Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Alternate Elves For Your Shelves

I love the idea of Elf on a Shelf.

Note I said I love the idea: the family interaction it provides along with the establishment of a new tradition in a modern world that includes far too little.  The basic concept is that a parent puts out a doll at the beginning of December, explaining that the little guy or girl is Santa's helper, there to watch and observe and report back to the jolly old elf with news of how things are going in the household.  The parents can move the little elven doll around the house as the doll investigates new areas, and the kids can enjoy trying to find all the new spots he/she may appear.

I just can't, however, get personally enthusiastic about the cutesey Kewpie Doll appearance of the official doll.  No offense intended if you love the wee guy, but I was raised on Wendy Froud elves and goblins and trolls, and he just doesn't quite look like my idea of a faerie messenger.

Christmas is, however, a time when we can embrace the child in all of us, and contains some of the few rituals we have left, as I already lamented, in modern society.  So why eliminate the perfect opportunity for a new whimsical tradition simply because the official doll looks like it belongs in a jack-in-the-box? 

Not to mention, once again, my bias for supporting small businesses over large ones: Elf on the Shelf has become a money-maker.  Why not create your own similar tradition, using a doll or figure crafted by an artist in the Mythic Arts community?  You could even expand on the tradition, suggesting the kids (or the big kids, if your family is like mine and consists of two grown-ups and a furry cat-child) leave out a trinket or small snack each night to make Santa's little messenger feel welcome.  It could be the perfect opportunity to tell your children about the folklore traditions of leaving out milk and bread for the Good Folk each night, and could act as a sort of advent calendar alternative.

So here are a few alternate faerie creatures to the Elf on the Shelf, just waiting to join your family in spreading Yuletide cheer.  (And perhaps a little mischief)

Goblin Road, seen at Faeriecon every year, creates adorable stuffed Goblins for your wee ones.  I've wanted one for years but have yet to spring for my own.  And as far as similarity to the original Elf on a Shelf...well, the original offers an adoption program, and these little cuties come with their own adoption papers.  Perfect!

If you can find them (and if you do, don't let me know or I'll die of jealousy since I've been looking for Bimble for years now), the rare FAO Schwarz Froudian plush Goblins would be a dream for this purpose.

Mamalfeathers on Etsy has insanely adorable Faerie creatures for sale.

Fuego Fatuo on Etsy offers beautiful dolls as well.  I'm just in love with the Stray Sod pictured second.

Secrets of Urchynwood features wonderful goblins, imps, and other such creatures.  Seen below, Slumburr and Tanglenott.

A creature from The Goblin Bazaar

Okay, so her sculptures MIGHT be a little scary for wee ones, but I can't resist including Amanda Louise Spayd here, since I adore her unique little faerie creatures.  I love that her creations are whimsical, yet with an edge of Unseelie to them.  Personally, whenever I can get my hands one one of her little tooth faeries, I think this will be our Nuth Family shelf sitting holiday creature.

And of course if you really want to splurge, you can try to get your hands on a Wendy Froud original, full of the magic of the Devon countryside.  (all photos c. Wendy Froud)  I've heard rumors her creatures are able to...


Enjoy the food after...

And share in the bounty of every season

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Let it Snowflake!

Today, I spent very nearly the entire day, from 11:30am to nearly 7:00pm, working on decorating our house for Christmas, and we're still not quite done.  One of the items still on the to-do list for my favorite holiday: putting up the paper snowflakes in the dining room.

Last year, inspired entirely by Shane Odom's enthusiastic love for snowflakes and cutting paper snowflakes, I found myself unable to stop making them.  I must have cut out at least thirty or forty paper snowflakes, and my hands are already itching to make more this year.  I'm still not that great at it, but the process of randomly cutting notches out of the carefully folded paper is so soothing and zen, I don't want to ever stop!  

The entire concept of a snowflake is one of enchantment and wonder, and definitely Domythic.  Snow is a blanket of white that covers even the ugliest part of the manmade world in nature's glittering beauty.  And the idea that this blanket is composed of miniscule crystals, each of which is entirely different than the other, is incredibly awe-inspiring.

So without further ado, here are some excerpts from Shane's directions on making paper snowflakes.

"How full of the creative genius is the air
in which these are generated!
I should hardly admire more if real stars fell
and lodged in my coat"
~Henry David Thoreau, 1856

Firstly, and I  feel, most importantly, is that real snowflakes are always hexagonal  symmetrically. That is, they have Six point, and very rarely, twelve. It  is part of the fundamental atomic structure of water and immutable. I  won't go on about this to much, but I would recommend anyone interested  in creating really nice paper snowflakes, familiarize themselves with the  real things. Start with the man who started it all, Wilson "Snowflake" Bentley. Then check out the work on snowflakes by Kenneth Libbrecht, professor of physics at Caltech, at  Dr. Libbrecht is a neat guy and has published a number of books on the  subject. Suffice it to say, that I am a little nutty for snowflakes and  have taken up macro-photography of them. Here is one of my pictures from  last year to illustrate the geometry.


So, take a piece of paper. If using 8.5"X11" printer paper, you need to  make it square. I have a stock of very thin old government issue memo paper that I use very sparingly for my best work. It has a National Seal as a watermark and I get a kick out of using it and seeing what of the Seal is visible. I have found that Oragami paper works very well, and is already square, as well as other thin papers. However, as is often the case, I reach for printer stock. Fold the a square into the paper and cut of the strip remaining.

The stripe makes a great paper chain piece, and I like to split it length wise to get two links and make a very long chain very quickly. More on that later.
Fold the triangle in half again.  

This is the tricky bit, (Grace here: I can attest to this.  After folding thirty or forty, I STILL don't quite have this part down right) but essential to getting a proper points.  Snowflakes are crystals, therefore show hexagonal symmetry. Achieve this  by folding the two ends of the triangle inward, overlapping equally in  the middle. All I can say is that this takes practice, but after a few  flakes you should have it down. I do some wiggling to line up the point,  which helps.

I really can't explain that part better than has been done in some of the links and there are sites that give you the angles etc., so please explore more if you need to. If you find it difficult, understand, that I have shown lots of people how to do it and many have a bit of a trick getting it. When they see me fold it that say I make it look easy. I reply, "Well, a few hundred times of practice helps!"

You will then have two points sticking out of the wide end of a cone shape. Cut those off across the line.  

Now comes the drawing! This is a fun and tricky part. I use pictures of real  snowflakes for inspiration often. You have to understand that the  structure of snowflakes to get it right. The folded side of the  triangle, shown by arrow, is the end of the one of points, so you are  drawing half a main point. 

Always remove the smaller sections within the body of the flake before  doing the larger upper portion. There are many options for scissors. If  you work with fine origami paper, manicure scissors can make very  precise cuts. Working with office paper, I tend to use kids scissors as  they can do what I need and are comfortable for extended use.

Once you have cut away, open and up and press it. I use books, or sometimes an iron on low steam.  I cut A LOT OF THEM. My family kinda accepts that the house will be filled with bits of paper.

Snowflakes in the window of Shane's home.

Acorn and oak leaf snowflake design by Shane

Christmas tree snowflake design by Shane

Shane cutting snowflakes live in a store window..

(Grace here again)  Believe me...if you're anything like me, once you get the folding part down and do a few flakes, you will find it utterly addicting.  

And if, on the off chance, you don't decide you love the process, you can always buy one of Shane's annual snowflake collections, available on Etsy!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Black Friday, Done a Verdant and Mythic Green

I have a confession to make: I was raised on Black Friday tradition.  When I was a little girl, we would get bundled up in our warmest jackets with blankets and thermoses of hot cocoa, and would sit in line at Value City for their opening on the morning after Thanksgiving.  But here's the thing: in those days, it was actually worth it.  As you entered the store, you would get free ball caps, free earrings, free raffle giveaways every hour. 

Now, I don't want to get into a huge debate about big stores vs. little stores.  But I do know that there are quite a few incredibly talented people out there in the Mythic Arts community who would be happy to make you a one-of-a-kind item for a Christmas gift, or sell you an incredible print of an artwork, the proceeds of which you can know will directly affect and support the artist you pay.  Spending $5 or $10 on a beautiful print or a pair of earrings hand crafted by the artist instead of a cup of coffee or a large bag of popcorn and a movie ticket will not only support them financially, but send them the message that you believe in what they are doing.

So.  With that in mind,  here is a little list of some Black Friday artists and crafters you can support who may not be able to afford big sleek ads in your newspaper or doorbuster sales, but their work would look stunning wrapped and placed under a tree.

Artisan Crafts

Mythical Designs by Miscellaneous Oddiments LLC is an incredibly talented company under artists Shane and Leah Odom.  They are best known for their incredible leatherwork masks and headpieces, but also offer original art, prints, and cards.  These artists are constantly stretching their imaginations, and who knows what they will offer next.

A beautiful Yule mask
The Holly and the Ivy, on the workbench after being painted

Charmed Crafts by D Sharp is an Etsy shop offering jewelry and other items for magical living and ritual.

Wire-wrapped acorn earrings

 King of Mice Studios is the creative outlet of artist Carolee Clark, a full-time Halloween and fantasy artist.  Not only does she sell prints of her work, but she also creates original painted wood and other material items for the home. 

Artemis Jane and Pandora Jane are two Etsy stores run by the amazing Diane Heyne.  Pandora Jane features organic miniatures and faerie objects.  Artemis Jane features assemblage art and vintage collages.

I yearn for one of these lovelies

Kaiser Wrought Iron.  Yes.  Oh so droolworthy.  I've already talked about my for wrought iron.  And this is wrought iron done oh so well.

Eldrum Emporium is Ali English' Etsy.  She creates beautiful painted and stenciled furniture and home goods pieces, as well as makes gorgeous jewelry (I love my piece of hers I own!!)


Terri Windling, hot off the presses, has new beautiful prints available in her Etsy store!  Or if you've been really really good, perhaps Santa will bring you an original.

Blue Moon Atelier is the home of artist Mary Layton, offering prints, ACEOs, jewelry, and cards. 

Swan Bones Theater.  I am obsessed with this woman's art, especially her Foxgloves print, which will someday be mine, I vow.

Meredith Dillman has beautiful fantasy and Green Man art prints in her store.  I especially love her Green Man!!

Personal Adornments

Jenny Davies Reazor offers incredible ceramic jewelry in her Etsy shop.  I met her at Faeriecon and we felt an instant kinship.  She also offers beautiful objects for the home, as photographed below.

Silverandmoor is a Devon-based jewelry artist whose creations are incredibly original, organic, and mythic.

Leigh Perry offers hand crafted and beaded jewelry in a variety of styles.

The Copper Camel sells beautiful and mysterious jewelry.

Ashes of Roses Designs sells fairy tale jewelry.

Woodland Wild is Bryony Whistlecraft's Etsy store.  Bryony is best known for her "Elflocks" faerie dreadlocks, but she also knits beautiful items that are perfect for holiday gifts.

Sihaya Designs is a wonderful source for gorgeous ethereal and organic jewelry hand made by Christina Allen Page.  She's going to have a big Yule update going live on Cyber Monday too, so don't miss it!!!


Papaveria Press is a "micro-press" company that supports the work of incredibly talented Mythic writers.  Every piece of storytelling created by this company is imbued with a love for imagination.

Imaginosis is a small publishing company that sells wonderful and vivid books all about mythic artists.

Faerie Magazine.  Okay, I'm biased here as I just started working as an editor for the magazine, but it really is an operation of love from everyone involved.  Give a yearly subscription of four issues.