From wooden model, to soft steel, to the best of Alabama Damascus combined with a heavily figured olive wood from his native Sicily, Luigi The Claw’s wavy bladed prop knife has been finished. This knife will be featured on the cover of my novel, Father of the Grooms, and in the movie. The knife appears several times in the plot, but is never used except as a weapon of intimidation. Perhaps the director will have a different view of that, but in the book no one is butchered by it. We have some shot, burned alive, crashed, and blown up; but there is no dicing and slicing. The knife, with its owner, is buried in the Sicilian soil from which both were derived.
Luigi was orphaned during World War II, participated in actions against the Germans and lost his left hand during a bombing. In recognition of his service to the Allies, he was given a job with American archaeologists who were conducting salvage operations in Sicilian cities where modern buildings had been destroyed and exposed traces of the island’s classical cultures. With 17 invaders going back 3,000 years, each spade of earth revealed something of significance that the archaeologists were attempting to recover, describe, and depict in their learned publications. These publications required illustrations, and it was discovered that Luigi had a natural talent for drawing. While working with the Americans he was taught to draw their finds as well as do more elaborate street sketches where the buildings and sights were reconstructed in charcoal, watercolors, and oils. Even with only a single hand and a stub, he could draw and paint better than many with years of formal training.
He became particularly interested in the ancient weapons with which so may hundreds of thousands of his countrymen were killed by Carthaginians, Romans, Normans, Arabs, and 13 other invading cultures over its long history. He chose as a symbol of Sicilian resistance a wavy bladed bronze knife that was so feared by the Greeks that they considered it “unfit for civilized warfare,” and forbade its manufacture. He had it made by a bladesmith in Venice using a water-powered power hammer than had been making weapons and armor since the 1400’s.
He selected as raw materials iron and steel made from various weapons used during the numerous sieges of Syracuse including the one where the town’s most famous citizen, Archimedes was slain. One of his life goals was to do a museum-grade heroic-size painting of the death of Archimedes which he, with help, completes during the novel. With the steel and iron beat into a Damascus blade and handled with olive wood, Luigi felt as if this weapon was a real part of his culture and when attached to his stub, part of himself – ready to attach or defend as necessary.