As with many fencers, we felt the lack of events deeply over 2020 and 2021. Crossing festivals off the calendar began to take its toll, and those regular reminders of our wider community left a sword-shaped hole.
So it was with immense excitement that we packed our bags last week for an event unlike any other: Swordpunk 2021. This skill-sharing festival combines combat arts like fencing, archery, axe throwing and whip cracking with circus skills such as juggling, fire and flow arts. Tucked away on a Capability Brown-designed estate in Warwickshire, it offers acres of lakes for swimming and woodland for strolling, a well-stocked tavern and an inviting fire pit.
We first got involved with Swordpunk in 2019, when we set up a demonstration forge. We were immediately hooked on the event’s close-knit atmosphere, reminiscent of Robin Hood’s merry men training and feasting together in the woods. When we were invited to return, we decided to show off Chris’s handiwork with something new: a sharp cutting experience.
The Balefire was always fuelled by stories. Stories of knights-errant and wily rogues; the kinds of stories that filled our shelves and hearts as children, and which inspire us still as we forge and fence. The great swords of legend are never far from our minds when we design bespoke weapons – and in our flights of fancy, we suppose our own work to be a link in the centuries-spanning chain of tales upon sword-wielding tales.
Ask anyone with a passing interest in history to name a famous sword, and one name will find its way forth: Excalibur. The legend of King Arthur has seen a constant cycle of rebirth since it was first recorded in the 11th Century – from Monmouth’s pseudohistories, to Tennyson’s poetic epic, to a stream of star-studded film adaptations. This ancient tale of a great leader and defender, replete with mysterious wizards, dangerous lovers, and magical swords, is often considered the rosetta stone of all English fantasy, drawing older traditions together into one cohesive thread, which has been woven into almost every sword-and-sorcery tale since.
Does your fencing jacket need a little more pizazz on the piste? Is your kit bag in need of a rock’n’roll overhaul? Or maybe you just want to tell the world you have great taste in swords.
After numerous requests from friends and clients, we’ve designed the first official Balefire Blades fabric patch. Resplendent in our iconic green and black, they feature our maker’s mark against a background of hypnotic satin-on-matte spirals.
Finished with high-quality stitching and an iron-on back, they can easily be added to your item of choice.
If you’ve browsed our site before, chances are you’ve seen our “Available Now” page, where we list one-of-a-kind Balefire swords available to buy on a first-come-first-served basis.
While we operate almost exclusively as a bespoke artisan forge, we set up this page for the rare occasions when we need to rehome orphaned swords after last-minute cancellations, or when we have enough spare parts in the workshop to make up a unique “frankensword”.
As our first priority is always our waiting list, this page hasn’t been particularly active – until now.
As we roll into a new year, we can’t help but reflect on the last one – and on how the international ups and downs of Covid and Brexit have affected our business. We have been fortunate as a small artisanal business to have had the support of our clients and community throughout these strange times.
However, the unprecedented uncertainty of the past year has inspired us to revisit our waiting list, which has certainly been pushed about more than we anticipated this year. In striving to maintain transparent communication with our customers, we’re rethinking how the waiting list can best serve us – and you.