Friday, March 18, 2016

Enchanted Dragon Towers

Many of you know I am HUGE when it comes to stories. . . especially in relation to the thing si create.

Well, I just finished this little tower and it's dragon guardian, Amethyra, the other day and wrote the accompanying tale to go with it this morning so it is now listed in my shop.

This is rare. I have, at last count, a dozen completed items here that are awaiting stories before being sold/listed in my Etsy shop. Some have sat for weeks. . . waiting.

I cannot seem to list anything if it does not have some sort of tale to go with. The stories are, ultimately, what I feel give a bit of spirit to the work. I don't want to define everything I make in detail because part of that is, indeed, for the new owner. . . but at least something to offer a starting place for their own adventure to take root.

I am trying to get better at letting go just a bit on it but, when a story comes together like the one for these towers did, I feel like it is worth waiting for when it is not exactly there at the start.

So, without further delay or blather on my part, here is the Enchanted Dragon Tower and it's accompanying tale. : )

It's 6" tall and about 3" at the widest point of the dragon's body

I've been wanting to make dragons for some time but think I finally like the version I have here.

Coiling it around the tower works well but I also intend to make a few with the dragon perched/coiled on the roof top!

 I really enjoy the look of the offset doorway for an even more enchanted effect. :) 

¨¨°º©©º°¨¨¨  The Enchanted Dragon Tower  ¨¨°º©©º°¨¨¨

There are so many stories and tales about dragons in the world that to try and convince you there might be one more you haven't heard would seem a bit presumptuous. . .

But this little enchanted dragon tower is really born of a dragon story unlike any other that I, personally, knew of before hand.

Seems that a little, creative elven girl named Alythia had been having a hard time of late with her magic studies. She wasn't really very much into the books and lessons that other young creatures of the Pine seemed to so easily grasp. It wasn't so much that she felt badly about this as she had many, many other things that interested her far more than study.

For one, she loved to tell stories that she made up during her time alone at home. She also loved to spend as much time as she could wandering the countryside and talking to all of the creatures she encountered. Fauns, fairies, brownies, gnomes, sprites, goblins. . . made no difference to Alythia as she had a real knack for making friends and she often found herself telling her made-up stories to the new friends she met along the way. They always hoorah-ed and clapped at the end. . .

One day while venturing further into the surrounding forests than she ever had before, she came upon an old stone tower deep in the pines. It looked like it had been abandoned for eons with browned, dry moss, dead weeds filling the flower boxes and a lack of luster that only comes with years of neglect.

Stepping up to the door she recognized the faint markings she found there from one of her "Ancient Spells" textbooks. Theses symbols were enchantments that, as she recalled, were supposed to keep whatever had been locked inside.  .  well. . .  inside. The seals had been broken though and so, ever the adventurous spirit, she cautiously forced opened the heavy, creaky wooden door and found her way thru the dark lower level and up the stairs to the lookout window high above the forest floor.

When she got to the top, she was completely transfixed by the view! Such beauty and gentle hills sprinkled with wildflowers all around for miles. She had never known the landscape to look like that from the ground.

She made a wish, right there an then, that she could spend her life in a tower like this one just creating her stories day after day for it was truly the thing she enjoyed most of all.

Well, after a bit of daydreaming, Alythia eventually made her way back down the stairs but, as she did, she felt that something was. . . different now. . . the tower itself no longer seemed old, musty and dilapidated but, instead, seemed light, airy and almost like new!

She walked outside to discover the outside too looked rather refreshed with bright green moss and colorful stones and, the flower box that had only held dead weeds when she entered, was now overflowing with juicy red flowers!

And as she stared up at the beautiful scalloped rooftop with it's clinging moss, she felt a warm East wind blowing on her neck. . . except, it turns out, it wasn't an East wind at all.

Nooooooo, it was, as she saw upon turning around, a very beautiful, purple dragon with golden horns, eyes and wings!

The dragon, without speaking with a voice, introduced herself as Amethyra and she told Alythia that she was the guardian of the enchanted tower.  A tower that could grant almost any wish a being made while looking out it's "dream Window".

Alythia was startled. . . but not afraid. "But what of the sealing spells on the door? So they not speak of "keeping something inside"?

"Ahhh" said Amethyra, "Actually the spell was a warning to keep folk OUT of the tower. Because what is kept within is the power to grant the enchantment of one wish. But the spell is a little. . . off, shall we say? It grants the wish, but it only does so if the wish-maker stays within the tower."

"So", Amethyra continued, people have wished for great wealth, great bounties of food, fine clothes, great power even. . . but they may only have such things as long as the remain in the tower."

"And what is your part in this?" Alythia asked.

"Ohhh, I am the guardian of the tower" said Amethyra. "It is my charge to protect the tower and anyone who dwells within it. But should they leave, all they have wished for ends up turning into dust."
"I wished I could stay here forever and write stories." said Alythia "Can that really be a dream that the enchantment can make come true?"

Yes, that is why I appeared to you." Amethyra answered, "If you wish to stay, you may. The tower would be your only home and you would want for nothing as long as you remain inside and do not break the seal once the enchantment is enacted."

Alythia thought long and hard about this while Amethyra coiled around the tower to await her decision. In the end, after much internal debate, Alythia decided to take up the offer and she lived, for the rest of her many years, in the solitude and beauty of the Enchanted tower.

She thrived in the solitude and she was quite content with Amethyra as her only company. She took very good care of her little tower home and wrote stories, every day, without fail.

It is said that what she created lives beyond time and measure. The root of those stories, older than can be traced and forever retold in our times thru our own creations, link us together across worlds and dimensions.

Her gift became the very essence of what we call inspiration and, to this day, people seek solitude (mostly sans dragons like Amethyra, sadly) for the time and space to create their own stories and offerings to the world.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

A Rather Fine Elven Friend

So, some of you know that I have been working thru the process of creating figures/art dolls for some time now. Definitely one of the most difficult skill sets I have ever tried to gather and gain some semblance of mastery over and I think I am still just in the beginning stages in so many ways!

Sculpting expressive character faces is just one thing. . . I mean, gargoyles are one thing but more human-like expression. . . yikes! Learning to create little hands and feet is another skill set altogether. Constructing armatures, painting eyes, coloring of skin, making clothes etc etc etc. It has been a real journey! And, then, on top of it all, trying to find my own "voice" with the characters I am making.  I started with the well-known artists for inspiration and direction. Wendy Froud, Jodi Creager, Dawn Schiller . . . learning more and more with each new tutorial as I went.

It seems an endless and meandering oath to follow. Working with fur or mohair for the hair, grinding pastels and blending them for face and skin coloring. . . oh it seemed so daunting and yet, SO exciting!Learning often that less is truly more.

And in the last year I discovered some art-doll makers who were using beautiful handmade papers and decoupage techniques to make the clothing.

Now, I have to say that THIS is where it all really clicked for me. I instantly found my comfort zone with sculpting bodies that would fit the clothing instead of going the soft. posable body/wrapping and fabric clothes. Also, truth be told, I was instantly taken with the idea of being able to find a use for my admittedly hoarder-like collection of lovely handmade papers for the clothing. . . for anything really since, some of which, I have had for 8 or 9 years!

OK, now I just had to put it all together and see what happenes.

Well, I am happy to show you my very first complete, paper-clothed, figure. And while I still have a ways to go with finding a truly unique "voice" for the figures I will be making, this is as close as I have come to really putting it all together in one doll! (and finishing it!)

Making this really takes me back to my childhood-action-figure days. I made a lot of clothes and accessories for those folk back in the day too. Of course, given my 10 or 11 year old skills back then, I ended up with a lot of post apocalyptic torn outfits, wrapped shirts and long capes. . . but they made do. :)

It was a little sunny when I took these so there is a bit more warmth to the overall images than there should be.

Still no name for this guy but my Lunar Hare seems to find him appealing just the same!

He is holding a fairy reliquary like the ones I made a year or more ago. That story still to come. . . 

The suspenders are tiny, vintage silk ribbons and the "buttons" and hat are polymer clay.

Three different kinds of paper make the clothes and shoes, Indian Lokta/Rag, Nepalese Lokta with inclusions and Marbled Nepalese Lokta. The hair is faux fox fur.
Well, as you can plainly see, he needs some friends. . .  so back to the work table I go. The next one, I think,  I will try to post in-progress images from the start so you can see how they come to life!

Sunday, March 6, 2016

The Inner Nine Year Old Strikes Again

It's funny, The more that I have been thinking about the idea of wanting to please my inner nine year old, the more that comes to me about what that actually means.

On the surface, it seems easy to do. Seek out the tv shows, music, games etc that one loved so dearly in childhood. It is all, thanks to the internet, at our access after all. But, in truth, I wanted to go deeper than that to something more essential.

First, I chose to think of my inner nine year old because, in truth, I can barely remember anything of relevance from that time. No single major events. . . but a world of joy and imagination.

A few years earlier? Yes. . . I have recall as far back as 5 or even 4 and I know I can recall some key moments from even those years.

Everything pretty much from age 11 on?  Absolutely. Crystal clear.

And I have glimpses. Little bits that come to me that I THINK might have been from that time.

But with nothing concrete to grab ahold of, it seems my mind goes in search of something deeper and, in all honesty, I am not sure what it means or how one would exactly embrace it.

This is what came to me the other day.

Do you remember being anywhere in that 7 to 10 age range and having made a plan to go outside and, perhaps, play a game with your friends? Maybe tree climbing or rope swinging? Maybe to the pool? Maybe the weekend neighborhood wiffle ball game or unexpected sled riding on a snowy winter morning? Anything from that time that was something you just couldn't wait to do or be part of when the time came?

What I want to know is this. . .

Do you remember the urgency with which you ran to do said activity? Do you recall being so filled with excitement that you literally could not contain it and hit the front or back door of your house RUNNING? The latch pushed and the door thrown open in one single motion while almost at a full run. . . the door swinging as you bounded out and across the porch, or yard, or down the steps. The inability to contain the fervor for whatever lay waiting you in the coming hours just beyond that door?

 Or maybe you were running to come back inside to catch a favorite show or movie on TV.


When was the last time you experienced that same thing as an adult? Now here we are, as adults, we shuffle here and there, keeping composure and cool. Always wanting to be in control. We may be feeling something that would inspire such behavior inside but, outwardly, we are often not able to let that same childhood joy show.

So maybe pleasing that inner 9 year old is about allowing ourselves to really feel the utter joy of those simple things again.  Dropping the adult overtones and just basking in that cup-flowing-over of happiness and anticipation.

I feel like I DO have an adult's sense of that joy. I am truly excited to get up every morning and begin my day. It's always a French press cup of coffee (yay adulthood!) and a fresh pastry from the bakery a block from our place. But I have never, in four years, RUN down the stairs, out the door and all the way to that bakery. Though my excitement for an Almond Bear claw or a Cherry danish is no less now than it was back then. Maybe MORE so since I can go and get one whenever I want and I do not have to ask for it from a parent. : )

I feel super excited to create every day too. To invent the things that I do and ship them out all over the world.  To make up the little stories that go with them and make booklets and maps and all manner of creative outlets that are part of the world I dwell in. . . but I think I can let that joy out a bit more than I do as an adult as well.

And, just yesterday, as I was thinking of all of this, I saw a little girl of maybe 7 or 8 with fairy white-blond hair, picking the first dandelions of the season across the street. Selecting them ever so carefully with her discerning eye and then, bouquet in hand, turning abruptly and running with that same urgency I've been talking about across the park to give them to her mother who was sitting on the bench just 100 feet away.

THAT is the urgency I miss.

Maybe it's harder as adults because we are supposed to have our emotions in check. To maintain that cool exterior and the idea of keeping it together. But really???  JOY is supposed to be that visible. Excitement for what we are doing should come with such outward expression.

So I will be running to the bakery at least once this week. And unashamedly beaming at the job I am blessed to be able to do here. And maybe, just maybe, more of these little facets of the joy of the inner 9 year old will be revealed?

Do you have any you'd care to share? Please feel free, I am all ears. . .


And just one new thing to share. . .
Another HO Scale Fairy House. . . I rediscovered the word "Chantry" while researching ideas for this cottage. I think, if fairies were to borrow from our old-world architecture, stone and belfry bells and heavy wooden doors would be musts!

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

New Work - March 1st

Ohhhh February was quite a month of exploration and decision making for my creative self.

I think that I am realizing more with each passing day that I have to just accept that choices need to be made if I want to be happy with where my work is going. The number of projects tugging at my heart (those yet to be realized most of all) makes it hard to focus on the "shoulds". . . so I am trying to give myself the freedom to work on several new ideas a month. Then there are redesigns, revisiting old favorites again etc etc. . . oh the to-do list. . .

February was a month where I took it upon myself to really attack that list and, while it caused a bit of apprehension in my "responsible, money making self", in the end the month was quite good all the way around.

In addition to what you see below, I will post, in a day or two, my first art doll that I think really captures the essence of what I want to make happen with them going forward. I worked on it a bit almost every day the last few weeks, giving myself the time to get each detail just so.

 Also a new series of mid-sized statues for Shadow of the Sphinx and some enchanted amulet ideas that I have been developing too!

For now though,  I would like to share some of the new/revamped work!

First, this is a redesign of my old stand alone Mushroom House. It needed an update BADLY!  It's really reassuring to see how your skills have grown over time when you remake an old item all over again!

So, while I was at it, I though "Why not plop one into a little star landscape too"?  
Windmill Updates include wooden planking on the gable's front side. and I returned to painting tiny people again for my scenes. . . I just think it adds so much to the image.

A new Stump Town Fairy house with Mailbox, rooftop mushrooms and trees and, of course, a goose about to take flight!
I love seeing how much I can cram onto one tiny little landscape! This one even has a tin pair of pearly shoes sticking out a knot-hole in the tree in the back!

And making scenes again, like this one, for some of my little houses. Again, the figures add so much and the climbing vines are a new favorite that I just want to put on EVERYTHING! lol
And lastly, a strange little creature. . . the first iteration for an idea for my Bewildering Pine storybook, an Order of monks who are, in essence, descended from Mimes. With strange mind-bending powers like being able to put someone in an invisible box, or behind an invisible wall that you cannot walk thru. Or to make invisible wind. Or levitate by holding invisible balloons. This little guy was based on the Jawas of Star Wars fame but I am working on a larger one with verrrrry long features and flowing, Erte-like robes and a mask. Too much fun!

Well, that's the whole of it for today! More very soon though I promise.

Including another post about pleasing my inner 9 year old. I think I really had a lovely little breakthrough with that idea this week and want to share it!

Thank you, as always, for looking!