Sunday, January 1, 2017

New Year, New Plans, New Work

Wishing a very Happy New Year to everyone in the blog-world and thank you, for your comments, for just taking a moment to read and for being a part of my world. :)

Hoping YOUR year to come is filled with magic and wonder every day!

“Now I become myself. It’s taken time, many years and places.” 
 May Sarton

2017. . . yikes! I can recall, in the early 1980's being old enough to realize that I  would see the turn of the century. It felt like it was a world away back then. Now, 17 years after that millennium date came and went,  feel like I can hardly remember it passing.

I found myself, this past week, thinking of so many of the things I have tried in my life. as it pertains to "making a living" — Cooking, writing music, sound engineering, running coffeehouses, owning cafe's,  photo editing, photography, digital art. . . all took up a bit of my life as my main "pursuit".

A perfect word, pursuit.

Looking back I think I am realizing that I was always chasing something — some dream I held at that moment.  And at the core of those dreams was the thought "Wouldn't it be great to be able to make a living doing ___ " Of course, if I am honest, I wanted more than that. I wanted to be "known" for what I did too. And I often, in those early adult years, let that misguided part of it in the driver's seat far too often.

How wonderful now, all these years later in life, to have discovered thru the process and elimination of all of the attachments to that particular ideal, that it is truly enough to just say, "I want to make magic!" Well, that and then to put it into this world"

I feel most grateful that I have been able to become a "maker-of-things" and that, for the last six years, it's been my sole occupation. I do not think, in that time, I have ever thought about anything else other than gratitude for the fact that I get to rise each day and travel down whatever road my imagination wishes to go.

When I am asked about my "occupation", as with my recent, mid-December eye doctor appointment, it is funny to notice how speaking of what I do tends to stop people in their tracks. That's how it was with Dr. Paul,. Like him, they'll often ask the question, take in the answer, then turn, look at me and say "Really? You can make a living from that?" In Dr. Paul's case, this led to us stopping the exam mid-stream so he could open up Etsy on his computer and look at the shoppes! :)

But behind the magic of my two main shoppes is, at this point,  seven plus years of diligence and hard work, experimentation and lessons learned along the way. From those first days of running to the store to get the right sized box with every sale to now, where our "guest" bedroom is 100% devoted to packing and shipping. Walls lined with shelves of gift and shipping boxes, tissue and bubble wrap and oodles of rolls of raffia and ribbon.

From not knowing how to ship an international package at all to having a pretty good grasp on many of the oddities one cannot ship to specific countries. We've adapted and grown into it with every step of the process. And the thing I believe that we are most aware contributed to our ability to turn these ideas into our life's work, was the way we look at each new obstacle and are willing to do almost anything to overcome it.In short, as I have said before, the willingness to shape our life around the work and not try to force it the other way around.

Even at the beginning, when Sofie and I first took an apartment together, on day one we decided we needed to make the living room space the bedroom and the two small bedrooms into our work studios so we had more space and better light to work within. Our lifestyle never goes over well with family, though our few friends seem to appreciate it and understand. It's all in service to the creation of what we hope IS magic. And that magic has to come first for us or it's just not going to work.

Now I have gone about things pretty much the same way my whole life.

All or nothing.

No safety net or cushion below the high wire.

It's always paid off beautifully with either wonderful experiences or total collapses — and I mean that. It's always paid off BEAUTIFULLY.

Even the worst of it was a better learning experience than anything I might have gained playing it safe or taking things slow and sure.  Diving in always felt like learning to ride a bike. The uncertainty of your steadiness before that first glorious moment where the pedal completes a revolution and you catch the balance of the wheels just right. Now, I didn't learn to ride a bike until I was 30, so I recall the feeling oh so well. I'll never forget it.

That said, all or nothing was a younger person's game to play for sure. And I never had the stress in those years of a mortgage or of kids or of car payments etc. I moved across the country, started four or five businesses over the next 15 years and, when things didn't work out? Next idea please! Along the way I've accumulated skills, equipment and insights that I would never have had otherwise. And they all seem to be converging in the here and now.

Thru all the trial and error, I kept looking for that one thing. That certain "magic"I could call my own.

It was never a case of wanting to have it all for me.  I remember reading in May Sarton's,  " Journal of a Solitude" about how, as she was becoming something of an icon for feminism, she would get letters from young women begging her to tell them the secret to "having it all", which they perceived her to have achieved. She often would reply, "you can't dear, no one can."I want to write another post in the coming weeks about Sarton's influence on my own life. Her love of solitude, seeing it as an absolute necessity for her sanity. . . it resonated so strongly with me. Quotes like:

“Loneliness is the poverty of self; solitude is richness of self.”

No one had described solitude's graces quite like that before and it allowed me to feel as though I wasn't just some oddball for wanting so much time to myself again, as I had when I was a child.

So. . . solitude, magic, openness to change of direction or to unorthodox means. Whatever it took.

Here we are then. Solid footing and seven years into this magical path and I am completely committed to whatever it takes to keep the magic flowing.

So what does 2017 hold?

Well, I'll just bullet point it for now with short descriptions as I am sure I'll address these all in detail in the coming weeks.

1. Continued growth of my Etsy shoppes. I think I finally get it when it comes to creative balance. I've needed for some time to be better about not overloading myself and trying to accommodate everything that is requested of me.  And I plan to further my dive into exploring new work and new skills each month.

2. Creating a dedicated Squarespace website for "The Bewildering Pine" — OK, I know this is confusing to some. The Etsy shoppe, "Bewilder and Pine" is "inspired" by the land of the "Bewildering Pine.". That's the world itself. Rooted in childhood.  The place where all the little houses, stories and ideas come from. I want the site to be for those stories, little vignettes and a blog just for that world and it's characters. Anything sold there would be directly related to the stories told within. Sets of fortune cards, special amulets, dream teas and "tinctures", who knows what could be created? But at it's core, it's to be a place to grow the magic of that paracosm without limits or without tying it to the varied expressions found in the Etsy shoppe.

3. "The Ledgerkeepers" book - Short stories from around and within that same world. A full color, detailed map and 24 or so small story "peeks" into the folk who live there and the reason the Bewildering Pine came to be. A limited run of hand-bound copies and possibly (hopefully) a full print edition by the summer of 2018. All of it, however, is to lay the groundwork for a novel in the following years. There is a certain ripple of darkness under the magic of the land itself and stories to be told that no one can begin to guess at their point of heading :)

4. The Bewildering Pine "Travel Guide"- Part of the extensive world building for writing "The Ledgerkeepers" has been taking each town, point of interest and the variety of elves and kind folk, myths and secrets of that world and writing about them. It's all backstory for the larger project but I thought it would be quite lovely to put together a collection of those descriptions, a map and some other details. Maybe a small bestiary, a lexicon? Perhaps more. . . also slated for late 2017 or early 2018 but we'll see.This would also be hand-bound.

5. The Bewildering Pine Podcast - Yes, a podcast. Though it likely won't be called that. I am quite taken with podcast radio dramas like "The Message", "Tannis", "The Black Tapes" and "Life After" but I wanted a place where I could begin to tell my own family stories (which are rather magical and unbelievable in many cases) yet keep it in the realm of "otherworld" magic. Well, a short synopsis would be: Reading so many folk tales about particular fae and elven spirits I found myself thinking, quite often, "Oh, that one reminds me so much of my Great aunt Kate who lived on an old houseboat or that meadow elf reminds me of this girl I knew when I was 10 who was bewitching!" In short, it's a podcast that's about my experiences, looking back and realizing that there may have been more magic in our world, in my childhood and extended family, than I ever realized. The journey into it is set off by the discovery of a diary of my great grandmothers, long lost until it turns up in another extended family members discarded things. The entries within it, the allusions in the details, to other worlds and other "folk". I am planning on two seasons of 6 episodes being blocked out before I get started with it all for recording and broadcast.

6. Ice Elf figurines - Well I have mentioned this before over the past two years. A series of 50 or so limited edition "Ice Elves" that would  feature a story that is told over 24 months. A new "chapter" is sent to the buyer each month. I'd like it to be an interactive story as well. So as those who bought the Ice Elf figure follow the "mission statement" of the Elves and, hopefully, engage with me thru a future website for the Ice Elf world, we can build the story together. and complete their mission. I imagine the Ice Elf packaging to be rather elaborate. A "chest" containing the small figurine and a series of extras. Ice Crystal gazing ball, scrolls and amulets, coded messages, magic ice dust. . . oh I have a long list of possibilities and am sourcing materials now. I'd want to be sure I could get at least 50 of each required supply I need to keep them consistent.

7. Music - OK, this is tied to the podcast. I wrote music for years. Worked with dance companies, commercial and film makers and produced songs for other songwriters. What I rarely did though, was create solely for the "magic " of it. There was always an end game, an ideal of success that I wanted within it and, I felt, that kept me from really getting into the heart of it and writing just in the service of finding that magic. So, creating music for the Podcast would allow me that opportunity.  A way of righting that part of my past too. Working with just limited world/ancient instruments and going more for atmosphere than pure song writing or music/CD release, I just want to indulge in the magical creation of it all again. I used to be so obsessed with music. I felt like I lived and breathed it but, looking back with the advantage of the years,  I see that I always wanted and expected it to be in service to me, instead of the other way around. I want to give that back. So it's time to dig out the old digital recorder and start reacquainting myself with it all again. we'll see. . .

Ok, that's it.  . . I think. :)

This really has been much longer than I anticipated so I am going to just leave you with a few pieces of new work from December. I may have to come back and edit any errors above as the New Year is calling me already.

And I've got my Sparrows and Crows and Starlings to feed.

Magic to make. . .

Make YOUR New Year magical too!!!

And thank you for reading, but more for believing. . .

Perhaps my favorite Sutekh/Set I have ever sculpted! 

I never tire of making Sekhmet pieces. She is, after all, the Lady of Light.

These two were part of a gargoyle "quarry" of nine!  I loved making both sweet and bratty gargoyles for this request!

A fine fellow in Ireland buys multiples of mini statues for his work team when they complete a major project,
which are always named after an Egyptian Deity so, these were for "Ma'at"

The Fairy House of Barberry, the village of Hobs and Grogochs.

And a pair of country Hermitage Fairy Houses. These have come a long way over these past 7 years so they
do still feel rather "new" to me. ;) 


  1. Nicolas!!! I have to tell you, so many times, I write down things from your posts! The way you express everything touches my soul! Thank you! This is such a beautifully written post! Thank you again! You have many amazing things on your list for 2017! I know you will do it! Wishing you and your loved ones so much for the New Year! Thank you for being you! I love you new creations, but those gargoyles really stole my heart! Big Crow Hugs!

    1. Thank you Stacy! I am so glad to know you find my writing enjoyable and helpful. I hope YOUR new year is astounding and filled with growth, magic and love! Thank you for your kindness and support, always! Crow Hugs indeed!

      PS: The other day while feeding the crows, a seagull swept down and tried to hone in on the crow goods. Well, one of the crows fluttered up in the air above and then came down, landing directly on the seagulls back!! That seagull was so shocked it didn't know what to do and it took off! Now, I'd seen my crows pull the tail feather of a seagull before to get them out of their feeding area but never this! :) lol

    2. That is too funny Nicolas! LOL!

  2. So much planned for 2017! I am looking forward to it ALL as I know you will succeed. You are so structured lately, with time tables planned out even, it is very impressive. I hope the ice elves project comes about soon....I so want to join in, it seems exciting to know I will have been involved from the start. Then the ledger keepers is next on my list to be waiting impatiently for it to come to be!
    Good luck with all your wonderful projects, and hope you are getting enough snow to keep you happy there. It is plenty magical here, snow angels have abounded, but I am still waiting for the right type of snow for a snowman or maid this year. Take care.

    1. Hi Andrea! Well, I think it all sounds a bit more structured than it is. lol

      I wrote all this today so I could begin to get a sense of what and when things may happen. I will definitely keep you up to date on the Ice Elves and I think "The Ledgerkeepers " will be available in some form by the end of the year if all goes well. :)

      As for snow. . . no, there has been no snow. :( Oh a trace a few weeks ago and possibly some tomorrow but I sooooo miss it, It's why iIam taking Amtrak home to PA in February hoping to see lots of SNOW! I am really missing it this last year for some reason.

      I hope you get to make that snowmaid! Ahhh snow angels, I am SO making one if I get the chance on my trip!!

  3. Confession time — I have May Sarton's book, Journal of a Solitude, sitting on my book shelf but I have never finished it. I did start reading it years ago but life distractions had me put it on hold until today, when I read your post. I've had the book that long that the pages are all aged and yellowed.

    I'm excited for you — such wonderful plans for 2017! I am still in the midst of mapping my year's goals out.

    In recent months, my son introduced me to the world of Podcasts, to which I have already added a few motivational subscriptions. I've now added the ones you mentioned. I will look forward to adding your Podcast to my subscription list.

    The Ice Elf adventure sounds wonderful. I love the whole interactive aspect. I'm sure anyone who takes part will be in for a real treat.

    WOW! No. 7 just blew me away. I don't think I've read about your musical background before. My eldest son has a deep-seated love of music. Over the past year, he has been delving into songwriting, teaching himself the guitar, and has recently added a couple of Novation Midi controllers to his computer set-up. I'll also look forward to hearing your music on your podcasts.

    Your sculpted pieces are exquisite! You have so much talent which I find quite inspiring.

    Wishing you a magical 2017!

    1. Serena, I hope you will share your thoughts about "Journal of a Solitude" when you've read it. I think I may have had it for quite a few years before I got around to reading it too!

      I do hope you'll enjoy those podcasts I mentioned, they are all "radio drama" format and fictional but I adore them. Let me know your own favorites for listening and inspiration, there are so many great ones out there and I always love to discover new ones too. : )

      I hope your son will stick with the music and pursue it as far as he can dream of! I am glad I did and it led to so many wonderful interactions, projects and collaborations. I could not possibly list them all. :)

      And I'll look forward to hearing about your year to come goals as well when you share them.

      Thank you Serena!

  4. These pieces are all beautiful! You have a lovely blog. Happy New Year and warm greetings from Montreal, Canada. :)

    1. Thank you Linda! Bonne année à vous aussi!
      May the inspiration find you . . . and you it. . . within everything that you see.

  5. Belated Happy New Year and I hope that it is a wonderful adventure for you. I am new to your blog having arrived here from a comment you left on Pixie Hall about Bukowski. After reading a few posts I think I could end up here all day but as always with life other things are tugging at me. Age has caught up with me and I often forget blogs/websites I would love to go back and even bookmarking them often doesn't jolt the memory of why I marked it. I was wondering for easy of following you that you might put the follow by email that Blogger offers. That way each time you make a new post we could receive a email update. If it's not something you are interesting in doing I completely understand. From what I have seen and read your blog is most interesting as is your Etsy shoppe.

    1. And a belated Happy New Year to you as well Sande! Thank you so much for dropping in and taking part in my blog.

      Ahhh Pixie Hill is MAGIC! :)

      I WILL look into adding that widget for email-following Sande as I understand losing track of those I love to follow.

      I do hope you will return and share your thoughts here and there as you feel inspired. :).

  6. I have read this twice. Your ability to channel your true calling by simultaneously erasing previous beliefs / blocks and also being raw and real is inspirational. Since 2009 I think I have followed you. It was your imagery in My Antarctica that captured me before I even knew of your other wonders of creativity. The poetic imagery spoke to me and I could find my own life stories in them, even if they were nothing to do with me. You're a multi talented being Nicolas and I truly wish you all the best for your ventures. Shoot for the stars. x

    1. Where have those years gone? :) I am so appreciative that you have been along from those early days Louise. I loved the visual stories I told in the imagery. And I imagine I will return to it one day again. In return I would like to say it was shops and creative souls like YOURS, making such beautiful work by hand, pouring so much directly into each piece that it was palpable, that I aspired to with my other two shops. The beginning was frustrating. . . so many creative endeavors came fairly easy to me. Sculpting/making was not one of them. lol

      But. I kept at it and found my way eventually and every year I feel like the skills become refined, honed and I explore new ones all the time. It'll be a lifetime adventure, of course, but one I gladly invest myself in. Nothing in my life has ever been as satisfying as making things, pulled from my own imagination, truly by hand. :)

    2. I am reading May Sarton, it is like someone is dictating my thoughts and life back to me, in some parts. Thank you for the suggestion.x

  7. So much to look forward to. You'll be busy! Good. That makes me glad. It'll be a delight to learn and explore your Bewildering Pine a little more.

    I think I need to look up the 'Journal of Solitude'. Last year was a strange one, with moments of feeling like I was pulled in every direction, and periods of rather grim loneliness. Solitude is a lovely state indeed, a precious, quiet thing, and I really do need to get mine back.

    And yes! What a funny, wondeful thing to say 'I make stuff' when asked about our occupation. The confused look. Then the delighted realization that we're telling the absolute truth! Ha. We need to form a not-so-secret society with badges and cards that say we arethe makers of magic.

    1. Nichola! Welcome!!

      I'm all in on the not-so-secret society! :) Can you just imagine the badges and cards we could create??? I want to have an old-timey alias like "H.G. Stuffmaker - Proprietor of Magik" lol

      Solitude. . . I'm guessing here but, knowing that you have a son who is almost all grown up it must be an ever changing dynamic in and throughout your world. My mother and i were talking recently about that period when I was discovering Duran Duran, synthesizers,dating, etc and how radically it changed HER life. All the little "us" things we had done from ages 9 - 15 had suddenly fallen away as I went out to discover myself. Now, of course, I'd give anything for one more saturday afternoon of being 10 or 11 and doing those "us " things, even though some of them drove me nuts even then. lol

      I hope the year ahead is filled with the embrace of lovely solitude for you and a few more moments of calm within. :)

      I know this, "The Hill" has magic in abundance and you are surrounded by it daily! Call on it Nichola. . . we all hear about the trooping fae and the clans of elves but solitary fae abound too you know! They'll show you the way. . .

    2. It's so true about my son. Every single night, for his whole life, I've spent an hour just hanging out with him in bed, before sleep. Then the "You can go now." started, and now it's "I'm going to bed. See ya!" and it's a big deal. I'm glad he's becoming a grown person, and I still get random hugs and kisses and all of that, but losing that job is a little heartbreaking.

      I don't know if you've found this, but I find the solitude necessary in what I do. Over the last year I really tried to connect with people. I suppose I thought I must be missing out on something. But too much outside chatter interrupts seeing through that veil. It's a fine balance. Wanting to connect with 'outside' people... but not too much, least that balance is disturbed.

      I just need to stir up some magic. A good dose of faerie mead and a fat smattering glitter and glue. There's a full moon on the way, seems like the time is ripe for it.