Believing she was born
with "gypsy blood" running through her veins, Hathaway's desire
to travel outside her home state of Massachusetts and to explore other
areas around the country seemed inevitable. After graduating from high
school, she landed in Denver, Colo., looking for a job in her late teens.
Little did she know that the gritty line of work unexpectedly exposed her
"Colorado was the
first state to hire women on a construction site," she said. "I
got a job working with a crew and then later became part of the drywall
crew. It was at this time that I realized I was good at doing detail,
meticulous work," Hathaway said.
Bound for the sunny
skies of California, Hathaway later moved to the West Coast and opened her
own drywall business in her early 20s, doing custom drywall work for
wealthy customers in their high-dollar homes, she said.
"I found that
things like that ultimately come together and relate," said Hathaway
who worked in the drywall business until turning 30.
It was during this time
Hathaway first sampled the Renaissance revelry as she served as a wench
for the Southern California Pleasure Faire - considered to be the
"grandmother" of all renaissance faires being about 35 years
old. Following the "Drywall Debbie" experience, as she was
affectionately referred to by fellow colleagues, Hathaway moved from sunny
California to the tropics of Hawaii, destined to find her niche.
Influenced by the
simplicity of life and Asian influence in designs and art there, Hathaway
began making jewelry using the themes she found, and later helped create
the Renaissance Faire in Oahu, Hawaii.
colorful pins and barrettes were a collage of tassels, tapestry, fans and
chopsticks, with brocade trims, and semi-precious stones.
"The jewelry was
really successful as it was sold throughout the nation in boutiques and
department stores including Macy's and Nordstrom's."
During this time,
Hathaway was wed and continued to design her line of jewelry. After giving
birth to her daughter, Olivia Maria Eva Lani (meaning "gift from
heaven" in Hawaiian) Hathaway (now 15 years old), the three lived on
the island several more years. Eventually, the couple divorced and she and
Olivia moved to New England so Hathaway could expand Dragon Wings.
"My business then
exploded," Hathaway said.
While there, she mostly
employed single parents, mainly women.
"The economy where
we were staying was very poor and it was difficult to find a good
livelihood especially if you weren't skilled in a particular field,"
she said. "I just felt it was a good way to help people around
Still eager to travel
and realizing her deep desire to create beauty, Hathaway tried her hand at
being juried into renaissance faires with her pieces. Hathaway's work
paralleled her interest in faires as it progressed from being highly
influenced by the Asian culture, to Chinese Victorian and then finally
Renaissance. She was juried into the Maryland Renaissance Festival, which
runs from late August until late October in Crownsville.
"I then had a
wonderful idea to make a character doll," said Hathaway, who as a
child delighted in making "wonderful little creatures" out of
the many unusual fabrics her mother kept in bins and used for making
"I truly believe it
was inside me to do this," she said.
And Puss N' Boots was
born, a fairytale doll to illustrate the popular children's story. She
soon taught herself how to make the dolls into marionettes, and watched
her new artistic medium take shape.
Sporting brown velvet
pants and a textured beige top, the porcelain cat is adorned with a hat
and leather belt. Down to his tail, the puss was made more life-like with
its light brown fur on its head, and paws. Hathaway was thrilled with her
thriving marionette, doll and costume accessories shop.
Over time, her designs
developed as the dolls are now made of resin (a polyurethane material
resembling wood when completed) and then carved.
stays the same after being fired, but the resin carves like ivory and is
better suited for making different facial features. This way, no two dolls
are exactly the same," Hathaway said.
Her creatures are all
jointed, hand-painted, and dressed from head to toe with handmade outfits,
all with different "personalities," she noted. Because of their
joints, they move as if they were real life and can all be strung as
marionettes if desired. The tiny little joints are pegged, incorporating
waxed linen for durability, which creates more flawless movement, Hathaway
The smaller dolls are
made of solid resin, while the larger ones - 18 inches or more - have only
resin appendages. These have muslin stuffed bodies filled with tiny
weighted beads, for a more life-like feel, she said.
"I still make Puss
N' Boots today and am always adding onto the collection. Sometimes I sit
with a piece of clay and a face comes out of it ... it's not always
planned. I realized what fun it is and how wonderful it is to be an
After her first faire,
Hathaway became involved in several others throughout the country. For one
to sell their wares at a faire, participants must buy one of the available
buildings on the fairgrounds to sell out of, with the culmination of huts
creating a cozy, period-style village.
"I met my husband,
Eric Heath, at the Maryland Renaissance Festival," she said. "He
was the pretzel man and sang in a wonderful opera voice. When he came into
my life I was based out of New Hampshire and he said he would help me and
make the designs work better ... we didn't give up."
The two were married in
1997, and he also became part of Dragon Wings. The two started venturing
from faire to faire in Arizona, Texas, and Colorado, still participating
today, selling the whimsical dolls and other items. The couple then moved
from New England to Easton a year ago with Hathaway's daughter.
being an artist, but then to be at a faire, with all the acting taking
place and everyone speaking old English, it is a dream. The marionettes
are a wonderful tool to engage in conversation with people. Also people
love coming into the shop and put hats on or wrap a boa around them ...
it's almost like they transform and allows them to experiment for a
moment," she said.
The couple demonstrate
how to string marionettes during faire times.
"I think I was
definitely born to be creative and very much encouraged by my mother who
is a powerhouse of creativity," said Hathaway who handles the
designs, sculpting and painting the dolls at her studio.
Eric helps with the
artistic end of things such as carving, the engineering of marionettes as
well and he assists his wife when she has "artistic blocks."
Heath also has been an entertainer and technical expert including computer
engineer, piano lounge entertainer and even a singing waiter on a cruise
ship prior meeting Debra. In addition, he is a graduate of Ringling
Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Clown College.
Dragon Wings employee
John Jacobo helps to cast the figures and perform the initial carving and
painting to the doll prior to Hathaway's final touches of detail carving,
painting facial features and dressing each figure.