Welcome back to Writing Dragons for a brand new year of dragon artwork features — and maybe even some fiction along the way! But first things first, I’m going to finish this series of Dragons (and other artwork) at the Minnesota Renaissance Festival, so let’s get to post seven! We’re starting off with Rogue Maille and these amazing chain maille dragon pets.
“Brand new last year and insanely popular,” artist Charity told me, these above are on magnets and based on smaller maille dragons you can purchase at her site in hair barrette or pin style. Charity told me she’s made changes to the dragon design she found many years ago, including making these new ones larger with some of her own hand fabricated parts, but she still credits artist Cedar Sanderson for permission to adapt the original concept (because proper credit is important, of course!).
I connected with Charity on Facebook and she answered lots of questions for me while I wrote this up, including something I just had to know — why does she call it chain “maille” and not “mail”? She writes, “It’s actually the old French spelling, … I choose to use “Maille” to refer to the long history behind mailling and the skills that go with metalworking.” And she certainly has some mad skills. Here’s one of her shop displays at Fest (with the dragons again).
Charity told me she’s “been mailling almost 10 years now, and goldsmithing as well the last 4 years. I love playing with new ideas and techniques, and am always trying new designs when I can find the time.” She uses many different metals in her work, including aluminum, brass, stainless steel, sterling silver, gold, niobium, and titanium, which all bring something different to her pieces. This beautiful Dragon Cameo Necklace is made with stainless steel maille set with Swarovski crystals, and the cameo itself was hand sculpted by her friend Lyn from Dobbylyn Art Works. (Who just might show up in a post later this year, wow!)
On her website bio, Charity writes, “I am a geek at heart and … my personal hobby [of making chain maille] expanded far beyond what I ever imagined, and in the very best way!” Here we have just a part of her huge selection of geeky earrings, including light sabers and mini dice, Harry Potter and anime, and even the Doctor (both Nine and Ten) in the bottom row! She told me the “pictures are actually cut from comic books and graphic novels, so it’s all original images that have been trimmed and adhered to clear polycarbonate scales and then sealed.” She even uses niobium for the earring wires to make sure they’re hypoallergenic!
Then turn yourself into a dragon with the help of these Dragon Tails made from large anodized (colored) aluminum scales. These are Charity’s “version of the fox tails you see everyone wearing around Fest. … They have incredible movement, so they twitch and flick behind you as you walk.” And she tells me they’re basically a “big draw string pouch” which helps it keep its round shape, but “the bonus is you can actually carry stuff inside.” At least in the big ones — here on the right you can see her baby tails for kids that are just for fun.
Next we have some bracelets in anodized aluminum “showcasing different chain maille weaves in fun, bright colors.” And yes, there is a super cool dragon in the background, but more on that design in a moment. Of course I love the rainbow bracelet! Charity also makes fancier bracelets that you can see on her website that she says are “my own personal designs … more intricate and incorporate some Swarovski crystals. … Styles you can wear to the office or out for an evening.”
And finally, one of the coolest things in Charity’s shop are her Fandom Dragons, “made from anodized aluminum rings, polycarbonate scales and glass eyes.” Just like the earring above, these scales “have images cut from actual comic books” and come in baby, regular, and mega sizes, and the regular “measures 19 inches long from nose to tip of tail and is approximately 4 inches tall when sitting up.”
I love the Darth Vader Dragon above, and Charity tells me one of her favorites is her Thundercats Dragon which you can see on her website. It’s “fantastic because it’s stuff we grew up with and no one expects to see,” woven into an amazing and unique dragon sculpture! This guy is snug in his nest, but you can see the tail details better in the photo with the bracelets above.
Make sure to check out Rogue Maille at the Minnesota Renaissance Festival and visit her website to order your own maille work, and you can follow Charity on Facebook to see works-in-progress photos of her custom jewelry and armor pieces!
Then up next is another shop that doesn’t have any dragons exactly, but I’m still a big “fan”! Last year on the first weekend of Fest (August 18-19), the temperatures soared to over 85°F (29°C), so one of the first things I did was track down this shop and buy a fancy fan to match my outfit, to stay cool and not die from the heat!
Then when I decided to do this series, I went back to take these photos at Camelot Enterprises – The Royal Fan Shoppe, where shopkeep JoAnn and manager Linda, pictured below, helped us out yet again! This was two months later, of course, and it was quite chilly that morning, a huge change from that first sweltering day!
The Royal Fan Shoppe is a collaboration by mother-daughter creators Cynthia and Krystyna, who started out with beaded jewelry. Krystyna tells me that “the feather fans started out as a filler” to go with their jewelry when they opened their first Fest shop, and then “a court member asked us to make a fan to match his garb, then another asked, and it snowballed from there.” They’ve been taking their feathered wares to the Bristol Renaissance Faire for twenty-nine years, the Minnesota Renaissance Festival for twenty-five years, and the Texas Renaissance Festival for twenty years! Here’s one of their beautiful pieces in natural tones.
But they also carry fans in amazing colors, like the one I picked up last year! Of course, one of the first things JoAnn and Linda told me was to be sure to keep my fan out of the reach of my clowder of cats… but unfortunately, my furkids are very clever, and managed to get at it eventually. (sigh) However, next time I visited Fest, these wonderful ladies were able to pull the feathers back into place and add some more glue, and now you can barely tell! 🙂
But they don’t just have fans, of course. Check out this selection of feather hat pins created with Ostrich, Coque, Chin, Pheasant, and Peacock feathers, meant to give your hat some flair! Krystyna told me they use ethically sourced feather companies, and the Peacock and Emu feathers are hand-harvested at special feather farms!
Here are some more hat pins as well as awesome feather hair clips, feather barrettes, and Ostrich feather puffs, in a variety of colors! While most of the feathers come pre-dyed from their suppliers, Krystyna told me they hand dye the Emu feathers themselves. I love the look of these, and my costume could probably use another accessory, right? 😉
Next up, check out these extravagant feather collars! If you’re looking to add some drama to your garb, these can be made in this large size, or in smaller accent sizes, and you just have to see how they look on the models at The Royal Fan Shoppe’s website.
And why not add one of their festive masquerade masks to your wardrobe, while you’re at it? I’m sure if you put these together with coordinating feather headpieces and fans, you’d be the talk of the ball! You can also check out their custom mask selection with feather accents already attached — I have to say, the Opposite Feather Masks are maybe a little creepy, but in a good way, of course! 😉
These are some feather halos in fancy colors, but you can also get more variegated feather halos like the one Linda is wearing in the first photo, or even more ornate Faery Halos if you’re going for that ‘fresh from Tir Na Nog’ look!
All of their fans come with cord and ribbon tails for hanging on the wall like so (unless you have cats, of course!), or for hanging from a belt so you don’t have to hold them all day. I found that my sequin fringe belt skirt just got tangled in the feathers, but for fuller skirts and solid garb pieces, the fans seemed to lay nicely against the fabric and not get too mussed — in fact, I thought they added nicely to the period look of the costumes!
These next fans definitely steal the show, though. These Ostrich Feather Fans are huge — see the halo crown hanging behind them for a size comparison! Krystyna explained that these fans have a hand-made wooden handle, and that she and her mother “were inspired to create these fans from a photo of Queen Elizabeth I.” Some of their fans, both large and small, come with a special feature, also inspired by Queen Elizabeth I — she had mirrors glued on the back of almost all her fans, thus letting her see what was behind her, giving her “eyes in the back of her head.”
Here’s one last fan with a mix of natural colored feathers and bright blue accents — I almost chose this one, but my outfit is very black and blue lately, and the other one matched better. This shop is full of beautiful things, so be sure to stop in next year when you have a chance!
Of course, it was a spur of the moment idea to send them messages with my questions, and my own delay is why I’m a little bit late posting — sorry!
However, I still plan to get the new 2019 Birthstones Dragons out this week, since this year those will be slightly shorter posts, and then next week, I finish up this artist series with a bang, so come on back for that!
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 Saturday, September 29, except for the photo of my own black, white, and blue fan, which was taken later.