Note: I enjoy posting stories about Doe Stahr’s art.  Here’s her story about how her art wove its way into our near summer celebration. Doe’s ‘event décor’ gave this year’s Whidbey Ren Faire its genus loci. Look for some of her Ren Faire’s inspirations on display in the main room at the Bayview Cash Store. Photos shared/taken by Doe Stahr, unless otherwise noted.

The Art of Whidbey Ren Faire (a wee bit of it) By Doe Stahr and excellent volunteers.

18 years ago, when Lord of the Rings was all the rage, a close friend introduced my daughter to Ren Faire down in Olympia. They reported so much fun, I joined them the next year. The Live Action Role Play (LARP) was quite a hoot.

Lo these many miles and years later, when I heard there was a new fair on the rise here on the island, I made a point to get involved. The all-volunteer cast and crew worked for long and hard to pull it together. I stepped up to do what I do best: event décor.

For decades I have been collecting fabrics toward this day, shopping at thrift stores far and wide to maximize my limited resources. When the day to begin setup finally arrived, Mike (Doe’s husband) and I pulled in with our trailer packed to the gills. They gave me the whole Pole barn to work in, with volunteers who just kept coming! Their sweet attitudes, amazing skills and willingness to see their task through made all the difference.

Support structures were built and hung with drapes and art. The black and gold Whidbey Ren Faire banner was the center piece of the main stage. It was worked on by at least 5 women. The dragon felt the sting of needles from a dozen people over several days. The wreaths were made and decorated by another dozen of all ages. We chatted and got acquainted, helped each other, and made a creative community. My own rose window art was the centerpiece for the Great Hall (pole building). A team of three installed draperies around it.  My floral wreath piece served as the backdrop for the mermaid’s area.

The dragon tapestries served as banners for the fictional village of Seawylde, the host for the faire. One is on the first floor; the other is on the landing of the stairs.

The wreaths from the Great Hall are suspended above the center table. They are the habitat of little wool wisp fairies, by Leslie Boyland. Looking up, you will see the sea dragon perched on the handrails. She sprawled on the floor of the Great Hall due to the weather, where small children could crawl through her. One wanted to take a nap in there.

The table and chairs in the center of the room were part of the Queen of Scots’ furnishings.

Hundreds of photos taken by staff photographer Ted Warner are scrolling on a display.https://tedwarnerphotographyllc.pixieset.com/whidbeyislandrenfaire2024/

It has been years since Langley had a festival to bring the community together. Choochockam had a good run. I stepped up to help this new festival get a good start.

The economic benefits were seen by all the thrift stores as folks shopped for costume elements. Those directly help our community. The campgrounds and air bnb’s were booked. The restaurants also likely saw a good bump of patrons. And the biggest benefit of all was the abundant joy shared by all. Even the Police chief wore his grin out!

See you in Seawylde next year!

Notes for the exhibition: Arts of Whidbey Ren Faire 2024

We used this piece on stage in the Great Hall (pole barn). It is primarily latex paint on polyester felt. The gold ribbon border and glass gobs and other details make it mixed media. The design is based on a Rose Window from Notre Dame cathedral. I worked from a photo which showed the tracery structure in silhouette. The theological images were simplified to just colors of the ‘stained glass’.

 

This grouping was on the main stage at the faire. The event logo banner was done in gold ribbon and actual bells, sewn by five volunteers. The white throne chairs were thrifted and recovered to go with the chessboard graphic (behind the banner) used as the rug under the chairs.

This is one of a pair of banners, in felt appliquéd onto tapestry fabric. The second is on the landing of the stairs. They were to the left and right of the black logo banners on the main stage. Worked on by several dedicated and skilled volunteers. Sea Dragons in the ‘s’ pose as the logo for the imaginary Village of Seawylde.

This floral wreath design is latex paint on felt, with disassembled silk flowers applied with hot glue.  It was the backdrop for the mermaid area at the fair. So, I made a mermaid doll as a stand in, (or sit in) at this show, for the lovely ladies who played their characters to entertain us all.

For this piece I wanted to draw attention to the graphic art of the printed program and the listing of performers, some of the vendors and thanks to the sponsors. I stretched linen over a frame and arranged a selection of pages from the program, sewed down a ribbon frame and added those silk flowers around the border.

In this digital frame, thanks to Ted Warner, we have hundreds of candid photos from the two-day event. Linger and enjoy the show.

The Queen Ann style-table and chairs in the middle of the space is covered with a tapestry of light hearted medieval folk. The silver tea service is referencing the elegance of the settings for the court and her Highness, Mary Queen of Ireland, Scotland and France. Please have a seat and imagine having Tea with the Queen! My husband Michael (aka Grey Gandalf) will gladly ‘pour’.

Suspended above, are a selection of the lovely wreaths made by volunteers to grace the walls of the great hall. I must credit the gals who ironed all the white draperies to cover the walls. Domestic arts!

This is Wylie, the sea dragon of Seawylde. The body is a spring wire child’s crawl tunnel. It is upholstered with the ‘scaley green fabric’ sewn by many hands. I carved the head and claws from a polyurethane foam bolster and painted it with latex paints. The sparkling eyes are mini disco balls. Overall, the dragon is 23’ long. The tail wraps around the gallery. The inner passage of the dragon remains open, so that the toddlers in the great hall crawled through it as it lay on the floor in repose. One child paused to rest awhile. Be the dragon!

I assembled this show to give folks a homeopathic dose of the faire to stoke interest to participate next year, and to give folks who experienced it, a place to remember and tell their tales to all who will listen. Homemade fun is a big part of the culture on Whidbey, and we had fun!

Again, my thanks to the volunteers, the funders, and the gracious host of the exhibit, Goosefoot.

Doe Stahr

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