Friday, July 13, 2018

Inspirations and Oddities - Second Friday Post - July 13th

Friday the Thirteenth??

My, oh my. . . may luck and fortune be with you all today!

Well, I feel like this month had been overrun with inspiration AND oddities!  In the process of writing the first draft of my fantasy book, "The Ledgerkeepers", I've been doing a whole lot of research this past month which has led me down some very enticing paths. . .

It's summer so let's start with this link for a very comprehensive list of old world names for our favorite plants and flowers!

Old Flower and Plant Names

My favorite? Far and way it's Foxglove which was once known as fairy fingers!! Oh and check out the list of links on their sidebar. . . SO many herb, plant, witchy, old world links and the such! :)

I think, since his name is in my tag list, that I've spoken about the work of Shaun Tan before. . . surreal illustrations and heart tugging stories, sometimes with no words at all. (as in his book, the Arrival)

This book, which I just read, is wonderful.

And I have been diving further into the amazing creative world of Kickstarter. Games, illustrations, comics, art, paling cards, Tarot, dice, and on and on. . . I have to limit my funding allowance or I would go absolutely CRAZY!

Here are two Kickstarters that I was drawn to lately.

Penzinni's Inklings

From the Creator: -"Penzinni, the old inventor, known for little more than his eccentricity, scratches at his papers like chicken in the dirt. The functional idea, like a worm, always seems just outside his reach. Will this be the one? The one that works? Perhaps not. But given a little time and a few more sleepless nights, who's to say "the one" isn't just around the corner..."

This is an idea I hope the artist will go further with. Mech/Tech creatures drawn as "blueprints" with an aged look to the design. Brilliant! I love old blueprint/design and love the idea of a character who draws these up but they never seem to work.

Saturn Playing Cards

From the Creator  -  "Saturn is considered to rule Capricorn, which is symbolized by the goat, hence the goat-like beings represented in the Saturn court cards. The Jacks allude to Saturn, and its Greek counterpart Cronus, being associated with the passing of time and relevance to the harvest seasons. Notice that the hats worn by the Jacks are shaped like the planet itself. Look closely and you'll find other symbolism woven into the illustrations of the courts."

So, playing cards seem to be one of the hottest things on Kickstarter of late. I've seen a lot of cool designs but this one really caught my eye and hits on so many interests of mine: Planets, zodiac, etc.

Thanks for coming by and have a great weekend everyone!


Friday, July 6, 2018

New Work - First Friday Post - June 6th

Hey everyone!

July has arrived and while much of the country is under the heatwave we've been inundated here with weeks of summer days in the 60's, foggy mornings and breezy afternoons.

I let things slip again the last few weeks as far as blogland goes. It wasn't my intention but there have been so many things going on, mostly good, and I had to cut back somewhere.

But i have aa LOT to share this month and look forward to the usual weekly Friday posts to get caught up!

For now,  just a showing of some of the new work around the studio this past month.

Hoping you've all been well and I look forward to catching up on your blogs this weekend!

Thank you for coming by, as always,

XO Nicolas

The newest of my Adobe Fairy Houses - HO scale

An original design based on ancient Hathor iconology

A new selection of tiny towers with holiday shoppers in mind. . . .I love the patina copper roof on this one.

And I love the texture and aging of the surface brick of this one.

Continuing to expand my Ancient Egyptian bust icons, this is Sutekh or Seth/Set

Looking back at 9 YEARS of selling on Easy. . . this was inspired by one of the first villages I made and sold there. 

An original Auset amulet design with an 8mm Carnelian cabochon

And this Auset throne piece with added ankh and a 12mm carnelian cabochon.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Inspirations and Oddities - Second Friday Post - June 15th

Continuing my "better late than never" month. . . .

Just a quick post with a few inspirations to share this week.

First, even with all the social media out there I am amazed that we can still find things we have never seen before. . . I stumbled upon this site/work while researching some polymer clay options.

Forest Rogers Sculpture


I figure, another ten years at this and I may be able to create work like that. . . I've spent a lot fo time this past year working on the design and technical aspects of more elaborate figurative pieces and though most of those first attempts will never see the light of day, each teaches me something new.

National Geographic recently had an issue devoted to the art and culture of Ancient Egypt. It's funny,  there were not more than one or two images that I hadn't seen before and yet it still pulls me like it did when I was 8 and first encountered it.  Such wonders. . .

In May, one of my favorite podcasts, "Unexplained" by a delightful Brit, Richard MacLean Smith, took up the story of the discovery of King Tut's tomb and the accompanying curse

The Discovery of Tutankhamen's Tomb - Unexplained Podcast

So may historical podcasts have become rather mind-numbing "I'm just going to read the Wikipedia entry to you" type monologues that just aren't very interesting at all. I appreciate when a podcast can take a subject or story I've heard or read about and still manage to make it fascinating.

This podcast does that with MANY of it's subjects. But this episode was among his best.

Have a wonderful week everyone!


Friday, June 8, 2018

New Work - "First" Friday Post - June 8th

Hey everyone!

Soooooo, yeah. First Friday. . . somehow I did not realize that last Friday was June first until halfway through this week when I noticed that this Friday was the 8th.   So while last week should have been first Friday, there are still four Fridays in the month and I've decided to just pretend they are the only four Fridays instead. :)

It's new work time then! This month I am going to focus on just two pieces, both very special creations that I was so honored to be asked to create. . .

These are partly why I missed the date last week I suspect. In and amongst the usual orders and requests, I have been working overtime to try and get some truly new pieces going here the last few months for the summer and holiday seasons ahead. Days bleed one into the next and it's a very lovely creative oblivion. :)

Thank you all for dropping by and may the magic and enchantment of the realms of Faerie and beyond, be found within everything that you see!


So, first up, Madame Emi's Fortune Teller's Wagon.

The very best compliment I can receive is when the recipient of a scene like this says, "I want to live there!" That's because I create them with just that idea in mind — what would I want to see in a setting like this that makes ME want to live there as well!

This was built to HO scale, I really loved creating this elaborate scene. From the tiny resin birdbath, the strung globe lantern on the wagon itself, the shelves of special cure-alls and potions, the goats and goose and the tiny crystal ball on the table in front of Madame Emi. . . it's all about making it a magical scene. This was so much fun to bring to life.

Welcome to Madame Emi's. . .

Madame Emi offers all sorts of potions and remedies, expertly crafted, of course, for whatever ails you. 

Madame Emi's crystal ball will reveal all!

If you are in the woods and stumble across Madame Emi's wonderful wagon, don't pass her by. . . 

And second was an N scale farm scene. The base is roughly the same as the Fortune Teller's Wagon above but being a scale half as large, it allowed for even more detail!

This all just fell into place. The truck and house were the focal points. The truck is a model but I did build it and paint it. 

Scenes like this need motion I think. So the figures (.5" in / 1.25cm tall!) and the animals really help.

Little detailed additions like grass between the dirt road's tire lanes, the pine cone tree flocking and the single apple tree. 

Horses in the pasture beyond, the garden being tended/harvested and the little lawn chairs and rail fences add mini-magic. 

Thank you for taking the time to peruse my blog! Drop me a line or comment to let me know how you found me or share your thoughts.


Friday, May 25, 2018

The Bewildering Pine - The Needle in the Haystack - 4th Friday Post - May 25th

When I began working on "The Ledgerkeepers" novel, I knew that I would want to fair spend bit of time with the world building. There was so much to figure out and create before I got the actual writing of the novel going.

Geography, flora and fauna, language(s) transportation, quality of life, currency/trade, clothing, economy, death, myths and legends, climate, superstitions, history, education and on and on.

I spent quite a bit of time working through and fleshing out all of this even though less than 5% of it will end up in the world as actual written detail, I DO think it's important to have the fantasy world built out in your head before you dive in and start writing in it. While characters, plot and action will be the core of the writing,  it helps to know what the world around them is all about so you can experience it as the characters would.

In recent months, when I went ahead and began the actual storylines for the characters, I found myself swimming in that sea of details because I am an admittedly terrible organizer. Time and again  I found myself spending far too long looking for those things I had already worked out months before. It was often like looking for a needle in a haystack. Many times I had a good idea where the right section of notes was. Others, it was a shot in the dark.

Very frustrating.

The writing program I use, Scrivener, has several wonderful ways to organize notes and details just like these. My problem was that I had written most of the pages of world building notes before I started working with Scrivener, so I needed to go ahead and transfer them all over from Mac Notes.

Well, I recently got all of those notes printed AND transferred and, out of curiosity, I decided to put all of the notes in one project folder so I could check the word count on all of that world building.

It crossed over400,000 words. Given that a novel will be in the 100,000 word range, that floored me.

I've basically written FOUR books worth of NOTES about the Bewildering Pine world in the last 18 months!  It now occurs to me that the world is the haystack and the book that I am trying to pull from it, is the needle.

But I am SO glad I did all of the world building. When I am writing a scene and I know the style of clothing a Lutin elf wears or the type of hat a Hob sports, if I want to write about the types of street food or the fillings for a tart or drop the names of  a few of the wagering games played in the secret basements of pubs, I smile.

 Those are the details that I can just write without having to create them in the moment.

Next month we will begin the dive into the world itself. I hope to focus on the map for the next few fourth Fridays.  I love maps and I think I could sit and create them all day long. . .  I've spent hours on the one for the Bewildering Pine and it is nowhere near complete.

So come back then for the next installment!

Hoping YOUR world magical and bright! Thank you for dropping by. . .

Nicolas XO

Friday, May 18, 2018

"She's Cold Blooded" - Wicked Little Town #1 - Third Friday Post - May 18th

Well, here we go, my new third Friday topic, Wicked Little Town is an inside peek at some of the little things I've noticed about living in a very small town of 800 ppl. All names are changed, of course, and some of the stories may be just a bit of a stretch. . . but then again, maybe not. :)  There's nothing Wicked about the town to us but it's definitely one of those places that the kids can't wait to get away from when they are out of school. :)

I hope you will enjoy these small tales!

"She's Cold Blooded"

We'd lived here barely 6 months when we decided to take our car to a mechanic as it seemed to be having trouble with stalling out at stops and red lights.

Our car is a 1987 Plymouth Horizon hatchback. I am pretty sure I told the story before or at least mentioned but we got Babs (named after the only former owner) from a friend of mine who I knew in Portland. It was his mother's car and it had been sitting in the parking garage of her apartment building for a year and a half. I was told it would not start but had an inkling it just needed a new battery after that long.

Babs (the car) was a true, "little old lady who only drove her to church" story, and had just 16,000 miles on her when we bought her for $300 dollars (blue book value) We put another $500 in on tires, battery and a complete tune-up before we moved.  The stalling had been an issue even then but we noticed it less because we drove so much less in the city.

So we asked around and got a recommendation for a mechanic to take her to. Directions in a small town are often given like this: "Go south on the highway and just before town take a left at the bank
(THE bank) then pull around behind the carwash and you'll see it. . .I don't think there's a sign or anything but the garage door will be open."

Perfect directions by the way. No google maps, no GPS. No highway exits. I love that.

So we pulled up, parked and went on in.

I kind of had an idea what to expect. See, I lived in a slightly larger small town about 12 years before and had the best mechanic ever there. He worked out of his own home and he actually helped me go after an auto repair shop in town who had done some faulty work which resulted in more repairs needing done at one point which is how I found the home mechanic. I was grateful and never went anywhere else again. Plus, one of the usual visitors to this guys house was another local who was quite certain the CIA and FBI were watching his every move. The mechanic would always look at me like he wanted to apologize but I shook my head, I did not mind at all. It was . . . entertaining to say the least.

Now, back to the new small town.

OK, imagine every small town mechanic/garage stereotype your mind can conjure. . . they're all probably at least partly right in this case.

This is a "garage" I was informed, not an auto repair shop. The couple ( I think they were a couple) were both in their 60's and as I looked around, I saw quite a lot you just wouldn't find in most auto repair places today. Benches full of misc tools scattered here and there. Tables with plenty of parts either being stripped or rebuilt. . . hard to know which. Oh, you can get a rebuilt this and that thru an auto-parts dealer but here, in the garage, the guy rebuilds things himself. On site. Goes out to the junk yard and finds what he needs or to the auto parts store and does it right there.

"Cheaper for you that way" he told me.

Look around the dimly lit garage with hanging old fashioned bare light bulbs. Racy calendar on the wall, spare parts in boxes on the shelf that look as old as Babs,  half eaten sandwich on a brown bag on the counter. od fashioned soda bottle on the counter (I meant to ask where that came from!)

Old rags, oil cans that look like they belong to the Tin Man, old fashioned air machine. The list goes on and on.  Ok, getting the picture? Add the smell of gasoline, oil, rubber, grease. . . yep, that's the garage.

We left Babs for a check up and mentioned the stalling problem.
"Sure thing, got it!" we were told.

Three days later we were called to come and pick her up.

When we went in the guy was a whole lot more friendly the second time around, I think because he kind of took a liking to Babs and saw that for an old car, she was kept in really good shape. He liked the story of how we got her. .. everyone in our small town does.

Anyway, that stalling issue? When we went back in the office to pay (cash only!) we were told there wasn't really anything more they could do. "That old girl's just cold blooded." the smoky-voiced lady told us, "You just have to let her warm up longer than today's cars."  adding in "She's a reaaaaal beauty though."

Forty one dollars for the check up and some belts. . . cool.

Small towns. . . Good people.

We went out and got in Babs and drove away and, true to form, she stalled at the first light we came to. Five years later, she would still be doing that regularly if not for my mother reminding me of her old Chevy that she had to ride double footed (a foot on the brake and one on the gas at the same time ) so she could  race/rev the engine slightly at stops. Works like a charm.

So yes, We still have Babs today. Now she has double that original mileage but she's still a great car. Dependable despite her little eccentricities that would probably drive most new car owners today crazy. She's vintage now, after all.  31 years old. And she carried us here, away from the city to this little town.

I've had old cars like Babs most of my adult life. One of the unexpected joys about an older car is  that, on any given day, I'll pull into a gas station, or the farm store, or the grocery store, or the library lot and someone stops you and says something like,  "Man, I drove a car just like that one from Seattle to San Diego when I was 19. . . I loved that car."

You can hear it in their voice. They mean it.

We love ours too.

That's Babs!

Friday, May 11, 2018

Inspirations and Oddities - Second Friday Post - May 11th

First a Happy Mother's Day to all of you who will be celebrating Sunday!

Well, some months I feel like I barely come across one thing that really sparks my imagination and others, like this past month seemed chock full of more than I can handle but I am going to keep it to just a few. . .  in case next month is a dry one. :)

Little House remembered:

This month's media recommendation has got to be one of the strangest ideas I have come across but it is A-MA-ZING!

It's a podcast called. . . Little House on the Podcast

If you remember the show Little house on the Prairie as fondly I do from childhood, this is a must. If like me you have not watched an episode in a decade or more and you think you can't recall a single episode with much detail,  this podcast is going to change that.

The podcaster takes every episode and gives a comical 15 minute recap from her perspective. It's HILARIOUS.

She's witty, sassy and picks out all of those bad 70's tv tropes that we missed as kids but are hilarious to recall now. She looks at it from the perspective of a mom today and from her childhood as well.

Fair warning! She has favorites among the characters and a few she has never liked and she does not hold back. Like me, she loved Laura, not so much Mary, and wonders why Carrie was even around. :)

Best of all, I don't feel the need to rewatch the episodes again myself because in that 15 minutes, she really hits the best of every episode.

Hmm, I'm not doing a very good job of selling it here but trust me, if you loved Little House, you'll love the podcast. She is currently in the middle of season three but that means there are two-plus, full 22 episode seasons to listen to!

The amazing thing is this. Yes, she makes fun of the show, the characters and the silliness of some stereotypes of tv (like how many characters who are "residents" of Walnut Grove, are in one episode and then never heard from again!)  then BUT she clearly has a reverence for the show too and if you were a fan, this podcast will make you laugh AND cry! I promise.

Inspiration is for, or taken from, the birds

I've been working on creating creatures for my fantasy world but sometimes I come across an animal or bird from our world that inspires something else in the fantasy world. In this case, I give you the Secretary birds from Africa. I think those awesome head feathers will make for a wonderful and regal addition to the formal clothing of an elven orders highest office.

A Secretary Bird with it's fancy feathers!


Remember enamel pins? In my teens they were most prevalent as the little guitar and comic character pins that kids wore on their jackets. They had the metal pin back and the bright enamel colors on the fronts. If I remember right they were like 3 dollars each at most record shops.

Well, When I joined Kickstarter a year ago, I began to notice an uptick in the number of enamel art-pin projects popping up. And now, a year later? It's off the Hook Ya'll!

Here is the latest one that I sponsored, no surprise it's designs are based on the Egyptian Pantheon.

We purchased Thoth and Hathor, they are the two on the far right!
But all of these these, and the other dozen the creator added since,  are beautifully done!  

There are pins for anime, chibi, mythological beings and original designs and characters of all and any imaginings. Right now I think there are at least two dozen or more enamel pin projects going on Kickstarter.

I love when something old comes back around and gets a twist. They seem to be a wonderful way for new illustrators to get their work out there and on Kickstarter, I'd say 80% of them get funded more than fully.

Well, that's it for this week!

I hope one or more of these made you smile!

See you again in a week!