Artificer with a Defender-y bent

I’m interested in building an artificer who has a defender-y bent; still an artificer, still a leader, but with a minor in defending. I’m fine with sacrificing some Leadership for Defense; I expect that has to happen, but those are my priorities. What is the best way to do this?

The way I imagine this is a tanky sort of artificer, who makes the area near him either suck for enemies to be in or awesome for allies to be in. He doesn’t necessarily have to draw or take fire personally, I just like the idea of being “in the mix” and creating a sort of “soft zone defense” for my allies.

I’m fairly-new to 4e, and my limited experience is quite old (before Essentials came out, but I want to say it was the within a year of its release). I’m also more than willing to do my homework, and the game is with an experienced DM and a bunch of fairly-new players, so I think that may work out.

The game will start at 1st, but I’m interested in builds and ideas that go all the way to 30. Part of this is information-gathering about the system itself, so even information like “well, this doesn’t really do anything defender-y until Epic, but whoo-boy, when you get there!” will be useful and interesting to me. All material is good, no houserules (yet, anyway, game is still very much in planning stages).

The suggestions that I’ve seen for this in my googling include…

  • Summoner artificer. Consensus seemed to be “it works, but summoning will eat up all your actions and make it hard for you to do the leader thing, and you’ll be a decidedly sub-par defender.” Conceptually, not exactly what I wanted out of the artificer anyway; not strictly opposed, but I’d be happy to learn there’s a better way.

  • Artificer|swordmage. This was just a mention in a couple of different threads, but they were explicitly veterans wanting some “weird/fun defenders.” The reaction there seemed positive, with swordmages cited as “some of the best hybrids […] because they lose so very little with hybriding,” but no details were given and my general understanding is that hybrid is almost always a bad idea, which makes me leery. Conceptually, though, this sounds like exactly what I want.

I doubt these are the only ways to make this idea. I’ve tagged this multi-classing because I figure dipping into another role in 4e is similar to multiclassing in other systems, but I’m not particularly invested in necessarily having a multiclass feat or hybridizing or whatever; those are just how I imagine it will happen.