The Renaissance Festivals

   I would like some input on alternative markets 

One market being considered is below. This goes from April 12 - June
1 of this year.

South of Dallas / Fort Worth about 20 to 30 min drive.

This is where We spent Saturday from 10:00 to 6:00

I walked around looking at jewelry exhibited for sale. The jewelry
consisted of four basic types.

A - 30 % - Low ball Silver and Pewter fabricated overseas. I have
no desire to participate or offer like work. I can not compete with
the cost at cents / gram pricing.

B - 30 % - Wire wrap fair to good work. I have no desire to offer
like work. Not too good to do it, just never had the interest in it.

C - 15 % - Beads and beaded work fair to good. Sweetie is making
work of ( up to ) acceptable quality. She needs to get her cost /
pricing under control . Her designs are good, construction quality
improving to moderately good. I can fabricate / cast some pieces which
might complement her work.

D - 20% - jewelry fabricated or cast fair to average More fair
than average . Some looks fabricated in Mexico ( 30 % ) The rest is
average to sometimes good. Cast / fabricated silver with some mixed
metals. I saw a use of some designs which I liked. One or two of which
I might take elsewhere. This is the area which holds the most intrest
for me.

X - 5 % - Mixed Metal, Art Metal, Bronze - Misc. Some interesting
usage and designs . Fair to Very Good. This makes me want to try some
new ideas. This area offers the most opportunity to stand out from
the crowd .

Price points began with generic Celtic knotted rings from $ 18.00
Price points at $ 25.00, $ 50.00, $ 100.00 ( few at that ) and very
few over.

There is a larger than common intrest in edged weapon’s. I saw art
grade edged weapons going for $ 100.00 / inch of blade 15 years ago .
I can only assume that this is a glandular thing , but more than a
few Chicks were toting little pointy daggers of 6 to 8 in blades.

The designs cover Celtic, Renaissance Dark Ages, Mythical and
Klingon Revival.

The dress code involved exposing as much pale cellulite, as
possible, for some . While others covered up with heavy fabric and
lace and sweating in the Texas Heat.


On the subject of Ren Faires, I worked the Fair Circuit for just
over a year, back 10 years ago and still attend the for the fun of it
as well as to see old friends there. I was set up at Scarborough
next to Mad Ivan’s Chainmaile booth selling Gargoyles (long before I
started doing jewelry). I also did the Boston; Tuxedo, NY; Norman,
OK; several FL & even Camelot in MO (say the name to any Rennie who
worked that show & see the tears in their eyes-more merchants than
customers most days, a fast way to go broke). Technically most Faires
want you to have “Period hand crafts” with participation by the
artist at the Faire. Most Fairs say they don’t allow resellers, many
are very aggressive about insuring that both ideas are enforced
(Ringling in FL, the CA Pleasure & MN Faires for example). Most
shows are at least minimally juried & already have lots of people
selling what you want to sell, which means you must stand out from
all the others to be allowed to exhibit.

I agree with your assessment of the general categories of
jewelry/metalsmith merchants, however there are some additional
areas I would like to address: Blacksmiths- there are a lot of general
blacksmith goods that sell well at Ren Faires, such as fire place
sets, kitchen accessories/racks & door hinges. $20.00-$500 Armour- a
specialized market that goes from Jousting/reproduction amour, SCA
Combat amour, LARP dress amour & wall decoration. Prices from
$20.00-$20,000.00 Chainmaile- think it is for protection? You
haven’t seen some of the work that some of the people do: rings,
bikinis, belts, dresses, head dresses & amour as well. Prices range
from $5.00 to $1,500.00 Sword & other blades- Weapons are a big
thing, some merchants are very accurate in their historic
reproductions (Jim Hrisoulas, used to run a Faire in NV) many do a
good job of imitating various Star Trek episodes. Prices range from
$20.00-$40,000.00 for some of the blades.

Pendants & Figurines- usually in pewter, simple pendants, figurines,
che ss sets, to hollow ware decorated with figurines. Prices
$5.00-$500.00 What the Hell are they doing here?- There is always
that one or two booths that have nothing to do with period designs or
anything else vaguely connected with the Renaissance (it was a booth
doing cat design jewelry the year I was at Scarborough)

Some helpful if you are planning on trying the Faires.
Realize that you are entering a subculture that has it’s own
internal rules & expectations (lots of old hippies, Goths, Rainbow
People, Deadheads, lost people, & Gypsies-real & wanabes). There are
two types of merchants at the fairs the locals & the Rennies:
Rennies travel the circuit & stay on site- locals sleep at home every
night do, the one local show & don’t participate in the back seen of
the Faire (if you don’t know where the drum circle is at night you
aren’t a Rennie-you don’t have to attend you just know where all the
noise is coming from). There is also a hierarchy of participants as
well; Faire Management Staff, Jousters, featured performers,
buskers, artist, merchants, sales persons, gamers, push monkeys, food
service, clean up crews. Always keep some small items that sell for
$1-$5 for the days that there are school trips to the Faire so you
can at least pay for your dinner & gas.

Doing a Faire is a big up front investment. Most Fairs require you
to buy or build a booth, most will let you try the Faire out in a
rental booth or period tent for the first year. Most rents & fees
are payable in total before the Faire starts. You & all your sales
people must dress in some version of period dress (ranging from truly
accurate to the Hollywood version). You must be set up & ready to go
at least a half hour before the Faire opens, this includes getting
anything in your car unloaded & the car out of the Faire area. Some
Faire management staff can be capricious & unfair, there is the story
of one Faire owner/merchant co-coordinator who used his bulldozer to
level a pottery merchant’s booth that was not up to the Faire’s
standards-with the shop owner & all his goods inside it (the merchant
survived-his pots did not).

I enjoyed the life of a Rennie & would still be doing it if I had
not wound up at the end of the season with a broken down truck
(caring 1-1.5 tons of gargoyles all over the country in a Caravan
will kill it after 300,000 miles) & not enough cash to last till the
January start of the season. Pax, Jim Revells formerly of Gothic Traditions Gargoyles

I would like some input on alternative markets 

Although it may require buliding a 'primitive’
wood/charcoal/bellows(?) kiln I always thought ceramic shell casting
would make a good demo for Ren fairs. Never saw one but perhaps they
are around? Of course, that size piece probably starts at huge belt
buckle size and goes through decorative items, armor and into
busts/sculpture size stuff. Still, if you could prepare the pieces
before hand and cast once every 90 minutes or so, I bet folks would
really enjoy seeing that bronze - whatever busted outta that
ceramic! David Reid and others have some online resources for that
stuff. Interesting. That would set you apart from the other stuff
there I bet!

    The dress code involved exposing as much pale cellulite, as
possible, for some . While others covered up with heavy fabric and
lace and sweating in the Texas Heat. 

Yeah (lol) some of those folks require so much leather I’m concerned
about CATTLE making the threatened species list!

1 Lucky Texan

If someone out there would like to take up Carl’s suggestion of
demonstrating at Renaissance Festivals, there are some great
websites out there!

The first one was suggested by someone on Orchid, and the others
were found as contemporary links on that website. (The second site
has the famous flowerpot furnace, the third has a kit for ceramic
shell casting.)

Wonderful sites!