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James Glasgow: “We're crafters. You have to have 100 different skills. That means sewing. That means having a hot glue gun any given moment.”

James Glasgow smiles into the camera. He is dressed entirely in earth tones and is holding a staff topped with a woven twig circle and orb.
Rebecca Smith

James Glasgow spoke with the Missouri on Mic team at the Central Missouri Renaissance Festival in October. He began going to Renaissance festivals five years ago, and now he’s a “jack of all trades” with skills in sewing, leather crafting and wet felting.

James says he loves the uniqueness of the festival because he can connect with friends and take a trip back in time.

Missouri on Mic is an oral history and journalism project documenting stories from around the state in its 200th year.

James Glasgow: I was an adult when I got into Renn Faire. I was in my 30s when I started and went to my first Renn Faire. [I’m] 35 now, and I grew up where you made your own costumes, you went to nerd events – Comic Con, things like that.

So, I think it just started young and having a family that just made everything from scratch.

In the St. Louis Renn Faire, I was a full Autumn Wizard, but I took elements of that today. I have a staff that I have fixed with a pool noodle on top and wrapped in twine and moss, and then on top is a wreath with a… just Hobby Lobby pieces that you find.

And this is normally a spring [costume], so I normally have little white flowers and things on it, but I want to add a couple elements just for the autumn.

I normally wear wet felted hat that I make myself. Today, I'm just going bald. But everything is everything is purchased from a vendor here or made myself.

James Glasgow as a Full Autumnal Wizard
Rebecca Smith
James Glasgow as a Full Autumnal Wizard

I'm wearing pieces that my friend over there makes – Timothy Berghold – he makes leather. Tools it himself – really getting into the craftsmanship of the Faire, and the spirit of the period.

It's hard to describe at first, but I grew up reading Lord of the Rings and was a big Tolkien fan, and you know, playing a lot of video games, reading a lot of comics.

So, to see that kind of come alive, and see the creativity of people who start their first couple years, you know, coming in regular garb and buying a couple pieces, and then you see a lot of people, you know, start making their own things and becoming artisans.

And just being a part of that is so much fun.

We've made so many friends – that while we love the style, and the costuming and everything like that – just the people and showing up and being a part of it, is so much fun.

I mean, for me individually that was just in my blood – my mother used to run little craft shows. My aunt would do craft shows and make things…

I do wet felting, which is a process of taking raw fur and stuff from, you know, generally sheep – merino sheep, things like that, and then agitating it together to form a single piece, which you then form into a hat.

I come from a world of doing, you know, laser cutting and 3D printing, as well. So, I've built up a family of people who are hand workers. So, depending on what you're doing and the project – I mean, I could go into it – but there's the wet felting. We, like I said, we do a lot of sewing, and then we do a lot.

But we're generalists. We're crafters. So, you have to have 100 different skills to put together whatever you can, and that means sewing, that means having a hot glue gun in any given moment, but also knowing the process of leatherworking, building, glassblowing – I mean, we do everything we can

But the Central Missouri, the Maiden Faire [Renaissance Festival], Kansas City – those feel like home, those are us. You know, we enjoy, you know expanding on the hobby and meeting new friends, but St. Louis and Central Missouri, in particular, is where home is. We like to local feel of it.

Katie Quinn works for Missouri Business Alert. She studied radio journalism and political science at the University of Missouri- Columbia, and previously worked at KBIA.