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EXCLUSIVE Q&A with Mad Dwarf Workshop -Part 2

In the second part of my Q&A with Mad Dwarf Workshop, Andy Davis andDavid DelaGardelle divulge their plans for their future and reveal the answer to the question we all want to know: are there any big budget movie contracts in the works for MDW?
1. David: out of all the books you read growing up, which world was your favorite?
Tolkien without a doubt has impacted me the most artistically and aesthetically; Lewis definitely the most emotionally and philosophically; Chesterton the most historically and intellectually; but the world Bunyan portrayed in his book “Pilgrim’s Progress” has absolutely impacted me the most in my day-to-day life and worldview. Now to be fair and honest, it may not be the world’s most original book artistically or metaphorically (Tolkien & Lewis themselves had their hesitations about such methods of storytelling). But I don’t care who you are or what your worldview is, there are objective unchanging moral truths in that book that Bunyan shows which you simply cannot deny… especially when you are approaching it as an artist. It hit home for me personally as one who is trying to grow up and maintain my identity in this superficial brainwashing culture. Society is relentlessly trying to bombard individuals with its self centered rhetoric. That story offered a radical idea about going against the grain of what culture considers popular and acceptable. “Pilgrim’s Progress” also defines the concept that an individual should only care about how he is viewed in the eyes of his Creator. The main Character, Christian the Pilgrim, goes off on his quest against the will of everyone around him just to reach his goal.
To me that idea is a powerful message, and I think one that is extremely relevant to our time. It’s also a story that is so old that it’s unfortunately been repeatedly butchered by countless artists who didn’t put enough time and effort into their work. As a result, modern people get a quick taste of the story from this bad art and immediately disregard it before even digging into it for themselves. So as an artist, this makes me all the more motivated to work hard and maybe some day respectfully portray this story in visual terms, either in the form of illustration, or maybe even working on a production bringing it to the silver screen, but do it RIGHT this time.Right now, I am obviously just hoping and dreaming, but it’s a timeless story that deserves good art and which more people need to experience for what it is.
2. Andy: what was your favorite piece of ancient weaponry you got to handle while working at Ball State Museum?
Working at the museum gave me an amazing look into historical weaponry and art. The museum housed very few weapons, although the few they have are very good examples of weapons from their respective periods. The most fascinating to me was going through a very large collection of Japanese sword handle components that has thus far, been undocumented. There are 6 shoebox sized museum storage bins full of hand crafted 300+ year old sword handle pieces. It was really fun to bring in one of our friends, who is a very renowned Japanese sword maker, and have him work with me on documenting them. There is also a 9th century Chinese cast bronze sword that is one of my favorites. I would love to do a reproduction of it some day. The blade is so thin and precise it boggles my mind how they managed to cast it without the use of modern technology.
3. Are you planning on expanding your creations to include bows and such?


At the moment we do not have any have plans to craft bows, but you never know! Our mindset is that wherever the good Lord leads us artistically we plan to pursue it with passion and energy. We don’t merely want to master more trades and crafts for our own selfish glory and gain. Instead we want to do work that other people can enjoy and benefit from, both practically and aesthetically.We also never like to limit ourselves on where our work can and should go. Swords are definitely one of our main passions because of our love for epic myths, nature, and our Northern ancestry. Swordsmithing also is one of our main creative focuses because it serves as such an amazing medium to do the things we want to do and say what we want to say. However we are constantly brainstorming what other mediums we can branch into.Right now, we’re working on multiple commissions which involve crafting ornate helmets, spears, axes, shields and even mugs.

Andy is currently studying advanced pattern welding and mosaic steel techniques, bronze casting and carpentry skills in his last year at art school. And I (David) am also working as a graphic designer and illustrator in addition to bladesmithing. I’m studying traditional bookbinding, leather working, and doing digital art for book, magazine, and CD covers.So as we get better and continue to learn all of these other crafts (while they’re very different from swordsmithing) will most definitely be featured through the Mad Dwarf Workshop very soon. So keep an eye out!

4. Have you ever been contacted by a studio to work on a film? If so, which one? If not, would you if you were offered?
We’ve been keeping it a secret for almost a year now… But yes we have.Last November, we were contacted by a well known props team in Hollywood working on a big budget film. And they were in need of some Swordsmith’s who could craft multiple copies of a very intricate and very prominent hero sword for this movie. We took on the task to the best of our abilities, finished the swords, the movie has since filmed, wrapped, and is set for a spring release date in the USA and across the globe…
Unfortunately, we’re legally not yet allowed to share what film this is until it is released.However, we can definitely hint at it! And for that we’ll simply give you a name: Kenneth Branagh.
5. What are your goals for MDW and where do you see yourselves in 10 years?


In one sense, when we’re working in a craft like this we can only worry about today and the blessings that have been given to us in the moment. And it may sound weird, but we simply hope for MDW to be wherever God wants it to be in the future, because whether that means growing and moving forward onto great things, or if it means loosing everything and ending our work in a heartbeat, both routes are good if its in His Sovereign plan. Within that mindset though, our hopes and goals with the work we are doing are obviously optimistic. Andy has always loved sharing his passions with others. Andy has felt convicted to begin sharing the little knowledge we’ve already gained about this craft with people any way he can as an educator. By teaching, he would continue to learn more of the craft by sharing it with others. That opportunity may take shape in the form of teaching simple classes, or possibly getting connected with a traditional craft’s school somewhere down the road? With my (David’s) work I simply hope to continue to learn how to be a better artist and never stop learning. I want to continually push my abilities to wake up people’s senses to those eternal unchanging truths that men like Tolkien, Lewis, Chesterton and Bunyan were so good at doing. Granted however, they all used language, while my hope is to inspire and motivate people with my visual and physical art. Whether it is in the form of a finely crafted sword, or any other medium I can get my hands on.

We could work our fingers to the bone & try to become world renown bladesmiths and artists, but at the end of the day if we are not loving people, connecting with them on a down to earth level, and not doing this for the good of others, then we are wasting our time and ultimately wasting our lives. Swords, knives and all these forms of art are definitely cool. But G.K. Chesterton once famously said “The dignity of the artist lies in his duty of keeping awake the sense of wonder in the world.” We most definitely believe he was right! And if we’re not doing that then there is no sense in doing this at all. We just hope that through our work people feel that sense of wonder and mystery and see the same things we see through the amazing medium of this ancient craft.

This ends the Q&A, however if you just can’t get enough, you can follow MDW on Twitter and Facebook.
All images where used with permission from MDW.
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  1. WOW!! There really are young men like this out there?

  2. NATIVE BRAND says:

    WOW! really nice blades and love your work ethic. It's reassuring to know that fine craftsmen still exist and can carry out the old ways to future generations. I will be contacting you to order a sword and axe in the future from you guys in the future for sure.Also your site a and blog are nicely done as well.