."

Louis Martinez: "It's pretty exhilarating. It really doesn't hurt you too bad. You get a little pain here and there."

Bart Remling: "With a suit of armor on you can actually let go of all those inhibitions and really fight. It's a great way to get your frustrations out."

The sounds of steel violently clashing with steel put this Renaissance man at peace. Such is the way of the medieval knight.

Bart Remling: "Violent and rough yes but I feel nothing and if I did I would never admit it to you sir."


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