I officially met Martha at the University of Victoria Thomas Shippey lecture in February 2004. I met her briefly at Trilogy Tuesday at Tillicum mall in December 2003.Kat met Martha at the UVIC Cinecenta LOTR Trilogy in April 2004.Through email and phone chats (I want to thank Sabrina of the Tolkien Society for her for the starting of the email list) we finally met and that was it! –The start of a beautiful friendship.
We would meet for supper, LOTR discussions, movies, and music. We found out we had so much in common and yet so much to teach each other.
Well, one day I remembered the wonderful festival of light in Victoria called Luminara
Every July for about 4 years we have a festival where the whole Beacon Hill Park becomes a fantastic land of magic, mystery and light. http://www.luminaravictoria.com/
People dress up in costume, carry handmade lanterns, make large instillations (large thematic lanterns). There is singing, dancing, drumming, and just enjoying the atmosphere. In 2003 I had dressed up as Frodo.
That was a very memorable time. I thought what a great idea for next Luminara! Why not do something more spectacular for 2004, where we would make a gigantic lantern (called an installation) and be in costume. After many more talks and meetings, us three decided on the Gates of Moria for our design for the installation. We started meeting just weekly for this, but soon met up to about 4 times a week even closer to the deadline to work on the project.
We experimented with tissue paper, pens, paint, and glue, whatever we had around, to come up with our desired idea and look. In addition, we designed our own personal lanterns. Martha made #3-Bagshot Row. Kat made a scary Palantir. I made a model of Mount Doom with Gandalf, Frodo and Sam, Gwaihir and Landrover.
For most of July we planned the structure and how we would make it and install it when it came to the day. It was designed in stages.
First we designed the canvas first, then the wood structure, then the candle network. We had to safely attach 42 tea candles to our structure. It was quite a fantastic sight once it was finished! It ended up being about 8 feet high, 6 feet wide and 3 feet in depth.
In order to project the image we had to use an overhead projector. It put the image on a large white wall. We traced the image, carefully paying attention to every detail. The design on the canvas was finished with black acrylic paint and blue fabric paint for the glow effect. Here is Martha and Kat doing some painting at our “warehouse”.
More days were spent planning for July 24th (which was coming very quickly!). By the end of all of this, we might have learnt enough skills to perhaps build a house! Martha was our savior in all of this with her excellent expertise in designing and building things.
We were accepted by the head of Luminara (thank you Jeanie!) and soon we knew exactly where our installation was going to be displayed in the festival. We called it Mel-Lon. Besides lantern designing we spent a good time figuring out what our costumes were to be. Martha was an elf with a beautiful long green/gray dress with flowing sleeves. Kat was an elf with an elegant cape and black skirt and red velvet shirt. I dressed up as Frodo complete with Sting, the One-Ring and hairy feet. The hairy feet were Martha’s idea! She is so creative with costumes!
July 24th arrived and for most of the afternoon, Martha and Kat put up the structure and later on in the evening I joined them after work! The fun begins!
It was fantastic meeting people and interacting with the public. We met many fans of Tolkien and were surprised how many people actually knew what our structure was!
Thousands of people walked past us that night. The children were the best delight! Our smaller lanterns were a hit with the kids! And perceptive as well! One boy said “Its not working!” He was shouting “Mellon!” to the structure and it didn’t open. ! We had pictures taken us with tourists and one fellow from Korea pretended to be Gollum and steal the ring from me!
We also changed the wording of the Elvish (Feanorian) on the gates. The first line remains the correct phrase “The Doors of Durin, Lord of Moria, speak, friend and enter”.
The second line we changed and using Feanorian script we wrote “Made by friends of J.R.R.Tolkien for Luminara Festival”. It was a special dedication to Tolkien and the Festival itself.
We met many other festival performers and people in costumes, many more elves and fairy folk. I took a few pictures of other lanterns in the festival that were gorgeous!
Sadly, at about 11:30pm, it was time to leave and we met a few nice people that helped us take down the project. Weary and tired we went home and gave our feet a well-needed rest and thought of the nice memories we had.
That night was one of the most beautiful and spiritual times ever in our lives. Besides learning useful skills, we forged strong bonds of friendship. I hope that you can get involved locally in projects in your town and do something like this! It is times like these that we will remember in our hearts and keep the light glowing.
Suzanne (Of the Tolkien Trio)
Thank you all of the people of Luminara and City of Victoria
Thank you Em, Dan, Kristi, Gilbert, Laxmi, and Andrew for your wonderful support.
And this is also dedicated to Trace, Nori, Rommy, Steve, and Caroline who I thought of all that night Wish you were here to experience the magic.