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Archive for May, 2013

If I had to summarize the opening weekend of the Connecticut Renaissance Faire’s fourth annual Robin Hood Springtime Festival, I’d say this: WOW!

ImageThe Storied Threads team (me, my assistant Kate, and my husband Mike) went down to the site in Guilford, Connecticut on Friday for final set-up and spent the afternoon trying out my new display arrangement, which traded most of the wooden shelves and poles for the gridwall I used earlier this year at Arisia. You can see the result for yourselves.

ImageI love it! The shop feels more open, the clothing area looks more fully-stocked (which it was, since I spent the last few months cranking out stuff to sell), and the patches are spread out and visible instead of hiding on the poles (mostly).

Then came opening day, which has never been a huge sales day for me, but this year the faire had maybe its biggest opening-day crowd ever, so the numbers were in my favor, and I ended up doing pretty well.

We started Sunday off with a quickie photo shoot for two of my “Game of Thrones”-inspired knight’s surcoats, using Mike and his fellow evil guard Rick as models and the very talented Lauren Dubois as my shutterbug.

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ImageIt’s a good thing we got those shots in, because I sold those two surcoats later that day…along with a TON of other stuff, such as the Thor-inspired surcoat (modeled here, impromptu, by my friend Dave, who is a lovable goof).

Yes, despite a steady day-long drizzle, the crowds were great and in a spending mood, and I surpassed my sales from Saturday by a LOT.

That left only student day, which is never a huge sales day, but the patches are a low-cost item so I tend to turn a decent profit, and that was the case this year.

When I finally sat down to crunch the numbers, I learned that I had my best CTRF spring opening weekend ever. All my expenses were met halfway through the weekend, so everything from here on out is profit…which is great news, because I’ve been spending a ton of money on materials this year.

I’ll be at CTRF for two more weekends, some please stop by and say hello!

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Or, you know. He at least likes a thing I made, and that’s pretty much the same thing.

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This was a brilliant thing to start my day off this morning, and a very upbeat way to head into the opening weekend of the Connecticut Renaissance Faire.

And now — back upstairs to get stock packed for the weekend!

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Before I started Storied Threads, I sometimes worked as a costume designer for renaissance faires. It’s not a job I have time for anymore — Storied Threads keeps me plenty busy enough! So it’s interesting, now, to vend at a show I used to design, and see pieces I made for specific characters getting re-used in new ways.  Sometimes they’re predictable — a knight’s surcoat getting re-used, just on a different knight, for instance.  And sometimes, less so.

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Taryn Kegler as Princess Guinevere and Roger Mandeville as King Arthur. Connecticut Renaissance Faire, 2007.

In 2007, I made this dress for Taryn Kegler, who was playing Princess Guinevere at the Connecticut Renaissance Faire. The entire outfit was custom made for her, with a long underdress with tight-buttoned mitten sleeves, and a shorter overdress in a rich plum velvet. I drew from both medieval sources and Pre-Raphaelite paintings as my inspirations for the gown, and Taryn wore it gorgeously.

However, that turned out to be the only year that Taryn played Guinevere, and so the gown — as all costumes do — went into the show’s stock to be re-used later. that was also the last year — for a while — that I was the designer for the show, and in 2008, the job was taken over by somebody else.

 

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Jenn Rykowski, at the Connecticut Renaissance Faire, 2008.

That year, I was a vendor at CTRF for the first time, and got to see the show from more of an outsider perspective.  And I have to admit, I was surprised when I saw Jenn Rykowski wearing Guinevere’s purple dress — but as a feminine tunic for a fighter character she was playing!

It was an interesting moment for me, because I realized that I honestly would never have thought of using the dress in this way.  It was made as a part of a gown, for a member of royalty, and it was so tied to this purpose in my head that I’m sure I’d have continued to use it for that purpose, had I stayed on as costume designer.  It shows clearly how differently the same garment can be viewed by different people.

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Mark Johnson as King Uriens at the Connecticut Renaissance Faire, 2005.

2005 was the first year I was the costume designer for the Connecticut Renaissance Faire. And that year, I made the first Uriens Vest — predictably, for the character of King Uriens. I wanted him to look like a medieval nobleman, but not like a knight — Uriens was not a fighting king.  So I chose to work with a lot of rich layers — a white shirt, a long tunic, and a long vest trimmed in green and gold.  It was a look that came together very well for him, and let him cut a figure as a distinguished gentleman of King Arthur’s court.  Over the next few years, the vest was used several times, always in a similar fashion — to add a finishing layer to a nobleman’s costume.

 

 

 

 

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Karen Tuthill as the Mayor of Caer Leon, and Carl Canella as the Bishop of someplace I can’t remember now. Connecticut Renaissance Faire 2008.

In 2008, the vest was assigned to the actress playing the Lady Mayor of Caer Leon.  In this case, the change didn’t surprise me so much because of context — it was still being used as a finishing piece for a character of higher standing. But because it had gone from being a vest for a large man, to being worn by a small woman — and being folded and pleated to work remarkably well in that way.

It’s always interesting to me to go to the shows I used to design for, and see how pieces I made years ago are still being used in new and interesting ways. Once fine pieces that have 10 years of wear in them maybe don’t suit a noble character anymore.  Alterations taking a large item and making it fit a smaller actor, or adding trim to a plain garment to dress it up for a fancier character.  I wonder what I’ll see re-purposed interestingly at this year’s Robin Hood Faire in a few weeks?

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