Wednesday, January 30, 2013

A visitor

I was working away in my upstairs office this past weekend when I saw a huge owl swoop down and settle in on of the trees which shades our vegetable patch. Quick as a bunny I grabbed my camera and ran downstairs. I tried to be very sneaky and very quiet to get a good photo of the feathery thing. Turns out that owls aren't that bothered by humans and he stayed exactly where he was.

He looked at me curiously, but didn't seem to mind my snapping too much.

He was quite large. I'd say at least 18" tall. I'm fairly certain that this visitor was a Barred Owl. They have the blackest eyes you can imagine. Quite eerie to peer into actually. Have you ever had a close encounter with an owl?

Monday, January 28, 2013

Toadstool Cottages

I made these this weekend...

There's something so perfect about a toadstool being transformed into a fairy cottage or gnome home. It's completely logical.

They measure approximately 4.5" tall. The toadstools are paper mache, the doors are wood, the little knob is a tiny metal brad, add some moss, some gorgeous little paper roses and 'Ta da!'


I've made four in all. This one has been listed on etsy,
I think the others will be sent to local shops.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Beatrice vs Bellatrix

Last April we bought a hamster.

I am not a big fan of rodents but we were at an auction and the kid was beggin', and it came with all the bells and whistles so I agreed. I remembered when I was a young gal and had guinea pigs and birds... things I could call my own and take care of. Besides, it was such a small addition to our growing menagerie.

For a week we tried different names to see if they fit. Mr. Grumpy Pants, Grumpaloo, Hammy, Tom, Bacon... nothing seemed to stick. Nevermind, interest in our newest family member didn't last very long anyway.

First it bit D. I tried to explain that the hamster was soooo tiny that it was probably just frightened. Yeah, the kid didn't care about that bit of logic.

Then it would run in it's wheel in the middle of the night. D would come into our room with sleep in his eyes, woken up by the noise. "He can't help it. Hamsters are nocturnal. He just wants to play." I'd explain.

Soon after he was moved into the guest room where he would 'play' with the ball in his water bottle waking up the whole house.

And so that hamster was moved into my studio where he has been watered and fed and otherwise completely ignored.

Until now...

Over Christmas a little visitor came into my studio and asked lots of questions about 'the hamster'. I explained that he lived in my studio, away from everyone and was pretty much ignored because he was a bit of a jerk. Later, I felt badly about calling the little thing a jerk. I mean none of that was his fault. So I made up my mind to make nice with the little fellow.

"Maybe you should see if someone else wants him." Mr. Pixie said out of the blue.

"No! We took him. We'll take care of him. I've decided to rename him Beatrice and that we're going to become great friends." I replied. Mr Pixie shook his head.

And so I've been giving Beatrice extra treats and speaking with her while I do my crafting. Tonight I cleaned out her habitat, rearranged her tunnels, arranged everything extra nice and even put in a shiny new food dish. When I was done, Beatrice ran around like crazy and Mr. Pixie put on a squeaky voice saying "What have you done with my space woman?! You f'n changed it it all!" I hate to say it but it really seemed like that was exactly what the furry little thing was saying.

Here's a photo of wee 'Beatrice' with a fat slice of apple, in a sparkling clean cage.

Ummm, perhaps more of a Bellatrix than a Beatrice?

*Sigh*  If I'm honest he looks more like Voldmort and I'm pretty certain that my plan is destined to fail because he is in fact a bit of a jerk after all.

Ah well, if we can't be chums at least I can keep him warm and fed and out of trouble.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

A little more love...

I really need to focus on "work" stuff but my heartstrings get tugged and I'm pulled every which way!

Last week one of the members of the Art Abandonment FB group posted a link to an organization called Inspiration Through Art. I immediately fell in love and dropped everything I was doing to participate in their Valentine Card Drive.

So I grabbed the Alpha Stamps Bathing Beauties #3 Collage Sheet, created a little fairy scene, and printed out a bunch-o-cards to send to those gorgeous kidlets.

Sometimes it really doesn't take much to make a big difference. So get to makin' and send a kid a card would ya! Go HERE for the Valentine Information or visit the FB page.


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

For just pennies a day....

Ok, first of all I pinky swear that I'm not going to bother you over and over again. I don't even like selling chocolate bars for my kid so this is particularly awkward. This is a one time nudge for help.

This summer the 'Fairy Tour' will be revived at Pixie Hill. Once again, there will be no cost to visit and explore. BUT this year the exhibit will remain for most of the summer. The 'Tour' will then migrate to 'The Gates', our local arts and culture centre. Again, there will be no fee to stroll through the exhibit. There will be a third stop for the exhibit, and at least one children's art workshop added to this year's migration.

Here's the thing. Last year I funded the entire project myself. I hired an assistant to help with the set up, paid for all materials and transportation, printed all of my own material, and used every means of free advertising at my disposal.

Unfortunately, this year, my financial situation has changed and I need your help.

By sending a few bob, you become a funder of this project and help to make it bigger and better. You ensure that the magic spreads farther, and more people affected. Don't get me wrong, the tour will continue no matter how much finding is received. I can stretch a penny like no one's business! Funding eases the financial burden, but lack of funds does not mean demise.

Anywho... I'm just putting it out there. If you want to help me make some magic I'd love you forever. If you just want to help spread the word... I'd love you just as much.

Hop over to the Indiegogo page for this project and share, tweet, like and spread the word!

Thanks & big wet kisses!

Friday, January 18, 2013

A Lovers Memento: A Romantic How To

The bad news is: this is going to be a very long post.

The good news is: I'm going to show you how to make these little Lovers Memento matchboxes AND I'm going to talk about the thought process behind them so that you can make something that is really and truly your own.

He gave his lover the key to his heart, bound with the cotton thread that lead them to one another, and sealed with wax.

Pressing the box into his sweethearts hand he said "You will not find a feather, a vial of glitter, a shell and acorn inside this tiny box. This is where I keep my promises. To you I swear the stars and sea, wings to fly and a love as strong and ever growing as a mighty oak."

For he meant those words on the tiny scroll: "I love you for not only what you are, but for what I am when I am with you."


I made a box very similar to these a few years ago. It was a love spell matchbox, filled with items associated with love magic. With Valentine's Day on the way, I thought this might be a nice project to put out there and a really great way to talk about the creative process. Plus, it would be a grand romantic gift for someone you're sweet on.

I find a good starting point to be writing.

Write a list of things YOU associate with love. What do you consider to be romantic? Write romantic words, feelings, pet names. You might also want to think about the intended recipient. Will you present this to your sweetheart or will you you use it to tell a story?

If it's for a sweetie, think about them... colours, symbols, foods, items, sounds, smells, words. Try to incorporate something meaningful to them, or to you as a couple.

Look to the past. Symbols, myths and folk tales.

If you have some things on your list that aren't exactly practical... like moonbeams and stardust... begin to consider how you might represent them in some way. Never let something like impossibility get in the way of your creativity. A flame of passion might be represented by a candle, stardust as glitter.

Be sure to do some doodling in between all that writing and thinking.

If you have any trouble (or just lazy, ha!), skip over to yesterday's post to download a pdf of romantic words and quotes for a bit of a push.

Now lets get down to business!

Get yourself some matchboxes.
Now, you can certainly make your own (pain in the bum) or you can buy some fancy blank boxes (yea, right) or you can opt for a regular old matchbox. Sure, using fancy new shiny stuff can be great... but old things and recycling are fabulous too.

Gussy up the innards
You can get fancy and use pretty papers if you like, but you might consider using old book pages. I am a BIG fan of old paper. It's tough. It's free. It's fabulous. See if you can source books that would otherwise be heading for the trash heap. I applied my paper with rubber cement and wasn't too concerned with perfection when I applied it. *** Make sure your paper isn't too thick or it may not fit back inside the outside cover. ***

Plan ahead
At this point gather a few items that you might want to include in your box. Try to see what will or will not fit into the space. You don't have to have every detail planned out, but if you have an idea or two... now is the time to see how they might squeeze in.

Create the inner grid
For these boxes I cut wooden stir sticks to create the segments inside the boxes. I glued them in place with white tacky glue. (Try not to get too messy.) You could use cardboard if you like and just cover it with the same paper as your base. 

I find five spaces/compartments is a really nice number. There are a million and three exceptions to this.... BUT... groupings of odd numbers tend to be more visually pleasing than even numbers. Making each space a different size works well also.

It's important to experiment and 'play' with your work. By moving things around, trying new combinations, you're exploring and learning about composition and gaining an appreciation of spatial relationships. Yep, you're that damned fancy! Play around see what happens.

Roughing things up
I sand a lot of my work. I do it to soften edges. I do it to remove excess paper. I do it to age my pieces. I wanted these pieces to look like they had been a around for a while and had a story behind them so I roughed them up a fair bit. Be sure the glue on your paper is dry before sanding.

 Next I rubbed a black ink pad along all of the edges and corners.

Then I applied a weak wash of black and brown paint over the entire thing. I like to let it pool a little in the corners and crevices.

The secret to a good grunging is many washes and a little bit of colour... I added a bit of yellow to 'dirty' it up.

Speaking of grunging... 
I printed and aged the pdf of sweet nothings I posted yesterday to include in my memento boxes.

I like to use tea to stain my paper because it doesn't smell afterwards like coffee does. I also don't saturate my sheets, I splatter them. If you are using an inkjet, stain your paper first, then iron your sheets before printing. If using a laser printer, you can stain after printing... just be careful when ironing your sheet flat because it may heat transfer the image to your ironing board!

I wanted to create stacks of sweet words so I cut out strips and then ran the inkpad along the edges. You'll notice there's some smudging there. I rather like seeing smudges and brush strokes... they're evidence of time and activity. Old things aren't neat and perfect, they're worn and weathered. Don't get hung-up on perfection.

Tearing the words apart, rather than cutting, gives quite a nice effect.

You may want to roll or scroll quotes or messages to include in the smallest spaces. A little bit of red string will hold it closed, add colour, and automatically make the viewer wonder what's inside.

For an extra romantic gesture, use your own words and write something in your own hand rather than cheating like me :)

Now start putting it all together! 
Try to tell a story with your box by making each item unique and meaningful. Don't forget to make it visually appealing. Think about composition, texture, colour... each component should work with the others and create one beautiful object as a whole.

Little things you might consider including: images, scrolls, words, phrases, stamps, matches, herbs, dried flowers, little candles, coins, pen nibs, pencil nubs, small papers, paper butterflies, moss, vials, buttons, seeds, nuts, tiny keys, letters, stones, shells, bottled sand, potions, dried leaves, apple seeds, ribbon, lock of hair, tiny bones, hearts, starts, charms, pearls, gems.... whatever you can dream up :)

The exterior
At this point I use some decorative paper to pretty-up the exterior of my boxes.

To keep with the 'aged' look of the interior I sand and ink the edges.

I try to carry the feeling of the interior to the outside of the box. I add old things, mementos, that continue the story I'm telling. Nice things to include on the exterior are stamps, bindings, ribbons, sealing wax, notes, twine. Ensure that the exterior objects won't be too disturbed by the opening and closing of the box.
She had written home once, "Don't worry about me. I'm not lonely anymore."

The two of them had been smitten from the start.

They had spent windy afternoons at the seaside, and a warm mid-summer eve laying in mossy patches, counting stars, giggling from drinking too much sweet wine. She had once overheard him whisper "My beloved." when the morning sun streamed through their windows and he thought she was still asleep.

She kept those memories close. They were stored in a tiny box, with an iron nail bound against it to protect those little treasures.

"I love your feet for they have wandered over the earth and through the wind and water until they brought you to me." and with a bit of beach glass it was sealed.

A lost button from his waistcoat. The very one they both reached for, resulting in their first touch.

The nib he had used to write all the love notes he was afraid to send.

The words of love they shared.

The shell he held in his hand when he first saw her on the shore.

No one would have suspected his heart was so sentimental.

And there you have it! Within that tiny little box you've done research, explored symbolism, composition, visual story telling, recycling, the power of the written word AND gained an appreciation for little things and tight spaces. That's an awful big job for such a little box!

Now, if you want to be absolutely terribly romantic, give this little memento to your lovey on any day but Valentine's.


Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Spreading some love...

I'm planning a little "Love" themed how-to later on this week
and put together this collage sheet of sweet nothings for you to use.

Please don't sell, or distribute, in part or whole as your own or I'll turn you into a toad.
You know the deal.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Inspiration in unlikely places

I did an interview the other day and was asked about inspiration.

I'm pretty sure that inspiration is mostly about recognising what's right there in front of you.

Today we went on a walk through a little cemetery called Greenwood. It's just around the corner from the Pixie house. The family who owned our home many years ago are buried there.

I've always loved cemeteries. They are filled with quiet and calm. They are a very good places for thinking... and finding. Even today, damp and dreary, we found inspiration.

Saturday, January 12, 2013


Our snow is melting.

It has been raining and unseasonably warm this week. I have been assured that winter will resume. No need for panic, there will be plenty of time for sledding and skating... just not right this minute. My snow boots aren't going back into the closet just yet.

This morning I discovered something interesting in the melting snow. A rather long trail.

For more than fifteen feet this line appears in the snow. There are spots where the snow has not completely melted but you can  make out the dark line of the tunnel beneath a thin layer of frosty ice.

In other spots the snow has melted away and evidence of a small burrowing friend has been exposed. Perhaps he was on his way to a holiday party?

I like the idea of a bustling world beneath that white surface.

Perhaps if I followed the trail I'd find a stash of stolen sunflower seeds from the bird feeder and the button that popped off my coat last Thursday.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Faerie Berries

There's something about little red berries. They look like they are probably very delicious.

When D was little, reaching out to those tempting little orbs, we would always say "Don't touch those! Those are faerie berries."


One day, a very long time ago, two children were playing near the woods. After a grand day of romping and hiding and chasing, they found themselves quite hungry. The young boy spied some delicious looking red berries that seemed ripe to be picked. He plucked several off their branches and popped them into his mouth. They were delicious.

His little friend was also hungry and she too grabbed a handful of those berries. Her eyes widened as she realized their sweetness, and she promptly swallowed them down.

The two children found the berries so delicious that they ate and ate and ate. Although they were no longer hungry, they behaved very greedily, and stuffed themselves full.

When the children left for home, the berry bush was bare.

A week passed before the children returned to that same spot. Again they played and played, tiring themselves out. When the sun was high, they realized it was time for their tea and that their bellies were quite empty. Off they trotted to the berry bush.

Just as the boy was reaching out for one of the sweet little fruits, a small man stepped from the bush.

"What do you want? Stay away from my berries!" The little man grumbled.

He was round and gruff. His clothes made of scraps of leather and furs. A bushy brown beard framed his round face. Somewhere in the whiskers two dark eyes twinkled. The man was less than two feet tall but his trident of impossibly large thorns made him an imposing figure nonetheless.

The little girl spoke up sweetly, "Oh please sir, we are quite hungry from playing all day. We only wanted a handful."

The tiny man looked at the children skeptically and said "Very well. If you are hungry, a handful each, but no more. You have been warned!" and with that he pointed his thorny weapon at the children, a sign that he was to be taken seriously. Then the little man turned and disappeared through the berry bush branches.

The children each took one handful and sat beside the bush to enjoy their treat. When they were done they took some more. What harm could a few more berries do? Surely they would not be missed. Then, another handful, and another.

Tummies bursting the children rolled over and fell asleep beneath the empty berry bush.

It was dark when the children woke to the sound of their names being called. Their parents were quite relieved to find them unharmed. The entire search party was pleased to see them and the mood was merry at the happy discovery.

"I warned you!"a gruff voice interrupted the good cheer. The rough little man stepped forward into the torch light. The group was shocked silent, no one dared move. "We fed your children when they were hungry. They gave no thanks or thought. They showed only greed. From this day forth, if any man or child should eat from our berry bushes, the consequences will be... unpleasant." A dark smile spread beneath the little man's whiskers. As he disappeared into the dark of the woods he called out, "You have been warned!"

The townspeople went back and spread word of the warning given by the strange little man. For a long time no one dared touch a berry bush, but eventually the encounter with the little man was all but forgotten. The warning became nothing more than a fairy tale and no one pays much attention to them.

One day, two children were playing near the woods and found themselves quite hungry. The young boy spied some delicious looking red berries that seemed ripe to be picked. He plucked several off their branches and popped them into his mouth. They were delicious.

His little friend was also hungry and she too grabbed a handful of those berries. Her eyes widened as she realized their sweetness and she promptly swallowed them down.

Tummies bursting, the children rolled over and fell asleep beneath the empty berry bush.

This time the discovery of the children was not so jovial.

The search party wept as the little man stepped out of the berry bush once again. With his thorned trident he pointed at one man in the group, the one who had eaten the berries as a boy all those years ago, the father of the boy now laying beneath the berry bush. "I warned you! I warned you!" he sobbed, for the gruff little man was crying too.

The little man was not an entirely heartless or bad creature. He knew how tempting those little berries could be. Out of his grief he gifted the people with berry bushes of their own. Berries they could eat their fill of with little consequence. To ensure that there was always fruit for the wild folk however, he reserved a very few plants just for them. Again he proclaimed that should they be eaten, the consequences would be 'unpleasant'.

And so, to this day, you should always take special care to never, ever, eat from a Faerie Berry bush.

You have been warned.

Tuesday, January 08, 2013


At the bottom of our hill there is a small stream that runs year round. It's a beautiful and enchanting spot. It even sounds lovely...

A perfect babbling brook!

I'm certain if the goblins didn't live down there I'd plonk myself down and dream away. But goblins do live down there, so I'll settle for short visits.

Today I stumbled upon a hole in the snow down by the stream. It was a strange little hole, about 5" across. There were no prints of any sort surrounding it. The snow lay even and undisturbed for a good 12 feet surrounding it. I looked inside and saw that it was the entrance to a deep snow tunnel, but at the end of the tunnel... nothing.

I suspect whatever made the tunnel also made a door of snow to fool silly humans who go looking inside holes in the snow.

Monday, January 07, 2013

Planning Ahead

Winter is just settling in but I'm already thinking ahead to May and June. I'm scheduling some events for the coming year and two things I'm really excited about are "A Walk Through the Woods" and "The Firefly Picnic".

In May we'll be hosting "A Walk Through the Woods", a hike through Proctor Provincial Park.
As we make our way through the woods we'll search for faerie hiding spots and signs of magical activity.
It should be great fun and a fabulous way to stir up a bit of inspiration.

Summer Solstice is a night full of magic and the perfect time for spying faeries.
This year we're celebrating by revealing the brand new faerie tour
and making merry on Pixie Hill with a night time picnic!

If you are planning a trip to Pixie Hill THIS is the event to attend.

We're limiting the number of participants for this event to 20.
So if you'd like to partake in the magic please register early.

It's going to be divine.

For more information on these events please visit the Pixie Hill website.


NOW, for my far-away friends I'm working on some online creativity workshops.
that will feed your creativity and help you push your work to the next level.
AND because I know that money is tight for so many right now,
I'll be offering a couple of free mini-workshops too.

Lack of funds should NEVER hinder your creative spirit.

Sunday, January 06, 2013

Chook in the Snow

Chook in the Snow
6" x 12" • Acrylic on Canvas

We have several laying hens here at the Hill. We love our girls. They're warm and fat and funny.

The girls (as Mr Pixie calls them) live in a hen house in the winter. The house is on sort of stilts so there's a spot beneath that is clear of snow. When the girls need some fresh air they sit under there and complain about the weather "Bawk, baaa, bawk, bawk, bwaaa."

Here's one of our newest gals pecking some scratch seed from the snow. She'd much rather have grapes (they all would) but she'll settle.