The first rehearsal for the faeries of this year's Tennessee Renaissance Festival was yesterday. We finalised what characters each of us will be doing as well as nailing down costume choices. I was very happy to have landed the character role I wanted, which would allow me to interact directly with this year's storyline. The theme for this year surrounds the colonization of Virginia (more on that closer to faire). But we have a real treat this year as one of our cast members will be playing, to my knowledge, our first ever Native American character (and she actually is Native American). She and I were partners-in-crime last year, so I thought it only fitting we should be again. So while she is playing a Croatan ambassadress to England, I will be playing Awani, the North American white-tailed deer faerie who follows her over.
I'm so excited! I'll get to dig into my own Cherokee roots (well, that little 1/16th of my ethnic makeup. Eh, numbers). I can already think of a bunch of acting bits I can do with other cast members and patrons. I think this is going to be a great year! Now, onto the really fun part - the costume!
Here was my initial sketch of the character...
I tried to think of what thing in nature I could pull off and what would play to my strong suits. I settled on the deer due to my love of earthy elements, specifically the colour brown. I have dark dark brown eyes that come out black in most pictures (except for the last post where they had this golden hue. I wish they looked like that all the time! Most of the time you can't tell the difference between my iris and pupil). That coupled with having been described as having "big doe eyes" I figured, why not a doe? Now, here comes the costume breakdown!
Unfortunately the patrons that come through the TNRF gates aren't all the bright. Some are truly lovely, but most of the time, you have to kinda smack them upside the head with your design like a cold fish. My original fae idea was a Celtic bird faerie, but while the design was much loved by my fellow costuming friends, 1) It read too "warrior" and 2) It didn't read "bird" as well. So I kept all that in mind while I sketched out this faerie. Now I'll admit, I'm taking liberties with the design - does only have small antlers and no spots.
Antlers - Ideally I want to have a decent-sized rack of antlers (depending on how much weight I can balance successfully on top of my head). That way anyone, even if they're um....slightly or not-so-slightly inebriated (which they will be at faire, unfortunately) they can still tell I'm a deer. The best pair I've seen so far has been from Kato of Steampunk Couture. The whole ensemble is very inspiring. It has a structured, yet unkempt appearance that I really like. There is structure present, but at the same time, it has the feel of running through the woods with hair getting caught in the wind. Very organic. I'm very tempted to email her and ask how heavy they were.
Steampunk Couture - Facebook
The trick is going to be making a lightweight, but realistic looking rack of antlers that I can attach to my head without causing neck strain, being too top heavy, and/or attached securely enough that if I decided to get animated - as I do - they won't go tumbling. A headband might be best, though I'm debating between a regular headband or one that wraps around the whole head. If I go the latter route, I might do a fabric wrap with a plastic headband at the top (since plastic headbands have a nasty habit of digging into my skin). Then the headband will be covered with strands of fake teased hair to cover up the fabric.
Ears - I'm getting the Faun ears from Aradani studios ----> http://www.aradanicostumes.com/elf_ears/faun_ears
Makeup - Many tests will be involved to get the right look, I'm sure! But the jist of what I'm wanting to do is similar to the Trill effect from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine where the fawn spots will go around the forehead, down the sides of the face, neck, shoulders and end about the elbows. I will do a nose, though I'm debating whether to do a full black nose or a more subtle brown. I'll try both and see what looks better.
Pixi Willow - DeviantArt
Big eyes are a definite! I'm not sure what kind of lipstick I should go with. In my head I see a natural lip, BUT due to the structure of my lips, they have a tendency to disappear in photos if I have no lipstick or a natural colour, especially my upper lip. So I may experiment with some different brown shades.
Dress - This is the part that is up for debate at the moment. The faerie director and I are both leaning towards a simplistic sheath dress in either leather (for accuracy and texture) or cotton flannel (which has a furry texture to it, but surprisingly breathable). We've talked about making it all out of one hide or sewing two different ones together to have that light underbelly of a deer. I do know I want to do side lacing, though I'm debating whether to have any boning built to the torso. This is the inspiration for the dress at the moment....
Reine-Haru - DeviantArt
Bracers - I will have bracers made out of the same taupe fabric as the dress.
Tights - As we are required to wear tights, I want to do a two-toned pair to mimic deer legs. (as they're lighter on the inside. It also works wonder for the illusion of having smaller legs! ;) ) So I'm on the hunt now for a pair of white cotton footed tights to later dye to match the dress/makeup.
Shoes - Not sure on what kind to get exactly, though I imagine it'll be a matter of simply going with what I can find. All I know for sure is that they'll be brown and have lots of support for prancing about!
Necklace - I have two options with the necklace.
1) I wear something similar to what my friend is wearing to signify my attachment to her tribe
2) I wear something just Native American looking (in case I can't get something similar to my friend's accessories as she is actually procuring full regalia and NOT a costume). If this choice, I'd either do a collarbone-skimming necklace or a choker. Okay, okay, so the choker would be Kyla's choker from Smallville. I gotta sneak some geekery in there, right?
Wings - I'm unsure which direction to go with on the wings. Part of me wants up upward facing wings and another part wants downward facing wings. I know most of the folks who do faeries for TNRF do custom-shaped wings, but I'll admit I'm leaning towards traditional faerie wings, just with a brownish iridescent colour rather than blue/green/purple/pink.
I think that just about covers it!