The Fulshear Dragon Riders’ Guild
Well, I did it again. I went crazy designing and constructing costumes for the Texas Renaissance Festival. This year, the group (my elder sister, my niece, my nephew, a friend, and myself) went as the Fulshear Dragon Riders’ Guild. Back when I started the design phase, I asked each person, “if you were a dragon rider, what would your job be?” As for me, I said I would “drive” the dragon ambulance and be, basically, a fantasy Renaissance first-responder. This is the costume I made myself:
As you can see, due to the nature of my dragon rider job, I have quite a lot of storage associated with my costume. I actually had a wooden box (that I stained by hand with tea, incidentally) that contained a full sewing kit and first aid kit, which I tucked into the burgundy pouch on my belt along with a hand-sewn wallet fashioned from the same fake-black-alligator pattern fabric as the front of my costume vest and my secondary belt pouch. The boot-daggers I embellished by hand, as I did with all the weapons for last year’s Ren Fest. This costume’s daggers are not really weapons as such, but are more intended as tools in case I need to cut a person in need free from a stirrup or some-such obstruction. The large bag was a super-last-minute addition I crafted the night before… when I realized I didn’t have any suitably sized bag for my rather large camera or for the fake-fur half-cape I made for evening outer-wear (and oh, it did get awfully chilly! I was glad I made that cape… though I just realized I didn’t take any pictures in the late evening when I was wearing it…). In any case, the end result of my excessive accessorizing was that I was ready to save the day, keep myself warm, take pictures, and stow away purchases with ease and comfort. This is among the most comfortable costumes I think I have ever made for myself.
Moving on, though, my friend Travis said that he would be a long-distance courier, because it would be an excuse to travel and an excuse to not work very hard. This is what I came up with for him:
I made the sash buckle by hand out of an epoxy jewelry clay and silver-finish fleur-de-lis buttons. He bought the boots from a cobbler at the actual Ren Fest, incidentally, and I think they made for a quite classy finishing touch! The chain on his wrist held his guild issued dragon riding license (a metal signet-seal monogram of the first letter of his last name. We each had one, though the other four of us wore ours as necklaces).
My nephew Liam said that he would be the dragon riding equivalent of the bookmobile. “My dragon likes to read, and we’re librarians,” he told me, so this was his costume:
As you can see, he had a sizable book bag. His vest is the boy version of the one I designed for myself, and the book bag actually contains a knee-length, hunter-green, wool-and-polyester felt cloak I made him for evening outerwear. To my mild chagrin, he didn’t wear the cloak, even when it got cold in the evening, so even if I had bothered to take pictures of us all that night, I wouldn’t have a proper picture of it 0_o. I made the straps of the book bag so that they could double in length with the adjustment of four buttons, because I assumed he’d get sick of lugging stuff around and we adults would have to carry it, but he really did carry it around for most of the day all by himself. The cape I made his sister is in the bag, too, as he kindly agreed to carry it for her.
When I asked my niece, Oona, what her dragon riding job was, she looked at me with the utmost seriousness and said, “I am very, very gentle with the baby dragons. I’m really gentle with them, and I give them treats.” I was especially excited to design a dragon rider costume for someone who works in a dragon nursery, because I never would have thought of any such thing on my own. It’s the perfect job for Oona! Here’s the costume:
The pouch on her sash belt is expressly for the purpose of storing dragon treats!
My elder sister, Kristie, was not immediately sure what her dragon rider job would be, but from the materials we chose for her costume, she knew she was from a wealthy family. What she ultimately decided was that she was a dragon riding instructor. I, as the designer, decided that she probably did some dragon racing in her free time, and the end result was this:
Sturdy , comfortable, stylish, and free-moving was the name of the game. The bodice is based loosely on European bodices of the middle 1600s, and the trousers are Japanese hakama. I used fancy gold-colored laces, stylish brocade, and metallic gold canvas, along with some almond-colored vinyl pleather. Tucked under her arm is my best winter cloak, which I bought at an art fair in New Mexico when I was a teenager (I didn’t make it, but it matched so perfectly, I didn’t have to!). The pouches hanging from her belt are gold velvet and almond vinyl with polished coin buttons, respectively. I hand crafted the flight goggles out of two glass flashlight lenses, mason jar lids, unused automotive parts from a gasket replacement kit I bought earlier this year, gold canvas, brass grommets, a very old nickle buckle, a shoelace, and some more of that almond vinyl. I hand-made the bracelet/ring combo on her left hand using brass chain, several connector pendants, a fashionable toggle, and my gerber multi-tool.
Here are a couple of cool action shots and a heartwarming family picture to wrap up the display:
We all had a truly wonderful time running around the Texas Ren Fest this year, and in the end, I have to say that all the long hours at the sewing machine were 100% worth it. We looked great, we were comfortable, and I had loaded us all down with enough pouches, purses, satchels, and book bags that we still looked authentic once we started buying souvenirs. Really, the project paid off in fun. I can’t wait to see what we wind up going as next year! -E.G.D.