Monday, September 27, 2010

Monday Night Magical Movie:Bell, Book and Candle

The Halloween stuff is going up in all the stores, the air is cooling off just a bit, the first of the leaves are beginning to turn shades of red and gold, and I saw the first wooly worms crossing the pavement, fall is here! Seeing the Halloween goods reminded me of a fun movie I found on DVD around this time last year, Bell, Book and Candle.

They often stock magical movies in the Halloween aisle, keep an eye out for this 1958 classic has been digitally remastered. I loved this movie since I first saw it as a teenager. It's directed by Richard Quine and based on a Broadway play by John Van Druten, which I would love to see performed someday. This movie was nominated for two academy awards. You may notice similarities between this film and the 1964 TV show Bewitched, especially the characters, and also the assumption that the witches in both presentations are not considered human, but seemingly some other race. The other inspiration for Bewitched was a 1942 Veronica Lake film called I Married a Witch.

In Bell, Book and Candle, Kim Novak plays Gillian who is one of my favorite movie witches of all time. She's very spooky in this role, and man, does this witch know how to dress, if you watch this film for the wardrobe alone, it's totally worth it! Gillian, who was an anthropology major in college runs a really cool primitive art gallery in New York, and is going through an existential crisis about her life as a witch. She asks her siamese cat and familiar, Pyewacket for the gift of someone new in her life for Christmas. Gillians original thought that she wouldn't want to win the heart of a suitor by enchantment is tested by her love interests announcement of impending marriage to her old college rival Merle, and she of course falls back on her magical powers with the help of Pyewacket. As you can guess thing don't go quite as she planned, as in most movie and real life love spells! Although it seems odd that 25 year old Kim Novak would look at book publisher Shep Henderson played by 50 year old Jimmy Stewart who pulls odd faces throughout the movie, and think, "hubba, hubba," it didn't detract from the film for me too much. I must say, I do love Jimmy Stewart as an actor. For some reason I can't explain why the chemistry between these two actors worked better in Hitchcocks Vertigo than in this film.

The New York witches frequent an underground beatnick club called The Zodiac, brick walls, smoke filled and dimly lit with colored lights, it completes the idea of a sub culture in which the magical community lives. Gillians witchy family and cohorts are the quirky "Aunt Queenie" played by Hermione Gingold and the enterprising bongo drum player Nicky played by a very young Jack Lemmon. I would love to hang out in The Zodiac on a winters evening, never have I seen New York look more witchy than it does in this film.

Modern Witches and Pagans should first remember when this was written, not much was known publicly about real witches, and to many, they did seem like they were not only totally fictional, but un-human. In this film, you'll have to allow for suspension of disbelief as you remember that this is a fictional portrayal of a magical world, male witches are warlocks, witches can't cry, blush or fall in love, of course none of these things apply to real life witches. They also note that old chestnut from the witch trials, that somehow mysteriously witches float, a strange phenomenon that I notice everyone doing at the neighborhood pool all summer many witches in this neighborhood, but I digress...

This movie is totally fun and will have you humming the haunting theme all day long. Incidentally Pyewacket became a very popular name for cats around 1959, there really must be a little witch in all women!

***Spoiler Alert*** I always end up making a sandwich or something around the end of this film, I think it just it kills me to see the fabulous Gillian in pastels having converted her funky art gallery to flowery yech, having lost her powers. Sad. Again, we must remember the time when this movie was made, times have changed and women no longer have to give up their power to find love, either figuratively or otherwise. Would someone please remake this film and change the ending just a bit?! ***End of Spoiler Alert***

Oh well, I still love it, the DVD offers you you choice of full screen and widescreen versions, (of which I recommend widescreen, but that's a subject for a future blog.) The special features aren't so special, but that's not a deal breaker as many older movies have that issue, there just isn't much to add to most of them since they weren't really planning for that at the time. They do have the addition of the original film trailer, which I could have skipped, it's decidedly lackluster and frankly would not have gotten me to the theater. Do keep an eye out for this one amongst the Halloween offerings this year, it really is a classic magical movie with a great vintage flair, enchanting cinematography, and some laughs too.

Friday, September 24, 2010

New Crystal Art Pendants Coming Soon

Hi All,

I wanted to share the first pictures of our new Crystal Art Pendants! We just got these new dye sublimation blanks in yesterday. We print the artwork out small, cut it off the sheet, position the art on the back side of the crystal blank. Then we press it in the heat press and the ink transfers to the specially treated back side of the crystal. The first one broke, but once we got the pressure right, these pendants turned out really great. The size is just perfect, 1 inch wide x 1 1/2 inch tall, with a beautiful silver tone bail. The beveled edges are faceted adding a bit of sparkle, and we were really happy with how the art looks shining out from behind the 1/4 inch thick pendant.

The only one I have a picture of right now is a gift for my sweet Mar Mar. We planned to press a bunch and get pictures up on the Etsy store, but Mar Mar ended up in the hospital yesterday, so that is a priority. So we wanted to press one for her, I put it on a chain and we'll be bringing it to her in the hospital later on today.

We might have more pictures taken, and put some of these on Etsy this weekend depending on how things are going. I hope you enjoy these pictures until then!

Happy Weekend!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Pagan Pride Day Cancelled Due to Weather

Well, it is Missouri after all. All week I watched and it looked like it would be overcast but warm, perfect weather for vending at an outdoor festival on a lovely Autumn day. But in the words of famous Missourian Mark Twain, "If you don't like the weather, wait a minute!" Yesterday the forecast changed and we've had thunderstorms since last night!

Dan and I angished over the decision, because we knew people were expecting up to be there, but we had already lost some merchandise (and a little pride and sanity) in storms earlier this year, so we had finally come to the decision that bringing all my artwork into a thunderstorm under a metal tent was a bad idea. Shortly afterwards we found out the event had indeed been cancelled. I felt some relief because I really hate cancelling out of people, but I'm sad for the event planners, they put so much work and money into these events, and it's a shame to see it happen to good people.

They'll be rescheduling, and I hope to be able to attend for the new date.

And such is the world!

Blessings, and stay dry,

Friday, September 17, 2010

Going to Mid-Missouri Pagan Pride Day This Weekend

We are packing up all our lovelies because we were invited to Mid-Missouri Pagan Pride Day in Columbia MO this weekend. The event will be held in Peace Park Sunday September 19, from noon-6pm, there will be workshops, shopping and art show, and lots of fun. Other authors appearing include childrens writer and illustrator Lyon Martin, mystery and suspense writer M.R. Sellars and Joyce and River Higgenbotham. They'll also have music by Elven Drums and Wolf.

This is a free event, but they are asking for canned goods to be donated that will go to local food pantries, funds will also be raised for a no-kill animal shelter.

I'll be doing a workshop on my upcoming Voice of the Trees oracle deck, it's a fun workshop. This is basically an extended version of what I do when friends and family come over and visit my studio and I bring the art for the cards out and lay them on the old art table and go through the artwork and talk about what the cards mean, and the stories behind the inspiration for each piece. Of course the originals are at Llewellyn right now because they are working on getting it all together for publishing, but I have full size copies of the art to show.

Dan and I are also packing up all of our items found on our Etsy shop and even more to bring out and offer for sale. I even have a few of my Triple Goddess statues and some of my sterling silver jewelry too. Dans updating the computer so we can take credit cards while we're there, I know I don't ususally carry much cash, and we found that people really appreciate that we can take cards. It looks like our Etsy store exploded in our livingroom!

Well, it promises to be a great time, any of you Mid-Missourians in the area, drop in and say hello! We'll post some pictures on Monday.

Here are some of our candle sconces waiting to be packed.

Loads of tote bags

Monday, September 13, 2010

Monday Night Magical Movie: Labrinth

Ok, after posting the Sweeny Todd Halloween pics earlier today, it reminded me of the time Dan dressed as David Bowie aka Jareth the Goblin King from the movie Labyrinth, so I thought that would be a fun Monday Night Magical Movie.

This 1986 cult classic fantasy film is a must see for anyone who loves magical films! Directed by Jim Henson, and starring David Bowie who also provided the music, and a world full of creatures imagined by Brian Froud, this movie is the result of successfully nailing things together in a way that really, really works! This is also one of Jennifer Connelys (He's Just Not That Into You, Blood Diamond) first films, and at 15 years old, she really delivered a great performance.

Labyrinth is the story of a young girl who adores her pretties and her fantasy life, and thinks she really has it hard. She becomes frustrated when asked to babysit her baby brother and she unwittingly (and quite dramatically) summons up the Goblin King to take him away..."right now." The entrancingly hot and dramatically devious Goblin King, Jareth complies with her wishes, even though she immediately changes her mind. "What's said is said..." She is given the task to find her way to the castle at the center of the labyrinth in 13 hours to reclaim her baby brother, or he'll become a goblin forever. She learns some great lessons along the way, meets some really great characters, and meets challenge after challenge head on.

In this world, things aren't always what they seem, fairies bite, walls move, and everything is dripping in magic. You will see only a minimum of digital effect in this movie, which I really like myself, most of what you see is puppetry and optical movie illusion. There are some really great musical numbers like Bowies, "Magic Dance", (or as my daughters used to call it Dance Magic Pants, in tribute to Bowies tight wardrobe in the scene)
You just have to quote it,
"You remind me of the babe!
What babe?
The babe with the power.
What power?
The power of Voodoo!
Who do?
You do!
Do what?
Remind me of the babe!"

A Goblin Babe! hahahaha.....well...laugh....

This film was actually responsible for starting many various fantasy related trends. The modern Witches Balls and Faerie Balls are at least partly inspired by the fabulous ball room scene in which Sara becomes enchanted and finds here self in a room full of Victorian style party goers in fabulous Froud inspired masks. Many of the faerie events have drawn at least some inspiration from this scene as well. Many of today's crystal gravity jugglers learned their craft after first seeing it done by Jareth in Labyrinth as well. Bowie really wasn't the one rolling those crystal balls effortlessly through his fingers though, it was a man tirelessly working behind him, (Michael Moshen) but it was done so seamlessly that it looks like Bowies really doing it.

One of my favorites is the scene in the M.C. Escher "Relativity" room with stairs and arches leading every which way. Sara's little brother Toby is so near, but she has to navigate this crazy room somehow, as Jareth sings, "Everything I've done, I've done for you, I move the stars for no one!" Toby was played by Toby Froud, artist Brian Frouds son, who has become a master stilt walker, film maker and puppeteer.
If you watch the disk that has the special features, I highly recommend watching that too, it's got lots of great behind the scenes footage.
Just for fun, Dan and I Halloween 2008!

"Give me the child. Through dangers untold and hardships unnumbered, I have fought my way here to the castle beyond the Goblin City to take back the child that you have stolen. For my will is as strong as yours and my kingdom is great. You have no power over me!" ~Sara, Laryrinth

Monday Movie Featured Item:

The Autumn Masque Key Rack would look great in Sara's bedroom, she could hang scarves, jewelry, and maybe the key to the castle beyond the goblin city!  What a perfect memoir of the magical masked ball she attended with Bowie?!  Available in our Etsy Shop


Voice of the Trees Deck, Edits Done!

Well, it's been a busy week at the art table this week writing, and I didn't blog this weekend because I had a house full of adolescent boys over for my sons birthday, and I wouldn't have made sense anyway, as you can imagine!
I'm happy to report that I've finished the edits for the Voice of the Trees deck, and they've been sent off to my publisher. It was fun to revisit the manuscript, and I found that once I had added the extra material they had asked for, I really liked the improvements. I got to add some personal stories, and some more tree magic which was very fun!

The cover art for the packaging of the project was chosen by Llewellyn, they'll be using the "Willow" piece (see above) for the front of the box! It's a very magical piece, but not the one I thought they would pick, but I think it will work nicely. *Disclaimer* This picture is not what the box will look like, the art is the same but the lettering will be created by Llewellyns art department, maybe a cool Celtic border, or something. They're coming up with something great I'm sure, this is just my little mock-up version. The extra piece that I created an planned for the cover of the box is a Celtic Warrior chick, (see below) and will actually be the cover of the book. I'm pleased with both of their choices. The book will be called, "Voice of the Trees Companion." I'm really very happy, once the material is submitted it's in the hands of the publisher and sometimes many changes are made, but they are really staying true to my vision and even gave met the opportunity to expand upon it, so I'm really happy about this project so far. Both my aquisitions editor and my book editor have been a dream to work with.

This is the image they're
using for the cover of the book
"Voice of the Trees Companion.

Instead of including a thin organza bag like they have with some decks in the past, I was given the opportunity to include simple instructions for making your own bag to store the cards in, which is really nice because the organza bags tended to tear easily, and how fun is it to make your own bag? I made the instructions really simple, and I actually constructed a bag to make sure the instructions were clear, and took photos as I went to base the illustraqtions on. The bag I made turned out nice, I used some fabric left over from my costume I wore to the St. Louis Witches Ball last year when Dan and I went as Sweeny Todd and Mrs Lovitt. That was a hoot! Anywho, I'm adding some decorative flourishes to this sample bag and will be offering it as a give away at some point, so watch for that.

Dan and I as Sweeny Todd and Mrs. Lovitt, and in real life as ourselves.

Incedentally and mostly unrelated, I looked at those heather plants from Aldi, and they are good ole Scottish Heather! I nearly brought one home, but beset with birthday parties and other expenses, I decided that money spent on a plant that will likely croak this winter is money better spent elsewhere, they sure were pretty though.

Thats all for now, we'll have a new movie later for the Monday Night Magical Movie. Yeah!
Fare thee well! Mickie

Monday, September 6, 2010

Monday Night Magical Movie: The Spiderwick Chronicles

From the opening credits, there lives a lot of magical atmosphere in this 2008 movie directed by Mark Waters. (Ghosts of Girlfriends Past, Mean Girls) and produced by Nickelodeon Movies. Having been introduced to the books by my son, I really enjoyed them. I had seen this movie for the first time in the theater, and later purchased the DVD because Tristan and I really enjoyed it. So we decided to put it on a watch together for my third installment of Monday Night Magical Movie.
For anyone who doesn't have kids of the right age, these books are totally fun and crossed over from the children's market to the adult market in the way the Harry Potter series did, albeit a much quicker read than the Potter books. This intricate world born from the imaginations of Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black is enchanting, and I think, translated well to the big screen. The movie is based on the first five books form the series, although leaves out much of book 4 and other good stuff as well. The five books could have easily been made into two movies, perhaps keeping the original storyline intact.

The first thing I remember thinking when I saw this movie was how happy I was to hear Freddie Highmore doing an American accent for this one. I think he's a very talented young actor. I remember seeing him in one of his previous films Arthur and the Invisibles and feeling like, why does this depression era American kid have a British accent? Granted, they explained it in Arthur, but it seemed contrived. So I felt kinda proud for him when I heard his accent in Spiderwick. Our man Freddie takes on the roles of the twin brothers Jared and Simon Grace, and I personally thought he did a great job developing the two unique characters. Their sister and fencing champion Mallory Grace is played by Sarah Bolger who also played Mary Tudor in HBO's The Tudors.

One of the things I love about this series of stories (both books and the movie) is the fact that the fairy realm isn't all goodness and light, it's more like the old legends about the fae, some of the denizens are helpful to humans, but plenty of them have their own occasionally darker agendas. The tradition of a fairy stone or enchantment for "fairy sight" and offerings of honey, kidnapping, taboos of eating fairy food, protection with salt, are also traditional in legend and lore. I will say the mushroom ring around the house for "protection" in the movie version, is something in fairy lore known as a fairy ring, something to be treated with caution to avoid actually being kidnapped by fairies, so this use was actually reversed, even though it looked cool.

As per usual, the movie had the storyline altered quite a bit from the books, but the visual feel and the spirit of the books were preserved even though the plot had many additions and omissions. I personally loved the script however, and was pleased yet not surprised to find that John Sales, the director of "The Secret of Roan Inish" worked on the script for this one. The movie was based (loosely) on the five first books which was probably enough material for two movies which would have allowed for more of the original storeys integrity to remain. The faerie folk in this movie were all simply amazing, and true to the original art, as an artist I can really appreciate that. It's no surprise to learn that the character Arthur Spiderwick was inspired by famous children's book illustrator and one of my favorite artists Arthur Rackham. Arthur Spiderwick had filled a book full of illustrations and secret information he discovered about the fairy realm, making the book quite dangerous. Spiderwick disappeared in 1935 leaving the house vacant for years. His great-niece and her children move into the dilapidated house, and the book is discovered, read, and that's when all fae breaks loose.

I hadn't noticed when I first saw the movie, but upon watching it again, I picked out comedic actor Seth Rogans voice as the Hobgoblin named Hogsqueal. Nick Nolte was an excellently disturbing choice of the evil Mulgarath! Tristan and I decided that we wished they hadn't left out the Elves and Stray Sod and Tristan says the dragon would have been worth the cost of the extra CGI. The special features on the DVD are pretty good, they even have a video field guide.

Overall, it's a good movie inspired by the books, if not totally accurate to them, it was lots of good magical fun.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Why is an Art Table Like a Writing Desk?

In Lewis Carrolls Alice in Wonderland, the Mad Hatter asked Alice, "Why is a raven like a writing desk?" Much tomfoolery ensued and the question finally ended with Alice finally retorting exasperated, "I should think you might do something better with your time than wasting it in asking riddles that have no answers."

Illustration: The Tea Party by Arthur Rackham

But to answer the question, "Why is an art table like a writing desk" is quite a bit more simple, and I can report the bare minimum of tomfoolery. I'm working on edits for the manuscript for "The Voice of the Trees Companion Book" which will of course accompany my new deck coming out Sept. 2011.

I've actually been quite fortunate that there weren't a lot of changes, most of them were simple and organizational, and I was asked to add a few things, which made me quite happy. I got to add some more spells using the cards which I was very excited about. It's a really cool use for this deck in addition to using it for readings, so I was very happy when my editor asked for more! She's also letting me do more illustrations for the book to which I say, yeah! I'm really happy and have several great ideas! Anyone who wants some tree spells now, you don't have to wait for the book, I've written one for each of the trees in the Celtic Tree Calendar which are in Llewellyns 2010 Witches Datebook, and it's on sale...bonus!

It seems like I've been working on this longer than I should have to for as few edits that I actually have, but I have been, of course, multitasking. I had several deadlines for Llewellyns periodicals also, so I had put them all in order according to the dates and worked my way through them. Pretty logical for someone originally from the other side of the rabbit hole!

Since I have a long weekend, I thought I would sit down and rock this thing out, so in true Wonderland manor, I made a pot of lovely blooming tea and sat down to work. I'm almost done now, just my usual anal checking and checking again which I'll probably do on and off all weekend, but by Monday it should be whisking off across the Internet to my editor in plenty of time to make my deadline. *Proud*

I hand made a mock up version of the deck for me to work with while I wait for the publication to come out. I use them to work with on my own and I also have been doing online readings with them through my Etsy shop right here at the old wooden art table/writing desk. So I got them out along with all my notes for inspiration, and propped up the Woodbine card for clarity and focus to help me stay on task. So why am I writing a blog right now, you may ask? Well, it's way past tea time of course silly! Join me in a cup, it's Golden Blossom Jasmine...mmmm...

One more sip and back to work I go!

"Clean cup, move down!"

Fare Thee Well!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Heather Seems to Be a Theme!

Hi Dears!
Having just finished my Heather Fairy, I've added new fairy magic candles to my etsy store, see my etsy link on the right of the page.

I've been working on trying to finish up adding some additional text requested my my editor for the book that will accompany my upcoming deck "The Voice of the Trees." So that's keeping me tied up for a little bit, I'm grounding myself from art until I'm done. But I just had to drop in because it seems that heather is a plant that isn't finished with me quite yet!

Heather is one of the "trees" from my new deck, so naturally, I have an illustration of heather for the deck. In the deck based on the Celtic Ogham, heather stands for transition and partnership. It tells of either a business or romantic partnership, one with a good foundation to grow from. So that's pretty cool, because my husband Dan and I are both romantic and business partners! Gotta love that!
So it seems that the heather energy is swirling all around me right now, my horoscope even sounded similar to my dvininatory meaning for the heather card. So I ran up to the store this evening to pick up a couple of things I needed for dinner. I shop at my local Aldi a lot because it's close and I'm thrifty. As I grabbed the flier showing next weeks specials on my way out the door, right there on the front, they're going to have heather plants for fall starting Thursday Sept. 9! Wooo-hoo! So heads up all you Aldi shoppers, their heather plants are 3.99 each, just leave a few for me ok? It looks like Scottish Heather, (Calluna vulgaris) and yes, I looked it up, according to the Missouri Botanical Garden, grows well in zones 4-6. Now the bad news, it likes soil that drains well, doesn't tolerate clay, and guess what my garden is? You guessed it, my whole yard is clay. And, it also doesn't dig hot humid summers, and I'm in Missouri. So I may have to pick up a big pot to plant a little heather in. We'll see if it's Scottish Heather or Mexican Heather (Cuphea hyssopifolia) also knowna as false heather, yep, no relation. Mexican heather grows well in Missouri as an annual.

So I'll post on Thursday the 6th and let you know which one it is in case any of you want to pop into your local Aldi and pick some up. In the meantime, here is the art for the heather card from the Voice of the Trees deck.

This card shows heather blooming across the heath. In the foregroundwe see a couple whos hands are tied together with a scrap of tartan fabric in an old marriage rite known as handfasting, it's where the term "tying the knot" comes from. Beneath their hands is a Celtic cauldron full of heather blossoms. The cauldron in Celtic lore represents transition, rebirth, and also abundance. I modeled the cauldron after the famous and ancient Gundestrup Cauldron.

I mocked this up in Photoshop showing a border, when the deck is published it will have a different border, I can't wait to see what the art dept. at Llewellyn comes up with, they do really nice work!