Thursday, December 15, 2016

A Little Bit of Christmas Past

Hello all! Hoping the season has been magical thus far wherever you are whether snowed in or hoping for a white Christmas!

Just thought I'd share a bit of our holiday world today.

Since we've added a full size floor loom and another work table to our set up we had to downsize the tree a bit this year to fit it in but it is still a lively 5' Nobel Fir.

The Santa is from the first tree I can recall as a child. I looked forward to seeing this "old friend" every year and I still do.

And these glass ornaments must be at least 50 years old now.  I've managed to keep nine of them in tact.

Danish Christmas Snowflakes Sofie got at a Christmas market when she was in school abroad. 

One of my favorite Etsy finds of all time. Originally I wanted to make little winter scenes for them but decided we should keep most of them for ourselves to hang on the tree. 

Sofie's Grandmother's tree topper! I love this bird and look forward to placing it on the top bough every year!

And the last few years, when we had much larger trees, we needed ornaments so we made dozens of these origami bows.   I am hoping to take a day next week and make a few dozen small ones to go on this year's tree.

And one last thing. . . last year we watched what is one of my favorite, nostalgic, Christmas movies which is "An American Christmas Carol" starring Henry Winkler, (yes, that's right, THE FONZ !) as the Scrooge based character. Now, I will admit, it is not as good a movie as I recalled (acting wise) from 25 years before, but I still reveled in seeing it again. It's hard to find but Netflix had it last year and it was a delight to watch.  Of course, Nothing beats "A Charlie Brown Christmas"  for me, the sad little tree, the monologue from Linus about what Christmas is all about and of course, Pigpen's endless dust clouds even when skating or exhaling while singing! Classic. . . 

Any favorites you'd like to share? LOVE to hear about them!

Happy holidays!


Sunday, December 4, 2016

Small Magic - Nostalgia

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. :)

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If you've been following my blog or visiting my shoppes on Etsy over the years, you probably are aware that i am a huge fan, and a fierce protector, of the notion of nostalgia. While my childhood was far from perfect and we all tend to gloss over some of the not-so-great aspects of  our lives, I think many people have a tendency to drift, for one reason or another, back to the past. Especially as we get older. 

For some it's childhood, for others it's college or the early years of their own children's lives. But it seems that, in one way or another, we all tend to find those spaces in the past where we can safely dwell for whatever personal reasons. 

Now, when that nostalgia revolves around childhood. . . well, many adults seem to leave it completely behind or, at the very least, rarely speak about it in and among their adult lives. You may see signs of it in someone's doll collection or Teddy bear Hug. Or in the way they interact with their own children during playtime or in creative endeavors. 

I never let go of that past and I am thankful, every day, that I didn't lose sight of it. 

To be completely honest, most of my life I lived with a foot in two worlds. That of the adult world around me and that of the world of my imagination and childhood. The struggle to maintain both led to a lot of frustration and misunderstandings among friends and family who could not see that I just was not cut out for the "adult" world. I needed every spare hour for my imagination and it was a very solitary pursuit for the most part. I made bad decisions. I tried to reconcile the two worlds in so many ways but, in the end, I always felt that the magical/childhood part of me was suffocating in the adult world. 

Then, after an accumulative series of events, I decided that it was time for a leap of faith. I was going to have to open myself up to the possibilities and ask for guidance as I threw myself and my world completely into the pot. All or nothing. Sink or swim. Betting on childhood, imagination and nostalgia over the adult world I had come to loathe.  Now, don't get me wrong, please, there are people who thrive in the adult world and I am  ever so grateful for them because someone has to keep our world running. . . it just couldn't be me anymore. 

I could tell you a dozen stories of what now seem like moments and instances when "angels" appeared, all within months, to be my guiding lights along the way. I also met Sofie who, without fail, has been the only person I have known in my adult life who didn't ask me to balance the two worlds or question my draw to the past, even though hers was a different experience. Despite that, she reveled in my memories , stories and dreams and explored them WITH me. With complete acceptance. We made the break together. And we changed our entire lives from top to bottom to suit the new life we wanted to have. We didn't expect that the world would accommodate our dreams without being willing to change along with it.

Around that same time as I was in the midst of creating what would become the building blocks of the reclusive, creative world we dwell in now, and of the work you see here that I create, the ghosts of Christmas past came to call. I stumbled upon something that I have held to as being a source of inspiration and light ever since.

During a random internet search laced with nostalgic ideas I found that, not far from where I grew up, there was man in his late 60's who had created a website for the history of little Christmas Putz Houses. Those glittery, magical, cardboard houses many of us remember form under our family trees in childhood. The history of them is fascinating but what I was taken by was that this man, and his love for these houses, was a clear channel to and from his childhood. That he REVERED that time and those memories and that he had found a way to keep it close and invest himself within his passion for it so late in life. 

It was a deeply appreciated thread for me to reach out and hold to.  

And the first thing I read from that web site was this:

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"There is but a very brief window in early childhood for many of us, a period of time that lasts from birth until we are cast from the nest and into school. A time when all about the world is new and good. A time when we are open. A time when we take things in so deeply that they will form us ever after. So we imprint upon the Christmas of that time, and what that was is what it will be for us always. 

I think that is what collecting is all about, especially for those who collect for LOVE and not for sterile speculation. 

This is true of most of the toys and trappings of the holidays. 


Actual tangible contact with our own past.

It is true that we forget nothing. The power that an object unseen in decades can have to transport us in mind and spirit back to a specific period or moment of our lives - to unlock long-closed doors in the mansion of our memory - is the true value that it has. We can hold such an object in our hands and know those times were real and welcome back whole parts of who we were into who we are - and let the inner child in each of us out once again to play - to live as part of us and and help us see again through our own "Magic Window"  

You will find that those old objects will take you back in time, but NEVER listen to those sad fools who say that you are "living in the past." We are what we are because of our pasts. Would that we could live in the past at will or at least visit from time to time. But we can bring  those things forward, to live within us as we face the uncertainty of the present and the future. 

Those pasts informed everything that we know so never be ashamed of your nostalgia . . .it was, and is, your reverence for the life you had, the path that you have traveled. -T.H. "Papa Ted" Althof

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Sadly, as a second wake-up call, I soon discovered that Ted Althof was dying, having been diagnosed with cancer just as I was diving in to his website in 2009. I'd never really put ityself in mortality's shoes before that. I always had time. Lots of time I thought. Angels, and small magic, really do come in many, many complex forms. 

What I am left to say is this: I wouldn't dream of asking anyone to be anything other than what and who they are. BUT if  this holiday/yule/solstice season you find yourself feeling silly for daydreaming of the best of your memories as a child, or your best memories WITH a child, please embrace it fully instead. We can't actually go back, I know, but allow yourself that time, that place and those memories to come back in a quiet hour. Indulge them fully. I can't say they'll lead you to a life path like mine but they WILL fill you with a bit of small magic and wonder again. And you might just find that today does not have to be so far from that wonderful memory of yesterday.

Have a wonderful and magical season wherever you are and find that SMALL MAGIC always and in all ways!

And  a special thank you to all of you for coming along on MY nostalgic road-trip, offering your kind words, support and patronage as I built this world I thrive in now. 


If you are interested in Christmas Putz houses and their history, there is an archive of the original Papa Ted's Place website, maintained by fans and friends of Mr Althof after he passed in 2012. They kept it just as it was with only a note stating his passing as an addition. It's a relic of a site. Not slick and "squarespaced". . . but that only adds to it's charm and beauty I think. Great old photos, collections, stories, memories. 

The site is here: Papa Ted's

Thursday, December 1, 2016

New Work and Updates - December 1st

Tis the Season, life gets crazy
Fa lalalala lala la la!
Weeks go by and days are hazy
Fa lalalala lala la la!

Hey folks!

OK so updates first:

To all of my blogger friends I regularly visit, I WILL be by again soon, I promise! November was a whirlwind. Busy as usual but also refusing to set aside my outside projects for 2017, I just found myself, most days, going full tilt from 6am til I dropped each day and still never able to check everything off the to do list.

I continue to write every day. allowing myself one day a week for research instead of word count. It's been a joy and I'd say that my goal for completion of my short stories in 2017 is a very realistic one.

The bonus has been that a good portion of the exploration of stories has lead to other avenues too. A quick for instance is that I dabbled with modern fairy tales, looking at old fairy legends and thinking how they could be transferred to the hear and now.

The result of that thinking and tinkering is that I want to also try to create a podcast next year as well. We've been enamored with a few fairy tale podcasts the last year or so, namely "Singing Bones" and "The Myths and Legends Podcast", and I am also a huge believer in the idea that everything we do in our life, or that we experience, can and does serve a purpose going forward. For me, that includes the 20 odd years spent as a musician,  composer, sound and recording engineer. I left much of that  behind when the Etsy shoppes and my little imaginary worlds took front and center in my life again. However, the idea that I could do the entire Podcast with little to no outside assistance at first is very enticing to me. I still have the necessary digital recording/editing equipment, the high end microphones and the ability to sound proof a closet for recording in a snap! :)

I am thinking that the recounting of old fairy tales and myths is being done well enough (see above podcasts) but that there is a space for a modern Fairy tale exploration, an "F-Files"? "Fairycast"? "The Little People We Know"? etc etc. So less narration as opposed to a more "research/exploration" that revolves around a central character discovering the possibility that these old legends carry thru to the world around us and are very much alive today. Asking what does a Bogle or Kobold look like today and how do they "blend in"? What are Wood fae and Will-o-the-Wisps? Who is Jenny Greenteeth? Or Jimmy Squarefoot? What about Urban Mermaids?

I'll let you know more as that gets going but it's a distant third right now behind the writing of the short story book, and the alignment of the shoppes to the stories I am creating. I'd want to have  6 episodes ready to go before I move forward and I plan to write them after completing the first draft of the short story book, so hopefully in February or March for the writng part.

Over Thanksgiving weekend we also experimented with doll making and the results have been very enticing too. But really, the to do list is quite long enough right now. lol

In December I will be posting a few policy and FAQ posts to redirect from my shoppe as well as.  Nothing exciting for my readers, I know, but a necessity for the year to come.

I also intend, beginning in March, to start posting small excerpts from the stories/book. Just snippets and little teasers here and there.

And most of this year in Bewilder and Pine will be spent on making the world of the Pine fit from book to shoppe. House styles, elven figures, towers and creatures etc etc.  So less exploration and more working towards having everything tie together between the two.

OK, I think that's it for the updates! And now, since it's been a very busy month, I have to choose what to show for New Work day! I hope you enjoy these and I look forward to getting back into the blog routine again as the month goes forward.

May the Yule or Holiday season be filled with love, wonder and magic in YOUR world each day and may the Year to come be the best and most amazing yet for you and yours. ;)


Tiny Little Basket Elves! Under 2" tall!!

I love making these little Shadow Box scenes. . . the Fairy Girl is half an inch tall!

I was inspired to create a run of small, simple Houses for the holidays!

I've had some wonderful custom requests in Shadow of the Sphinx this month! 

This Sobek, at 7+ inches long, is the largest I have made.  He's off to Norway today!

Small Sekhmet, my stylized, full lioness version is finding it's place these days

These towers really started the whole book idea.
They're the inspiration for the Ledgerkeeper's towers with those crazy rooftops. 

I was suddenly reminded of a little shoppe I used to go into years ago with the same name. . . Toad Hall. . .
yes, it was magical too! 

Woodland Fairy Hermitage. . . the colors on this one really spoke to me.