As the Minnesota Renaissance Festival finds itself once again upon us, there is no better time to showcase some of the artisans who can be spotted on the festival grounds. Not all of the talented artists have a booth at the festival, but they are still important contributors of wonderful art that bring the spirit of the fest to life. The third featured artist in our interview series is Cameron James Alexander Christian-Weir, also known as Cehero Okensword from the Barony of Nordskogen, owner and sole bowyer of Grey Goose Bows.
Kelly Starsmore (TCG): What got you into designing renaissance faire gear?
Cameron Christian-Weir: Well, I’ve been interested in the Middle Ages since I was three, and my mum read Arthurian legends to me. So there was a natural slide into bow making and other passions. It was my mum and the SCA (Society for Creative Anachronism) which encouraged such exploration of medieval tech and culture. I’ve also always loved the deceptive simplicity of a bow. Lots of people (especially compound archers) think that it is just a simple stick because it lacks wheels, whistles, or fiberglass. Therefore “anyone can make it.” That is somewhat true—anyone can make a bow. However, there are a lot of very subtle curves and tappers that (if done wrong) greatly effect the bow’s lifespan and workability. One also needs to know the materials and proportions really well. So anyone can make a bow, but few can make a great bow. It’s this constant challenge that got me interested in bow making, and its also what keeps me interested.
TCG: How long have you been custom making bows?
Cameron: I’ve been making bows for about 12 years now. The first bow I made was for myself, back in ’04. I still have it and its still in one piece.
TCG: How long, on average, does it take you to make a standard piece—meaning one without too much intricate design?
Cameron: A laminate bow usually takes me about 20 hours to make from board to finished bow. A self bow can range from 20 to 80, and a sinew-back bow or recurve can be up to three months because of drying time.
TCG: Any pieces you have done that you are particularly proud of?
Cameron: Ah! That’s like asking me to pick a favorite child. Okay, I have a few: Puck, a Yew short bow with lots of character, The Twig and Ossage Dakota short bow with sinew backing; I have stories about those two—if you want to find out, you’ll just have to find me at Fest. I’ve got way more, but I’d need a novel for that.
TCG: I know that you don’t sell at the Minnesota Renaissance Festival, but you are a street performer. What type of street performance do you do?
Cameron: I do bow- and arrow-making demos just outside of the Irish Cottage, usually under the ash or the tinker tree.
TCG: If someone wants to get a piece from you, how best would they go about doing that?
Cameron: Well, I can take commissions out at Fest. Ideally you know your stats and what you want to do with the bow, but we can figure those out at Fest, too. For example, a hunting bow is different from a war bow, and a target bow is different from a flight bow. I do have examples of all types out there—you just can’t shoot them at Fest.
For a list of artisans who have booths at the Minnesota Renaissance Festival, please visit the MN Renaissance Festival’s website.