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Jon Judge, custom light sabersmith
Jon Judge: Master Sabersmith
I still remember a year ago when a friend of mine took me to a website and showed me the Hasbro FX Lightsabers. My jaw dropped, tongue flailed out, and saliva quickly formed on my coffee table. You mean to tell me there are sabers out there where I as an adult could own and not get looks from passers by as I swing it around my head? True to form, I then began scouring the internet for more information, stumbling onto videos of NYJedi on the today show, RvD one and two, my hunger quickly growing. Then I found it, or it found me, custom sabers from countless sabersmiths strewn across the internet. Offering their talents to provide such high quality, one of a kind hilts, for those like me. People, who like me, desire something which fits their personality. One of the few who stood above the rest because of his quality, hard work, customer service and personality is Judgesabersmith, or more formally known as Jon Judge.
Jon may not have known it back when he was a small child, watching “Return of the Jedi”, mesmerized before the screen, but he would later grow up to be a man who would provide these elegant weapons for multitudes of fans. “When I first started, I was just a guy in his basement building custom sabers for people,” says Judge “Over the years, my reputation and the reputation of those individuals I associated with grew and I became one of the respected members of the custom saber community.” A respect that follows him still, even after he stopped taking commissions for work in 2009, people are still sending him emails about his sabers. Jon attributes this to his skill with a rotary tool and files. While some sabersmiths may use machinery, Judge says his skill not only holds up to, but in some instances surpasses those sabers in looks and design.
It is not just the dremel-fu of Jon which makes his sabers some of the most sought after accessory, but over the years his builds have become more complex. Since his first overconfident attempt in 2005, Judge has learned many of the skills needed to produce these beautiful works of art. Comparatively they all have a much higher level of fit and finish. Technology has also caught up with his vision, as he is now able to incorporate much more sophisticated electronics into his builds, further enhancing to overall look, feel and sound of his sabers.
But, why do this? Why spend time and energy making these creations? Like most sabersmiths out there, Jon stumbled into this field. “To be honest, I never set out with the goal of turning what I do into a business,” Judge says humbly, “I originally started out as a simple hobbyist, but as more and more people requested that I build something for them, I started needing to carry stock of materials, invoicing of customers, billing, and all the other things that go along with running a small business.” So out of necessity, not a desire for profit, Judgesabersmith went from a simple guy making Christmas presents for his friends children, to a legitimate business in 2006. True to form, he is a relational man, saying the only difficulty he encounters in this business is when someone gives him carte blanche to “make something cool”. Jon much prefers interaction with his customers during the process, talking and hearing exactly what the customer wants. Look at any of his creations and you can see the uniqueness of each creation, the little details which sets each one apart from the other.
His relational style has been his biggest asset, and what sets him above others out there. Time and time again, through his inspired designs, Jon has shown his desire for bringing the dream into the hands of the fans all over. “I never started building with the idea of making money; to me it was about making someone happy and giving them a realistic looking ‘light saber’”. So, I may still get looks from passersby as I swing my saber around, but if Judgesabersmith ever starts taking custom orders again, it will not because of how uncoordinated I may look, it will be out of jealousy for the artwork I am holding.