Sunday, February 25, 2018

Nostalgia #1

Hello Everyone!!

I know I missed my usual posting on Friday. I am less than two weeks away from my train trip across the country to visit my mom and I just couldn't fit in a post before the weekend with all the encroaching deadlines.

Instead, today I am going to put up the first post of a series I have been thinking about for some time, which will be called, simply, "Nostalgia".

It's been inspired by my childhood days and experiences, of course.

While I have already detailed a good bit  of the inspiration that came thru those years, all of which are part of my creative life now, there remains a lot that I do not often talk about.  Maybe because they are smaller events that seem less important or just negative things I would rather just leave behind but as I get older i realize that they all have played their part. All need to be honored for how they've shaped me. And some are just little pieces, glimpses and fragments of the whole that I never want to lose. . .

As you might expect, a trip home is fraught with memories, old patterns and sights and sounds. Being in the house/yard/woods/neighborhood where so much of who I am was formed is both a joy and also a melancholy time

So at random times, often between  Fridays,  I will post little bits and bobs of those days. I'll try to warn you when it is going to deal with the dark times, not that there were that many, This will, I suppose, be a selfish record of things I never want to forget and many that I have never before written down.

Nostalgia #1

My Winter Olympics

In the years between 10 and 16 I really only had two friends who I played with on a regular basis. I'll talk about them another time. One of them still lives down the street from my mother and seeing him each year is a chance to revisit some of those good times we shared from the past.

But much of my time then, even with two good friends, was spent alone.

In truth, it was preferred. There were so many ideas. games, stories in my head that I knew no-one else would understand or add anything to if I tried to include them.

One of those exploits was my love of the winter olympics. I could not get enough of the wonder of nations from all over the world coming together and competing in events that were so wonderfully strange to me. Luge, bobsled, biathlon, speed skating, etc We all knew about ice hockey and downhill skiing of course. I was 10 the year the olympics were held in Lake Placid, NY. The US hockey team's "Miracle on Ice" is, of course, the prevalent memory of those games for most of us in this country. But what the entire olympic spectacle inspired was a series of years, snow days permitting, where I recreated the Olympics in my back yard. I won't go into too much detail but it was one of those things that I just had to do alone.

What I remember most of about it to this day is that I took an entire day as the snow fell to make small, paper flags of all the countries for my "luge" event. I drew them with markers I think.  I had an old encyclopedia that had all the flags of the world (one of my favorite things to look at as a child!) and I meticulously tried to do them justice with my paper and markers. Then they got wrapped around craft sticks. I made medals out gold and silver foil.  I was ready.

The "luge" was just on an old red flyer wood sled. The "track" was hardly dangerous or Olympian by any standards. . . a gently sloping hill, maybe 60 or 70 yards in total length from the back porch of our home, down across a concrete lot and then a final dip down a hill past the neighbors house.

Instead of timing the sled runs for speed, I was trying to see how far I could get the sled to go.
The last ten yards or so the sled would slow to a crawl, the weight of my body the only thing pushing it forward until it came to a crunching stop in the snow.

The little flag representing the country I had just pretended to be representing would be stuck in the ground where the front of the sled ended up. Then I'd get up off the sled, haul it back up the gentle slope and do it all over again. Dozens upon dozens of times. With the exception of a rare misstep out of the "starting gate" most of the trips ended up in a very small area, within two feet of each other. Mere inches separating the best from the worst of the runs.

I can still recall, vividly, the feeling of the falling snow in my face as I went along and the internal "broadcast" of the announcers that I ad libbed in silence.

I made dozens of runs and, as the track iced over, it DID become little faster and more fun.

When it ended, I would go inside have a medal ceremony and return the next day for "ice" hockey or biathlon (FYI, plastic bb's are NOT going to be accurate in 20mph whipping, winter winds!) and some events, downhill skiing and speed skating, I had an old Atari Game system to play those out on when it got too dark outside.

The feeling I get when I think of those days is both precious and bittersweet.

I played so many games like that and I'll talk about them more in future Nostalgia posts. I just preferred those solo hours.

I still do in many ways.

When I created the "My Antarctica" photo series a few years back, those memories of cherished events and a few stark turning points from childhood were the impetus for a number of the images.

Most of those, I have never shown, including this one below which was inspired by those childhood Winter Olympics. . .

And while there were many bad moments as well, I never hesitate to say that, given the offer, I would not hesitate to forfeit up a year of my life to go back and live one day in that time (minus the negatives of school, family arguments etc) :)

When I go home, I try. A little at least. So much of it has changed, especially the outdoor landscape. But I still find that if I am very quiet and open. . . it comes back to me.

Thank you for reading!


Friday, February 16, 2018

A Gift from the Faery Postal Service - The Makings of a Maker - Third Friday Post - February 16th

It occurred to me that I meant for these weekly Friday posts to allow for a little more freedom as far as what I am posting and writing about and I've been sticking to the format pretty tightly so far.

This was originally going to be a post about my packaging for the Bewilder and Pine Etsy shop but I've decided that this little tale I have to tell, a true story, was far more enchanting and fits the bill for the Makings of a Maker theme.

The Fairy Postal Service Creed- Neither ogres, nor trolls nor wayward customs officials stays these Fae couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.

In the first week of the new year I received a message thru Bewilder and Pine from a prospective customer in France. His question was how long would it take for a package to arrive in France as he was hoping to have a few things in time for a child's birthday party on February 10th.

This, to understate it, tickled me greatly! I do not think there is anything I love more than knowing my little fairy pieces are going to be in the lives of children (of ANY age, of course) and that they would be going off to France? Well, that was all the more thrilling.

I once spoke French fairly fluently. Enough to get around without a phrase book on my three trips there in my late teens and early twenties. Enough to carry on conversations with people I met in Paris or Nice or Calais. Enough to get around on the metro, or on foot with a map. Enough to sit on a park bench with a sweet, white haired grand-mère in the little picturesque town of Menton on the southern-most part of the Riviera and talk about life in our two countries as well as receive a lesson in French profanity!

Whenever I get a message from someone in France, I try to answer it at least in part in French. These days I have to look up certain conjugations and phrases and I confuse one word for another quite often. I forget the placement of accents and simple sentence structure. But I still try.

All that is to say this meant the world to me to be able to send a package of faery magic bound for France.

All of my shipping experiences within the EU told me that the package would certainly arrive in plenty of time. I wasn't worried in the least nor did I even consider suggesting we use Priority Mail International to expedite the shipment.

Four weeks was more than enough time.
I was certain of it.

It ended up being a rather large order of eight different fairy houses and towers. I stayed up late to pack it all up and the following day I shipped the package off.

Then, I forgot all about it.

For some reason, which I cannot begin to fathom even now, on February 7th, I suddenly thought of the package. Certain it would have arrived by then, I went to the order and clicked on the receipt for the shipping. The tracking loaded slowwwwwly and when it finally showed on my screen, I was more than a bit surprised. . .

I shipped the package on January 12th
It left the US Customs in LA on January 19th (an unusually long time for that transfer)
It arrived in France on January 21st
It then, for some reason, left France. . . and went to ISRAEL. . . on January 22nd

And that was it. There was no further tracking for it either on Etsy or thru the USPS sight.

I was, to say the least, devastated.

I wrote a very heavy message to the buyer explaining what I thought had happened while hoping that, against the odds, the package had perhaps arrived in France without any further tracking having been recorded. That's would not be so unusual for a returned or redirected package

It had not arrived.

The customer wrote back and while he was very understanding that it was not my fault as he could see the strange tracking information, he was terribly disappointed. It was, after all, meant for a birthday party.

I felt so badly about it. I asked him to let me check with my post office on the following day just to see if they could offer any more assistance.

They could not.

So, on February 8th, I sent one final message. I told the buyer I would refund the purchase amount in full and asked if he would refuse the package if or when it arrived in France.

I apologized again and sent the message off feeling rather defeated.

Then something, I have no idea what, nudged me to check the tracking one last time.

I did, and would you believe just as I was sending that last message to France a brand new entry showed up on the tracking list, the first in almost two weeks, and it said:

February 8th - Attempted Delivery Abroad - France

I know this generally means a package was attempted to be delivered and, a note should have been left for the recipient. I wrote again to the buyer asking him to let me know if this was correct and if he was going to be able to get the package in time.

I received a very happy message informing me that, yes, he would be able to pick up the package on February 9th just one day before it was needed!!! If the story needed any more of a happy ending, after all that traveling and bouncing around, everything inside was in perfect condition! The customer was thrilled!

Now, I don't share a lot of my personal beliefs here but let me. say that I don't usually do anything special to ask for favors from the kind folk or the faeries. Some stories, after all, say the Fae folk do not like being thanked. . . it actually is an insult to them.

I have, since I was a child, simply believed — no, I've KNOWN— that they are with me. Watching over me. There have simply been too many instances and encounters, one of which was life saving, for me to deny it. It's been a thread in my life.

I like to believe that all of the magic I put into the world through my creations are the reciprocations of that fateful connection. They are my end of the deal. One I intend to uphold with all my ability for the rest of my days.

And that deal? Ohhhh there's so much more to tell you. . . .another time perhaps?

Thank you for dropping by!

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Inspirations and Oddities - Second Friday Post - February 9th

It's time for Inspirations and Oddities, my monthly, second Friday post.

I am hoping you all are well in Blogger Land! I look forward to catching up a bit more on my favorite blogs in the coming weeks. A busy time ahead for us that culminates with a train trip home for me in March. I love the 2-day cross country train experience. This may be the last time I do it though (time/cost etc) so I am going to make the most of every moment!

So on with the oddities and inspirations for this month!

From the book world I wanted to recommend "I Kill Giants" which, I just found out is being made into a movie! This really caught me by surprise. It's a story was originally told in graphic novel form and it was a story that really touched me. I am such a fan of comics and yet I am still amazed at the difference in the genre from my own childhood. More and more are being turned into movies and shows it seems and this one will be wonderful I am sure.

Here is the trailer for I Kill Giants

What I like best, having read the graphic novel, is that this trailer gives away NONE of the true depth of the story but still looks pretty amazing!

And this is the graphic novel cover. The art inside is all black and white and borrows from the Manga style quite nicely while still being very original.

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Nature never lets us down. . . Perfect for almost any story where you'd like a bird to be used a snitching plot device, I give you Australia's Superb Lyrebird (that's the actual name, I'm not giving it extra praise with the addition of superb, but it earns it I promise you!)

The Lyrebird of Australia

And one about beautiful and mysterious Lichens!

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Ok, and lastly, an odd inspiration for sure. . . I have mentioned before that Sofie and I are always on the lookout for that perfect, magical place/house/cottage to buy. We can't afford many areas of the country and we are picky, only wanting to do this once in our life. . . all of which have pushed us to widen our search. Even if we aren't planning to move to many of the places we may peek at, I have to say they can be very inspiring. There is a lot of enchantment out there. A LOT! And, of course,  we're in no hurry as we love where we are at but the dampness is proving to be a bit troublesome for finding home that isn't affected by it. Also I'm starting to feel the lack of snow and it's making me nostalgic as I'm still a Northeast, 4 distinct seasons kid at heart.
Finally, the cost of housing here is making us both blue. When the perfect place comes along, we think we will just know. It helps to be able to do what we do from anywhere just as long as internet is available and a post office and decent grocery store are within reach.

Some of the towns we have put on our watch list are:
Elk Horn, Iowa
Otttumwa, IA
Berlin, NH
Weiser, ID
Burns or Baker City, OR
Wiscasset, ME
or just about any town in NH, VT, ME really as we both love old farmhouses :)

But really, almost anywhere that is not too near a major city and where the weather is not too hot for too much of the year and the houses are truly affordable. And, of course, it must be magical. . .

Anyway, the first house I posted here, the one in Tennessee, already sold!

In it's place I've decided to post one that likely will not sell but that gives you our ideal of "charm".

We like to call it the "Witch House", and it's more than a bit out of our price range. . . and it's in a remote part of Idaho in the Sawtooth mountains where the last 40 MILES of road to the town is gravel soooo, yeah, that wouldn't really work either!!

But who wouldn't want to live in a Witch House?

This one in Crumpler NC almost fits the bill. we would just prefer a large work space instead of all the small rooms but that scenery!!

Our priorities for a home are: a large workspace that's well it by natural light, access to nature (if not our own land), garden space and charm.  Also, a shop/garage space would be great to allow us to try some of the creative ventures we cannot do here like soldering/jewelry, casting, high temp firing, acid etching, wood burning and more. We've little to no concern for entertaining, putting up guests and the like if it means sacrificing any of our creative desires. Besides, we still want to have that "fortress of solitude"feel around us as we do now :)

Well I think that's it for this week! Back to a post on packaging next week and then world-building/mapmaking the following week!



Friday, February 2, 2018

New Work - Happy Groundhog Day! First Friday Post - February 2nd

Happy Imbolc, Candlemas or Groundhog Day, depending on how you celebrate it! May it be magical!

February already???? The time does indeed fly. . .

This month, for my first Friday post, I just wanted to share some of my new work.

I mentioned before that we are taking time out to make truly new pieces, explore new ideas and branch out a bit. It's a bit scary as it has meant NOT focusing on restocking favorites in the shops and allowing sales to dip a bit but I was really starting to feel a tad burned out last year remaking the same things over and over while constantly pushing new ideas further down the "to-do" list.

It's worked like a true charm. Just allowing myself to go in directions I want and not worry so much about what might sell has been SOOOOOO rejuvenating.

I hope you enjoy this first peek into the world of my new work!

Thank you as always for all of your comments and support!


So I have spoken about making figures many times before. This year it may finally happen.
Still nameless, but here are a few views of a Faun Figure. 

Each little curl of his leg hair is added and shaped individually.  He is just over 4" (10cm) tall. 

Mica powder adds the weathering to the cape and hat. The staff features a Swarovski crystal teardrop. 

I have not decided on the price. . . or even if I CAN part with him. And this is why I rarely make figures. lol

Towers? Yes, that's not new. . . but I have been inspired to build them on the most enchanted and precarious of
 landscapes. Like this precipice! The whole piece is over 7" tall. 

Of course, as I go "bigger and better", I am continually drawn to making things smaller and smaller for some reason as well!  That little flower pot is all of 2" wide!

Since childhood, mice have been deeply imbedded in my imagination. Brian Jacques' "Redwall", Mrs. Frisby
 and not all that long ago, David Petersen's "Mouse Guard" to name a few. . .
I started working on this idea for a story, "The Brotherhood of the Muridae", a few years back.
Only recently have a I settled upon the figure shapes, clothing style and the basis of the whole background story. Here we have a cheesemonger and a fez topped mouse monk as the first two! They're awaiting names and their individual stories. :)
With the exception of custom orders, I've stayed away from making large statues for some reason.
Changing that this year as well! 

I've talked about the thrill of seeing my skills grow over the years. I NEVER would've attempted such a large,
 intricate cobra with that looping body and scales before this! 

And using accessories like the crystal scarab in Bast's neckpiece
(I know that it's hard to see!)  is also something I wanted to try more of.
Doing all the new things has rekindled interest in the old as well. Such as my miniature Moai statues! 

Or this particular mushroom fairy house style! Welcome back!