We know a lot of folks out there spend tons of time imagining how awesome everyone at Arms and Armor must be. In the collective imagination our shop looks something like this:
Actually, that is pretty damn accurate. Really, the only difference is that minors have to wear safety equipment when in the shop, otherwise this is perfect.
Some people might think it looks like one of these depictions, but we can tell you for sure that stuff is way more crazy than that.
Not quite this crazy though. We would never smith a bird, and we definitely never let animals watch us forge. We do occasionally cook hotdogs on the forge though.
Well, I guess there was that one time when Mark found a snake in the shop that had escaped from the pet distributer next door, and we also found a couple of hamsters that became shop pets. We never were able to catch those really, really smart rats though... Be that as it may.
Here are the real life folks behind the magic. We are a lot like those dwarves in Snow White, or maybe like those ones in The Hobbit. At any rate, read on to meet us all.
Chris Poor, President and founder
Arms & Armor was founded in 1982 by Christopher Poor, an armorer, sword smith, and former professional jouster. Early on Chris sought out experts on European weaponry, including Ewart Oakeshott with whom he formed a lasting friendship and eventually founded The Oakeshott Institute. These relationships have allowed him to handle, measure, and take latex molds of historic swords in museums and private collections around the world. Chris is a mastercraftsman who makes our molds and polearms, and many custom pieces, and schmoozes with bigwigs.
Chris doesn't always look this handsome.
Sometimes he looks like this.
Craig Johnson, Production Manager, designer
Craig joined A&A in the early 1980's, working alongside Chris to expand our expertise, knowledge, and skills, and to grow the company from a tiny operation into a world-renowned workshop. Craig has been a contributor to the historical martial arts community since the very early days and was arguably one of those responsible for the adoption of steel feders in HEMA. He is a master craftsman and sword designer, and a heck of a nice guy.
Craig cutting himself on a Messer, which is now +5 against anyone named "Johnson"
Forging demo at the MN Renaissance Festival
Just being friendly
Nathan Clough, Vice President.
Nathan is a relative new-comer to A&A, but when he commits he goes all out. Until 2018 Nathan was a professor of human geography doing academic research on the politics of Western Civilization. In 2013 he discovered HEMA and rekindled a slumbering love of swords. He started hanging around the shop soon thereafter and eventually decided to leave academia, invest in the company, and become a full-time sword maker. He has no regrets, not even a tiny one. Also, his wife is very, very understanding and supportive. Nathan makes most of the axes and impact weapons, grinds blades, and is getting better at making swords.
Forging a dussack trainer.
Wow, so classy and attractive.
You should definitely call him Doctor, or just refer to him as "the professor"...
That time Nathan won a longsword tournament, the Madtown Fechschul. Also, the only time he ever, ever, beat Aaron Pynenberg in a sword fight.
Mark Black, Dagger-maker extraordinaire
Mark just celebrated his 30th anniversary of working at Arms and Armor! Mark is a master craftsman who creates most of our daggers, among other things. He is also a professional musician and a founder of Savage Aural Hotbed, one of the first Industrial music acts in the Midwest, and The Other Country Ensemble.
Mark may or may not be the ghost of a 19th century metal worker
He also takes a mean selfie with a giant axe we made for a Paul Bunyan impersonator.
Ian Walls, Historical cutler specializing in swords
Ian has been working at Arms and Armor for almost as long as Mark. Ever since he wandered up to Chris and Craig at the renfest as a young rapscallion, he has been honing his craft and working hard to arm the world with the highest quality historical weapons. Ian has contributed several of our popular sword designs and continues to put his heart and soul into making your sword. If you have ever touched one of our swords you've experienced Ian's obsession with making sure every sword is just right.
Greg Bentsen, master rapier maker
Greg has also been working at Arms and Armor since the 1980's. He is a master designer and rapier-maker who hand carved many of the iconic pieces we produce. Greg has used his eye for historically accurate proportion and detail to produce some of the very finest rapiers and complex swords available today. You know all of those amazingly beautiful rapiers you drool over on instagram? Yeah, Greg made those.
Joe Marsello, Historical cutler specializing in swords
Joe is a master blade maker, an afficionado of Viking and Migration Period arms, and a member of that sacred brotherhood of smiths, "those guys who can freehand a beautfiul hollow grind on a 36 inch blade". In his spare time he enjoys dorky pursuits like being a Dungeon Master, going to Cons, and sewing really nice historical costumes.
Joe makes and enjoys various beer, cider, and mead beverages. One time he had a lager drink, and then he had a cider drink, and then he started singing songs about the good times AND songs about the better times.
Though we occasionally have some seasonal or part-time folks to help us prepare for big events, these guys are the core team at Arms and Armor. We are all pleased to meet you.