It’s time for more fabulous art in the sixth of my series on dragons at the Minnesota Renaissance Festival! (If you missed any of the earlier posts, you can see them here.) We’ve got three awesome vendors this week, so let’s jump in! First up is Ye Olde Polish Woodshop and the intarsia wood mosaics of Eric Koslowski, an artist and crafter based here in Minnesota. From the Wiki, intarsia is a “form of wood inlaying that … dates before the seventh century.”
When we stopped in to Eric’s shop he told us all about the mostly reclaimed woods that he uses in his artwork, like the Redwood and Maple in the body of the dragon above, with Zebrawood for the wings and African Wenge wood for the eye. Below is the Ye Olde Polish Woodshop booth at Fest.
Here’s another beautiful dragon, but unfortunately I didn’t take enough notes when I was at the shop so I can’t be sure what kind of wood this is. That’s been my biggest learning experience with this series — that I can’t rely on everyone having a website where I can find more information on their work, so I have to get better at interviews when I’m the one taking the photos!
Again from the Wiki, “intarsia is a woodworking technique that uses varied shapes, sizes, and species of wood fitted together to create a mosaic-like picture with an illusion of depth.” My husband loves turtles so I had to include this next one, an amazing sea turtle. The detail in the shell is great and it really looks like he could be swimming along in the water!
This small dragon design is one of my favorites so I kept taking pictures of the different color varieties. We were out there on the last weekend of Fest, and Eric told me his inventory had sold well this year so I’d have to stop in earlier next year to see even more dragon designs!
He crafts more than just dragons, of course — here you can see an amazing gryphon, as well as an eagle and an owl. The eyes on these projects are so expressive, thanks to the different woods and grains! I especially like the owl’s face, so neat!
Luckily, I did take notes on this next beautiful dragon. Eric said the light-colored wood of the body is Ash, and the dark detail in the chest, wings, and face is Walnut. The bright crest, wingtips, and tail is called Brazilian Satinwood, also known as Yellow Heart for its color. Fancy!
And finally we have another in that same style of little dragon, this time with a dark body and bright crest and wings, showing off the natural grain pattern to create more detail in the design. Once more from the Wiki, “After selecting the specific woods to be used within the [intarsia] pattern, each piece is then individually cut, shaped, and finished. Sometimes areas of the pattern are raised to create more depth. Once the individual pieces are complete, they are fitted together like a jig-saw puzzle…” It’s a really fantastic art form!
Make sure you check out Ye Olde Polish Woodshop next season at Fest, and chat with Eric about his techniques and all the different wood species he uses in his craft!
This next shop is a fantastic jaunt into the fantasy realm and can even help you transform into a dragon if you really want to! Check out Mask Parade, Sculpted Leather Masks by Vincent Ur. I wasn’t able to meet the artist himself the day I visited and asked to take photos, but his website is full of great information about his work!
Vincent writes, “I produce high quality sculpted leather masks perfect for Halloween, Mardi Gras, Cosplay, Theater, Masquerade and Renaissance. All masks are in the festival mask tradition in which the mouth is left open to allow the mask to remain on the face while eating, drinking and reveling. Styles range from gothic to fantasy to festive.” You can find all of these on Vincent’s website where he has more than a dozen different collections, but to start check out the Peacock at the top-left, the Warlock and the She-Cat in the middle, and the Medusa at the bottom-left.
According to Vincent’s site, “Each mask is unique. The leather’s original design is cut manually and then shaped by hand. Each mask is sculpted from a single piece of leather. … The completed mask is light, yet strong and durable, making it suitable for years of wear or hanging as decoration. … Each mask is finalized by signing and numbering within the year it was crafted.“ As I said, there are even Dragon masks, like here at the top left! Then we have clockwise from the top right Bramble, Moustachio, and Zepyr.
The story of how Vincent became a mask maker is also really interesting! As he describes on his About page:
I began mask making after a vacation to New Orleans, where I was first exposed to leather Mardi Gras masks. I spent several hours in the mask shop, and purchased two, before I headed home. After doing some research on the mask making process, I drew upon my background in art, and produced several masks of my own design. … Because I have had no formal training, my techniques, designs, and subject matter are somewhat unique and off the beaten path. I have now produced thousands of masks. … I also produce many custom pieces on a regular basis.
Here is Man in the Moon at top-left, Rex (Latin for ‘King’) at top-right, Taurus (which also comes with gold horns) at middle-left, and Snapdragon and Mystic at the bottom-left and -right, respectively.
At the back of the shop you can see even more masks, including the Anubis at the top-left (with googly eyes to make it extra creepy, thanks whomever did that!), an epic Archangel, the 5-Bell Jester above the Fox mask in the center, and at the bottom, another regular Dragon next to a custom Elder Dragon mask.
Vincent’s work has also been seen in the Houston Ballet’s production of Romeo and Juliet in 2014, in a music video, and on Syfy’s Faceoff — check out his News page for details. Here’s one last photo — check out that Bast mask at the bottom left, and just behind this shopkeep wearing another custom Elder Dragon mask, you’ll see — not a Loki mask, like I thought! — but the Capricorn mask from his Zodiac collection.
Once again, be sure to check out Vincent’s site to order your very own mask, and to see all the locations you can find his shop including the Minnesota Renaissance Festival and other Fests around the country, and also the retailers everywhere from Washington to New York, Florida to California, and many points in between that carry his wares.
Now, this last shop doesn’t have any dragons per se, but they’re very popular out at Fest and do have quotes associated with dragons and the fandoms we love, so I just had to include them.
Check out the shop Opinions in Bone, Genuine Buffalo Bone Pin Favors, by creator Heather Daylight in California. This is a picture of one of the lovely shopkeepers and another Fest folk at the booth.
I just love all the cool phrases, including “My Death will probably be caused by being sarcastic at the wrong time,” and “Who let me Adult? I can’t Adult!” You’ll also see the set of Firefly quotes along the bottom, like “I swear by my pretty floral bonnet I will end you” and “You can’t take the sky from me.”
As the sign here says, these Faire Favors are “etched (never printed!) into actual buffalo bone,” and here are a bunch more awesome movie examples including “As You Wish,” “Wakanda Forever,” “Mischief Managed,” and “Go away or I shall taunt you a second time.” There’s also a really clever one there at the bottom center — can you decipher the “mathematical symbol above the furry rodent” pin? 😉
There are so many quotes to choose from, and these are great for finding fellow geeks in the wild — when they see your pin and they get the joke, you know you’ve found a kindred spirit! Like “The same thing we do every night, Pinky…” and “42” and “Let’s talk about this plan of yours. I think it’s good, except it Sucks.” One of my favorites has to be there along the top — “I think my Check Liver light just came on.” They also get just a little bit political with their “Any Functioning Adult for President 2020” down in the bottom right corner. 😉
And finally, here are some more of my favorites, like “It was on fire when I got here,” “Meddles with Dragons,” a Celtic kitty, and “I Aim to Misbehave.” As you can see, these pins aren’t expensive — $12.00 each, or 3 for $30.00! You can find an Opinions in Bone booth all around the country — check out their Facebook page where they’ve been not only to the Minnesota Renaissance Festival, but also the Renaissance Festivals at Bristol, Carolina, Texas, Northern California, Arizona, and more!
That’s another Fest post in the books! Come back next week for some Christmas Dragons and then New Year’s Eve with a special feature from one of my favorite artists and a look back at what I’ve accomplished this year. Two more Renaissance Festival posts to go in January and even more cool stuff coming in the new year — I can’t believe 2019 is already upon us!
Thank you as always for reading, take care, and stay creative!
All the photos in the post were taken by me at the Minnesota Renaissance Festival in Shakopee, Minnesota (just south of Minneapolis) on either Saturday, September 29, or Sunday, September 30, 2018