In many ways, Kevin Marsh is the face of the Copperas Cove Public Library. He has other talents, though, besides serving as administrator of one of Cove’s greatest treasures.
On Feb. 28, while the Scribes Guild gathered in the library’s meeting room to teach students calligraphy and illumination of documents as part of the Society of Creative Anachronism, Marsh sat at a table off to the side, working on his own project.
A very intricate project.
Marsh related how, some years ago, excavations near Hadrian’s Wall in Britain uncovered an armorer’s shop and a portion of a Roman soldier’s metal collar.
Marsh decided to copy the design and create a replica.
“It’s a functional piece of armor,” he said, noting the collar could be used as part of a costume at SCA events.
Part of the re-creation process involved having a friend cut model scales from clear acrylic. Other pieces Marsh created on the Cove library’s 3-D printer.
Fitting them together gave Marsh an idea of how the actual replica should be assembled.
The original collar being circular — and for a neck smaller than his own — Marsh had to make some adjustments, adding scales to increase the size, making the final design more of an oval.
Marsh used brass for some accents, but most of the scales are 410 alloy spring steel.
He crafted his own buckle and even used pieces of leather made of deer hide to complete the replica.
The deer hide was treated with a process called alum tawing. “It’s a cousin to pickling,” Marsh explained.
Marsh has learned the various techniques of working with metal over the years. “I had a roommate who was a professional armorer” in college, he said.
While Marsh humorously would not admit how many years ago that was, he did acknowledge he’s been interested in the craft since age 19.
He’s adept at metal cutting and heat treating the metal, and even entered the collar in a competition at the SCA Bryn Gwlad Candlemas celebration in February, which he won.
Marsh enjoys being part of the SCA, especially the yearly gathering of the Texas barony and the Florida barony, which takes place in Mississippi.
Usually, according to Marsh, the two groups battle each other.
“This year, we’re teaming up against the rest of the world,” Marsh said.
It’s all in good fun for Marsh and other SCA members and no one gets badly hurt using the replica weapons.
There’s a serious aspect, too, because the dedication and skill it takes to create even a replica Roman soldier’s collar is time-consuming and done with care, as Marsh has demonstrated.