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 renaissance festival, but they are still important contributors of wonderful art that bring the spirit of the fest to life. Today’s featured artist is Dorianne McCreary Jarchow. (Check out our other interviews by clicking here.)
Kelly Starsmore (TCG): How were you introduced to the Minnesota Renaissance Fest?
Dorianne McCreary Jarchow: I moved to Minnesota in 2001 when I transferred colleges. My mom actually found out about the RenFest, and we went together. My family used to go to the Shaker festival, a Pennsylvania Dutch–themed fest near Pittsburgh, in Pennsylvania every year as a kid. RenFest was like that times 1 million. Such a wonderful whimsical place. I fell in love with it right away.
TCG: How long have you been making your wings?
Dorianne: About nine years. I started when my mom’s best friend was looking for wings for her four granddaughters; they were very into Peter Pan at the time and loved Tinkerbell. She asked my mom about making wings, and my mom came to me since I am the crafty one! I started researching how to make wings for the girls. I ended up making four basic, white glitter wings. After I got my feet wet, I started playing around with shapes and colors and added hand painting lines.
I love insects, and their wings inspire me. I like to design my shapes with different insects in mind.
TCG: What sets your wings apart from all others?
Dorianne: They are tear and water resistant. I only use high-quality nylon for my wings. To paint them, I use an artist grade acrylic paint, which is why they are water resistant—the paint makes them much sturdier then other costume wings. All of my wings are bent by hand; we stretch the nylon by hand and then we do the acrylic staining with a brush. Then I individually line or vein every pair by hand to complete the design.
The stains are water diluted, which gives the colors a more watercolor-painted and organic look. The veining is painted with undulated acrylic paint along the edges to help them to resist tearing out at Fest.
TCG: Why the U shape in the back instead of the more common elastic bands?
Dorianne: I learned to create my wings with a base between the wings wrapped in ribbon with wire stems hanging down. I did look into using elastic straps, but with the cost and visibility, I decided to stay away from that method. I have settled on doing a U bend because it looks clean and feels softer, and it also hides base of the wings. I do add ribbons to the base as another means of tying them on. If you have kids it helps to keep them in place while they run around and play.
Larger wings may pull out of your top, so I suggest you wear them inserted into a corset, or fitted shirt or vest. But the lightweight smalls and mediums usually stay in place on their own.
TCG: Any pieces you are particularly proud of?
Dorianne: My personal wings—they are a second generation of the custom wings with green and orange colors. Green and orange are my favorite colors and remind me of fall. I have made a pair with four wings and antenna; now I have upgraded to six wings.
TCG: Where are you located at Fest?
Shop #422 at Fest.
TCG: Who helps you in the shop?
Dorianne: Calvin and Jodi help me. Calvin also made the jigs for bending the wings and wire ear cuffs that we sell in our store. They both knit our hats and arm warmers.
Rachelle also helps me out in the shop. She designs and sells the fairy headdresses that we all wear.
TCG: Anything else that we can find at your shop?
Dorianne: My beloved crocheted Beardees, little crocheted dolls with beards. My husband also sells his wares there—he is the owner and founder of Nerdy Needles Knitting. There are hats, arm warmers, and the like in geeky themes. You can find Doctor Who, Harry Potter, My Little Pony, Pokémon, and much more. Also, as mentioned, we sell the wire-cuff elven ears.
Next year we are hoping to be able to sell Rochelle’s fairy headdresses, but for now you will have to stop by and say hello to see her amazing work!
TCG: Do you have a shop outside of Minnesota’s festival?