Archives for posts with tag: comfort



person-posing-near-body-of-water-3050912Photo by Vitória Santos from Pexels

On the Phoenix Swords Facebook, I posted an “are you okay?” meme for the folks I know.  And someone who has performed with us and has their own act now commented that they were doing okay. And for the most part that seems to be true

I am taking cues from Guy Windsor, Jess Finley, D’Mon Stith by looking at manuals to improve our historical show.

I have been picking up online skills like a crazy person. We have permission to use our workplace media connection and I am taking full advantage of it to contact family and friends with the bells and whistles. I am taking courses and working full time. (Don’t ask about housework)


The troupe has reassured me that I am not wasting their time with online meetings and that it helps to be connected.

We are even participating in an online fundraiser for the New Hampshire Renfaire:

But it’s hard to be productive all the time and we still have bills to pay. We pay for storage and practice space and we are NOT practicing. Two performers will not be able to join us for wildly varying reasons-one because his job is trying to keep safe so he cannot attend or participate in any public performances for a set time. The other works in a high-risk group and does not want to bring sickness to us. He calls himself ‘the canary in the coal mine.’

In New England, we only have about four good months and people are itching to get out into them.  And you can’t practice fire in the house. (well you can but it’s a bad idea)  Just like everyone else, I HAVE THINGS TO DO.

I get it, we all do. I love my day job but will I have it in a month? My family, many are elderly-will I see them through 2020? One senior describes her role as “inmate” because she cannot leave her apartment for any reason and food is all but slid under the door.  I am grateful to be mobile and able to go outside.

And this “new normal” has brought out the serious mental imbalances in some of my friends. I hope that they survive physically, mentally, and spiritually. Praying for them every day.

I have nostalgia already for close contact performances. It’s going to impact our shows-can we still fight and “bag” our falchion fighters?  Take audience participation?  What about our spotters and fire breathers?  I’m trying to figure out how to do the human connection hands-free. Better work on those charisma skills!

Keep your fingers crossed for Fall faires, my friends. I am rubbing my rabbit’s foot like a sander and hoping the best for everyone, and that includes you.

I am thinking of you-that’s right, you with the poet shirt, jeans and  maille jewelry, this is for you 🙂

A friend of mine with The Guild of Saint Maurice told me she never went anywhere without wool inserts(for shoes and boots.) Since we know someone with an alpaca farm, I made use of their store and bought two sets of Alpaca Wool Inserts (scroll down on the page)

As it happened, when we met for historical study, another friend mentioned she dances with a group and spends long times on hard surfaces-so I gave her a set. I would like to give these a big thumbs-up. I’m not sure it can take the pounding that concrete gives (I’ll still use Gel Soles) but on more forgiving surfaces it’s great and a bonus is that will keep your feet warm!  My dancing friend gave an endorsement for inserts light slippers in cold New England ballrooms!

Gloves-these folks are less expensive than a number of other places and get your order out FAST. So if you are buying gloves especially (but be sure to check out some of the other items) I order 4-5 pairs of their soft leather gloves and 2 pairs of the harder leather. (We are very hard on gloves, and we pass on old pairs to new members)
Darkwood Armoury

Need garb/costuming? Have no idea what? Not at a renfaire?  These folks have a good range of initial items. Recently once of our members realized he was missing a simple shirt and couldn’t wear his older stuff-easily solved, two quick oufits! Will I vouch for historical accuracy-no. But a serviceable items, quickly gotten and machine washable, plus great sales.
Looking to move up on the kit chain? A bit more pricey but I love everything I’ve bought.
Historic Enterprises
Want to make your own?
Reconstructing history (patterns)

Starter swords-don’t invest big if you aren’t sure. We recommend the practical longsword. Kult of Athena

Like to have a little ring to your sword blows? Takes a beating and keeps on beating? Starfire

Boots-buy them in person, sorry 🙂 But a starter vendor is often Son of Sandlar or House of Andar.


Phoenix Swords own list
Links we’ve compiled

Disclaimer: I don’t do sales for these people or receive any gratuities. I am not a “kit” purist, I post these to help out new folks to the renfaire community.


If you have never worked at a renaissance faire before I can tell when you are about to get pulled in- I see you, you are the one wearing a poets or peasant shirt with a drawstring collar and jeans. Or you have a Halloween-style costume on with sneakers. Or you made a gorgeous kirtle-but out of satin. And I can’t forget, you are wearing a piece of armor randomly on your body.

I just want to give as general a set of advice as I can to you and tell you not to listen to the haters because I want you to enjoy the faire. If you don’t plan to work at one-wear anything you want, seriously, you want to wear a chain armor bikini and a hat with ox horns-you paid to come in, work it!

But if you want to get a look together that will let you scrape by and eventually lead to a better outfit-keep reading.

First, pick a time period-not because we are so concerned with your historical outfit but because it will limit your choices. This helps with the paradox of choice and will give you ideas.  Once you have done that, think about what you will be doing at the festival because we are not going to invest in a super-expensive outfit to serve corn dogs or work the mud pit. If you decide to go with medieval-then I always recommend peasant or middle-class clothing. This will serve two functions-first it will keep costs down because one can make t-shirt tunics or hide modern pants in a set of boots, or heck transform that Halloween costume just enough to slide by inspection.

The second is to sort out your environment and the people around you. I have found it is an excellent indicator of those around you, if they are professionals they may offer help or tease you a bit. If they are too wrapped up in the outfit, they may well give you fair warning of *exactly* who they are. If you watch long-term performers you will note they are often dressed in (sometimes somewhat faded,) high-quality clothing that fits them very well. Unless someone is royalty, they have chosen the style and type carefully to fit their needs. (basic medieval suggestions– Feel free to google more) But the best advice generally comes from the people around you. Our ad hoc costume directors in Phoenix Swords can whip together something amazing from the Salvation Army and we have a lot of loaners. Chances are the folks around you will as well.

So you’ve decided to commit; first investment-good footwear. Not biker  boots, not women’s winter boots-boots or shoes from a reputable maker. At the end of this entry I will share a page with the folks from whom we buy-because I think good merchants should  be rewarded.

At this stage you will have a wide variety of advice from others but I will share mine; A good, vest, dress, doublet or coat. And now you can start changing up time periods-you’ve had some exposure. These things will hide lots of cheap shirts, tights and pants. And you should have at least two because-accidents happen. And  they will need to be dry cleaned, hand-washed or spiffed up with vodka and water in a spray bottle. I understand that many people will tell you to use those fragranced odor hiders but don’t.  They are short-term covers, long-term use will not cover body odor or hard sweat. You will clear a path at the faire but it will not be with your charisma. Just because you can’t smell it doesn’t mean others can’t.

Now the fun part, accessorize, accessorize accessorize-feathers, stick pins, hats, belts, frogs, scarves-but not so much that you cannot do your job. I love seeing this part of the journey with our troupe members because initially they make fun of the older members for being so plain-but mugs, scabbards, cloaks and capes are an issue in a running, jumping sword performance. (Fire outfits, if we could go out in a black bodysuit, we would) It’s important to find that balance between looking fabulous and getting the work done. Also, the first time you have to take off more stuff at the end of a long day, that will be lesson one.

And I put this at the end because it may not be something one thinks of as “costume”  but is still important.
Hygiene-just because we play early periods doesn’t mean we need to reenact them. Keep wet wipes in your car in the event of no shower.

Sunscreen, you laugh but sunburns under a heavy costume are not a mistake to make even once.

Makeup, yes, even men wear this. And you put the makeup on over the sunscreen to told everything in place. Even-seeming skin tone does a lot to enhance appearance.

Backup Buddy, we expect that we can walk up to one another and get a critique, a sniff, a warning about malfunctions and even sometimes a reality check.

From my own experiences: I tend to wear fairly plain first-layer clothing and dress it up with a vest or doublet (or overdress, or bodice) my boots have gel soles inserted and I can get in and out of the whole outfit  in less than two minutes. (Faster if motivated)  I wear a belt with a hard-sided pouch and accessorize with a hat.  I carry a cheap watch, money and breath mints. (Breath mints, not just for you!) Wearing swords seems really cool, but not having them while walking around off stage is less to carry, less to watch and less enticement to idiots. And don’t even get me started on people who wear them in a position to poke out the eyes of little people and toddlers.

In the end it’s about your personal style and comfort. As I recently said on a facebook post, Renaissance faires are not historically accurate, otherwise they’d be reenactments.

As always, feel free to add more in comments or email me.

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