Hello again! Karin was kind enough to ask me to guest on her blog again.
My name is Susi but I answer to Rowan, a musical character name with a long story or ‘Your Majesty” which is another long story but suffice it to say that I have acted at, costumed for, played music at, portrayed most of the female Tudors in, directed, produced and married guys I met while performing at Renaissance festivals … for almost 40 years. It’s more than a (really expensive) hobby at this point; it’s a lifestyle. I am who I am today for my involvement with Renfaires. Hi, I am a Rennie, aka, a person involved deeply in Renfaires. There is a whole genre of humor starting with, “you are a rennie if” to which I can answer affirmatively to many of them (…if you have costumes worth more than your car, for instance.) This picture is from a small faire I helped start in central Missouri and the gorgeous bird on my arm is Lady Val, the most photographed Harris Hawk in the world (probably.) She’s a character; she will fly rings in for wedding ceremonies and purposely tightens the knot so it’s harder to untie; such a goofball. I adore playing QE and miss it lots.
I have to admit that I really don’t remember what my topic was the last time since I am many things; a DIYer, a professional seamstress, a designer, a jewelry maker, an animal lover, a pagan, a non-denominational minister, a durned fine cook and baker and I make the best apple butter this side of the Mississippi. But it’s a pretty safe bet that costuming was my topic. I’ve been doing this so long that I’m way past burn-out but at 63 and thrice divorced (I know, it boggles my mind, too) and can’t get hired for any sort of job anywhere so I’ll keep right on doing it…sorta addicted to continuing to eat and pay rent. Sometimes it’s enjoyable and sometimes not. I’ll cover both in this post if there’s space.
Why “we do the weird stuff,” you ask? Because I do. People want unusual stuff and they come to me. It’s really great when they understand that this level of creativity and expertise means being paid commensurate with that level of skill and experience. Along the way I have costumed a chicken, made a pretty girl into a Renaissance gentleman, constructed 4’ high angel wings out of feathers, a twisted-wire crown for a Dwarf, a Flying Monkey costume, made miniature costumes for a client’s “Bridezilla and Groomera” for their wedding cake topper. It was a replica of the bride’s dress made from her fabric. And that’s just a sampling of weird stuff I’ve made off the top of my head.
In the “enjoyable” category, last month I finished what we called “the Admiral’s Boat Coat” for an old friend from faire. He works a factory job and so has the income to hire me to make a very warm, very detailed Pirate overcoat that he will wear for the rest of his life, very likely. He knew exactly what he wanted and fortunately, has the sort of brain to work out all the tiny design details….correctly! As expensive as it was, he still saved a lot of money by not having to go down rabbit-holes of “how on earth will I do this part” because he had it all worked out. I found the fabrics, linings and fur online. He ordered them and had them shipped to my house. From there, I cut out a pattern and fitted it to him before ever cutting into the wool or fur; this way we could work out all the design details ahead of time. And there were a *lot* of details; he wanted the capelet and hood to be detachable and reversible with fur on one side and wool on the other. He wanted to hood to be large enough to fit over his tricorn hat. He wanted it to be double breasted and for the front lapels (which extend the whole length of the coat) to be able to button back. He wanted it vented (open) down the back skirting, with buttonholes along both edges so that the front of the coat lapels could go between his legs and button to the back edges so he can wear this on his motorcycle. This necessitated making a diagonal slit in the front lapels about at crotch level so they can fold back without big puckers. Yeah…detailed. I made something like 56 buttonholes for this coat. Probably the most detailed garment I’ve made since my QE costumes. But he paid for the R & D and he paid every hour of the labor on this so he basically paid for a whole month’s rent and catching up on my utilities….gladly and willingly. He’s utterly delighted with it.
This is my friend Carl, modeling the whole thing the day I delivered it. That’s the wool side of the capelet and hood with the hood down over his shoulders. He looks stern and mean but he is one of the kindest, most gentle men I know.
The second pic is of the whole thing with the fur side of the capelet and hood out; it buttons to the neckband of the cape (soooo many buttonholes!) And the third pic is of the back view of the coat.
It’s really, really warm!
And that’s the “enjoyable” side of the business. I’ve probably gone on too long as it is so I’ll cover the “cool but less enjoyable” project next time…the gorgeous King Louis IX coronation costume for the Burlesque performer who is a darling young man who just doesn’t quite understand what it really costs to make incredibly elaborate costumes. Oh well, I still have it so we’ll reach an understanding of cost….soon.
What am I reading? I recently got hooked on Patricia Cornwell’s “Scarpetta” series and am trying to acquire the rest of the 27 book series without paying an arm and a leg. Pets? I have the darling Tesla who is alternately a whirling dervish and a sweet cuddly boy. He loves to “help” me up in the shop.
If Karin invites me back, I’ll try to behave and not be so very wordy.
You can find me on Facebook,
or on Etsy.