|Jon-Paul McGowan-- Texas Renaissance Festival November 2015|
This all started in October of 2013. It was a normal day for us, up to our eyeballs in our daily lives when my DH sent my a private message simply saying, "Michael is dead. We need to leave now." This was a heavy blow to our family. Michael is my DH's youngest brother. Michael was adopted into the family when he was a baby, and had grown up with my husband. What was special about Michael was that he was special needs. He loved his barbie movies, his coke, and his 'Las Palapas' tacos. He had died instantly that afternoon from an unknown birth defect at the age of 27.
This event left our family reeling. Each family member channeled their grief in different ways. Some family members got memorial tattoos, my DH decided to use that grief to help other kids like Michael. He planned, ( and is now doing) visits to day cares, and has offered to visit special needs kids in their homes. This will allow children who normally don't get to have Santa visits due to health issues, or stimulation issues.
When our daughter was real little she would see a drawing or statue of Santa Claus and say "Dada!" to her Santa was her Dada. If he could be Santa to his little girl, why couldn't he be Santa for other kids? That is what he set out to do. The only problem was being Santa is not cheap. Thankfully through the generosity of our family and friends money was donated so that we could begin building Santa.
In the spring of 2014 we researched the different types and styles of Santa across history and the world. We decided on a late 1800's Victorian Santa with the silhouette of the Russian Father Frost. The rational is that the late 1800's had the old Christmas card quality we were going for, also Father Christmas doesn't have to have a snow white beard, he can still have gray, and dark hairs. By the way, that is my husband's real beard in the photos. Yes he lightens it with make up, but our daughter is whitening it naturally quickly enough. :) When asked why we didn't go the 'Coke-Cola' Santa route we just say that isn't our favorite Santa. There is nothing wrong with that type of Santa, but we found the look we were going for.
Now that we knew the look we were going for the next step was finding the pattern to make it and the rest of the pieces. We broke the design down into elements so we could build it in stages. Those pieces were : Coat, Shirt, pants, boots, pants belt, coat belt, boot tops, toy bag, belt pouch, socks, Naughty and Nice Books, glasses,and gloves.
Here are the things we bought and from whom, the rest I will give you a review of what I did to make them.
Gloves: He has two pair. The first is simply white satin gloves from a bridal store I happened to have in my costume stash. The second pair is thick black leather gloves from Excalibur leather. He did the plain ones. What is nice with this company is that should the palm wear out it can easily be replaced for a small fee. You won't be out alot of money simply because one part was loved to death.
Glasses: The glasses are from Readerglasses.com. They are simply that, half circle 1.0 strength reading glasses. When we got them they were $10-15 plus $5-ish shipping. Really easy to order and have delivered. Finding the site in the first place to get them was the hard part.
Pants Belt: It is a 2 inch wide hand tooled belt with a circular buckle. It was purchased at Scarborough Faire in Waxihachie, Texas. The vendor only goes to this faire, and only takes cash. I do not know the vendors name specifically.
Coat Belt: It is a 3 inch side belt from Ravenswood Leather. It was our first time doing buisnes with them and they have treated us very well ever since. We got the base belt from them but the buckle we got from Captain Edward Teaque at Black Rose Trading Company. He has screen authentic Captain Teaque buckles for sale for reasonable prices. Check him out to get these great buckles.
Belt Pouch: This is a pouch that hangs from belt hangers so that it slides freely on the belt, and it clips to the hangers via special hooks. Rev and Beth are good friends of ours that hand make all the leather in their shop. They stand behind their projects and do amazing custom work. Rev's Armour Werx did it in red and black leather, and has two compartments. One of our more expensive prop purchases but amazing quality and workmanship. Well worth the expense as he uses it with the Flamingo Project.
Toy bag: Originally we planned for him to carry everything in his belt pouch. However we found that between his personal items, and the candy canes for the kids, he had no room for his naughty and nice books much less anything else he would need. This lead us to getting him a simple 'Monk's bag' in Red/ Black from Zootzu. It is reversible and holds a lot more than you would think. I highly recommend.
Boots and Socks: The boots were the most expensive purchase of the whole outfit. Honestly they proboly were half the budget. Thankfully the DH not only uses it for FC but also the Flamingo Project. ( I'll explain the Flamingo Project in another post, just be patient.)
The boots are 9 button boots from Son of Sandler. They are Black with Red trim, red laces, and circular gold buttons. SoS are real cobblers, as in REAL shoe makers. They have been doing this for generations going back to Europe. That is why their sizing is done in the European style. If there is one group that I know KNOWS what they are doing with their project, it is these guys! They do AMAZING custom work and do great customer service! (They also did Mrs. Claus's Mary Janes, but more on that later.)
What is nice about SoS boots is that if you need to change the look you can change out the laces, as well as the buttons. Now it isn't cheap to get a second set of buttons but if it is $100 to change the buttons vs $600 for new boots, you can see the appeal.
As for the socks this is something that came from customer demand. The DH wore these with orthopedic heel inserts (yes you would need to get some not because the boots are uncomfortable but because everyone is different and they prefer you put your own insole inside that fits you instead of them having to guess.) The problem was that over the many many long hours of the DH wearing the boots the simple basic tube socks he wore with them did not cut it. When we spoke to SoS about it they pointed us to their new line of socks. They carry specially made Boot Socks. This means they are made to go over the knee and properly fit their boots. The first pair they got didn't quite work for the DH which is why they ended up as part of the Mrs. C outfit, but the second pair works amazingly well. They are lofty, warm, and absorb the sweat on those long hard days on your feet.
Naughty and Nice Books: The DH wanted a nice journal to hold as his Naught/ Nice Journal and use it as a place to take notes for his school projects. We found just what he was looking for at Poetic Earth Hand Made Journals. He really wanted to get the leather embossed with " The List" on the side by the leather was too soft. As we walked around the faire people asked about his list, and he showed the thick book saying it was the Naughty list he left the Nice list at home since it was the size of a pamphlet. Later on we were in their shop picking up a new purse/ belt for my Lady Stitch persona, which I noticed this 3x4" leather book for $5. The leather matched his Naughty book, so we now had our "Nice" book. Since they do not have their names on them, he can switch them when he is working with kiddos. IE the big book is the good kids, the small book is the naughty kids. :)
Be on the look out for the reviews of what I did to consturst the rest of the pieces as well as posts about Mrs. Claus, The Flamingo Project, the Baby Pink Pirate, as well as Lady Stitch.