Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Book Recommendation - "A Green and Ancient Light"

Some books and stories are just MAGIC. . .

I cannot say enough about this book. Now, I know, I read a LOT of varied books that all delve into "otherworlds", genres ranging from YA to Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Graphic novels and comics, and most of these are inspiring reads in one way or another for my own work and creative world.

"A Green and Ancient Light" defies those categories. Part fantasy yes, but just a very small part that is treated with such normalcy in it's reveal that it seems like it may be us who deems it to be fantasy. At the end I was slowing my reading down because I did not want it to end. . . and that's a rarity. :)

It is  mostly an intriguing story about coming of age, family, discovery and possibility. It's set in a vague time and place, though recognizable, with an interesting choice by the author as to the names of characters.

You won't be surprised to hear it was the cover that drew me to it. . . as often happens with books that go on to be my favorites. A great cover sets apart so many books.

So, if you love timeless and beautifully written stories with nature/natural magic, hints of the realm of faerie, a faun, and a mystery woven thru every page, then this book will be right up your alley.

I guarantee you this, even if it isn't, you will not find many books more beautifully written out there.

I will be keeping this book close as I proceed with my own storytelling, for many reasons, and I can say that I will keep it close throughout the remainder of my life for a gentle reminder if, and when I lose sight, of what magic truly is in the world around us. . .

There are times when I wonder, stumbling upon a book like this, if it is the last I will find that hits this particular spot in my soul. . . I could probably count the number that have done so on three hands in my life. I've read many wonderful books but only a dozen or so have had this lingering internal effect. The tingling of magic. . .

Saturday, October 1, 2016

New Work - October 1st

Ahhh, it is my season! Autumn is in it's full, brilliant glory right now. Leaves are falling, days in the low 60's, nights cool and crisp. And today, finally, rain is falling!

I'm so ready for the holiday season and having pushed a whole slew of custom work out in September I get to begin the month with a few days of just happy-making work!  Letting my mind wander and take me wherever it wishes to lead me.

The "Ledgerkeepers" writing project is going well too.  I upped the daily word count to 1000 and hit it all but once in the last few weeks. Some days nearing 2000 words! Stories are taking shape, the "history" of the Bewildering Pine is rounding into shape and I've been exploring mythologies, folk tales and geography so much more too. I had hoped to have some digital sketches to show but would rather wait until I have a few completed so I can keep them coming at a regular interval.

For now, here are a few of the September creations that came and went thru the shops.

I hope the Autumn season finds you enjoying all it offers in your "neck of the woods". :) And I hope to catch up on blog commenting soon too. This time of year is always so terribly busy in preparation for the holiday rush and with the writing project added, it seems I have so little time for anything but my work these days. . .

Enjoy and, as always, thank you so much for stopping by!


A requested ankh amulet that, once completed, I liked so much that I am going to be offering it in the shop this winter. :)

I adore making these Hecate statues! Just one or two requests a year but I never turn them down. :)

It took me awhile to realize that my gargoyles have been looking more familiar lately. . . then it hit me it is because that face, that smile, is totally JOXER from Xena, Warrior Princess. Oh subconscious, how do you do it?

And I think my Foxgoyles have been coming into their own recently too. Abstracting animals is really a challenge!  Simple lines, less fuss. . . better results I think!

A simple place for relaxing and day dreaming!

I'm no classic ancient world sculptor . . .  but I loved taking on this Artemis request! Her  mighty bow is actually strung with fishing line!

Found these lovely little Patina-glazed tealight holders recently and they are perfect for making little "castle "cupcakes! :)

Fairy Houses Upon Stars abound again this year, of course!

And the newest of the "Little People", a Domovoi Elf (with friends in the background)

I'll be posting an update in a few days about "Alexandra the Great" ( and some great pics of her next to a snail that was her size when we first rescued her from a lake of vinaigrette dressing) but, as you can see, she is thriving and BIG and living in a lovely glass coffee pot these days!!  :)

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Small Magic - The Eyes Have It

My dear blog friend Andrea, at Falling Ladies, has begun a monthly collection of stories and experiences of what she has termed as "Small Magic". You can find this month's post by Andrea by clicking HERE:

And the original "Finding Small Magic" Post on her Falling Ladies blog is HERE:

I hope you will take a moment and check them out, add your own (even just a link to a picture or a sentence or two is PLENTY! It need not be as wordy as I tend to be. :)

I have so many ideas for my own contributing posts about "Small Magic" as I feel my life has been, and always will be, filled with it. But for today I am going to tell/retell an old story about one person's kindness and heartfelt advice that, looking back almost 30 years, changed my life in more ways than I can count or ever be thankful to him for.

I applied for my first "real" job when I was 17.  As a busboy at the Italian Restaurant that my mother worked at as hostess, manager, waitress etc. In fact, the restaurant was brand new having been built by the city for the two brother's who owned it because their old, tavern-like Italian restaurant had been torn down to make way for a new steel and glass tower in the heart of the city.  So part of the deal was that they got a 200 seat "supper club", with a parking garage, for nothing but agreeing to give up their corner lot which now is in the middle of the massive downtown office complex.

So, two brothers, Michael and John. Two completely different personalities. In fantasy terms, John would be the Ogre and Michael the High Elf. lol

My mother had gotten me an interview for the position and, even though I look back and know that it was a done deal and I'd get the job, at the time she impressed upon me the need to make a good impression and to do well in the interview. I was terrified the interview would be with John. but, it turned out it was with Michael.

I adored Michael. Whenever I would come into the old, tavern style restaurant he would always take time to say hello, tousle my hair and invite me back into the kitchen and give me a taste of something wonderful. A taste of meatball marinara, a dish of Spumoni Ice Cream, a piece of veal parmesan. . . heaven!

I had no doubt I could do the job. I had been "working" since I was 13. Cutting grass, raking leaves, cleaning gutters, painting and gardening, a newspaper route (remember those?), and even a few shifts working at my great Aunt's Arco service station. So I was confident I could be a busboy.

It was also just a part time "summer job" before my senior year of high school so I felt I couldn't really go wrong. If it was a terrible job, I only had to stick it out three months and then weekends thru the Christmas office party season.

I went to the interview and, to this day, recall none of it. I was nervous, of course, but I do remember feeling fine about the answers I gave and the great sense of relief when it was over. Michael was very professional and shook my hand when I sat down and again when I left.

When my mother got home that night she said she needed to talk to me. I thought I wasn't going to get the job. I was looking forward to the money and the experience so I felt a little disappointed that I might have lost the opportunity.

But I DID get the job. However what she wanted to tell me was that Michael had told her "He's such a good kid and of course he has the job, but you have to tell him he has to look people in the eye when he talks to them."

Apparently I did not look him in the eyes even once after sitting down for the interview. That's probably also why I do not remember a second of it.

Of course, now I look back and I see it all very clearly.

I was far from a shut-in or wall flower. All of my school report cards, grades 4 thru 10 had said some variation of "Great student -  talks too much!" But outside of school every possible moment was spent in my imaginary worlds. It's what got me thru the toughest times in school. Knowing at the end of the day I got to go home and disappear into that endless world of my creation.

But around adults, in the "real" world, yes, I was definitely not comfortable with that. I wanted little or no part of that world and I avoided it like the plague.

But Michael's words that day, spoken out of love and concern for the well being of someone he saw as a bright young man with potential, were something I definitely needed to hear. Something that only  a person looking in from the outside might see clearly. And something only someone with a heart of gold might take the time to mention to my mother for no reason other than he cared.

It shocked my mother as she never noticed that aspect of my personality but, that makes sense too as our family world was small as well. Familiar faces and relations all the time really. Very few strangers or outside influences. And those, so brief and unimportant, that my situational shyness ever attracted any attention.

I took the advice to heart and find that, in looking back, it was invaluable to my future self. Owning coffeehouses, friendship, relationships, managing and running restaurant kitchens. How would I have ever been able to do any of it without that ability to look people in the eye?

And I learned, as many people do, that there is a certain magic and power in that ability to look another human being, especially a stranger, directly in the eye.

And I notice these days that I still tend to drift to this habit. Especially when in the midst of, or just exiting, my creative paracosm and imaginary worlds. It takes me a bit of time to reconnect with the rest of the world and I find myself averting eyes and connections for a bit. Like a swimmer coming up from the depths of the underwater world and taking in all the sound and sight of the land-side world. It takes a moment. Or two. Or more.

Small magic. A big heart. I had the pleasure of working with Michael in that restaurant for two years before he sold his half of the business back to his brother and got out. His leaving opened up the space that I filled working part time in the kitchen and then, as fate would have it, I ended up running the kitchen of the restaurant within a year after that.

I never forgot Michael's words through it all or after all these years and I cannot explain the myriad of ways that advice helped me in life.

And because I think life is cyclical and not linear and that we will be given opportunity after opportunity in life to revisit all our old habits, shortfalls etc etc, I am gifted with that chance every so often. I catch myself looking away or down. I find myself as that 17 year old again disappearing from the "real" world. Then I remember his words. . . his concern. . . and I reconnect with the world around me all over again.

Small magic.

For the work of a lifetime.

And here is a little visual "Small Magic for you too! :
A new gargoyle friend. . . Zunge already found his place of service in a home that has an entire quarry of my gargoyles!

Thursday, September 1, 2016

September 1st - New Work

So much going on this month. . . it was an exceptionally busy month. I received a LOT of practice in saying no to custom work I did not wish to take on and I laid the groundwork for several 2017 ideas.

I will get into those more as the new year draws closer but, at the top of the list, I have been toying with one idea in particular for a combination of a limited edition figurine, chapter based story and interactive experience. So a certain character set (say 100 total figurines made over time) that would come with several accessories (scrolls, old spell books, coins, map, staffs, glowing orbs etc etc) and also each would come with the first chapter of a story which revolves around the whole group of figurines, their reason for their journey to our world and their quest while here.  Then, perhaps every two months the next "chapter" of the story would be sent to anyone who purchased a figurine. Each might include a "mission" for the owners of the figurines to be a part of (photographing their figurine in a certain type of location or sending field reports back to the "base" here at Bewilder and Pine either of which may become included in future chapters!) The goal being writing the story in 12 chapters over 2 years and letting it evolve naturally over that time too.

 Each chapter would arrive via mail and include another little "something special" for the buyer/figurine. Anyway, more on that to come as it is just in the early stages of planning. . . so much to figure out such as pricing for mailing 11 successive chapters to people all over the world but I think the shop has the credibility and longevity now to pull it off.

Most of this comes from the reaction I get to the little stories, scrolls etc that I often include with almost everything that comes out of Bewilder and Pine. Customers write and say that on one hand I should "advertise" those little extras in the listings and photos but, on the other hand, they are so happy to open the box and receive little fairy messages, booklets/stories etc when they are unexpected "extras".  When all is said and done, the figurines might be all sold out at some point but I'd have another short, 12 chapter book to offer, hand-bound in it's complete form, as well.

They're small and just a little added touch but it got me to thinking that I could offer something so much larger and actually more immersive, for those who truly get into that experience.

For this month I have little actual new work to show but here are a few of the things I enjoyed/enjoy making most this past month!

An original design - Auset/Isis Altar Statue, I had not made on in a year or more and of course, when it is done, I ask myself "Why is that?"  lol

I've said it before but I NEVER tire of making this guy, Bes, a multifaceted protector deity. I am surprised how many different reasons people buy this form for. Everything from new house protection to baby/birth/pregnancy protection to a desire to ward off bad dreams.  

On the Fairy side of things, I never tire of making these Mossy Lane Fairy houses. It's interesting to look back and see how they change and evolve in little ways over the last 5 years.

And it's always the least expected things that I get repeat requests for. The fact that these little houses sit on their own little wooden platform, above the landscape and with the tiny stairs, seems to appeal to SO many people! I never could have guessed that.

Always a favorite too is Sekhmet. A fiercely protective, but loving, lioness companion deity. 

And lastly, I am trying to get these stocked for the holiday rush to come (and that's all too soon!)  they seem to find homes so quickly though. . . I'd love to be able to have them available in maybe eight pearl colors in the shop all at once. :) 

So that's the scoop for now. Hoping everyone is ready for the autumn season ahead (or spring if you are down under) It's my favorite season, always, and I could not be more ready for the autumn chill and the end of the tourist season around here. All the little woodland paths and hideaways as well as the beaches. . . will all be deserted again. : )

Thank you, as always, for dropping by!

Until the next. . .

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Willy Wonka

"There is no life I know to compare with pure imagination. Living there, you’ll be free if you truly wish to be." - Willy Wonka/Gene Wilder

Of all the things I credit with nurturing and fueling my childhood imagination, I suddenly realized that I seem to always manage to leave out Willy Wonka. Or, more accurately, Gene Wilder's portrayal of Willy Wonka.

His passing left me quite saddened but the fact that he hid his Alzheimers because he was afraid that it would lead to sadness if people knew is a last gesture of grace from the great dreamer of dreams himself. He, as his nephew said on NPR, "could not bear to be responsible for one less smile in the world."

I am only now sifting thru the memories of the Chocolate Factory and how the movie was such a part of my youth. How my friends and I would make our own "golden tickets" to hide in our Hershey Bars. How we all wanted to be the enigmatic showman who made dreams come true.

How we emptied out a few cans of chocolate syrup in our day because all wanted to know what it might be like to tend to have our action figures explore a chocolate waterfall and river.  : )

Somehow I forget to list it among the influences of my place in the world today.

But today, when I look at the things I create and the impetus behind them. . . it seems so clear. I may never be the caretaker of a chocolate factory but I do believe that any of us who build, dwell in or create little worlds of imagination probably owe at least a bit of thanks to Willy Wonka.

Gene Wilder made me laugh thru the years. Some of his scenes from later movies remain etched in my head and heart. . . but none more so than that of the reclusive Willy Wonka, straining to make his way to the front gate with his walking cane,  then lose said cane, fall forward face first only to roll over and bounce up on the soles of his feet with the biggest, most wonderful and warm smile on his face. . .  doff his top hat and then, he let us ALL in.

The truth is, I never left Mr. Wonka.

I never left. . .

Thank you
"If you want to view paradise, simply look around and view it. Anything you want to, do it."

"We are the music makers and we are the dreamers of dreams!"

Friday, August 19, 2016

The Unwinding of Days and Small Magic

So the last two weeks. . . ummm so much for blogging more often.

Just busy. . . some good busy some bad

Family visits
Lost almost two weeks worth of writing (learn to use AUTO SAVE!)
Pinched neck muscle = no sleep
Extra busy Etsy shops
Summer's final deadlines arrive out of nowhere! lol

We are constantly amazed at how the days fly by and for those of you who also have families at home, social scenes, outside commitments . . . how do you do it? : )

But what I want to share is my experience last week of something coined as "small magic" by one of my favorite bloggers. You can read more about the idea here: How to find Small Magic

And you can see her first monthly Small Magic post here: Small Magic at Falling Ladies

Unfortunately, due to another glitch in my last two weeks, I have only words and just a few borrowed photos (thanks drained camera battery!) of my own experience to share but will share more about this in the future.

In the midst of the craziness of the past few weeks I knew, though it is rare for me, that I needed a day off to unfrazzle and decompress.

So to "earn it", I chose to do some errands early Friday morning and then, to reward myself with a trip to our county's main library followed by an indulgence in one of my favorite activities . . . one that I do not do often enough.

About five miles from our home is a lovely out of the way place called Kilchis Nature Reserve it's a roughly 2 1/2 mile trail loop through some of the most beautiful, dense woodlands and, if you take the full trail, it leads out to the shore of the back end of Tillamook Bay where you can bird watch (herons, Egrets, Eagles, Ravens, And a multitude of water animals all year long.

Now, I'll post about the trails another time because it is quite the place. When I first moved to this part of the coast 4 years ago, the trails were simply wetland paths thru the forest for the most part. Impassible in areas except in the peak of summer. But the love and inspiration of one couple, the  Albrights, Gary and Carla, turned Kilchis into a magical destination for everyone and not just the intrepid explorers. A small brick loop allows every one to access the woods to a point.

Now,  finely groomed but natural looking trails wind through the forest and across wooden bridges built over the seasonal streams and wetland areas. Massive volunteer hours to move the tons of materials into the forest to make these trails alone is mind-boggling.

Not far from the entrance, this is a favorite bridge to cross. It feels like a "boundary". You step off the brick path on the far end and cross into the dense forest and natural trails. It can feel cooler just as you reach this end. Early Spring here finds huge, prehistoric looking Skunk Cabbage in abundance under the bridge!

But, for me, the small magic of this place is that every so often there are natural, mossy tree stump "benches" that await. I rarely see anyone sit on them as there are also more modern, wooden benches along the paths too and it is easy to miss the log benches as they blend seamlessly into the surrounding landscape.

But the small magic of Kilchis reserve for me is this.

On any given weekday, and even weekends in the off season, it is possible to take a favorite book, (preferably one about faeries, magic or other worlds) walk a half mile into the trail and find a mossy log bench. Then, I'll sit on the mossy bench and read my book and I can hear almost nothing but the sounds of the forest. The wind whispering through the trees. The trickle of leaves tumbling to the ground. The scurry of wrens and robins in the underbrush. There are banana slugs, Rough Skinned Newts and an occasional squawking Stellar Jay. You may even see a Barred Owl and Bald Eagles close up when you sit still enough to become part of the scene.

Not far from my mossy log bench, this little bridge turns you out towards the bay trail. 

But that hour or two, reading a magical book in this enchanted setting. . .

That is a dose of small magic for my soul. :)

And this is the back end of Tillamook Bay at the very end of the trail.

So please visit Falling Ladies at those links above and, as Andrea gets the monthly Small Magic theme going, join in, won't you?

And lastly I could not resist sharing one new creation. My "Little People" figurines are taking off quite nicely and I am working on a variety of looks for them to encompass all the tiny folk of the "otherworld". I am just about to list this little guy.  The first Little People "Troll", named Volker!

I've been making larger figurines for a few years but, let's face it, mini is my thing! lol

He's just 2.5" inches (6+ cm) tall!

Thank you for dropping by and I will get caught up on all my favorite bloggers soon I promise!

Have an enchanted weekend!


Monday, August 1, 2016

New Work - August 1st

Another month came and went soooooooo quickly!

I wanted to give you all a quick update on the writing of "The Ledgerkeers",  the book of short stories I am creating built around the world of the Bewildering Pine. It is going so well right now and I am currently fleshing out a bout 20 different short tales with another 10 or so to go. The challenge is in trying to create lots of little vignettes about the folk, commerce and daily life while hinting at a darker undertone to the Pine's distant (and future) history that I hope will lead to a full fledged novel later on down the road.

Right now I am still hitting the 750 words a day writing goal, 6 days a week!

I also stumbled upon a delightful writing podcast called "Writing Excuses" which has also been a huge help just to keep the brain thinking and working on all sorts of aspects of the process. I highly recommend it. It's 15 minutes per podcast so it takes just a bit of time each day. and the backlog of shows is well over a hundred episodes so there are topics from worldbuilding to pacing to dialogue to descriptive details . . . and you know I am LOVING the details! Always the fun is in the details.

I just ordered a few books, one called "Dirty Old London" that I used an online excerpt from for a story to help flesh out my bake-house / tart cart scene. It was so detailed and brought the early victorian era to life. I am amused by the thought of an entire book on Victorian London's filth and the ways they tried to keep it in check as well as the underside of what we think of as the romantic aspects of that life. I may only use a half dozen details from a book like that but each of them is a true little gem for bringing a world alive!

And finally. . . setting a larger goal, I just booked my trip home to Pennsylvania in February on the Amtrak train. It's a 2 1/2 day trip and I am looking forward to it because, this year, I got a sleeper car for the longest leg of it from Portland to Chicago and back as well. I intend to spend most of that time finishing the final drafts for the stories for the book. I'll have a tiny room to myself and all my dining car meals paid for and I can just focus on editing, reading and watching scenery. This trip gives me a definite goal to have the first drafts and first revisions done by the time I leave.

I've also decided that, once done, I am going to print and hand-bind the first 25 or so copies here, maybe more, we'll see.  I have the flame-throwing Epson 3880 printer to do heavy duty canvas  paper cover work and page layout so I may end up just doing them by hand all around while I shop it for publication.

Of course, I realize I still have to think about illustration, map printing, cover art etc etc etc  So maybe February is a bit ambitious but we'll see. . .

Now, as for August, here are some new pieces I finished the last few days. I had one of my tiny houses featured in the Home/Living/Terrarium section of the Etsy email a week or so ago and it's been CRAZY!

I decided to begin making even tinier houses as I know a lot of terrariums are too small for some of my regular fairy houses. So these cuties may be just the thing for the very tiny indoor garden fae who need the smallest of dwellings!
The houses on the left and right are just 1 1/2" tall!

And these are meant to evoke some of the Venice, Italy color and style in tiny, tiny scale too!

Little Fairy Garden figures for the wee gardener. :)

That's a Hob above, a Brownie here and a Nisse below

I've been working on transferring some illustration skills to these little figures, just simple lines and forms and not too much unnecessary detail. It's working well I think!

I showed you my first dragon a few months ago and here is the next, her name is Roxo (purple in Portuguese )

And I am getting more elaborate with some of the bases on a few statues in Shadow of the Sphinx.
Anubis looks rather pleased to be perched there. :)
Well, that's the news for now. A busy month ahead again with the start of stocking for the holidays. On the calendar is the making of 20 Fairy Houses on Stars and a range of stand alone towers and houses too.

I can't believe i only posted twice last month. . . I hope to have more consistency this month and I look so forward to seeing your lovely comments and thoughts here, as always!

Thank you!!