Monday, April 30, 2012

Ye Olde Renaissance Pleasure Faire

We got up super-early so that we could get out there in
time for the opening ceremony. Here I am in my full garb!
On Saturday, Elaine and her fiance, Mu, came with me to the Ren Faire in Irwindale. Mu is a real faire person, having worked at the faires in both NorCal and Tucson, and he got Elaine into it, and she got me into it, and The Dreamstress made me believe that I could make my own costume, and that is how I ended up at the faire in my own home-made garb! It was seriously so much more fun (and accurate) than my first Ren Faire dress-up experience.

Oddly enough, my black unlined unfinished-seam polyester fake suede bodice from last time (which was really so many kinds of wrong) was made using the same pattern that I used for my kirtle. This time, though, I have three additional years of sewing experience under my belt, and more knowledge about historical costuming thanks to many hours of research. Last time, I thought one could just throw things together in a generic, vaguely historical fantasy wench sort of look; knowing what I know now, I look at my uncovered, unsecured hair and crimson tiered skirts with a sort of cringe-face. I have to say that Mu was incredibly gracious last time in lending me a hat to cover my head and a belt for my pouch and generally helping me make the best I could of my thrown-together costume. This time, I still had to borrow his belt (not having located a suitable one in my thrifting adventures), but I felt much better about my whole outfit.

It was pirate weekend at the faire, so there were many, many people in generic pirate-y things, and I have to say that I was very tempted to just go as a generic pirate queen, but I'm glad I went as I did. We had lots of fun wandering around looking at the wares (I did indulge in a tiny working brass spyglass), eating overpriced faire food (a surprisingly tasty cottage pie), admiring the nobility's costumes (and wondering how they could stand so many layers on a sweltering day), watching various naughty minstrel shows (I especially enjoyed the Merry Wives of Windsor and the Poxy Boggards), and watching demos and learning about various artisanal crafts (leather stamping, quill pen making, blacksmithing, weaving, and blackwork embroidery).

One of the first things we did was make little stamped leather necklaces at the kids' table. Yup, that's right, and of course I chose a triceratops horned dragon. I'm just a kid at heart, what with dressing up an all.

With a "real" dragon.

Don't drop the Queen! The procession was very grand, and the costumes incredible.

The Merry Wives of Windsor, with some incredible stripe-matching to make the chevrons in their bodices.

The very nice lady at St. Ives who showed us how to clean, temper, hollow out and carve feathers for quill pens.

Blackwork embroidery on a standing frame.

Spinning and weaving.

Totally random: there was a Nazgul wandering around! I snagged a picture with him and his incredible armor.

We came home hot and dusty and tired, but it was so much fun. To cap it all off, Elaine and I indulged in all-you-can-eat Korean BBQ, thereby adding another layer of smoky smells to our wandering-around-sweating-in-crowds smell. All in all, an excellent day. I'm so glad that Elaine and Mu were willing to drive out from Tucson to go to the faire with me!

And because I've been forgetting to post poems, for this last day of National Poetry Month, one of my absolute favorite geeky poems:

The Day the Saucers Came, by Neil Gaiman

That day, the saucers landed.
Hundreds of them, golden,
Silent, coming down from the sky like great snowflakes,
And the people of Earth stood and stared as they descended,
Waiting, dry-mouthed to find what waited inside for us
And none of us knowing if we would be here tomorrow
But you didn't notice it because 

That day, the day the saucers came, by some coincidence,
Was the day that the graves gave up their dead
And the zombies pushed up through soft earth
or erupted, shambling and dull-eyed, unstoppable,
Came towards us, the living, and we screamed and ran,
But you did not notice this because

On the saucer day, which was the zombie day, it was
Ragnarok also, and the television screens showed us
A ship built of dead-man's nails, a serpent, a wolf,
All bigger than the mind could hold, and the cameraman could
Not get far enough away, and then the Gods came out
But you did not see them coming because

On the saucer-zombie-battling gods day the floodgates broke
And each of us was engulfed by genies and sprites
Offering us wishes and wonders and eternities
And charm and cleverness and true brave hearts and pots of gold
While giants feefofummed across the land, and killer bees,
But you had no idea of any of this because

That day, the saucer day the zombie day
The Ragnarok and fairies day, the day the great winds came
And snows, and the cities turned to crystal, the day
All plants died, plastics dissolved, the day the
Computers turned, the screens telling us we would obey, the day
Angels, drunk and muddled, stumbled from the bars,
And all the bells of London were sounded, the day
Animals spoke to us in Assyrian, the Yeti day,
The fluttering capes and arrival of the Time Machine day,
You didn't notice any of this because
you were sitting in your room, not doing anything
not even reading, not really, just
looking at your telephone,
wondering if I was going to call.

And if you wanted to hear it read aloud, I like this version because it sounds so grave and important. Thanks for bearing with all the random poems this month!


  1. that poem is CRAZY. wow.

    oh my god now i want to go to a faire. i'm not being fake commenty either, i seriously want to go. and you have a dinosaur necklace. are you going to attach a seam ripper?

    1. Isn't it just the best?

      The faire is still running for another couple of weeks! I'd love to see you tear it up there! Hmmm, if I could get a vintage seam ripper (as in one that doesn't have an obviously plastic handle, I *could* attach leather bits to make the necklace into a seam ripper holder...

  2. i am not sure ren faire is my thing, but i think it is so cool that you and your friends went and made an awesome day of it. what better way to spend a day can there be?

    1. I love that you straight up admit that faire is not your thing! I don't think it is exactly my thing either, at least not the way it is Mu's thing (I don't think I could work there for two months!), but I did greatly enjoy my seven hours there.

  3. Oh I love the Merry Wives costumes! Looks like it was tons of fun
    And that is an awesome poem!

    1. I spent all day surreptitiously examining people's costumes and almost running into people/getting lost in the crowd because I was too busy trying to suss out if someone had illegal darts or if that was really linen or just linen-look fabric...the Merry Wives show was awesome not just for their singing, but for the costumes. Glad you enjoyed the poem!

  4. love the chevron bodices! the college i went to used to have an annual ren faire that we dressed up for, sang and performed skits at. this takes me back to some good memories! and that poem is amazing, love it.

    1. How awesome that you got to participate in something like that!

      I loved that the stripes actually matched up in their bodices. Some of the other performing groups had non-matching chevron attempts that distracted me to no end.

  5. This looks a little like the re-enactment groups we have over here.

    Today I showed extreme self control in not buying a set on historical costume sewing patterns in a charity shop. I could always go back for them!

    1. I say you go back for them :) I'm curious to hear about these reenactment groups over there! I always thought it was bizarre that the US would have faires set in Elizabethan England, and wondered if it wasn't more appropriate to have them in the UK.

    2. Here's a link to one of our local groups
      We're planning to go along to a major event including this group in June and I hope to take some photographs. They are impressively authentic down to minute details - clothing, musical instruments, crafts, cooking.

  6. I'm so glad you suggested we come out for a Faire visit with you! We had a great time, and it was so nice to get out of town for a few days!

    1. Hahahah it was all self-serving, as it provided me with an excuse to make a costume :) I'm glad you had a fun mini-break!

  7. Looks like a great day, you look fab! XxxX

  8. My absolutely favourite geeky poem, too! One of my favourite poems in general, actually.
    And your clothes are fabulous, in that understated, every-day historical wear way. I love them.
    Plus there are some crafts I'd love to take a look at myself... quill making, wow!

  9. You look fabulous! Yay! And it looks like you had a great time. I love the emphasis on demonstrations and crafts. Sadly, none of the Renaissance fairs I have been to had any of that sort of stuff. Just too much bawdiness and commerce. (Insert nose wrinkling emoticon here).

    Love the Gaiman poem. Are you familiar with Tim Pratt's Scientific Romance? Rather similar vein, and equally fabulous. I got to read it once for a wedding - probably the first and only time a marriage ceremony has included the mention of threesomes!


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