(Frank) Today on Around Kansas Deb travels back in time and witnesses the magic of the twenty thirteen Kansas City Renaissance Festival. With so much for the eyes to mind to experience you have to see this episode to feel the mystical elegance of the art and artisans surrounding the festival. So if you missed it this year after seeing this you won’t miss it again.
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(Deb) Welcome to the Kansas City Renaissance Festival. This is the thirty-sixth year for the renaissance festival and oddly, every year is 1545 and with me this morning are Tarmo Bolin and Dui Bolin who are performers here at the Renaissance Festival and generally just make it fun for everybody. So tell me what you guys are doing. (1st Male) Well the dancers, in general, we dance a wonderful show. We make sure to smile and my favorite part is wooing the ladies, absolutely. (Deb) Wooing the ladies. (1st Male) The ladies will never be free of the Romani. We will woo the ladies, kiss every hand that we see and if you are married, you better beware. If don’t kiss you lady’s hand, we will. Everyone will feel loved and entertained here at the Kansas City Renaissance Festivals. (2nd Male) And don’t worry, we teach wooing as well. (Deb) You teach wooing, very valuable educational programing here at the Renaissance Festival. So how many Romani are there? (1st Male) Some would say too many. (2nd Male) Our papa has had thirty-five children. (Deb) Thirty-five children. (1st Male) But he has only brought nine dancers with him this year. They are not all quite civilized enough to come to Canterbury, but this also a small selection. You see, I do not think the royalty would accept it if we had all of us here. They would be afraid. (Deb) Now Romani, does that mean your gypsies? (1st Male) Yes, we are gypsies, but some people have bad idea about the word gypsy. You see, we are not the kind to steal from you. We are honorable and proud gypsies. (2nd Male) We are all proud Romani prices, you know. (1st Male) Indeed. (Deb) You’re all princes? (1st Male) That is what papa tells us. (2nd Male) So it must be true. Everything papa says, it is the solemn truth. (Deb) Well I know a few farmers who would like to show their bulls to your papa. I think he could maybe give them some inspiration with thirty-five kids, so that’s pretty impressive. (1st Male) Oh, pa. (Deb) So how many years have you been coming to the Ren Fest? (1st Male) This is the first year that papa has brought both of us to Canterbury, indeed. (Deb) Really? (2nd Male) Normally we are not the dancers to entertain and this is actually my first year here with a companion. (Deb) Well it’s so great to have you and how many ladies have you wooed since you’ve arrived? (1st Male) Papa has not taught us to count that high. (Deb) But he did teach you to read and write. (1st Male) Absolutely. (2nd Male) He has sent us to school at the Manor. It is important for us to be educated. (1st Male) Indeed. (Deb) And what exactly does the Romani does a Romani do with his education? (1st Male) Well we can write our own name if necessary. We can write somebody else’s name if it’s because we are in trouble. (2nd Male) Do a little bit of mathematics, you know, basic schooling, singing. (1st Male) And remembering all the ladies names can be difficult as well, so writing them down, good secret. (Deb) As you can tell, it’s gonna be a fun day here at the Ren Fest and we’re gonna just watch how talented these guys are in just a couple of minutes, so stay with us on Around Kansas.
(Deb) Welcome back to Around Kansas. I’m Deb Bisel, your co-host and with me is the very talented Charles Coker and, of course, in October, everybody’s thinking about carving pumpkins, but Charles has an amazing talent for that and you’ve got some incredible creations, Charles. (Male) Well thanks. (Deb) So tell me how you got started creating these? They’re something. They’re just spectacular. (Male) Well I was actually influenced by the Charlie Brown Halloween Special. I actually got to watch the premiere of that and that really influenced me. I’ve always been artistic and as soon as my father let me handle a knife, I started doing the family Jack-o’-lantern every year and as I got older and started develop more abilities, one year when I was seventeen, my sister was given a pumpkin and I asked her if I could carve it and I just decided rather than doing the traditional Jack-o’-lantern, I’d start doing the three dimensional type of carvings and ever since, I’ve been doing it and as a result, getting married, having children. I always carve for them and then as their friends and school saw it, I kept getting more and more requests to do it and finally I ended up out here at the Renaissance Festival as a guest of the booth owner, Bob Koranza and I’ve been carving here for around ten years. Actually tried to figure that out and I can’t remember anymore, but it’s been at least ten years. (Deb) Well I think there’s obviously something magical about pumpkins, you know, gourds and pumpkins and in fairy tales and so much of our traditions, there’s something just a little different about them and you really bring out the magic. So when did you start with these, like you call it, three dimensional, is that your term for it? (Male) Correct. As I said, I was seventeen was the first one. (Deb) And, so, you did three dimensional with that. (Male) That one then and then I’ve been doing at least one every year since and then probably over the last ten years, I do twenty to forty pumpkins a year. (Deb) Twenty to forty, Wow. Now pumpkins, because they’re a fruit, I guess are they a fruit or a vegetable? (Male) They’re actually a fruit. (Deb) They’re actually a fruit. (Male) They’re in the squash family. (Deb) They decay. (Male) That’s correct. (Deb) So you’ve captured some of these in kind of that morphing between of gorgeous beautiful pumpkin and the decaying, which is really interesting. (Male) That’s true. I have been asked over and over again in the years about how long will they last and on average, they’ll last maybe two weeks to a month, depends on what the weather’s like and if it’s cool or not and, but they always want something they can keep, so I’ve experimented years and years to try to make them last and didn’t have much success and then finally I started having some little, tiny pie pumpkins dry out and they would last which really made me decide to really make it work, so over the last three years, I came up with a technique of drying the pumpkins and then preserving them after they dry and then mounting them onto plaques and doing other things, so that was really a good moment for me when I finally figured out how to make them last. (Deb) Well you’ve got some incredible art in the process and, Charles, can people find you online when the Renaissance Festival is over or do they just have to come knocking on your door to get a pumpkin or? (Male) Well at this point in time, I do give cards out here. They can contact me that way. I actually also do volunteer work down at Hilliard Art Gallery downtown in Kansas City, so if they contact Hilliard Art Gallery, they could find me as well through that. (Deb) Well, Charles, we appreciate your art so much. You’ve just got some very interesting and creative things and I think they’re really inspiring for this time of year. (Male) Well thank you so much. (Deb) Thanks for being with us. Stay tuned. We’ll be right back with more of Around Kansas.
(Deb) Welcome back to Around Kansas. I’m with my friend, Ian Hall with Time to Dream. He and his wife Karla are from Topeka, though Ian is not originally from Topeka. He’s one of our best imports so far to the city. (Male) Thank you for calling me an import. That’s weird. (Deb) Well I think we’ve done real good with that. (Male) Yes. (Deb) That’s one import that’s working for us. (Male) Important. (Deb) So, man, bring that triple a little closer to your face there. So tell us about the Ren Fest and how long you have Karla have been coming over and what you do. (Male) Alright. Well we started doing Ren Fest maybe six, seven years ago and originally, we were gonna do ten to fifteen Ren Fests a year and now we’re down to two. We do Oklahoma and we do here and we’ve done Kansas City for four years. This is our fourth year. In the same place, selling different stuff every year. (Deb) So you and Karla actually make the jewelry? (Male) Every single thing that you see in there, even the booth and the boots in the corner, everything’s done by us. (Deb) That’s just incredible. So how did you guys get started doing this because you’re also a very talented writer, so Ian is originally from Scotland, by the way. (Male) Yeah, this is my own accent. (Deb) Yeah, this is his own accent, unlike many of the people around Ren Fest who have an affected accent, this is the real Ian coming out right here. (Male) It all started, and Karla’s grandma who passed away, but Karla’s grandma asked her to do an ear cuff because she had an ear cuff when she was younger. Karla made an ear cuff and then she started to do other things with wire and before too long, she was, you know, paying some bills with the stuff she was selling and then one month, she paid the mortgage and it was like, Okay, and then she said to me, Why don’t you make some crowns, and I went, I don’t want to make crowns. I’m too I’m laying tiles and stuff, and then I realized I could make as much money sitting watching television making crowns as I could on my knees laying tile and the tile was forgotten and that’s it. I’m now an official I’m called the Circlet Wizard (Deb) The Circlet Wizard. (Male) because I don’t make tiaras because that’s terrible. (Deb) So you make circlets? (Male) Yes, I make circlets, crowns, anything that goes on the head and also, it’s kind of weird. The first fair we did at Norman, Karla was ill afterwards and we had a fair maybe two, three weeks afterwards and we panicked thinking, Who’s gonna make the other stuff? So I started to make the other stuff too, so I know how to do half the stuff as well. (Deb) That’s amazing. (Male) Yep. (Deb) And you guys are also very talented musicians. (Male) We try to be. (Deb) You’re very, very talented. (Male) Well we saw them play here, bought it’s too much of a diverse weather condition. This year it was a hundred and five one weekend and then two weekends ago, we were shivering, so I’m not gonna subject my guitar to that kind of stuff. (Deb) Well we’ll have to catch you guys playing at another time, but catching the art, you guys are just maybe the most creative couple I know. It’s just amazing. (Male) We try to be and there’s one bad thing about doing a Ren Fest for seven weeks is I can’t do writing in between. The writing has to take a break and that annoys me, but apart from that, we love it. (Deb) So tell us about your books real quick. (Male) I started off doing historical and I wrote a historical novel, which got published, and then my daughter asked me to do a vampire book and I went, That’s crazy, and then I started it and I got in contact with another writer in Topeka called (?) and between us, we started doing the vampire novels and I think the last year and a half, we’ve put seven or eight novels on Amazon, so we really have taken it. My last one was I put the vampire together with a historical and it’s a kinetic vampire in King Arthur’s court. (Deb) Oh, that’s fantastic. (Male) So that’s the first book in the series. (Deb) That’s fantastic and you do all this under your own name? (Male) Yes. (Deb) Okay, so if you look for Ian Hall on Amazon? (Male) You’ll get me. (Deb) You’ll get me. Alright, thank you so much. (Male) Thank you. (Deb) Stay tuned for more of Around Kansas.
(Deb) Welcome back to RenFest and with me is I think one of the most talented vendors here and why don’t you tell us who you are and what your specific talent is because I think it’s pretty spectacular. (Male) Alright. Well thank you for your praise. As everything at Renaissance Festival has a complicated answer, I’m going to give you a complicated one. My real name is Thomas Davies and I am an artist who lives in Kansas City, Missouri and I make fantasy, surrealistic artwork like dragon teeth, fictional archeological relics, crypto zoological specimens, strange things, weird stuff that I like. (Deb) And that fits perfectly with the Renaissance theme. (Male) Mostly, yes and if it doesn’t, I’ll (?) anyway. (Deb) How on earth did you get inspired to do this? (Male) Reading a lot of books, generally being bored with reality, yeah. (Deb) Well the reality that you’ve created with the surreality that you’ve created is really something and tell me about say this, for example, this is cast from something that you carve, correct? (Male) Yes, yes. I make an original in wax and I then make a silicon mold of it, which is flexible and squishy and then I pour resin and powdered marble into it and cleaned it up a bit and then usually paint it, so here’s a painted version or a semi-painted version of the same thing and, so, then make it all prettified and magicated. (Deb) Now is this a real character? Does this depict a mythological character? (Male) It does not, no. (Deb) So this is from your imagination? (Male) Yes. It’s meant to be a pho archeological relic, so if you were to go on an expedition to Atlantis to uncover strange and wonderful things, this is one of those strange and wonderful things you might have found, if you had gone on such an expedition. (Deb) Wonderful. What an incredible mind you have and such artistic ability to execute that. (Male) It doesn’t feel incredible. It actually, it sort of feels wet. Anyway, sorry. (Deb) Well they’re spectacular and I hope people visit your booth and then do you sell other than Renaissance Festival? (Male) I do. I sell on the internet and at various trade shows, comic book conventions, things of that nature around the country. (Deb) You’re just not making this easy for people, are you? (Male) No, no. Technology and me don’t always sync up. (Deb) Well I think Thomas is just one of the most incredibly talented people at Ren Fest and you’ll find so much more here and Kansas backdoor. This is just an incredible festival. Thank you all for joining me. We’ll see you next time on Around Kansas.
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