Preston’s Unique Business Crafts Mandalorian Costumes | Citizen Preston

What do you do with a Utah State University major in entomology with a master’s degree in arachnology? “That’s a pretty pointless degree,” Tony Edwards said, but it makes an interesting name for a company that built 27 armor sets for Disney’s “Mandalorian” series.

Spider Lily, a full-service manufacturing company, recently moved to 53 Preston Avenue, from Hyrum, Utah, and is co-owned by Edwards, of Hyrum, and Mallory Wheeler of Pocatello. The Preston Workshop was purchased from Jim Lester, who did custom welding there for many years.

Spider Lily welders use a variety of methods ranging from plasma tables to arc welding and traditional forging, Edwards said. They service Lester customers who repair garden hoses, fabricate metal panels, or other custom jobs, such as specialty parts for Union Pacific Railroad or classic car parts for local auto enthusiasts.

The ease of doing business in Idaho and Lester’s support encouraged Edwards to relocate the store. “We had a lot of love from Jim,” Edwards said. “We haven’t had a slow day since arriving here”

But back to the “Mandalorian”. Much of Spider Lily’s business revolves around the Society of Creative Anachronism (SCA), which led to the contract with Disney. The SCA is an international living history group that studies and recreates medieval European cultures and their histories before the 17th century.

Edwards, Wheeler, and the rest of their crew are fascinated by pre-17th century history. Not only did they participate in medieval and Renaissance fairs, but they made and sold the clothes of the time. From armor and historical jewelry, to hair accessories, chain mail and party (dinner) items, they create what anyone with similar interests would want at their gatherings. Dan Lind is their resident expert on historical accuracy.

Their working replicas of historical armor, as well as armor of their own design, were purchased by modern day “knights” who appear on the History Channel’s “Knight Fight” show – a series that debuted in 2019, as well as cosplay fans and other SCA fans.

Armed with that passion and know-how, when Disney launched a call for armor in 2017, Spider Lily made an offer. They ended up filling 27 of the 300 costume orders in two weeks. They crafted suits in mint condition as well as others in various stages of destruction for use in the battle scenes of the film. To do this, Spider Lily created the designs and another Edward company, Honor Battle Company located in India, produced them.

Now Spider Lily is making the costumes for the fans. Originally, Disney denied Spider Lily the right to do so, but knowing that the design of the Mandalorian’s helmet was based on a 1,700-year-old design first used by the Spartans, Edwards argued that they did not have the control rights. He won and the company continues to make Mandalorian costumes for fans.

While there is a lot of commonality between medieval armor and the world of the Mandalorian, there is a huge difference, Edwards said. This is the thickness of the metal used to make them, as that is exactly what the working armor should do. Job. Spider Lily crew members fight there as well.

They are as adept at modern as they are traditional welding principles, and as Edwards told members of the Preston Area Chamber of Commerce on a recent tour, he loves his job. It’s easy to spot his fondness for the 150-year-old blacksmith tools he still uses in his job.

“I am the master of fire: I can melt metal into liquid and reform it into a pretty shape,” he says. “I seem to really enjoy metalworking. I enjoy traditional metalworking processes, I love modern welding processes and I love the science behind them. I love the ability and power to take electricity and I can literally glue two pieces of metal together with electricity. . “

The members of the Spider Lily team also each have their own area of ​​expertise. Emily Bush and Jessica Bills make textile, leather and chainmail components for their products. Wheeler transforms wire, stones, shell and vinyl into jewelry and signs. Josh Wood runs the plasma cutter and Auston Woodward helps everywhere. Cassie Wood takes care of the expedition.

Drawing on their diverse experiences, Spider Lily also organizes events within the “Kingdom of Artemesia,” which encompasses southern Idaho, Utah, Montana, parts of Colorado and Wyoming to the west. of the Continental Divide; the SCA has divided the world into modern “realms”.

Although the pandemic has curtailed activities for most of the year, the Spider Lily team are working to organize the Dragon Fire Fair, which is usually held in Soda Springs in July, and has drawn up to 1000 people in the past. Speaking of which, Ryan Weaver of Team USA, a branch of several re-enactment societies, said that Edwards and his team are strong supporters of re-creating interest in medieval times.

“He’s really lively, excited about the job he does. The armor he does is beautiful. … I think he will be a good addition to Preston. I hope he turns some young people on and in the armor., “he said.

Spider Lily’s work can be seen in action this weekend. They spent the last month preparing and showing their products at the Utah Renaissance and Fantasy Festival in Marriot-Slaterville, Utah, which began on May 15 and ends on May 29.

“We are so excited to be ready to participate in events. It’s like coming home. All salespeople are like one big family, ”said Wheeler. The show was also invaluable to the company. He received three more orders for Mandalorian armor in the early days of the event.

“I was blown away how well the audience received our Mandalorian costumes. The cosplay community and Armored Combat Worldwide (ACW) provide a thirsty market for Spider Lily’s work. ACW is a sports league which organizes competitive matches between medieval armored fighting teams, called “chapters”. The Spider Lily crew is a member of the Bridgerland Badgers Chapter, which covers Soda Springs to Logan. “It’s like MMA in armor,” Wheeler said.

About Timothy Cheatham

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