"I usually have several projects going on at
once," says Debra from her workshop, "Eric does the casting,
grinding, and assembly of the resin body parts. I do the sculpting,
dyeing, face painting, hair and costuming. . . .Most of our figurines are
strung as marionettes at the Renaissance festivals where they’re
Now that they are no longer nomads, "We are always
sculpting and building new things," says Eric. He and Debra have
created between 35 and 40 different characters. In their workshop, which
is filled with multi-hued feathers, they also create Renaissance festival
costume accessories - hats, boas and more. Colorfully plumed hats hang
from the rafters in swags.
Through their website, www.dragonwings.net, the Heaths
sell their creations worldwide. Custom orders are common. Quite a few
customers submit photographs of their pets or themselves, and
one-of-a-kind marionettes are created - of people, of animals, and of
people imagined as animals. The majority of their wares, however, are
shipped out for sale at Renaissance festivals in Maine, Texas, Colorado,
Arizona, and, closer to home, Crownsville.
Before starting Dragon Wings in 1989, Debra spent time
as a drywall contractor, artist and jeweler.
"My first jewelry work was very oriental," she says. Hence the
name of the company. While living in Hawaii, she branched out into costume
accessories, and later taught herself to make marionettes.
"I have a brain that I can’t shut off," she
Eric, an alumnus of the Ringling Brothers and Barnum
& Bailey Clown College, worked as an axe thrower, a piano lounge
entertainer, a computer engineer, and a singing waiter on a cruise ship
before joining forces with his wife.
It’s only natural to wonder if the Heaths are
"We are," says Debra, "but we’re not
performing right now." But it won’t be long.
"We’re currently writing our first puppet
show," says Eric, "and are looking forward to performing in the
near future." It will be based on the very first marionette they
created, Puss ’n Boots. "We want it to be for children," says
Debra. "There are so many shows at the Renaissance Festival that are
very funny, but the edge is a bit too adult."
For more information about Saturday’s Children’s Art
Festival, call the Academy Art Museum at (410) 822-ARTS (2787).