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Visitors learn how to build a ‘knight in shining armor’ at Ridgewood warehouse

Apr. 17, 2023 By Gabriele Holtermann

Visitors would never guess that one of New York City’s best-kept secrets hides inside the industrial warehouse at 63 Woodward Ave. in Ridgewood: WassonArtistry, creator of medieval European weapons and armor.

New York Adventure Club, a New York City-based tour and event company, hosted a tour and demonstration of the workshop for medieval enthusiasts on Saturday, April 15, at artist Jeffrey Wasson’s one-of-a-kind studio.

The School of Visual Arts (SVA) graduate shared that his affinity with the middle-ages started when he was a youngster. He eventually combined his passion with his artistic talent and began designing and building armor in high school.

Seven fans of the middle-ages took part in the tour, where they learned how a suit of armor is built from scratch.

(Photo by Gabriele Holtermann)

Odin Soli and his wife from St. Paul, Minnesota, were visiting their daughter, who had booked the tour.

Soli shared that he had always been fascinated by medieval history.

“I had no idea of just how much went into the creation of even a basic set of armor,” Odin said. “Let alone a highly decorative one.”

Besides working on various movie and television projects, Wasson has specialized in creating reproductions of European plate armor with attention to historical accuracy and details.

Some of Wasson’s customers commission a “knight in shining armor” for decorative purposes, while others need an armor for medieval re-enactions like jousting.

All the parts of the armor suit are custom-made and hand-crafted. (Photo by Gabriele Holtermann)

The freelance artist and illustrator explained that the perfect fit and flexibility of the armor was important for jousting, a competition between two knights in armor on horseback where both participants gallop toward each other carrying long poles called lances, trying to knock each other off their horses.

The designs of Wasson’s armor replicas go back to the 14th-, 15th-, and 16th centuries. All his armors are hand-crafted and custom-made and weigh 65 pounds plus, depending on the size of the “knight.”

(Photo by Gabriele Holtermann)

“Everything is made by hand from scratch,” Wasson said. “Even the hinges are all made by hand.”

First, Wasson, a fellow jouster who participated in European competitions, makes a pattern based on the client’s proportion. From there, Wasson cuts the parts and shapes the plates.

“As I got more into it, I really realized that they really had it all figured out in the Middle Ages,” Wasson said. “Over centuries of building armor and wearing it and actually, you know, armor was really meant to be protective and really did protect people from swords and arrows and lances and things.”

Corey William Schneider, founder, and CEO of New York Adventure Club, was thrilled that WassonArtistry was part of the line-up.

“It’s fascinating that we create this sort of an introductory event where people can kind of watch it and learn to see how these things are made,” Schneider said.

Visitors check out parts of an armor suit. (Photo by Gabriele Holtermann)

New York Adventure Club, which has been around since 2013, offers unique in-person and virtual events, focusing on the rich story of New York City and connecting New Yorkers.

Schneider shared that during the COVID-19 pandemic, the club began offering virtual events and lectures.

“With the virtual events, we were able to reach a whole new audience of people, mostly around the country,” Schneider said.

Schneider highlighted one of the upcoming top events New York Adventure Club offers, a private Japanese tea ceremony demonstration at the Secret Kyoto Garden.

“It’s really like being transported to Japan,” Schneider said. “What makes it special is it’s really not meant for the public. But we’ve had this relationship for many years where essentially once a month, people get to have the ability to kind of participate as well as a viewer.”

For New York Adventure Club event line-up, visit nyadventureclub.com

WassonArtistry also offers Metalworking 101 classes in which students are introduced to the art of armor making. For more information, visit wassonartistry.com.

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