The Faire-y Files: Borrowed Buggies

3 07 2017

If I ever get around to actually publishing a book or something, a lot of my material comes to me straight out of the mouths of… well… my customers, the world around me, um, frankly EVERYONE. I find lots of what people say strange and hilarious (maybe that’s just the way my artist’s brain takes in the world around me.) But I feel like the bar is higher for this particular blog post because:  (1) last month my BFF and I were doing our usual “running my booth together thing” at the TN Faire. We were told by several people this year, “Hey, no kiddin’ – we stop here every year because you two are the funniest act at this Faire.” Considering there are stage acts at that show (and every other Ren Faire in the world) who specialize in humor? Ya. Bar feels high. (2) There is now a published author who reads my blog.  EEEEEK. (Hi Laura.) (3) I haven’t blogged a Faire-y Tale story in a year and I feel rusty.  It’s hard to explain the absurdity of my world, and my weird job to people who go to my day job for their “day-cations“.  So “once more into the breach” and all that happy greeting card crap, right? (4) Someone informed me that one of my blog articles cost them a keyboard because of sprayed coffee while laughing… I mean, I don’t want to be a record holding keyboard mangler, but that compliment alone was… intense. Maybe the world views me just as funny as I view it.

I was driving home from Faire late one Sunday night about six years ago, in a borrowed car that I was trying to purchase. The seller was being a bit slow with paperwork, and although I didn’t like the idea of borrowing a car for interstate travel before I owned it, it was one of those things that was really unavoidable that weekend in particular.  I also had my mutt, Guinness with me.


He’s part Wookie, part Ewok, and basically my funny little sidekick with genius comedic timing.  At the time, he didn’t have a seatbelt.  He had a 6 gallon milk crate that I inherited at a garage sale, and Ren-gineered into his car seat. (“Ren-gineered” being a term that means a Rennie made it with materials that have no right being used in the manner they are, and that said Rennie probably got all of their engineering experience from having dated an engineer at one time. And yet, often the constructed object in question generally works fine.)

This day (which shall now live in infamy forever) is the reason Guinness now has a doggie seatbelt (visible in the photo above) that clips into the back of his harness. Well, that, and I don’t want him hitting a windshield at mumblety-thump mph if I get in a wreck.

I drove home that night in my garb, because Faire ran late, and it was about a 4-5 hour drive home. I had to stop for gas on the way, and, as per my usual, stuck my cell phone into the top of my corset out of habit.  (Many thanks to David Vail for the amazing photo below.)

As I was pumping my gas, Guinness leapt over onto the driver’s seat to scope out why we’ve stopped.  And stepped firmly on the auto-lock button.  Now, to recap: Borrowed car, so title, registration, etc are all not in my name.  Spare key with the owner, about 3 hours/200 miles away. No AAA.  And the gas station was closing in 45 minutes (it’s was a Sunday night in the middle-of-nowhere).

I said a string of Very Naughty Words and asked the gas station attendant if perhaps, they had a slim-jim door unlocker thinger behind the counter. He did not.  I received inept help from a lovely passerby with a coat hanger and mansplaining tendencies. After he left, I now had scratches on the door of the borrowed car.  With no other options I could think of, and with it getting later by the minute, I called 911.

“Hi, I am super sorry to be calling.  I understand that my emergency is low priority, but my dog just locked himself in my car at a gas station, and I’m 200 miles from home.  Is there an officer in the area not busy doing real police work tonight that could pop my lock?” (Now, I don’t recommend this course of action.  Seriously, if I had had ANY OTHER OPTION… I wouldn’t have called them.  But apparently a “live animal in a locked car” is an actual – if Very Low Level – emergency.)

92 minutes later, Officer Friendly (O.F.) shows up.  I try really really hard not to judge people on appearances, but to say this gent probably could’ve attended Woodstock as a late-blooming college student, with a physique that would make it impossible to chase down anyone on foot (even me, and I’m lucky to run a 10 minute mile at my best) would be visually accurate. And I’ve already mentioned how my brain works – I filter a high proportion of what I say… typically. But when you stir in exhaustion from a busy work weekend dealing with hundreds if not thousands of people, a long drive made longer by my own damn stupidity, and concern for my dog?… The force required for holding back snarky comments delivered a la Wednesday Addams deadpan with a smoky jazz lounge singer’s voice was EPIC.

O.F.: Examining my outfit from top to bottom, pausing long enough at my cleavage to be inappropriate, despite the fact that said cleavage is reasonably but decently displayed because ELIZABETHAN CORSET. “Your dog lock himself in the car, huh?”

Me: Yes, sirDude, dispatch had to have told you that.  And you can see my freaking idiot dog bouncing up and down in the driver’s seat in anticipation of meeting someone new.

O.F.: May I see your license ma’am?

Me: It’s in my wallet, sir, (points to purse, sitting Very Evidently on middle seat, inside locked vehicle.) 

O.F.: Where were you headed tonight?

Me: sigh. Didn’t dispatch ALSO tell you this? Home, sir.  Akron area. Ohio. I still have about 2.5 hours of driving ahead of me.  (hint hint… can we get this show on the road already, please?)

O.F.: Well, lemme get my fjdskalfdsg. (unintelligible, yet probably proper name for slim-jim door unlocker thingy aka the SJDUT.)

He walks back to the car with his SJDUT.  Pauses at the sight of Guinness, who has started licking the freaking window in abject joy that the new person is almost within reach of meeting.

O.F.: Is he friendly? 

Me: Yes, sir. He’s 21 lbs on his best day sir, I think even you could probably take him… have you really met a quantity of mean dogs who lick and paw at windows with their tails wagging at a rate of “supersonic” when they spot you?

O.F.: Pausing, with the SJDUT in hand. You know you should grab your keys when you stop for gas.

Me: thank you, Captain Obvious. Yes sir.  I’m in the process of buying this car from a friend, sir.  I’ve never driven one with auto-locks before but I guarantee I will remember that in future sir.  

O.F.: You know the SJDUT may damage the door, right? 

Me: Yes, sir, but since the spare is with the friend in question, that leaves me with no choice.

He works on the door for a minute, pauses, and asks, “Where’s the friend live?”

Me: Sigh. Ohio, Sir, as the license plate will confirm.  And so you’re aware, the registration will of course match her name, not mine.  But I have my insurance card in my wallet if you need that for your notes, sir.  Please just open the dang door.

He jimmies the door, Guinness greets him with more kisses than the Pope’s ring has seen in a decade.

O.F.: He’s sure a friendly little thing, isn’t he.

Me: Yes, sir. Thank you sir.  Guinness, kennel.  (“Kennel” being the command that means “Get your ass into your milk crate on the passenger seat because you’re overdoing the greeting.”)

O.F.: Well behaved little dog too.

Me: Thank you sir.  Grabbing my keys from the ignition, and pulling out my license. Did you need the registration too, sir? I’ll need to grab that from the glove box. 

O.F.: Yes ma’am.

Me: leaning over Guinness to grab the registration and receiving a barrage of kisses myself. Here, sir.

Eons pass, wars are won, and novels are written while he examines my license and my friend’s registration Very Carefully before handing both back.

O.F.: … no actual words come forth, but he seems to be… waiting for something.  

Me: looking at the time on my cell phone which I’ve plucked out of my corset while O.F. was examining my paperwork, and realize I’ve been stuck at this gas station for nearly 2 hours. Thank you very much for unlocking my car, sir. Am I free to go sir? I’ve got a goodly bit of driving left tonight. 

O.F.: He makes another visual appraisal of me, this time pausing at my cleavage long enough that even Guinness takes notice that Time Has Stopped again.  Just one more question before you go ma’am…  – are you Amish?

Me: Closes eyes, takes deep breath. For the hairy love of Oedipus. Amish people don’t drive cars, SIR. Mennonites drive cars, and I hope for the safety and well-being of the local Amish community here, you are not dispatched any time that actual knowledge of said community is required.  At minimum, you’ll be on their prayer list.  And I don’t want them to think that you are representative of our “English ways” No, sir.  I work at a medieval theme park. 17th century? Queen Elizabeth? These are my work clothes.  

O.F.: …. blank stare wherein it’s clear he’s never heard of either the 17th century or Queen Elizabeth, although the stare breaks long enough for him to do another – although this time blessedly quick – visual sweep of my garb. Drive safely ma’am. He gestures in a way that makes it clear I’m free to go.

The End… but in the way of Disney movies, here’s the Easter egg scene:

So I’m retelling this over breakfast at the KY Ren Faire to much laughter, and get to the “Are you Amish” punchline, and T (a tall, voluptuous, and brassy lady who very much speaks her mind) pipes up, “You TOTALLY should have struck a pose and told him you work in Amish porn.” So I lower my voice from “smoky” to “come hither”, cock my eyebrows at the breakfast table crowd and say, “I work in Amish porn…” The table explodes in laughter over and over, with mass giggles and people holding their stomachs from laughing too hard, and then, because “the more you know…”

Fierce googling ensues to discover whether or not Amish porn exists…


So When I say I’m Busy…

10 09 2014

I had to explain to a friend why I wouldn’t be at her _____  this weekend.  I’ve been surprised several times within the past year to see people’s expressions when I explain what “busy” means to me, but as the universe seems to find it funny to keep redefining what “manageable” means in my life, the expressions on people’s faces indicate that they and I perhaps define “busy” a little differently.  So for example: last weekend between Thursday and the Tuesday that followed it, I put 1Snuugly Cat148 miles on my car driving from southern Ohio to Michigan back across Ohio to Pennsylvania, and back via a different way through Ohio to home.  That’s like driving from New York City to Tampa Florida (I just checked it on Google.) In the midst of that 1148 miles, I worked 8 hours on Thursday, 4 hours on Friday, 13 hours on Saturday, 11 hours on Sunday, 11 hours on Monday, 4 hours on Tuesday.  I felt kinda lucky on Tuesday night actually, cause I decided to nap for a whole two hours rather than make more glass related things to sell.  My cat had other ideas, so I ended up reading the artist Marrus’ book, called “Lightsurfing”.  It was fabulous, and I can sooooo relate to her thoughts about people, art, selling art, and the weird world that sucks you in while selling your art.

Her book not only made me feel “normal” for an artist, but it gave me some new ideas, and in the state that I’m in (which would be a wee bit ragged at this point) I know why people do drugs.  Really I do.  There’s a part of my busy season (which is happening right now if the title didn’t clue you in) that I get so ground down that my filters fall off, and somehow that frees all the worldly concerns and allows my creative side to take flight.  It could also be because I do a lot of driving this time of year, and for whatever reason, long drives seem to be one of the few places where my brain goes into hyper pattern recognition, ideas flow, (thank gods for Siri who takes weird but acceptable notes for me) and things click together in new ways.

I still think that this weekend may have been totally absurd in its own right…. because first off, I got

Upstaged By a Grasshopper

I was standing at an oblique angle to the “Cadillac” piece in my booth at the Ren Faire, and three ladies IMG_4344walked in, pointed to something in my booth and said, “Wow! It’s huge!” (For the record, the lantern in the photo stands a little over 2 feet tall, so it is huge, and I couldn’t logically see what else they would be pointing at.  I mean, my booth itself is kinda small – 9 feet 3 inches per side to be exact, so the lantern in question is definitely “the piece of wow” in my booth. I proudly exclaimed, “Let me show it to you in the light!” and held up the lantern, door ajar so the glass shone true.  One of the ladies corrected me. “No,” she said, “We were talking about the grasshopper.” I looked closely at the tall part of my checkout stand (which has two tiers, the lower of which the lantern was on) and see a pretty good sized specimen of grasshopper sitting there, taking in the view.  I kind of laughed, and said, “Well the noise you hear is my artistic ego deflating.” They chuckled, but clearly the grasshopper was unimpressed.  I swear he looked at the three ladies like, “Why are you guys laughing? She’s not as funny as I am! Watch this!” As we stood there watching him watch us, he wiggled his tail section, which looked like moveable miniature armor plating, and out from it shot a grasshopper turd.  Admittedly I’ve never seen a grasshopper take a dump before.  His timing was perfect.  My three potential customers looked at me, looked back at the grasshopper,  made a collective “Eeeeeeew” face, and left like greyhounds in pursuit of a rabbit.

More Fecking Wildlife Doing What It Shouldn’t Where It Shouldn’t

I went to put more salt in my softener today and noticed… a dead mouse.  We’ve had a run of them lately, (Mice, not dead mice…  Well, I guess actually it is a run of dead mice if you count that I keep finding them in my mousetraps and not in exciting places like my water softener.) I don’t know where they’re getting in, I don’t tend to leave food out… but I do live in a ranch house that’s over a crawlspace.  And it’s a foreclosure, which means that there are probably mouse colonies that have years on me in terms of who’s been the longest tenant here.  I keep filling holes as I see them, around pipes and vents and stuff, but until I stop catching them in traps? Well, let’s just say the traps will be out and filled with nummy peanut butter.  My first thought upon seeing Ralph S Mouse floating in the drink was, “Oh holy feck I’ve been drinking the gorram water with mouse poop and dead mouse in it.” And promptly thought about vomiting.  My second thought was, “Holy shit my arm’s too short to reach the bottom of the softener tank and fish it out.”  Enter a stick, bleach, one vomiting episode, a shop vac, one phone call to Kenmore to ask exactly how much bleach one can put through said softener and not damage it…  Needless to say I didn’t get my full workload done today.  Some things just take precedence…

Praying Mantid And Another Reference to Vomit

(According to my friend Tamar, “mantid” is the plural of “mantis”).  It’s a weird thing to be trying to describe in a blog, but for those of you with a well-defined spiritual side, praying mantid seem to come along whenever my business is expanding in a “Oh, please don’t let me vomit during this ride” kind of way.  So it’s good, but scary. Like a roller coaster.  The last time my business expanded like this was about five years ago, and I think I spotted 3 different mantid that fall.  I’m seeing trends in that direction again.  It’s cool but scary.  And it means that I’m so busy riding the roller coaster that other things happen…

I Should Go Buy a Lottery Ticket Because I Didn’t Get Arrested In Wal-Mart

When I’m this busy, I just naturally lose weight.  I put high calorie food in my mouth whenever I remember, get extra cream and sugar in my coffee (just for the extra calories), and at one truly epic (and cold) Ren Faire season in Ohio, every weekend we were open I would make hot chocolate in the mornings by melting a Lindt bar and stirring in cream or evaporated milk until it looked like a mug-full.  But yeah, weight loss happens.  I also tend to run short on clean clothes this time of year, so I end up wearing the dregs of my wardrobe (ya know, the stuff that never gets pulled out unless you’re desperate.)  The pair of jeans I wore to WalMart were too big, and although they fit when I initially bought them, they didn’t really fit anymore by this past weekend.  And I neglected to pack a belt because I hate wearing belts unless I’m in garb.  (I can’t explain it, it’s just a weird quirky thing, ok?)  And I wasn’t wearing knickers because, well, I miscounted the correct number needed for the weekend, and dear god I just wanted to buy my crisps/potato chips and whole milk and get back on the road… (No I didn’t say I eat well during shows season, I just said I eat high calorie food.) So the poor folks at Wal-Mart were getting treated to a rather stellar eye full, cause I was wearing a stained and ratty old tee shirt, pants that were clearly too big for my current size, hair that looked like it had seen better days, and I could smell me because I’d been driving all morning in a truck with no air conditioning and it was 87 degrees out.  And sunny as hell.  I think I inadvertently clinched the “Dear gods is she a meth-head?” in the rheumy eyes of the wizened WalMart greeter when I stood outside the automatic door for five minutes (waiting for people to stop going in) so I could get a photo of this:

IMG_4352If you can’t read it, it says, “LOOK BEFORE YOU LEAVE – Please make sure children are not left unattended in vehicles.” Now, I don’t have kids, but really, if you feel like you have to post this on the door of your business, I think that perhaps you may want to reconsider the demographic you’re marketing to.  In other words, I actually fit in okay while shopping there the other day.

But the pants.  Luckily the aisle was empty when I reached up really high to grab the chips I wanted.  I think the security camera was either not on me, or it was a horny guy watching, because, well, when you reach high, your stomach flattens out.  And  my pants had a wardrobe malfunction.  If there was someone on the camera at that moment,  he (or she) got a fairly solid look at at least 2 inches of “more-than-I-show-to-someone-who-isn’t-living-with-me”.  At least I didn’t get arrested. Although I did remember standing in the dairy aisle that I should grab a can of metallic spraypaint to touch up some lanterns I acquired that needed a little TLC.  That clearly changed the greeter’s opinion from “Meth-head” to “Huffer” when she saw me walking out with my booty cause I refuse to bag shit I can just as easily carry… Sigh.

Children Shipped In From Hell

I don’t know where the kids came from at the Faire this past weekend.  I think hell was running a special. “Buy one hellion, get one free!” (Or something like that.) It was so bad that other vendors were asking if the kids were particularly bad around my booth.  (I’m the glass artist on the row. I think that’s the Ren Faire equivalent of the litmus test when contemplating child behavior “en masse” on any given weekend.) Nothing got broken, but it wasn’t for lack of trying by the anklebiter set.  I actually yelled at a kid this weekend.  (For anyone that’s seen me at Faire, I can’t remember in my 10 years of doing this of ever yelling at a kid).

Kids are impressionable, and frankly, although I’d hate to lose a piece, I would always rather compliment a kid on being gentle with something (particularly if they’re not quite hitting the “gentle” mark, but haven’t yet actually connected with a shot that puts it into “Danger Will Robinson!” territory), as it makes their parents react in a non-defensive way.  And if you’ve ever worked retail, Ren Faire is guerilla retail – it’s high octane, super fast paced, and the sheer number of people is staggering.  On a good day, depending on the faire, the gate count can vary from 8,000-20,000 people.  I don’t want someone remembering my booth as the place where their kid got yelled at.  It’s just my philosophy, but in my opinion, our primary goals are to a) sell stuff) and b) make sure people enjoy themselves enough to not only come back, but bring their friends.  Word of mouth and all.

Seriously though, I stopped one little girl from having a swordfight with my Tardis lantern, another kid from juggling some of my magnets in my booth, one child from pulling on my hanging stuff like he was practicing for an epic cow milking experience, and another pair of kids from fencing with sticks in my 9 foot 3 inch booth. (Half of which is taken up by my product, so there ain’t a whole lotta room to maneuver while dueling.)  I had more offers than I can remember ever cumulatively in one weekend from parents asking if I would “take their kid in trade”.  My standard reply is that the ones that get offered up so quickly are never a good deal in the end.  As Wallace Shawn’s character in the Princess Bride says, “It was inconceivable.” (And I know what that word means.)

And Then The Universe Rights Itself

Near day’s end, this guy came into the booth with his daughter in tow.  Dad looked frantic.  Little girl was weeping.  Dad asked, “Have you seen a clear crystal pendant anywhere?” He points to little girl’s neck, where there is a string and a clear dent in the string where a pendant recently hung.  Now, at this particular faire, I don’t tend to bring my workbox with me – nobody in 3 years has asked for french hooks instead of posts on earrings, and my booth is tiny.  There isn’t a lot of room for spare bits that aren’t for sale.  I asked the standard, “Have you checked Lost & Found?” He replied with an affirmative, and so I asked the next logical question, “Do you remember where you got it?” Dad shook his head no.  (Meanwhile I”m kind of swearing inside because I tend to over-engineer my products so that someone has to really try to lose them. If the little girl lost her new pendant within a few hours of getting it, I can only imagine what sort of clasp was on it… I’ve done my homework, and I’ve strolled around to see how other people do it.  Ego aside, I don’t like to make stuff that won’t hold up. And it frustrates me when other people don’t make their stuff to a high standard.)  So I said to Dad, “I don’t have the same type of pendants, but I have my box of crystals with me, and nobody should lose their treasure at Faire.  Faire is supposed to be fun!”  I pulled out my crystal box, and while little girl was ensconced in looking, I asked Dad in my sotto voce voice if $2 was okay, since that’s about what a crystal runs me. Dad gave me a thumbs up and a huge smile, which tells me that a) he paid a lot more for the first one, and b) made me swear inside all over again about ethics and quality and stuff. Little girl pointed to the one she wants, I made a wire hanger for it, and all is repaired.  At this moment, Dad reminds little girl to say thank you (she had been completely non-verbal to this point).  Little girl grabs me around the waist and hugs.  Dad shoves a wad of cash in my hand.  Day is saved.

So in thinking back, I realize that I’ve done this faire for 3 years now.  I have never had my workbox with my crystals with me at this faire.  I get weird inklings sometimes.  Stuff I’m supposed to do, places I”m supposed to be… supernatural stuff, and when I’m in my busy season, I don’t tend to recognize them when they happen. Stuff just happens.  So here’s the math: Even considering the odds, and the number of days I work this particular faire, that puts my having my crystal box with me (actually with me in the booth) at a 1:21 ratio.  Weird huh?  Cue Twilight Zone Theme.  Fade to black.  Good night folks.

Truth is Stranger than Fiction

12 03 2012

And really, they don’t make folks much stranger than us Rennies.

A funny thing happened on the way to the Faire. (Isn’t that a play??) Okay, all joking aside, every job has funny stories. I think maybe we Ren folk seem to get more than our “Faire” share because we a) are weirdos who live on the fringe of society ourselves for the most part b) interact with many folks who are also a bit on the fringe, and therefore, have unusual and varied interests, and c) we run into a LOT more people in an average year than most folks. (I recently did some SWAG math – scientific wild assed guessing – whereupon I added the lowest average gate counts for each faire that I do in a year, and took 25% or that number, based on the assumption that only 25% of the folks at the faire will make it my shop to look around, and then multiplied that number by 90%, assuming that 10% of the folks I meet are return customers, and therefore, not really new acquaintances. If my math is even mostly right, I meet over 25,000 people at faires annually.

So I’ve heard lots of stories from interacting with lots of folks, and living lots of places, albeit temporarily.

Here’s two of my favorite “Tales from the Ren Road.” (Both are written in the first person for readability.)

One of the goals of being on the Ren Faire circuit is to have a snarky or funny reply to anything a patron can throw at you. It’s part of the charm of the Faire – we’re allowed to (within reason) poke fun at patrons and give a little of what-for. A prime example is the pickle seller, who is typically a guy, and who typically delivers lines like, ”Hey Mister… want to slip your girl a pickle in public?” or my personal favorite, “Bigger than your man and really cheap!” Yes, it’s naughty, but seriously, have you EVER read Chaucer? Pretty earthy stuff, really.

The Tale of Two Pickles
There were a couple of very loud homophobic frat boy types who were generally acting like asses, and working their way down through my section of the show. The pickle guy (see the references above) heard them coming, heard them calling each other “faggot” and played it straight for a few minutes while they approached. One of the guys who was both the biggest and loudest of the bunch decided to buy a pickle, and, after taking the guy’s money, and handing him his pickle, the pickle seller let loose. He looks at the guy, and says in his biggest, most booming voice, “Dude, I picked out the biggest, saltiest pickle I could for you, and I think it’s admirable that you’re eating such a huge pickle in public.” And when they start to look confusedly at each other, he asks another of the group if they’d like to slip any of their homies a pickle in public. By this time enough interest from passers-by had been stirred that the frat boys just kind of shoved their hands into their pockets and walked away. It was clear that one or two of them wanted to say or do something, but it was also clear that they recognized that any response on their part would be verbally parried by the pickle seller.

A Witch’s Credentials
So one day at Faire, this guy comes up to me while I’m eating an apple. He’s a real boorish type with probably half a beer too much in him (cause his volume control is gone), and he yells at me, “Didja buy that apple from a witch?” I follow Wicca (and would be considered a witch by a lot of people)… I mean, had the guy bothered to look in my booth, it’s pretty clear that many of my items are Pagan friendly. Luck was on my side, as I don’t always think quickly on my feet, and I bellowed back to him, “Sir, I was shopping for produce, not asking for credentials.”

I have a MINION!

20 11 2011

So um… work has exploded. (It’s a good thing. It means I should be able to keep myself in decent chocolate all winter.)

Stained glass is a dying art.

I know a reasonable amount about said art.

I have a full roster of shows coming up, and two hands to make stock with, barring injuries necessitating super glue or stitches.

This was the unaltered, unedited beginning to a blog article titled, “Oy, any minions out there?” that I began writing about 6 weeks ago. Given the proclivity of weirdos and opportunists on the internet, I kind of blew off the idea of posting a wanted ad to Craigslist, and somehow even publicly posting it on my blog seemed like opening myself up to a world of potential bad. So I kept thinking about needing a minion, and how best to go about that.

Late last month, I was out visiting a friend at a Renaissance Festival just for fun. She mentioned that she was going to be in the Akron area for a few months this winter, and did we want to get together? I answered in the affirmative, one thing led to another, and before I realized it we had worked out a tentative deal for her to come trade work for some of my product, which she wanted in her booth anyway. It was a win-win situation, at least on paper.

However… given my personality, and how particular (read that as anywhere between anal and b*tch for a boss, depending on the day) I am about my product, I was worried as to the reality of my new minion actually working out. (That, and I really don’t like having people in my studio. It’s an artist thing, and generally an open invitation into my studio for longer than five minutes is tantamount to saying I’d trust you with my dog, my cash box, and the keys to my apartment.)

So my minion and I are now several days into this whole deal, and it’s working out beautifully. She’s knowledgeable enough about how business works to know that when I tell her she needs to be faster at this task or that task that it’s a goal, not an immediate expectation. She’s smart enough to know when a task is defeating her, and to let me know in relatively short order so she’s not wasting my time or expensive supplies making unsaleable stuff.

And I’ve found that I don’t really mind having her there. It makes me accountable for how much I get done on days when she’s not there, and, hey, if you read my blog regularly, it’s no secret that I’m a hermit in a not-so-wholesome way in the wintertime. So my minion coming in two days a week is turning out to be socially beneficial to me too.

That about wraps it up for today, and, well, thanks for reading. Generally I try to walk a line between posting things that are of interest to my audience, and things that I feel like I can write about with either some authority, or at the very least, some humor. But hey, practicality has to take the front seat, either because need dictates it, or because my humorous muse is car sick and puking in a bag in the back seat. (This would be the former not the latter, in case that was unclear.) Mostly I blogged about this today because I feel like I owe the universe (or whomever is looking out for me in that capacity) and my new minion a rather public “thank you”… cause the situation (and my new minion) are really turning out to be the answer(s) to a prayer.

Coming to a Faire Near You…

18 08 2011

This post today is an advertisement that’s cleverly disguised as something that is a) hopefully entertaining and b) hopefully witty.

As my regular readers know, I make most of my living from selling my glass art at Renaissance Festivals.

Several weekends a year, I travel to various states in the Union, dress in garb (aka funny clothing), sleep in a tent or creatively engineered room off the back of a merchant booth, and work some of my longest work weeks on record.  It is equal parts endurance trial and nourishment for me as an artist, because I get to interact with people who are, in turn, interacting with my art. Mostly, I love it or I wouldn’t be doing it. That being said, it’s certainly not a recommended way to earn a living, as traveling for one’s job is very hard on things, not least of all your car, your person, and your dietary habits. Also, being in garb all day gives one the funniest tan lines.

“But what are you getting at?” you ask.

Have you ever been to a Renaissance Festival? (or Ren Fests, as they’re called by participants…)  Most states have them – find your state here.  (In case of international readership,  please click here.)

If you’ve never been, here’s a generalized Q&A of what to expect:

Do I have to dress up? No. In fact, dressing up to go to a Ren Fest has been likened to dressing up like a monkey to visit the zoo. But if you want to get in the spirit of things, most Ren Fests have a costume rental shop. If you really want to blend in (and make some merchant’s day while you’re at it) buy some garb from one of the clothing vendors at the Faire.

Is it really like visiting the Renaissance? Well, yes, in some respects. Often you will run into several townsfolk, and possibly Queen Elizabeth or some other historical royal figure while you’re toodling around for the day. Just like in a Tudor era market day, most or all of the wares displayed at a Renaissance Festival are made by artisans like me (that’s not a given, so if you’re intent on buying handmade from the actual artist, it’s worth asking before buying). But because a Renaissance Faire takes place in modern times, and is peopled by modern people you won’t step into raw sewage in the streets, and most of us have slightly better teeth than folks in the 1600’s would have.

What is there to do? It depends on the Ren Fest, but most have several shows involving anything from fire juggling to comedy to naughty ballads and so forth. There are always a multitude of artisan shops where you can knock out your entire holiday shopping list in a couple of hours. Most Faires feature some sort of live jousting, human powered rides, and carnival like games to play. Failing interest in any of those things, there’s always beer.

Why should I go? It’s an experience like no other. It’s a little like a carnival, a circus, and a history lesson (albeit history lite) all rolled into one. Most places have a Ren Fest close enough to them that it’s a good day-cation option. (day-cation is a great word I heard recently that is pseudo-synonymous with “day trip”.) And if I may climb onto my soapbox for a minute, it’s a great place to buy unique things from unique people.

So… when will I be seeing you at one?