Archive for October, 2011

Happy Halloween!

On Saturday, we had our Halloween party. This year, we had a theme — Muppets!  The idea was that everybody should come dressed as a human interpretation of a Muppet — what that Muppet might look like if they were a real person.  Here are just a few highlights.

Sam the Eagle and Red Fraggle

Mike and I went as (respectively) Sam the Eagle and Red Fraggle.

Mike’s concept for Sam was as a conservative politician. The suit was the hardest piece to find, as that particular shade of blue is not exactly in vogue at the moment.  But, after quite a lot of patient searching, eBay came to the rescue! His American flag tie came from a vintage store on Cape Cod.

Red, I conceived as kind of a sporty girl. Red Chuck sneakers were a must, and I found the red tunic dress from Etsy seller Lyptis.  My radish necklace (which, sadly, you can’t really see here) was custom made by Outpost8, and the red and orange hair falls were made by a seller from CTRF, whose name I am (to my embarrassment) forgetting. I’ll update this with her info tonight, when I get home and grab her business card.

Mah na mah na!

Kate, my awesome assistant, came as a Snowth, one of Mahna Mahna’s back-up singers, and our friend Gary wound up coming as Mahna Mahna. Though they both went with different periods of vintage styles for their characters, they both really nailed the personification of these muppets.  In fact, the joy of the original Muppet Show skit was the very different styles of the singers, and doing the one as a hippie and the other as a flapper embodied them both perfectly.

Welcome to Muppet Labs!






Another happy coincidence of “We totally didn’t plan this” were Bunsen Honeydew and Beaker. The idea of portraying human Beaker as this terribly injured victim of Bunsen’s experiments was just inspired.






You shall not pass without my permission!

And last, the Screen Accuracy award goes to Justin, who (with some help from Kate) managed to put together an incredibly accurate Sir Didymus costume. Here, he poses with my plush Didymus, just to show off how well they managed it.


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Halloween is a mere 6 days away now, and this has me thinking about costumes. Not my own costume, which has been set for several weeks not (I believe in planning ahead) but costumes in general — and what makes a costume good or bad.  I see a lot of costumes at faires that fall into both categories, and there are some really obviously terrible costumes for sale every year (how many slutty pirate/nurse/cop/nun/etc costumes do we really need?).  But I think I’ll tackle this subject using a few movies and TV shows as examples.

The cast of "Firefly"

I’ll start with one of my favorites — Firefly.  Featuring costume design by Shawna Trpcic, the reason I love these costumes can be summed up pretty quickly. Take a look at this picture of the cast. Now, I don’t care if you’ve never seen a single episode of the show, or the movie — just by looking at this still image, and the clothes that people are wearing, I’ll bet you can tell me something about every single one of them.

I’ll grant that some of this is also done with staging and acting, but the costumes play a BIG part of it. Who in this picture has money? Who’s an adventurer by nature? Who has a sexual nature, and who is more straight-laced? In this show, the clothing told a clear story — and for me, that’s one of the most important things about good costumes. They’re not just clothes the actors threw on — they say something about the character being portrayed.

Costumes from "A Knight's Tale"

The movie A Knight’s Tale is one I actually have mixed feelings about.  Featuring costume design by Caroline Harris, I know what the movie was going for — a medieval look tempered by modern sensibilities. It’s not a historically accurate design, and it wasn’t meant to be.  And sometimes the costumes really worked for me. Here, for instance, we see three of William’s friends at a tournament — they’re dressed in colors and heraldry to represent their “Lord”, and the costumes have a medieval FEEL to them, without strictly adhering to actual historical patterns.  I like these costumes, and can see myself using similar concepts of costume design.

What the.....

And then there’s this. I mean…I’m all for putting your own spin on a costume and tempering for modern audiences. But a sheer black gown with an over vest open to the navel?  What? I just….I can’t get behind this. On any level. And to be honest, the only thing it says to me about the character is “goth slut”, which isn’t what Jocelyn was meant to be about. It just strikes me as a bad costume design on multiple levels.

Robin Hood and Maid Marian

“Medieval with a modern twist” seems to be an easy place for costumes to go wrong, actually.  While I enjoyed BBC’s “Robin Hood” (or at least the one season I’ve seen of it), I did do a whole lot of costume mockery while I watched it.  I’m not sure whether these particular costumes were done by Frances Tempest or Howard Burden, but it’s so very bad that Kate and I actually debated whether it was actually costumes, or just actors in street clothes. Which would be okay if it was a modern setting, but it’s not — it’s 12th century Britain. Robin Hood looks like he’s wearing a leather hoodie, and Marian has apparently just stepped off the set of a 50s prep school movie in her sweater vest and safari skirt. If I saw either of them on the street today, I would never think they’d just left a ren faire and forgotten to change clothes, and for a medieval setting show, that’s just wrong.

Alright, though, back to the good. Take a look at this picture of Septimus, from the movie Stardust.

 The costumes in this movie, designed by Sammy Sheldon, were ALL gorgeous (and character-appropriate), but I want to point this one out for the little details that I love. Take a look at the fancy embroidery on Septimus’s waistcoat — it’s all a pattern of VII, which is, of course, his name. If you take a look at the movie, you’ll see that ALL of the brothers feature their Roman numeral worked into their costume in some way, and it’s absolutely brilliant and subtle touch of costuming detail.

What are some of your favorite (or most mock-able) costumes? These are only a small selection of my most and least favorite (sometimes from the same movie, as you’ve seen), and I’d love to hear yours as well.

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Sorry about the long lag time here, folks — the Connecticut Renaissance Faire ended last weekend, and I’ve been on vacation this week to recuperate.  I’ve been hanging out in my PJs, Christmas shopping with my husband, and watching lots of “Castle”. As we speak, one of my cats is sprawled across my arms, making typing a cozy challenge. My sewing machines, in the meantime, are in the shop for a much needed tune-up. They worked HARD getting me through this show, and they deserve a little spa treatment!

The last weekend of CTRF was as amazing as you would expect. We had absolutely gorgeous weather — honestly, the best weather of the run — and everybody had that mixed feeling of high energy for the last weekend combined with a little melancholy, knowing it was the last weekend.

The Fourth Doctor and K-9

The Doctor showed up for the first time this run (we always seem to have at least one). Luckily, it was early Saturday when I saw him, so that I could share my patches with him, since by the end of Saturday I was nearly sold out of them. He even brought K-9, and gave me a Jelly Baby.

It was also a day of shopping, not only for the patrons, but for those of us working. We fall in love with things throughout the run, and then go around buying what we decide we can afford (or cannot live without) the final weekend, it seems.

She couldn't resist!

Ashley, from the Sheriff Bracken Show, came in early Saturday and announced that she’d been thinking about my Jasmine Jacket ALL WEEK, and could she buy it? Happily, the Sheriff gave her permission to incorporate it into her costume for the day as well, and she happily wore in all weekend.

Mmm, sexy leather...

Meanwhile, I went over to the Potted Fox, only planning on picking up a pattern from her for a hat lining I was doing…and fell in love with this amazing suede jerkin while I was there.  This one belonged to Kat, the owner, however, so I couldn’t keep it. But she did let me borrow it for the day. And I may have placed an order for one just like it to be made for me…

This final weekend was also Pet Weekend, which is always fun. People can bring their pets in for they day to enjoy the faire! Beatrix got to be out in the open a lot more for this weekend, which she loved. And as you can see, she was quite the center of attention in our tent.

Beatrix revels in the extra scritches.

On Saturday, our friends Rob and Pamela came by with their Leonburger, Burton.

Burton the Leonburger

Burton was sporting his custom-made extra-large Rescue Bandana.  This picture simply does not do justice to how HUGE he is — I barely had to bend down to look Burton in they eye! Someday, when they make a movie of the later Dresden Files books, they should cast Burton to play Mouse.

Phew! And then it was over — everybody packed up, hugs were given, tents were broken down, and the long drive home commenced. Beatrix fell asleep in the seat next to me and snored all the way home, Chinese was ordered in for a super late dinner, and we crashed in bed to sleep until we woke up.

And now for the bit that is TOTALLY unrelated to the faire — my interview with Urban Threads! They’re doing a series in their blog called Urban Entrepreneurs, which features people who incorporate their embroidery designs into the things they sell in their business.  I was fortunate enough to be one of their first interviewees, and the article was posted earlier this week. Go check it out!

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I know, I know — by now, you’re sick of me telling you how freaking amazing this show is going. But it just keeps getting better! This past weekend was unseasonably warm for New England in October, and not a cloud in the sky. And on top of that, Saturday was the first of the show’s “Halloween Knights“, when we’re open until 8:00 and have special shows like the Fire Joust. (Yes, that’s right — a Fire Joust. Come down this Saturday, and you can see it!) As a result, the patrons came out in droves — I hear we had over 10,000 people over the course of the three-day weekend, which is simply amazing!

So much sunlight!

Saturday was a LONG day — we left the house at 6:00 that morning to drive down and set up for the weekend, and as I said, we didn’t close until 8:00. Then there was closing up the shop and checking into the hotel followed by consumption of pizza and crashing in bed.  But the Halloween Knights events are so much fun, they’re totally worth it.  The cast gets all zombified for the occasion, and goes around threatening to eat patrons.  There are also special shows — not only the joust, but (for instance) Commedia Mania did a special production of “Dracula”, which isn’t on their regular day-time playlist. And the cast (plus special guests, like my husband and some of the indy acts) do Thriller between the King’s Stage and the Dungeon Stage.

Mike got done up as Death for the occasion.

I had a great weekend of sales, too, which is always nice, since (let’s face it) that’s why I’m there. Lots of very enthusiastic shoppers, and lots of pieces I was tired of packing up finally went to their forever homes. And while it hasn’t sold yet, there was a lot of love for the Jasmine Jacket. Considering it’s a new design, and I only had time to get one in stock, I was glad to see a bunch of people wanting to try it on and possibly placing orders after the show closes.

Ashley, from the Sheriff Bracken Show, falling in love with the Jasmine Jacket.

So listen up, folks — you only have one weekend left to visit this amazing faire! If you haven’t been yet, make sure to come down this Saturday or Sunday. And if you have — come back! There’s sure to be stuff you haven’t seen yet!


PS – Are you a fan of Storied Threads on Facebook? You should be — the pictures I post here are only a small number of the pictures I post there. Not to mention more frequent updates on new designs, shows I’ll vend, and lots of other interesting stuff!

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We just finished weekend two of the Connecticut Renaissance Faire, and it was fantastic!

First off, let me just tell you — ignore all weather forecasters.  We’ve had four show days so far, and for three of them, there were dire predictions of rain, rain, and more rain. And you know what we’ve had so far? Four GORGEOUS days.

Seriously! Do you see any rain in this picture from early Saturday?

Saturday was a bit of a slower day, thanks to that gloomy weather forecast that never materialized.  But we still had over 600 people through the gates, and they were definitely ready to enjoy themselves!

Beatrix, on the other hand was having a bit of a needy day.  She kept wanting attention, and barking if we went out f her line of sight, which was a bit frustrating. Luckily this is a more rare mood for her, usually she’s pretty mellow.

Needy Beatrix sits on my lap, while Mike takes advantage of good framing.

Sunday was just a gorgeous day through and through. We had a brief rain squall at about 8 in the morning, while we were driving from the hotel to the faire site, and that was it. After that, the sun came out, there was a gorgeous rainbow that I didn’t get a picture of, the puddles dried up, and the crowds came out to play.

Hooray, shoppers!

Also on Sunday, I made a point of sitting down and watching a show. (Gasp!)  I went to see the Dueling Fools, and was so glad I did!  Brilliant swordplay coupled with brilliant wordplay? Yes, please! After the show I stopped to tip, and wound up chatting with George and after a few minutes, Rocco joined us.  They were both genuinely nice guys, and I could have easily hung around and chatted with them more, but I had to get back to my awesomely busy booth.

Dueling Fools! Go see their show! (Photo copyright to Dueling Fools)

Hopefully I’ll get to see some more shows this weekend — I like having some time to really enjoy the faire on a spectator level as well! Hmm, should I see Commedia Mania, or Wonderfool this weekend? Maybe I”ll see both!


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