Sunday, December 30, 2012

The Year Behind, The Year Ahead

Image c. Red Generation
Well, 2012 is winding down, and I'm starting to hear the inevitable talk among my friends and loved ones about what we hope to see and accomplish in the coming year.  Unfortunately, too many people  I care about have expressed a desire for 2013 to treat them better than 2012 did, as they have had a difficult time of things this year.  I have to confess, I have the opposite concern.  My 2012 was so phenomenally amazing, I hope I can sustain it into 2013.

In January of 2012, I started Domythic Bliss on the encouragement of Theodora Goss.  Bryony Whistlecraft came up with the genius blog title, and since the blog began, I have received nothing but positive feedback and encouragement from all quarters.  I tentatively contacted some of the people who until then had seemed far beyond my reach, and instead of dismissal, I received even more encouragement, kindness, and inspiration.  I quickly realized that people like Charles de Lint and Mary Ann Harris, Charles Vess, Terri Windling, Toby and Sarah Froud, Ellen Kushner and Delia Sherman...are all kindred souls as well as respect-worthy creative minds.  They are genuine in their desire to see the Mythic Arts grow, stretch, and flourish.

In early October, I received a phone call from Kim Cross of Faerie Magazine, saying that she was very interested in having me work as an editor for her publication.  I agreed enthusiastically, and we set to work on the (forthcoming) issue 24, and brainstorming exciting directions for the magazine to travel.  In early November, I went to Faeriecon, an experience that was utterly transformational and life-changing.

Faeriecon really lit a fire in my head.  It solidified to me the importance of Domythic Bliss both as a blog and a concept: we don't just share pretty pictures here, we encourage the idea of living one's belief in magic and wonder, and the power of story to transform every aspect of our lives on a daily basis.  But talking to Delia, Ellen and Terri at Faeriecon and listening to their encouraging words in panels also gave me a strong desire to start creating for myself as well.  Toward that end, I have established three significant goals for the coming year in my creative life.

Goal #1: To write a 50,000+ word novel during March

Lisa Stock and I both have participated in NaNoWriMo in the past, but both of us were talking this past November about what horrible timing the month-long writing contest is for us.  We agreed that we should try to do NaNoWriMo again, but do it during a different month that was less hectic for us.  March was the month we chose.  So in March, I hope to write a novel I've had running through my brain for a few years now (a hint in the image above).  The ultimate purpose?  Well, I'm writing not necessarily to get anything's a very rough market out there at present.  But I DO want to work toward bettering my writing.  I want to find a way to express my own voice as a writer, and add something to the world of the mythic arts, no matter how big or how small.  Toward a similar end, that brings me to goal 2...

Goal #2: To create a handful of artworks (5 or more) throughout the year that successfully work toward establishing a recognizable personal style

After returning from Faeriecon, I realized that although I've been doing more art lately than I have in a very long time (I spent about 5 years or so not even picking up a pencil for anything more than costume doodles), I've nonetheless gotten lazy, and not pushed myself and my art abilities.  When I look at the artists I admire, I see a style that is instantly recognizable, not only because of the medium they use, but also the repeated subject matter, the tone and "feel" of the work, etc.  Look at art by Charles Vess, Terri Windling, Brian Froud, Kinuko Craft, and Virginia Lee.  Would you ever mistake one of their pieces for another person's work?  I want to work hard to push myself, better the quality of my work.  But I also want to push myself to find an identifiable style.

In early December, I created an artwork for my niece's Christmas present.  I've given her a different fairy tale artwork every year for Christmas since she was born.  But this year, I really pushed myself in creating it.  Every line and every shade in this piece, I had in my mind to really express my love of myth and wonder and not get lazy with the creation of it.  And the result is one of my favorite artworks I've done in recent years.  I feel it's a good first step toward the goal for this year.

Goal #3: To create a new website for the Mythic Arts

This is the biggest one of my three goals.  As I talked to people at Faeriecon, I got very enthusiastic about my personal desire to encourage the future generations of the Mythic Arts.  I know there are some amazing website hubs out there in the mythic community: Cabinet des Fées, Goblin Fruit, Sur La Lune, Fae Nation, and Duirwaigh to name a few.  But I still feel like there would be a place for another.  This website would not only be a central location for sharing what I might post on Domythic Bliss and The Beautiful Necessity, but it could (emphasis on could... this is still very much in the brainstorming phase...heck I don't even have a name for it yet) include message boards, a goblin market for crafters of mythic items, a space to share fine art photographers who do mythic-inspired work, and even a quarterly e-zine / journal featuring both articles of fiction and non-fiction.  The ultimate goal here would be to create another way to support those creating phenomenal works in mythic fields, and to promote the writings and mythic musings of some brilliant minds who might not otherwise get a chance to share their voice via traditional mediums (i.e. print magazines or publishers)

This is where you come in.  I would love to hear some feedback and opinions on my goals, especially goal #3, since it will take many people to pull off if it is to succeed!  If you love the idea of a new website, please let me know!  If you would like to be involved, know someone who might be of assistance, or just want to say anything about it, please let me know in your comments below this post, or in our Domythic Bliss group on Facebook.

And most importantly, have a very Enchanted New Year!


Sunday, December 16, 2012

That's What Bilbo Baggins Hates!

Chip the glasses and crack the plates!
Blunt the knives and bend the forks!
Thats what Bilbo Baggins hates-
Smash the bottles and burn the corks!

Cut the cloth and tread on the fat!
Pour the milk on the pantry floor!
Leave the bones on the bedroom mat!
Splash the wine on every door!

Dump the crocks in a boiling bowl;
Pound them with a thumping pole;
And when you’ve finished, if any are whole,
Send them down the hall to roll!

That’s what Bilbo Baggins hates!
So, carefully! Carefully with the plates!

This week, I attended the local midnight showing of The Hobbit.  And then I went back today and watched it again with my husband.  I hope no one will think of it as a major spoiler if I tell you that a good deal of the action at the beginning of the movie takes place in Bag End, the masterpiece of a magical home in which Bilbo Baggins lives.  At the high frame rate, watching the movie was like watching a BluRay film, and I appreciated and drooled over every last detail of the cozy Hobbit hole on the big screen.

But one thing struck me as I watched Bilbo waddle comfortably around his peaceful and warm little home, and then stare in frantic but very British-polite silence as his house is thrown into chaos by the Dwarves.  Bilbo runs around the house, grabbing a chair from a dwarf, saying it's "an antique, not for sitting," chastises another dwarf for cleaning his boots on his grandmother's heirloom box, and of course infamously panics when the dwarves begin tossing around the cutlery and plates.  

Now, I've seen the animated version of The Hobbit, and I've read the book, but somehow it didn't really strike home with me until I was watching this new film version with the utterly real and lived-in Bag End full of cozy Domythicity I could really sink my teeth into.  All of a sudden I realized that I could so very utterly sympathize with Bilbo Baggins.  Although I also don't mind visitors as long as I know them ahead of time, I also tend to get rather obsessed with keeping every last corner of my home neat.  I'm the person who walks out of a room and someone scoots a stool a few inches off-kilter with a twinkle in their eyes, just to see me walk back in and immediately go straighten it.

And let me tell you, this sort of behavior doesn't lend itself well to guests feeling welcome.  I pride myself on creating and constantly improving a home that will feel like an extension of the people who live there, as well as an outward reflection of myth, fairy tale, and wonder.  But I also want a space that will welcome those who visit with open arms.  Despite Bilbo's full-to-bursting larder of food, and the warm crackling fire and cozy feel of his home, his attitude toward his guests was entirely panicked and hostile.  I could feel myself wincing with him as I saw the dirt and filth ground into the carpet, or see a dwarf using a crocheted doily as a dish rag. 

To have a warm and cozy home to look forward to returning to when one is out adventuring is a wonderful and blessed thing: Bilbo refers to this later in the film.  And yet there has to be a balance.  For all the Baggins in my blood (the Hobbit who loves nothing more than to stay home by the fire drinking tea and reading), there is also Took (someone who needs a bit of adventure and risk taking in her life too).  The best of home owners, like the best of adventurers, can balance out the two, and make their guests feel welcome and at home as well.

The morning after the chaotic dwarven party, Bilbo opens his eyes and sees a perfectly clean,  perfectly quiet house entirely restored to rights.  He smiles and nods, and then realizes that sometimes the cleanest and most organized house is still missing the things a home requires: life, song, laughter, and movement.  Furniture is made to be sat in, stools are meant to be moved where needed.  Bilbo and I both need to learn to loosen up a little, and enjoy the adventures that arrive at our front doors.

Etsy Link

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Wildcraft Your Holiday

Well, anyone who has met Shane Odom will know that he has an exuberance toward the things he enjoys that is quite contagious.  I already shared my enthusiasm for snowflakes that came from his encouragement last year.   Now I have to share another holiday hobby that I picked up from the same source.


It's incredible how many beautiful holiday decorations with an incredible earthy and magical feel you can make just by going for a walk in the woods and bringing home fallen and dried bits.  And even if you don't have a forest nearby in which to walk, you can still wildcraft at this time of year, as you'll see.

A wreath is the easiest thing to wildcraft.  First you start with a grapevine or other pliable branch base, either bought from the store, or made from vine around your home. 

Now comes the most fun part.  Adding to this, you can of course create a base layer of evergreen / pine, but there are so many other options as well.


Wild rose hips:

And of course English ivy, which won't mind your taking heaps of it for this'll just keep growing and growing....

Chinese bittersweet

Also of course there is holly, both with berries and without...
Image source
and Boxwood

Image source

The possibilities are endless!  For instance, the lambs ear in my garden has really gone nuts this year, and earlier at a fall garden show I noticed a vendor selling the dried floral stalks.  Well shoot...I loved how they looked so pale and snow-laden, and I didn't even think to save mine!  Next year....

Image source

And then a quick Google search, sure enough, showed an incredible pale wreath made from Lamb's Ear...though I suspect it's rather delicate and better used for an inside wildcrafted wreath.

Image source

So there you have it....stick wild branches in, step back, and enjoy!

Or, as Shane does and I would love to try sometime, hang a wreath on a friend or neighbor's doorknob anonymously as a winter gift.

Bear in mind also that wildcrafting is not reserved to wreaths only.  Last year and this year I've created green arrangements for my holiday porch using items gathered from a winter walk in a favorite park.  Anything that looked beautiful and that wouldn't be disturbed by taking (ex: fallen branches or naturally dried wildflowers) was game.  (of course be careful not to take anything poisonous...educate yourself)

Oh, and as I mentioned earlier, you can totally do this in a suburban environment too...I got most of my greenery this year from Home Depot...they have a bin into which they discard their extra cut branches from their sold trees, and they are free for the taking.  Add to that a few branches from a tree in your yard or your neighbor's, some dried items from your garden no matter how big or small....

Here are two more resources for inspiration...this gorgeous Facebook album of wreaths made from a variety of natural materials.

And this slideshow showing a variety of ways to use greenery in your decorating inside and outside.

Advanced warning though...this hobby is habit-forming.  It's so fun to create beauty from the sparse wild items found in winter, you'll find yourself constantly searching for more bits to take for your arrangements, and more places to display bits of greenery.

Many thanks to Shane for allowing me to use his photos for this post.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Domythic Domestic Holidays

Ah, Christmas.  My favorite holiday of the matter how you celebrate it, it seems nearly impossible to escape a touch of magic and Domythicity in your holiday.  Glowing lights, bringing nature indoors, all elements of Domythic living year-round, and it's everywhere during this time of year. 

So here's a celebration of Domythic Christmas decor...images found scattered on the internet that especially seem to embody this fairy tale quality.


I love the idea of a pair of vessels to either side of the front door, laden with greenery.  I stole this idea and tried something similar on my front porch this year.
 The same idea works inside as well.

 Such a sweet idea for a dress form!  If I didn't have a cat who would eat half of the skirt, I'd be tempted to try this at home as well.

 A gorgeous image of winter in Russia.


There's an incredible project being shared on Facebook by the phenomenal artist Tony DiTerlizzi.  He's working on a large-scale installation for a holiday store window, and wow...this is a sketch of the finished project plan.

via Tony DiTerlizzi's Facebook

 How about a butterfly tree?


I'm charmed also by the idea of chandelier decoration using greenery and ornaments.  Sadly, real greenery used long-term throughout the season is annoyingly difficult to clean off the table (at least my table) as it sheds....I do want to try this again sometime though with faux greenery.

 How would you like a gingerbread dragon?


A beautiful kissing ball made of book pages.

Image source unknown
A gingerbread Baba Yaga hut?  Most awesome thing I've seen lately.


 I own this bowl, and oh do I ever love it.  It's perfect for the holidays.


Another beautiful front porch, including Colonial fruit details.


If you have room, why not bring the whole sleigh into your entry?

What a stunning photo!

Once again, greenery above the table.  I love the oversized ornaments too, though they wouldn't work in every home.

Above three images via link

A gingerbread home draped in lights.


So many ideas, so little time!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Gruß vom Krampus!

I love Krampus.

I've been a fan of his for about eight years now, ever since I first heard of this Alpine demon who visits children side by side with St. Nicholas in order to punish bad children.  The punishment?  A night in hell's tortures.  His weapons?  A bundle of twig switches, and a basket on his back into which he will stuff the rebellious children.

"How awful!" you  might think to yourself.  But here's the important part, demonstrated wonderfully by my favorite classic Krampus illustration below....

Krampus doesn't punish all children: he only punishes the bad, spoiled, rebellious, rotten ones.  And he brings them back, honest...he just scares them enough to put them on the straight and narrow path.  The little boy above might be stuffed into the basket, but the good little girl gets a basket of apples to enjoy. 

The folklore of Krampus is far more potent than the risk of a few lumps of coal and missing presents, and he has recently been enjoying a resurgence in popularity, as parents lament their childrens' increasing dissatisfaction with anything but the best and latest and most expensive of gifts.  Now, in several cities across America as well as the traditional Europe, you can find costumed revelers engaging in Krampuslauf, or parades of Krampuses (Krampusi?  Not sure of the plural).  And of course most often this is done today, December 5th, the evening of Krampusnacht, the night before the Feast of St. Nicholas on December 6th.

Whereas a few years ago, a search on Ebay, Etsy, or Google for Krampus would only bring up a handful of antique postcards and one or two handmade items, now there are pages and pages of results on Etsy.  However, a lot of people seem to fixate on Krampus as a terrifying devil: they miss seeing the fey-like whimsy of his role in traditional Alpine Christmas alongside St. Nick.  My favorite representations of Krampus are those that get the classical subtlety right, and I want to share a few of my favorites here.

I love how this one shows the duality of Santa and Krampus.  Both reading from the same list, both with their sacks for separate purposes.

I couldn't find a good origin link for this image, but it looks like chocolate figures of St. Nick and Krampus.  Hilarious!

Once again, the two exist as a partnership, to assist in the betterment of children.

 Now for merchandise! 

I love this candle on Etsy, but I really love the design of Krampus on it.  As a silhouette-cutting enthusiast (link), this tempts me to make a Christmas silhouette of Krampus like this, with a matching Santa.

I love this Amigurumi doll...what a combination of cute and a little twisted...



Love the detail of the shell for this miniature Krampus with the child inside.

This is an embroidered design for a tea towel :) Link
And of course there's Brom's new fiction novel just released featuring Krampus.

 I thought recently of what a marvelous thing it would be if someone made a Topsy-Turvy doll of Krampus and St. Nick.  Well...someone did!

A gorgeous pitcher was recently on Ebay:

Missmonster is the queen of Krampus.  The rest of these images are from her imagination. 

I should note...there are a few charming Krampus items available for purchase, namely a sweater and Christmas stocking, that I did not include here because there is some controversy about whether they used Missmonster's art without crediting or compensating her.  As a proponent of small businesses and artists, I didn't choose to share those here.