Friday, August 10, 2018

Inspirations and Oddities - Second Friday Post - August 10th

Hey everyone!

Welcome to August's Second Friday, Inspirations and Oddities post!

I've got a just one very exciting inspiration to share with you this month, so lets get right to it!

I am a huge fan of Kickstarter, as I've written about here before. Supporting projects that I fall in love with and seeing them come to fruition is so rewarding.

I had someone tell me recently that the part they didn't like about Kickstarter was the lag time between supporting a project and getting your rewards. Because the funding is often needed to produce a product, this can take months from the time the original project funds. There can be delays if printing, shipping or just life go awry.

I get that. . . but what I LOVE about that delay from funding to delivery is when something shows up in the mail that I had, not forgot about, but simply lost track of when it was going to be arriving.

So, when we went to the Post Office yesterday and found these had been delivered, all the way from Queensland Australia, it was the best of surprises!

Hathor and Thoth Enamel Pins from Mamath's "Tiny Pantheon" Kickstarter

Oh, oh, OHHHHH these are amazing! The illustration work, the quality of the Pins and the complete package of the presentation! All flawless!

The card each pin came on, front and back, simply BEAUTIFUL!
And the heart shaped rubber pin backs! (there are two on each pin, I removed one to show you the text of the card back.) 

One of my favorite things about Kickstarter is the possible rewards that are "unlocked" or added on as a bonus when a project passes the basic funding point. Some folks offer material upgrades on the finished products, post cards, bookmarks or stickers of art prints, extra playing pieces if the Kickstarter is for a tabletop game or deluxe covers / embossing for books.

In this case, over 2,200 backers supported the Kickstarter!!! Here again, Mamath went above and beyond. These are the adorable stickers that were added to EVERY supporter's package as the total funding climbed above the initial requested amount.

And a lovely thank you card in the middle of them as well! 
Of course I was drawn to these, given their Egyptian influences, but I could easily spend wayyyyy too much money on Kickstarter that I don't have. lol So I am selective, to say the least.

I'll be sharing more of the Kickstarter rewards I have received over the coming months.I am currently awaiting a few that should be due this fall! These include a wonderful hardbound Unicorn book of illustrations/paintings and a few "Spell Scrolls" from a very imaginative creator. While the scrolls are meant for D&D players, we have the first of them on our wall, framed as pure magical art, and eagerly await the second. :)

Kickstarter is a fantastic way to get your art out there. I LOVE being part of making it come true for others! :)

Mamath is on Etsy

And instagram where you can see images of more these amazing Pins ( I need more I think!)

And that's all, next month I'll be sharing three new books I've read that have completely captured my imagination!

Have a great weekend everyone! Thank you for dropping by!

nicolas XO

Friday, August 3, 2018

New Work - First Friday Post - August 3rd

Hello Everyone!

We had our first rain here in a few weeks and it feels like fall already! Foggy, gray and moody. A fine walk in the forest this morning revealed many yellow leaves and berries on the ground. It's been a lovely summer but I am ready for fall and winter again! :)

Alright, on to the new work from the last month. . . I want to get back on an every Friday pace AND get back to commenting more regularly on my favorite blogs so I am going to keep the first Friday posts minimal on words. I have lots to share with coming month, new inspirations and oddities, a few book recommendations and a few video links.

Plus, 4th Fridays will be back with a look into my process as I continue to push through the first draft of my fantasy novel.

For now, enjoy the newest and most recent from my shops:

Nicolas XO
Let's get right to it with this fantasy inspired piece. A monk's hermitage set atop a stone spire with a circular staircase cut into the stone and winding it's way up the sides. . . and a tiny N scale Monk figure! 

Rarely get a request for the Goddess Nephthys as a Kite. This may be my favorite that I have made. 

A more detailed and complex Mushroom House Scene

I love the regal simplicity of the Sekhmet face. She truly is the Lady of Light. 

Too Soon? Not for the shop! I've been slowly stocking up on making mini tombstones for the Halloween season! 

This new blue "faience" patina is a mess to work with but yields such amazing results!
My fingers are blue for two days afterwards! (Note to self - gloves!) 

Had some of these enamel pots around from a few years back and just found them again.
So the mini-village makes comeback! 

A request for a set of votive altar candle holders led to the creation of this unique, one of a kind set! 

Tiny terra-cotta pots, tiny houses BIG magic! 

And I know, I know. I have shown many Taweret statues in my blog. . . I cannot help it! There is no other figure I make where I am so giddy while I create it each and every time!  A chubby hippo can really make a "kid" smile. 

Friday, July 20, 2018

Old School - Wicked Little Town #2 - Third Friday Post - July 20th

When I was a small boy I remember going to the neighborhood bakery with my mother every Saturday morning.

Walking in, the place was huge (to my young self at least) with large glass display counters on three sides, wooden racks behind the counters and an old fashioned number/ticket machine on a pedestal inside the door.

Most Saturdays, when we took a number, it might be, say #76, and on the wall behind the counter was a non-digital hand flipped counter that may have read - Now Serving #44.

Yes, there would be thirty plus people ahead of us.

The wait was actually my favorite part. I got to peruse the cases peeking around other customers legs and looking for what I would want to get as my cookie treat. That cookie was in addition to the usuals, 6 honey buns, a loaf of bread, bagels, a layer cake of some sort and a few danishes, brownies or turnovers. (Did I mention how I LOVED weekends!)

The wait was never long at all. This because there must have been 8 or 9 women behind the counter, most of them in their 50's or 60's, librarian glasses on chains, old fashioned salon-set hair styles, all in their pink outfits and white shoes, calling on numbers, taking orders, filling pink bakery boxes, making change.

Then other helpers running trays up to the front to replace the empty ones. The cases were stuffed full, the bread racks filled, the cookie counter piled with trays of cookies.  The counter ladies were super friendly and so sweet to me as a child.

And looking back on that bakery, here's the thing. There was zero pretentiousness. . . Zero foodie / fad diet influence. . . Zero artisanal anything.

A true, old school bakery.

Now, you never know at that age that things will change. Some for the better and some, not so much. In those days, maybe because of the lack of movement in old, generationally settled families, it seemed like every city had many such neighborhoods, each with their own stores and shops.

It seems now that every city I lived in has lost that. The old school shops, eateries, bakeries, bookstores, newsstands, grocery stores and delis replaced with a never ending carousel of whatever the flavor of the month is in the retail world or larger, one-stop stores that seem to be everywhere now.

So when we moved to our little town by the bay, I was thrilled to find a true to life, old school bakery that still did things the old fashioned way and all from scratch.

Unassuming in it's looks when I step out my door at 5:30am just a stone's throw north of here, I can smell the donuts frying and the bread baking! 

It's run by a couple in their sixties who do ALL the baking themselves. They used to have a full staff but finding good help in small towns can be a real headache so now they're only open 4 days a week and they start their work day at 10pm. Yes, you read that right. 10PM.

They open at 5:30am and they close between 1 and 3pm when they run out of things (which is nearly every day)

I usually get a danish for my morning coffee (and a few extra for the weekend if I don't feel like baking on their closed days) and a little something for the afternoon too, which can be a hard choice.

The case if nearly full right at opening and there are trays waiting for room as the day goes on.

They've been at it for over 30 years in this location. At times they've consider selling it and retiring but have never gone through with it. According to them, most people who inquire, don't have clue about the hours or work needed to make it all from scratch each day and they're not willing to sell it to someone who is going to come in and make it a par-baked, freezer-to-oven kind place.

And the best part? Ohhhh yes, the prices. A fresh baked fruit or cheese danish or almond bear claw the size of a salad plate? $1.50. A donut or apple fritter? 75 cents. A loaf of fresh baked and sliced English Muffin Bread? $1.99 A ginormous two-person cinnamon roll? $2.50

At least a dozen times each summer I overhear people from the city in there telling them, "You really need to raise your prices!"

No, they don't. That's old school.

And in the seven years we've been here, I've come to think, when this place goes, it will be about time to move on for me too.

 Seriously.  :)

The harbor is just a few blocks away. A great place to sit with a danish and coffee and watch the fishing boats roll in or out. 
We've got a few old school places like this. The general store, the old grocery store, the counter diner. Yet none of them have kept that feel quite like our little bakery. :)

Thanks for dropping by, as always, see you again soon!


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.