Friday, September 7, 2018

New Work - First Friday - September 7th

Hey everyone!

I've made no effort to hide how Autumn is my favorite season coming after summer, which is my least favorite. This summer was actually quite fine though. Only one day over 80 degrees through the whole season here (that's unusual)!

Even so,  as I have also mentioned before, too many sunny days in a row sends me down the reverse SADS path and I am there now. But here we are, the first week of September, schools back in, tourists have faded away, picked the last of the blackberries and today on our walk we found leaves covering the forest floor. All good signs but, best of all, it seems we may have three or four rainy days ahead this week!

With that in mind, I have so many new pieces and custom orders coming to completion THIS month so next first Friday there will be a lot to show. This time, just a small selection but new work and a few upgrades none the less!

Enjoy and thank you for dropping by!

I've improved my patina finishes to give them one more layer of depth that also holds without losing it's luster.
It's a slight change but on something small like this Jizo, it really seems to pop! 

Wenut,  full stylized hare statue.

It's time for All Hallow's Eve! New tombstones and more to come next month. . . stay tuned! 

My houses evolve with the novel and the descriptions of each village as I refine them. 

I've wanted to make something like this for years. Not a house, just a forest guardian. :) 

I hadn't;t made an HO scale hermitage like this in awhile and I have to say, it seems SO large to me now! :) Still, I will be making more of this size building for the holidays. Adobe houses, stone towers and more. 

Love making these little pyramids. This one features both an ankh. . .

. . . and an Eye of Horus on the other side. 

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Ghost Stories - The Apartment #1

Hey everyone!

So yeah, still not back on track with a weekly post but its all good. It has been really busy here with family visiting and the book and the shops and the cooking and the garden and reading and . . . ok, you get it.

I've been listening to one of my favorite Podcasts, "Spooked" which is put on by the same folks who do "Snap Judgement", another great storytelling podcast. They're telling one persons ghost story each week between now and All Hallow's Eve.

It made me think about the strange experiences I have had over the years, which as I am told time and again, are more numerous than most it seems and I thought it might be fun to share them here.

I've decided to tell them in order, as best I can recall, meaning from my earliest odd memories on up to now. Some are truly scary, some are beautiful to me, and some are odd.

I won't claim which are truly otherworldly, I leave that to you.

It's no surprise to me that so many of them are childhood memories. We are, as children, in some other world much of the time and my wealth of experiences has led me to think that children really are "watching some other show in their heads" a lot of the time. Once, while watching a group of children on a Head Start field trip to a farm, I saw a young boy, maybe 9 or so, who stodgy himself watching a cage that held three rabbits inside. Now, I love rabbits, am awed by every one of nature's creatures, but this kid? The way his eyes were glued to the rabbits, the way his lips formed words, as if he were speaking to them, the way he smiled as the rabbits stopped and turned their large eyes to look at him. The way his own eyes wide and filled with wonder?

Did they. . . speak to him?

Yeah, he was experiencing something I was not.  I was 28 or so then. And I decided I needed to get that back. To find my way into that world once more.

I try to find that same type of wonder every day now. Trying to reclaim as much of that time, those frames of mind, as I can. It's what my work is all about. My writing. My art. My daily existence. Choosing those realms over the usual adult fare.

And even spooky stories have their place there too, yes?

Other worlds. Thin veils. Connections adults may never regain. . .

"The Apartment - F3"

My mother and dad divorced when I was young, four years old maybe. I didn't know until I was six or so because he was in merchandising and always traveling. He wanted us to move to NY with him for his job and my mother, who has lived within a half mile of her current location her entire 80 plus years, refused.

The apartment we lived in holds a lot of memories. Not all of them good. I am sure there were some repercussions from the divorce but, in all honesty, I never recall feeling anything lacking or that I was "abandoned" etc. My mother was incredible. More than I could have needed.

The apartment was our home. It just wasn't as kind to me as I might like to recall.

So there were a few creepy things in this building. The old incinerator shaft that seemed to go on forever, the basement with it's classic horror movie, water-drip sounds that echoed through the basement halls, the roar of the furnace/hot water heaters, and the old, cage style storage lockers with the dim bulbs casting wicked shadows across the floor.

But those were all avoidable or limited to daylight visits. The apartment itself? Well, when you live IN it, where can you go?

I built a LOT of forts. No particular reason though, looking back now, I wonder if it was something I did for "protection". I'd stock them with my drawing supplies and toys and spend hours there in my own world.

Another favorite place I played was behind the old sofa. There was room between it and the wall because of the old fashioned steam radiators that were in every room. So, there was the picture window, then the radiator, then the couch and, with my mother's never ending fear of fire, the couch was a good foot or more in front of the radiator. This left a nice space between the back of the couch and the wall to play in.

So, one day, I was no more than five or six, I was playing back there and had my usual compliment of toys, paper, crayons etc. I had my Raggedy Andy and Anne dolls too. I rarely played with them as I recall but I did like them quite a bit. Slept with them. They couldn't "wrestle" with me on the bed like the me-sized stuffed bear or act out scenes like my Star Trek, Superhero and Planet of the Apes action figures, but they were calming to me to have near.

So this night I am playing behind the sofa. Its winter and the hissing and clunk and clatter of the radiator is a constant backdrop.

My mother is in her bedroom and she calls to me to come there for a minute. I set my crayons down and moved the dolls so I could climb over the sofa back without stepping on them. This left Raggedy Anne and Andy sitting side by side against the outside wall where I had been.

I went to see what mom wanted and when I returned, I climbed back over the couch to find Raggedy Andy had slumped over, laying across the other dolls lap, face turned up to the ceiling.

I am sure I thought nothing of this until I picked up Raggedy Andy to set him upright and reclaim my wall spot when both of his shiny black "button eyes" fell right off of his face and into my lap!


What I recall is that they were sew on eyes each with it's own "socket', yet somehow they both came off at exactly the same time, threads hanging from the back of the button loop as is often the case when you lose an old fashioned button due to wear.

To me, even then, it seemed as if they had been ripped out and then set back perfectly in place for me to discover when I picked it up.

I might have hit the doll with my foot scoring over the back of the couch. . .but how do the eye both break their threads and not fall even a bit out of place until I pick the old up?  

I showed the doll to my mother who, in her typical mom form, assumed I had been too rough with it. She left it in her room and I went back to play but I just felt weirded out by it and I do not think I spent too much time back behind that sofa after that, which was fine, as I said, I had a LOT of forts!

What makes it so creepy to me all the years later is that these were the only two toys I was really never rough with. Not that I can recall. Those old action figures? They lost arms, legs, heads etc all the time. My bear? I put more stuffing back into him over the years due to all the roughhousing and wrestling.

My grandmother fixed the doll for me that weekend but, if I remember it right, I never took it back to the apartment, keeping both Raggedy dolls at my grandparents house instead from then on.

So yeah, that was my first experience with the creepiness that dwelled in that old apartment. But it would be far from the last. . .

Thanks for reading all, I hope you will enjoy these tales as I go!


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.