Sunday, August 10, 2014

Songs for Ophelia - A Review

Switching gears for a moment from domestic fantasy, I was recently lucky enough to be sent an advanced copy of Theodora Goss' new mythically inspired poetry collection, Songs for Ophelia.


I was impressed not only with the individual poems in the collection, but also how beautifully they all fit together as an overall narrative.  The poems are organized into the four seasons, and although you see the transformation of certain natural elements across the seasons, there is little to no repetition.  Some poems are canvases that capture a single moment in time, while others encompass entire lifetimes of fascinating characters.

My favorite poems in the collection all seemed to fit into the latter category, but I appreciated them all.  Poems like "The Witch" and "Shoes of Bark" beautifully explore the idea of the ages of womanhood, of motherhood and daughterhood, and how we weave magic with each other or have the ability to tear each other apart.  The poems are full of rich rich imagery, each one best experienced slowly so that it can be pondered and savored.

Theodora's technical prowess also quietly shines through...the quality of the meter and solidity of the structure of her poems is easy to forget when you get so caught up in the imagery she also provides, but it is nonetheless still there, like the sturdy spine of a dancer whose costume and movements distract us from her underlying strength.

I highly recommend this poetry collection.  Theodora Goss is one of those authors, unlike James Patterson or Nora Roberts, who takes her time to put out a truly priceless creation rather than churning out new materials for filler.  There is no filler in this collection, each poem shines like a jewel.  Pluck your own jewel today!!

Friday, August 1, 2014

Hansel and Gretel Kitchen

My friend Kellie recently posted to the Domythic Bliss Facebook group:

Hello all you crafty people out in Domythic world! I have a kitchen that I started decorating in a 'Hansel and Gretel Gingerbread' theme a couple of years ago,have not worked on it for a while....am now geting little urges to add a few things,any one have any ideas,pictures off the web and websites,etc...that you could help with? Maybe some one out there in the group has this type of decorated kitchen

Well my brain was off and running, and before I knew it I had a bunch of images saved from Pinterest...I figured I might as well turn them into a blog post!

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First there's the overt.  This store in Helen, Georgia is actually called Hansel & Gretel Candy Kitchen.  But how cute is that trim?  And you could have a sign like this made for your kitchen.

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Or maybe this sign above instead....or in addition.

The below image...I love the idea of baskets hanging from the ceiling, from a rafter or even a faux beam.  And of course here's one of many examples of a large fireplace or cookstove.  It could be fun, if you are a fan of murals and wall paintings, to have a Trompe-l'œil fireplace painted on a kitchen wall.  

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A rack for the Hansel & Gretel Witch's extra brooms, perhaps?

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And of course what would a Hansel & Gretel Witch's kitchen be without gingerbread?  In this case, I mean the trim, which could be painted a rich burgundy or green for more cheerful color.

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Which brings me to color...I definitely think the room should have very little if any white on the walls, maybe just some between wood beams on the ceiling.  But the walls should be warm, gingerbread-y colors, with trim and accents in richer shades of the colors of candy, like burgundy, rose, green, etc.  I love the subtle shades of warm browns and blues in this kitchen below.

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And the yummy greens and blues of this cabinet.  Also, of course, hanging foodstuffs from the rafters.

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Or even a delicious butter yellow. 

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Folk art motifs and paintings would work perfectly I think.  After all, the witch has been in that cottage for many years.

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I definitely picture various foodstuffs, supplies, and pots and pans hanging in the rafters.  If there are no rafters, hanging shelves in rich wood (with perhaps more gingerbread trim?) could work to hold supplies.

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And if the Hansel & Gretel witch has a quote in her kitchen, I'm betting it would be this one.



I would recommend getting this book, and buying a cookbook stand to hold it open on the counter, for a touch of wicked whimsy:



Or even making your own more ancient-looking tome with a page open to a similar recipe.

And finally, since we ultimately know the kitchen is tongue-in-cheek, and you're truly a good witch and not a bad one, I recommend buying your kitchen witchery goods from Cucina Aurora, run by the most kind and skilled kitchen witch I know!



Sunday, July 13, 2014

Lover's Eye Jewelry

This is a short-lived trend from the Georgian era (it lasted from 1790 through 1820 approximately) that I hadn't even heard of until a friend of mine, attending a Jane Austen Festival this weekend, asked me if I would draw a "Lover's Eye" of her husband to wear at the event.

I did some looking into the idea, and I thought it was quite fascinating.  The Lover's Eye was commissioned by a lover to be a secret homage to his or her beloved, supposedly anonymous since it can be difficult to identify a person just with an image of his or her eyes.  And yet a person's iris is about as entirely unique as his or her fingerprint, so the image is incredibly intimate as well.


So today I sat down with a picture of her husband, zoomed in super close to see the details of his eye, paper, and my trusty Prismacolor pencils.

It was exceedingly fun to try to capture as many of the unique characteristics of HIS eye, as opposed to just a generic eye, as I could. 

I photoshopped the drawing into the picture she sent me of the setting it will be put into.  So this should be how it ends up looking:


(the bottom of the ruler shows centimeters)

I showed a friend who is interested in Regency history this link, (also the source of the images above of historic pieces) which explains excellently the concept of the Lover's Eye jewelry, and she said the resulting pieces seemed a bit disturbing and bizarre to her.  Personally I find them charming and whimsical, and just a little bit magic. What do you think?  Perhaps it's a bit of all of the above.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Twelve Dancing Princesses Dining Room Mural -- DONE


The Twelve Dancing Princesses walking in trance-like procession across all four walls of my dining room...are completed!!!  And they have been for a few months now.  But I kept hoping to get better pictures of them than the ones below...professional pictures, though I don't know how to take the best shots.  But I figured if I wait that long, everyone might have forgotten about the project before I do my "grand unveiling." 

So instead, here it is!!  Bada daaa dummmmm!!!!






I am still having an internal argument about whether or not to add a gothic arch acorn border stencil I found online below the chair line in gold and burgundy.  I vacillate almost daily over whether I should or not.  But otherwise, the room is done!

Perhaps showing the room best of all, here's a 7 minute video tour of the room from all angles and with all the princesses featured.  Video best seen expanded to full page.


And finally, once again best seen viewed in large size, here are all twelve of the princesses!


Saturday, June 21, 2014

Ill met by moonlight, proud Titania...

Well.  The last time I blogged here was (head bowed) the end of March, at the tail end of the Mythic March events.  Part of the reason for this was the aforementioned personal issues, but lately I've also had the marvelous distraction of being newly appointed Deputy Editor at Faerie Magazine.  The magazine is sporting a new look, a new team, and a new direction, and I'm very excited to be a part of things.  But blogging is part of my creative identity, and it's time to shake the dust off the Domythic Bliss blog and get things started again.  (By the way...Domythic Bliss has still been very much active during the blog's dormancy over at our Facebook group!!)

Today is, of course, Midsummer, and I wanted to take a look at something so very ubiquitous to fairy tales and fantasy I simply can't believe I haven't blogged about it already.

Titania's Bower.

Described in Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream...

I know a bank where the wild thyme blows,
Where oxlips and the nodding violet grows,
Quite over-canopied with luscious woodbine,
With sweet musk-roses and with eglantine:
There sleeps Titania sometime of the night,
Lull'd in these flowers with dances and delight;
And there the snake throws her enamell'd skin,
Weed wide enough to wrap a fairy in

As descriptions go, it's lovely, and also quite broad.  And of course like any of Shakespeare's plays, A Midsummer Night's Dream has been performed so many times and in so many ways, there have been countless interpretations of Titania's bower.  For the stage play, it's a theater set design dream.  And my goodness have some of the artists risen to the challenge.

First, there's my personal favorite...the Mariinsky Theater in St. Petersburg, Russia did an opera of the play. 




Titania's bower is a beautiful cupped drape of branches that hangs low from the stage ceiling.


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At Utah Shakespeare Festival's presentation, Titania's bower was draped in Willow branches and soft flower pillows.


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Michael Mitchell's stage creation is mysterious, with moss topiaries and elements of a conservatory.




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Boston Ballet chose a very simple but breathtaking design for Titania's bower...shining like an iridescent pearl, full as the moon.


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University of Delaware took full advantage of the "night" in the play title, embracing the deep blues and glowing golds of the darkness.

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Juilliard Opera in New York...this isn't really an image of Titania's bower, but it was so stunning, I admit I couldn't resist.

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Cameron Anderson's set design for South Coast Repertory's production was fascinatingly simple, yet stunning.  A single circle inset with different imagery creates a focal point in each scene.  In Titania's scenes, the circle is left open, draped with faerie lights.


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Julie Taymor's production relies strongly on breathtaking glowing and dramatic lighting as well as conceptual sets created from fabric and simplicity itself.

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Royal Shakespeare Company's production at Stratford-Upon-Avon is both enchanting and modern, combining a chair that could have come from any living room with twining flowers.

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A Brussels Opera production utilizes an enormous gnarled tree.

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Ballet Nebraska's production is enchanting...I think of all the bowers, this is the one I'd most want in my own back yard.

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Open Air Theatre's production seems to interpret Titania's bower in a very literal way based on Oberon's description above.  Since flowers are almost the sole description of the location, a solid wall of flowers creates the mood.

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University of Wisconsin Green Bay's production:

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The Michael Grandage Company's production was more contemporary, like an urban fantasy novel, but Titania's bower is a rusting ornate city staircase.

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A treetop production.

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 McCarter's Matthews Theater had another creative take on the idea of Titania's bower, placing it above the musical act for the production, in a nest of grasses.

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For a one-night-only play, Tilly Strauss created a bower under a tree, decorated with flowers made from whimsical umbrellas.

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As a mid-stream distraction for all the ladies in the audience, here's a handsome Puck I stumbled across in my searching.

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Then there's the 1935 Max Reinhardt black and white film version of A Midsummer Night's Dream.  I have to *highly highly* recommend a viewing of this version of the Shakespeare play.  It is pure beauty, one of the most breathtakingly beautiful films created in any era, and a moving work of art.


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Titania's wardrobe in this film is as beautiful as it is unexpected, glimmering strands of glowing featherlight strands that conceal and reveal her figure.

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And then there's Michelle Pfeiffer's version of Titania in the more recent film, whose bower is a nest of ferns, feathers, glittering strands, and loveliness.


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In the scene where she meets Oberon to discuss the boy she has stolen, she is resplendent in her fey palanquin.  This may not be her bower, but I had to share it.

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Vivian Leigh's stage production is still remembered and admired today.


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Finally, a few non-photographic images.  First this painting...which was too beautiful not to include as an example.  By N.M. Price.

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Victorian Faerie painter Richard Dadd's take on Titania's bower is entirely in keeping with his lush overabundance in his art...it is composed of small faeries instead of flowers or branches.

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Doll artist Jill Bennett adorns her faerie bower with crystals and small fey.

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So....what sort of practical application can there be from all of these breathtaking enchanted bowers?

Perhaps a hanging outdoor hammock bed?  Adorned with vines and shimmering fabrics, this could be a total Titania bower.



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These outdoor loungers are also soooo tempting to me.  And combined once again with vines and rich flowers, perhaps with the white canvas painted elaborately, nestled in a corner of the forest between trees....

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Using this concept, I think you could create something similar by stringing rope between the four corners of any pergola if sturdily enough built.

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Or buy a "nest rest."  Which I think looks utterly fey with no changes whatsoever.


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As you unwind and prepare to adjourn to your own bed this Midsummer Night, perhaps the thought of these enchanted bowers may bring a touch of magic to your own dreams!