Monday, April 7, 2014

Spring Brings. . .

It is a fact that I am far more an Autumn/Winter soul than anything else and so, usually, Spring is not my favorite season as it seems to always want to usher in Summer. . . my least favorite time of year.

However, along with Spring comes the rebirth of the landscape and a sense of renewal all over. Rebirth is always such a theme in creative work it seems. This year it takes on new meaning for me in my little world.

Last month I hit the wall in some respects creatively. That wall, which is always quite close, is the very inflexible 24 hours in a day rule that someone long ago made up as the rule . . . and boy has it stuck!

24 hours a day.

I've fought it my whole life. Going so far as to try, at 19, to restructure my own definition of the week to consist of six 28 hour days and sleeping only 6 times a week. However, that schedule, as you might imagine, has it's problems. Most rooted into the fact that you are the only person living on such a schedule and, three times a week, you are "mid-day" when the world is sleeping. That was fine for me as a devoted night owl at the time. . .  but not so good for others in the house. lol

Anyway, more on that experiment another time. I gave in after a few weeks and have been on the old 24 hour system since.

Last month I found myself overbooked on custom work and turning into a real grumblepuss some nights when I found I had no time left to just make what I most desired which is, after all, why I create in the first place. But it is a balance I know. I just let it get all out of whack after the holidays and I do so have trouble saying no to my wonderful customers who return again and again.

So, I set the goal in mid March. Get through all of the custom pieces on the schedule by the first week in April and then, once there, stop booking my weeks full of custom work and start spacing them out.  My main concern was that people would not be willing to wait 6 to 8 weeks or longer for a piece but that turns out to not be true. I am, as of now, into June with requests and still no one balks at the wait.

The best part is that this week I finally have been able to begin again in just making whatever my heart desires. It seems like it has been ens since I could just daydream and play. . . and while it has only, in reality, been a handful of weeks, I am glad to be "home" again. I think it is SO very important to feed that muse inside and to allow it to drift and wander wherever it may. Otherwise even the most wonderful of creative work can seem less shiny and fun. And that is no way to go. :)

 That said, I wanted to share a peek at what Spring has conjured in my world.

As you know i have several forms of expression and styles that are dear to my heart. Egyptian antiquity, model railroad miniatures, spiritual statues and visual art to name a few. . . . but fantasy creatures and fairy worlds are the nearest and dearest of all so it is no surprise that I have found myself lost in places and faces like these below.

It has been nearly impossible to keep fairy houses in stock so I set out to create something a little more 'expandable". A world of their own. What I cam up with are these "Fairy Houses of Mossy Lane". The houses will be sold individually of course but I could not resist starting on a "set" to shoot them on. The base with it's cobblestone road is just begun really. I'll be adding flowers, benches, and, if all goes well, even tiny little HO scale fairies with handmade wings. I am tickled with the results so far!







And creatures. . . Spring seems to regularly manifest ideas in this realm too! I listed the first of these guys the other day, inspired by a tiny detail in one of Arthur Rackham's wonderful fairy tale illustrations. Another going in today and, it seems, two more have sprouted (they grow out from under the caps) this morning!




And for me, the story is the thing! So the midnight oil is being burned with a lot of writing and creating the backstory of these creatures and place.

The only issue is now that my to do list of what I want to make is as backed up as my custom list was last month! No rest for the wizards . . . and still just 24 hours in a day!

Enjoy the week dear friends. . .

nicolas

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Taweret and the Lure of Egyptian Art in My World

One of the reasons I love revisiting the origins of creative aspects in my life is that, over time, they can take on different forms and meanings. They reveal themselves slowly across the years, even disappearing on occasion only to comeback strong somewhere down the line.

They are always evolving and unwinding. 
They are the threads. 

At the same time, I do not want to lose my grasp on where they began as I truly feel those beginnings are always important and never pass into a state of irrelevance.

While it is always easy to say that Ancient Egyptian art has been something I have been deeply drawn to since I was 6 or 7, it is also true that, over time, the meaning of that has grown with me.

The pieces I have been creating these last four years have been allowing me to explore new avenues for their reasons of existence in my life. Always allowing me to deepen that connection and revisit those wonderful days of ancient history/discovery from my youth.

So, when I create a piece like the Taweret statue below, I am reminded that this link is now close to forty years old. From the first time I saw Her portrayed on tomb carvings and artifacts I was smitten. Some of it was the way my young imagination tried to grasp that this animal, the hippopotamus, was truly a part of Egyptian life. . . not something just seen in a magazine or in an urban zoo. I'd think to my young self, "Yes, I'd have made a statue honoring them too!!"

Sheis magnificent and what I love most is the way ancient artists captured her shape, her toothy grin and her delicate legs.

Taweret: Patron of Childbirth and Protector of Women and Children


Now, when I create a piece like this of Taweret, I am always aware of the connection to those early days when I felt that my drawings of Egyptian deities were protecting me somehow.  So much so that I drew them on the tops of my feet whenever I felt the need for extra "help".  Anubis, Bast, Horus, Sekhmet and Djehuty were all a part of my childhood circle of guardians. . . . but seriously, if you have to pick an animal to "protect" you. . . isn't the hippo going to be at the top of the list due to sheer size alone?? : )

I feel so completely honored that, in recreating these pieces today, I am able to send them off all over the world for others to honor in their own way and for their own personal reasons.  It feels as a service is truly being done in their creation and that each one is part of the growing understanding I have of their place in my life today.

What never changes is, at my core, they are all protectors of my dreams, my creative path and my life.  It's why they always have a place on my work table and by my bedside. The magic I found in them all those years ago is just as strong today. Except now I make them out of clay and not tin foil and paper as I did as a young boy. lol

Hope you enjoy seeing Her. :)

xo
nicolas

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The Long and Short Of It All - Edition #1

One of the things about my way of creating that gets wonky sometimes is:

I have a longstanding habit, when choosing the "What next?" from my list of ideas, to go with the smaller, most immediately rewarding ideas. Often this is at the expense of moving forward the larger, more complex ideas that I really want to bring to a completion but that I can't seem to keep moving forward on as time allows. Instead, always seeming to choose the quick idea, or a multitude of them as it often goes, to "finish something".

Nowhere is this more relevant that my 2014 To-Do list and I am resolved to do something about it! 

So first, why is that an issue? I make oodles of fun creations that actually move through my shops very well. They make me infinitely happy to create them and I always find time to write a bit of a story to go along with almost each one. . . couple that with an ever growing list of requests and custom pieces and the time left to work on the larger stories and idea is already at a minimum. 

But those ideas haunt me as they are always the thing I most want to do every day.

Internally those larger. story based projects are the direct reflection of everything I loved about my childhood and want to re-embrace into the fold of mid adulthood and beyond. They are the lifeline from that era, the link in time to all I am and all I do.

They are my "Tardis" through time and space that take me back to the most wonderful and,  yes, sometimes less wonderful of those years too.

And ohhhhh I am a time traveler above all else. . . 

I am hoping, that by sharing the ideas here in a series of posts of their progress and intent,  the visual reminder of them each time I come to my blog will remind me that they are waiting for me to grow them into full reality.And with each large project I will also post a small, quick idea that came to fruition too. :)

So then

The LONG of It:

The Noble Ice Elves of Spangladasha:

Started this massive idea at the beginning of the year and it is only in the last 4 weeks that it sort of fell off the radar a bit. The little guy below, Fenewen, was the first to appear here. He toldme his story and I was beyond hooked. . . T

he idea is to create a total of 50 Noble Ice Elves ( not all at once mind you) and send each one, as it is adopted, off into the world with an atlas/maps of their land, Spangladasha, and scrolls that tell the story of the elves journey to our world and their purpose here and beyond.

The very-large of the idea is to send quarterly updates to each person as the elves are adopted letting them know the general location of other elves across the globe (by city/country only) and continuing the story through mailings of scrolls, symbols, etc etc as well as updating the Etsy listing with the story as it progresses as new elves appear.  So even I will not know exactly where it is going until it gets there.

Fenewen
I LOVE his furry compact body, the crown of polymer clay bones and his "petrified" driftwood power source with it's "ice crystal" attached!! And the ever growing map of the land he and his kind hail from:

Spangladasha - Realm of the Noble Ice Elves

Soooo much more to do obviously. Scrolls, books, wax seals, printing the maps, special packaging etc etc. The Noble Ice Elf story is about 5 pages now. That's about as long as I want it so I'll have a years worth of updates already in the bag. I just need to rewrite, edit and re-edit. 

Hoping to have 6 or so of these guys ready for Fall release! 

And that, my dear friends, is just ONE of the large ideas brewing in this brain lately. :)


The SHORT of it:

The Shen Amulet

So, the Egyptian pieces in Shadow of the Sphinx are a direct link to my early creative worlds  I imagined myself often in that time, often as a simple scribe or lay-person working for a Pharaoh. It was a far broader role to me than to rule all of Egypt. lol

The endless list of ancient pieces I have to inspire me has allowed me to continually experience a new thrill when working on these amulets and statues. And often, the ideas allow me to create quickly as with the Shen amulet below.  There must be hundreds of iterations of this one amulet/symbol alone.  So the inspirational source is endless.

Shen Symbol - Polymer Clay Amulet with Bronze Patina Finish


Trouble is I often get caught up in the fun of making smaller things and just let the larger ideas sit a bit too long. . . but then again, Fenewen is always on my work table and he won't be patient for long I suspect. . .

Wishing you all a creative and magical day!

Soon again. . .


nicolas

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Do What You Want, Be What you Are

So I want to begin sharing more of the day to day process and inner workings of being a full time maker-of -things.  Let me start by sharing a little picture with you.



This is my studio work table on a random morning taken about a week or so back. Now, the funny thing about this picture is, I almost did not use it for this blog because, as I looked at it, I thought "Oh that's too neat. . . it looks staged." I'll pause while those of you with a neater bent to their organization and creative work spaces gasp and shudder at the thought. : )

In actuality, all I removed from the scene were paint rags and some scraps of notes that were not relevant. The rest, as seen, is pretty much how my work table looks. . . on a good day.

That little clear space on the front/right table, on the clay mat, that is where I make almost everything in my shops. All the rest are the parts of projects that are going on right now, things drying, things waiting for their day in the photoshoot sun, things in progress etc etc. This is the eye of the storm I suppose you could say. . . because it is always a clam and workable space to me. And, in the chaos, it all makes sense.

The point of this simple little post is this:

Too often I think we unlearn things that were simply inherent to us because our "teachers" believed their way to be better.  In the end, as we grow up, we fight our natural tendencies because we may have been taught that they were not good ways to be. Nowhere is this more destructive than in the creative realm.

In my world, that "teaching" was an endless string of contradicting statements that for years kept me from being the wonderful mess-maker that I am.

Family "teachers" said:
"When you are done (playing) put everything away! It's a mess!"

Except so many of my "games" were paracosms and ongoing worlds that didn't end when I had to stop playing for dinner, sleep or some other such nonsense. . . . They went on without me so how could I just pack them all away? How could I slip back into them seamlessly if they were neatly stacked in a closet or forced under the bed?

Art teachers in school said:

"Focus on one idea or technique. Don't try to do it all. Finish the project you've started. Perect what you are doing"

Except that I never was a one thing at a time person.
Not in reading books ( I have 5 going right now)
Not in traveling. The first time I went to Europe I looked at the map of the continent and said, "Right, 17 days and I'm going to 14 countries! (umm that did not work out once I hit France. . .  and so I DO learn you see!)
Certainly not in creative projects, which, I believe, tell ME when they are ready to be finished and not vice versa. So some sit for days. Weeks. Even months till the finish is apparent to me. 

In my first "career" of the culinary arts, I was taught by the chefs I worked for:
"Don't try to do too many things, just pick a cuisine and master it." (So, needless to say, I fell into the Fusion/cross cultural cuisine trend of the 90's with all my heart and soul!)

Oh the list goes on and on. . .

It took me years to learn that I have this pattern of creative chaos and that it works perfectly for me. 
Let every idea come forth.
Jump at making whatever makes me happiest
Figure the rest out as I go along.

That's being me.  That's who I am. Yet I spent a great deal of my early adult life trying to "do it the right way" by what I had been taught was best.

And while I had to do some work to learn how to make this authentic, natural me into a workable model that could make a viable living, it really only came together when I finally sloughed all that old, repetitive programming off and let myself be the creative soul I was born as. . . working with, instead of against, myself.

That's what allowed this to now grow into a full time occupation that suits me perfectly.

The interesting twist to the story is this. For all the "creative" mess one may see in my life, in my daily way of being a maker-of-things, let me tell you where my life has no mess and jumble.

Basically that would be in every other department.

There are few people who get my time, few outside distractions are ever allowed in, I make very few obligations/commitments and selectively extend myself and there are just very few things I feel compelled to do other than create. I have not heard my phone ring in four years and, like the old days, only return calls at the end of the work day when done. I moved to a place where I can walk to almost everything I need (including places in nature where I can be alone) each day.

That too was something of old programming that I had to break.  We are told to "do one thing" when it comes to work, art, careers, interests or anything we want to "achieve". . . but then we are told a well rounded life includes all that excess which pulls us in 20 directions at once.

How many people I have known that felt that a well rounded life was about having all THOSE diverse interests filling up their schedule and making the hours something to be counted and rationed?

How many people have I listened to as they lament not having the time to do the things they really love while constantly rushing off to yet another engagement or obligation?? How many friends have I watched running around frazzled all day long, every day, so caught up in being "busy" and saying it as if being busy were an accomplishment in and of itself?

But I'd swear, if you ask me, busy is a modern synonym for "messy" in regards to living life.
And when I did it, it just made me feel further away from what I most wanted to be doing. 

And so my advice to others, about a creative life, when asked,  is:

Neat or messy, one thing or a whole basket full of ideas, or anywhere in between makes no difference
Do what you want but be . . . what. . . you. . .  are.
And what you are IS inherent. Yes it can be molded and tightened up and tinkered with.
But the core of it is going to be something you always and already were. . .

Because following that path and being just what you are is always going to lead to happiness doing what you most want to do.

So as a word of advice from a mess-maker extraordinaire, messy is cool. . . it's fine to stray and wander and indulge in many wonderful ideas and pursuits. . . just tidy up the REST of life and let the true you rule the creative day.

xo
nicolas
















Sunday, February 16, 2014

The Thread

I think my blog will be taking a turn in the coming weeks.

I have, for two years, been telling myself I wanted to write (seriously) more often in the hope of sharing and explaining my creative path and the way my childhood informs all of my creations today.  I’ve been successful in fits and spurts. Yet it has been extremely hard to write about the most important details of that childhood and share them.

To be truthful, I had no idea why. 

Last night I read a wonderfully thought provoking short story called “Mr. Goober’s Show” by the esteemed sci-fi writer Howard Waldrop which, today, has me going deeper into my own world to understand why some things “work” and some don’t for myself, for others and for and within the creative life so many of us wish to live.

In the story a man relates the experience of his sister and he in the 1950’s when, while visiting with an Aunt, they uncover a mechanical (pre-war) television that, according to the Aunt, does not work because the way television is transmitted in the story’s active time (1950’s) has changed and so there are no programs broadcast the old way anymore. 

The children, left alone one evening, plug in the old TV and, after a bit of fiddling with the knobs, they DO find a broadcast which, since there is no sound, they can only watch.  They dub the show “Mr. Goober’s Show”. The genius of not explaining exactly what they see is part of the draw of the story. The years pass, the sister becomes obsessed with discovering what they saw as the brother seems to be less concerned and interested over time. The sister goes to work in the technical/ TV field and, in a series of letters over the years to her brother, explains the futility and ever-increasing obsession with wanting to know what they saw. How it was even possible given the technology and the science.

I won’t give the end away but, the thoughts that are now in my mind began with my own recollections of two shows I saw as a child that I simply have never been able to find in adulthood, even in this vast internet age of every little detail of every single movie, show and program being catalogued. They seem to not exist.

Now, the two characters, the brother and sister, go in opposite directions with Mr. Goober’s Show. While they both are totally taken with it as children and talk about it into their young adult lives, the boy, we are led to believe, simply loses interest and the girl becomes obsessed with  unraveling the magic though the obsession leads her deep into the technical aspects of what it COULD have been and away from the early experience of it.

To me, it reads as a dual warning for adulthood.

When I was a child, my world, from a very early age was filled with my inserting myself into many roles and fantasy worlds. These were based on historic or dramatized events. At one time or another I was an astronaut in a cardboard capsule fitted with hundreds of christmas lights and switches I taped in place or poked through holes. I was a high seas pirate on a front porch ship, a Shaolin monk, an Egyptian scribe (and sometimes pharaoh) , I stormed the beaches at Normandy and climbed Mt Everest, explored alien worlds and fell through time portals. I lived in Medieval castles and fought dragons and demons time and again the victor.  I lived on the Prairie along with the Ingalls family and solved crimes as many 70’s TV cops (often Kojak because it involved the lollipop and wearing my grandfather's fedora).  I created entire sports leagues in the back yard and invented my own futuristic sports, made up board games and card games of my own in winter too.

What happens in adulthood is clearly a duality that we often choose one or the other path as laid out in the story I read. We either lose the sense of magic and wonder of childhood and move on leaving it behind, or we get so caught up in the explanation of all things magical, how things work, what they mean, that they must make sense and what is and is not possible, what we imagined versus what is “real”. We get so wrapped up in this that those early worlds are torn down by the time we reach adulthood and left in tatters around us.

But adulthood is just another fantasy world.  And while people look at artists as dreamers, it is often the average 9-5er who is living just as distorted a dream.  Usually one that is constructed of, and constricted by, equal parts “have to” and “reason” that the magic is often left out altogether.

Have to and reason can destroy artistic magic too. . . which is why I think art schools ultimately damage as many as they help. . . so why would any other lifestyle be any less damaged by the same factors?

What’s the balance then? For me, it seems to be that we never should leave that magic behind or totally understand it either.  This is why, in a nutshell, I have been unable to write about those early experiences.

Technical explanations and scientific certainty can be fascinating but deadly to the imagination as well. I’d rather not know how things work and I’d rather not try to explain where my ideas come from or how they are completely linked, every one of them, to something within that has been nurtured since my childhood. There's a magic in them that I lived, have understood as inherent, and I have tried to explain without success even to myself. And there are those few events that are truly and simply unexplainable. How can I write about them without feeling like I have to explain them or say, "This is what I have come to understand about that day, that event or that memory." 

 I think the key to telling great, compelling stories, and that is what all artistic outlet can be reduced to, is in what you do not reveal. I tell bits and pieces of the whole but I leave just enough out to allow for the viewer to have a door in for themselves to my world and my work. I want to create things that inspire imagination and open to larger landscapes within. It’s pure storytelling and it is the core of every creative being.

It’s the ephemeral, untouchable essence of who we are. . .

In the simpler sense, there are parts of me that desperately want to know what those two old shows I saw as a 6 or 7 year old were. . . and an equal part of me that never wants to see them again.  I want to maintain my own memory of them as they were experienced then which, in seeing them 30 years later, can never be the same, can they?

So this creative dream I live now. . . yes, it is a construction of my own. No one wrote the book on living it and no one told me how to make it happen.

 I am asked constantly, "You can make a living doing THAT?" and while the simple, actual answer is "Yes." it leaves out all the magic because, in truth, not everyone can. It's not enough to be good at something or to excel in business or have great people skills and even a staunch self belief matters only a smidgen. The creative path requires the absolute presence of magic. And the magic requires that we never answer all the questions ourselves. We leave them for others to discover and to find within their own creations in their own time.

That’s the magic of the story.
Of life.

I’ll be trying to create a more revealing feel here in the coming months. Posting more updates on projects and little bits of inspiration here and there going forward. Turning the focus into more of a daily process of what I am actually doing and how. 

Focusing on the magic of my todays as much as my yesterdays.

In those posts, some of the larger story will come through but, in the grand scheme of things, the magic I want to convey is not from the past.

It’s in the here and now.
Today.
It’s not a memory but the one constant and unbroken thread of my life.
The one, as in the William Stafford poem, that I will never let go of.

I hope you will continue creating the magic of YOUR life
And follow along with me too. : )

nicolas

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The First Creations

It has taken me a long time to get to where I am comfortable talking about my creative path.  And a couple of years to realize what I want to share here, in blog form, as well.  Many a New Year's resolution to write more, blog more, share more have come and gone without success.

Some things just can't be forced before its time.

The delay was, mostly, because part of that story is about the events of my childhood. Not all of them pleasant and several outright harrowing but, in fact, they are a part of that creation inside.

So, no better time than today, on the cusp of a New Year, to start. . . without a resolution or promise. It's just time.

I would count myself among the millions who probably utter this phrase, "I have been creating since I can remember" more than I would like. It is, of course, true but I always have a bit of an issue with non specific statements like that.

I could say that it was a finger-painting a did at age 4 ( and vividly recall making)  that my mother still has framed and on her wall almost 40 years later. I can still see the spot where I started to finger paint my name before realizing that did not constitute a "picture" and promptly smeared over it with a blend of paints.

That was done in the bedroom of the apartment my mother ad I lived in the first 10 years of my life.

But the memories of my first creations artistically are blended with the meory of my first creations in my head of the sing-songs, games and mantras that were to keep me safe from what  can only say was a very dark entity in my room. 

That is not a cloaked statement alluding to someone evil or any sort of abuse. It was most definitely some "thing" that I feared. And it haunted my horrible nightmares from my earliest memories. I would fight to not have to go to sleep in that room and often would convince my mom to let me stay up and fall asleep on the sofa in the living room or on the floor. Then she would get me into bed once I was already out.

In the nightmares it was something about the curtains/window of my room. The hideous floor to ceiling orange curtains might have been enough without their animating and speaking in those dreams. lol  I also had a series of health issues then. Spontaneous nosebleeds that would not stop but, luckily I was told, I awoke just before they would start every time.  So it seemed a battle of forces and, in my mind, I did all I could to appeal to the forces of good.

So, in that part of my paracosm, I found it useful to create ways, in my head, to defeat that darkness. I had games that, if I won, would keep me safe. Chants and sing-songe repeated the right number of times or for a minute straight etc.

In the case of the nightmares, perhaps it helped.

One night, in a most frightening dream where the darkness was closing in on my bed and the curtains were flailing across the room trying to grab me, I watched as that the ceiling of my room split and a shower of millions of gold spinning snowflakes (sort of shaped like little nuclei with tiny round orbs at the flake points but all gold and sparkly)  , the size of a dime, cascaded down from the sky spreading over my entire bed. In the dream I sat uptight as the snowflakes poured over me and, then, awoke, sitting in my bed, still able to feel the last snowflakes falling on me and I could literally "see" them as well. Once they stopped falling I realized it was still very dark. . . late night. . . and I was alone. But then, as I stared into the darkness waiting for my eyes to adjust, I saw one spinning gold snowflake appear in front of me.  Hovering and constant. I lay back down in my bed, realized I was sweating and got up to get a drink of water.  When I returned, the snowflake was gone.

I never had another nightmare again.

In fact, to this day, I only remember dreaming once every couple of months or so and I sleep, most of the time, only 5 hours a night (which may be a hold over from those childhood years).

Also I should mention that anytime since that night that I think of those little spinning snowflakes one, and only one, will appear right in front of my eyes be it dark or daylight . . .  as one is here in front of me now as I type. I'm used to it and, in all honesty, I find it most comforting.

All those little games, rhymes and songs were invented to keep me safe. To help me cope with nightmares, fears and the darkness. . . it would not be a stretch to say that now, in my adult life, they came back to do the same though the shadows were most definitely more internal and they had names we all know like expectation, self-doubt and all around general adult world illusions and societal programming.

The stories to come get stranger. . . but the power of creativity will be the theme throughout.  The struggle to stay close to that possibility and wonder that permeated my youth. . . to this point where, once again, my whole life revolves around it now.

So I'll tell it as best I can and hope that it leaves something behind that will resonate with someone else one day.

Wishing you all a happy start to your new year!

Create it to be pure magic!

nicolas



Saturday, December 14, 2013

Journey

When people throw the phrase, "I am going through a second childhood" around, I always like to ask, "Are you getting it right this time?"

By that, I mean, are you incorporating it into your everyday life? Movies, books, activities etc etc? Not just a trip down memory lane for a day or two but a real rebirth of that spirit within.

Often there is a "looking down"upon certain things, even in the midst of the reawakening, that can lead to a dismissal of many important elements.

I've said before I think one of our greatest faults is that we tend to see "growing up" as a need to move away from childhood loves and pursuits.

I try to keep all aspects of that time close by. Even finding some that I never really connected with or that were a part of my world back then. Always looking to expand that world and that possibility.

So, let me recommend a book to you that creates a world and a story that I think every adult and kid should peer into.



"Journey" by Aaron Becker is one of the year's best books for any age in any genre.

The lack of words makes it a story anyone can read themselves into (even the main character is not given a name) and, if you want to know if you are in touch with that creative inner-child, pick up this book. . . if it resonates, you have the magic in there somewhere.

Erin Stead, a former Caldecott medal winner said:

"We live in a time with a lot of flash and beep and tweets. Mr. Becker has made a beautiful reminder that there are times we need to turn it off. Sometimes we need a book, some quiet, and our imagination. It’s so well done."

The only downside of the book is that in all reviews it is listed as appropriate for ages 4-8. That, I consider to be. selling it far short.  I picked it up at at our local library along with Maurice Sendak's last publication, "My Brother's Book" which needs no review or testimonial . . . because it's Maurice Sendak for goodness sake! Isn't that all you need to know? : )

But Journey is a book I intend to buy and keep near at all times.

One can't lose the way with that sort of guide. . .

As for the rest of my world. . . 

Busy holiday sales were a bit intimidating. And, of course, in the midst of the busiest times I find myself coming up with new ideas for the coming year.  So, instead of worrying about the dwindling shop stock, I am working on all new themes, creatures and little worlds to ring in the new year.

I hope the season, the solstice and the magic of it all surrounds you every day. . .

Until the next,

nicolas