Monday, February 18, 2013

Eldrum Emporium

Today I'm elated to share with you the epitome of Domythic decor items created by one of our own...Domythic Bliss member Ali English.  Ali has a new business creating stencils and stenciled items.  And my gosh, would I love to decorate my home with ALL of her designs.  Ali shared a few words with us....

I'm fortunate enough to live in a gorgeous cottage in rural Lincolnshire, outside the small and delightful market town of Horncastle, with its myriad antique and junk shops and relaxed atmosphere – which is rather perfect for me, as I am a self confessed introvert with a need for green and trees, quiet and wide open spaces. You don't get much bigger than the skies here in Lincolnshire, as the horizons stretch seemingly forever across the fields that I spend a lot of time walking in. I love to incorporate my passion for nature into interior design, and spend quite a bit of time adding even more decoration to my heavily painted and stencilled cottage, which has trees everywhere – and yes, I do mean everywhere.

There isn't a room in the house that doesn't have at least one tree in it, and I'm increasingly fond of deep, rich jewel tones for room and interior design as well, which means a lot of repainting, re stencilling and the addition of interesting paint effects. I paint and stencil furniture as well, and am currently replacing all my furniture with pieces I have picked up second hand or been given and then painted and stencilled extensively. I spend a lot of time outside, grubbing around in the hedgerows and gathering herbs and fruits for medicine making (I'm a practicing medical herbalist, as well as a stencil artist), also taking photographs that I use as reference for the stencils that convey, to the best of my ability, that thin border between natural world and enchantment, here and there, our home ground and what lies beyond the fields we know.

I first encountered stencilling when I watched my mother happily stencilling celtic borders onto a freshly painted green bedroom wall, and later on when she busily added shells and seaside motifs to the bathroom walls. My aunt also has a long love affair with the stencil, and has dabbled in stencilling and interior design for as long as I can remember. I began my own explorations into this art form very simply, first buying and experimenting with stencils from the stencil library website, and then having a go at designing my own, with basic leaf shapes and a couple of simple borders, but just recently I seem to have taken it to a whole different level, creating bold (for me), swirling designs with lots of spirals (a nightmare to cut out, but oh so worth it in the long run!) My first designs were rather tentative, but then one day not so long ago I sat down to design a raven stencil. To my amazement, it practically drew itself, and the resulting design was much remarked upon and admired by a number of people. So I drew a wolf. And then a winged mouse, and an eagle, and an owl, and trees, and stylised ivy leaves. And then I designed my own set of briar rose pieces, which were then stencilled onto freehand spirals and swirls in order to create my increasingly popular briar rose motif. The sky seems to be the limit these days, with more and more ideas and designs cropping up! There just aren't enough hours in the day to do everything I want to do with my stencil designing. I take some inspiration from William Morris (no surprise there, eh!) but I try to imbue my designs with my own 'take' on myth, magic and fairytale. I am just as inspired by Brian and Wendy Froud and Kinuko Craft's artwork as I am by the Pre-Raphaelite and Art Nouveau movements, though inspiration crops up in the strangest of places sometimes as well!

 The future holds vast quantities of stencil design, as I want to have a full range of animal and bird stencils, and more component stencils that can be used to create beautiful and individual designs. I'm hoping to invest in a proper stencil cutter soon so that people can buy the actual stencils off me, and I'm also hoping to do more textile surface design panelled stencil patterns, that can be used to create beautiful and unique fabric for wall hangings and dress making. Oh, and I will hopefully be collaborating in the nearish future with Katmaren Designs, run by my talented dressmaker sister! As long as I have the time and room to continue creating at the same frantic pace I have been doing just recently, I'm happy, and the Eldrum Tree, my company, will continue to put forth new leaves. Watch this space – its going to be huge. And enchanted!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

An Alberta Medieval Great Hall

On Facebook, I'm in a group that was started by my friend (and super-talented singer) Laurie Ann Haus, called The Sisters of the Seasons.  One day, a woman I didn't know posted a picture in there of "Our Winter Solstice Feast in Our Home."  And the crowd went wild, with me at the head of the mob.  "This is YOUR HOME?!?!" I posted with shock and awe.  I had to see more.  And now I'm pleased to be able to share with you the beautiful home of Linda Bocheck.  

Yeah.  You can see why our jaws were agape.

I asked Linda a few questions about her home, and she graciously answered them.

Firstly, we and our home are located in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. The house was built in 1990 by the original home owners. It was very modern when we bought it several years ago, rather than what it is today, very bland pale blue-grey paint, with white lino and grey carpet throughout the interior, and beige vinyl siding on the exterior. (Iʼll send a photo so you get the idea). It was however well built with possibilities, despite the rather cold boxy feel.

To start at the beginning for us though: since earliest childhood the Arthurian and Grail Legends, and the Pre-Raphaelite depictions of them and of the Faerie Queens has gripped me as some sort of living imaginal ʻtruthʼ. Dreams of castles and Keeps, both of building and living in them have woven insistently in and out of my life. My husband Andrew shares this aesthetic and joy of joys, has incredible creative capacity for making what we dream and scheme up together into concrete reality. There is little other than mudding and taping dry wall that he canʼt do, fortunately for us! We have worked together on this, often designing as weʼve gone, but most of the ʻknow-howʼ has been his, with me assisting in the actual physical work. Itʼs one of those collaborations where an image or idea changes and evolves as weʼve worked with the space. We have been grateful for some great ideas and help from friends along the way. Itʼs been exhausting but it also has been a lot of fun for us to dream and scheme and create together. We are fortunate in having such a similar aesthetic and to be able to roll with ideas together so joyously.

The stonetile exterior and fence, and also on the quoining and barrel-vault on the interior of the house we did hire out, although the structures themselves we did ourselves. The arches and fence were added by us, and then stonetiled. We replaced the front door and re-designed the front entrance from a very 1990s white door to what you see here with a speakeasy. We have a smaller version of that door in the back entrance. 

The tin ceiling in the ʻgreat hallʼ was also added by us. Originally the ceiling had white stipple and two large ceiling fans. This room was a living room but as you can see was a rather awkward shape for use in that way. (We do still occasionally move some of the chairs and a table out in order to put chairs or couches in front of the fireplace for smaller more intimate gatherings).
Andrew built the oak coffering with much staining of both oak and the tin ceilings to get them to the colours they are. I am grateful to an artist friend for her advice and paint know-how which allowed me to antique and make ʻsootyʼ the tin, which I first painted antique gold then worked the black paint with sponges and rags over top in areas.

He also put in merbau hardwood flooring throughout the house, which as you can see is in similar warm mid-browns as the oak panelling that has been hand crafted and stained in the little sitting room (formerly the dining room) adjacent to the two story great hall.

Originally there was not a fireplace in that space, but it just begged for a large ʻmanor houseʼ-style fireplace and French overmanteau. We had this one custom made of limestone by Zoltan of HunCan, along with three others: one in our bedroom, one to replace the existing fireplace in the living room adjacent to the kitchen, and one for the stonetile courtyard fence/wall we also have added to the property (it wonʼt be installed until the spring, as itʼs very snowy here at the moment!)

The ʻgreat hallʼ tables and chairs come from Finesse Furnishings here in Edmonton, as have several of our favourite finds. The massive chandelier is from Chintz and Co. another favourite place for sourcing beautiful fixtures and home accessories. The rest are antiques, sourced both locally and on ebay, etc. The antique chandelier in the sitting room is somewhat obscured by the black and red ʻravenʼ feather boa I wove in and around it for the Winter Solstice theme.

Most often I place table runners in the usual way, but given that we were hosting a Solstice/End of the Year Feast and party, along with Christmas dinners I decided to purchase several matching table runners to have them serve as place mats but also to add to the decor for the season and the events. We can fit eighteen people around that table, sadly not more!

This was the second Christmas/Solstice with the great hall and sitting room being fully done. It really is a magical space for us, and it seems to elicit that same response from pretty much everyone who sees it which moves us greatly. We imagine holding many future events: ʻcostume soireesʼ (we do Medieval Feasts already), salon evenings and perhaps other ʻgathering of dark romanticsʼ and artists. It already has held many big and small gathering of friends and family: someone told me she hears echoes of singing and laughter when she steps into the house! Iʼd like to think that in some way all the laughter and conversation and food and wine and dancing that has already occurred there imbues the very walls! That thought makes the hard work of it all all the more joyous.

In the last year we have gutted the kitchen and living room to the studs, rewired and replumbed and redesigned. It is nearing completion. The mantle is currently being made for us - it will be more tudor in design. We have installed chiselled wood beams in the ceiling overhead, stained a dark walnut colour to give the space a more medieval low-ceilinged effect while the cabinets themselves are cream coloured with black iron hardware to allow for it to feel ʻlightʼ enough to work in given that it is north facing, but still within the general aesthetic. 

Stay tuned for more posts in the future of this absolutely gorgeous home transformation into a wholly Domythic space!!  

Monday, February 11, 2013

Mythic March

It started as a message between friends.

The amazing filmmaker, Lisa Stock, and I were talking about the National Novel Writing Month event, or Na No Wri Mo.  We both love the idea of the event, but the timing for me is impossible.  In 2010 I last participated, but November is a rather frantic month when you have 20-some people to buy Christmas gifts for among family alone like I have.  So after some discussion, Lisa and I decided we would do our own writing month in a slower time...March, to be precise.

Mythic March.

I know this blog has a clear theme: decorating and surrounding ourselves in our daily lives with reminders of the myth and wonder we hold dear.  But ultimately I very much want to encourage creative pursuits in everyone who comes across this blog, no matter their preferred medium.

So I'd like to invite all of you to participate in Mythic March with us, and I'm writing this post so far before the month so that you might have a chance to think on how you want to participate.  The traditional Na No Wri Mo format is to try to write a 50,000 word novella within the month's time.  This is what I'll be attempting to do.

I'd encourage all of you who have had stories dancing in our heads, nudging you to write them down, sculptures you see when you close your eyes but are too afraid to try to make a reality, or blank canvases crying out to be filled....try your hand at it in Mythic March.  There's no harm in it...even if you only get your project a portion of the way done, you can be proud to have been brave enough to begin.  As Ira Glass so wisely said, those who are our inspirations and heroes in art became so because they practiced...repeated the work again and again until they slowly bettered themselves.

I'll close with a mosaic of images that I feel hold stories within them. one else can tell the stories you can.  No one else sees the world quite the same way you do.  Share your world with the rest of us.  If there's one thing I've learned in the past year of participating actively in the Mythic Arts community it is that we don't bite.  None of us, no matter how impressive or unknown the name: we all just love to see creativity thrive.


By Raiders of the Lost Art

By Fairysiren

By Legend Photography

By Roberto Kusterle

By Eugenio Recuenco

By Dividing Me Photography

By Eugenio Recuenco

By Girltripped

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Happy Little Updates

Hello, stranger!  It's been a while...almost a month now...since I last posted to Domythic Bliss.  Rest assured, the group is by no means in a lull or dead...posting is still happening apace in our Facebook group, but I've been quite busy this past month working on another, still Domythic-y, but personal project.   You can read about it over on my personal home blog, Catty-Corner Cottage

Anyhow, I have three different tidbits to share with you today.  First, I've been reading every new Hobbit film-related book that comes into the library where I work.  The current one on my nightstand (well, not literally...the book is too large!) is The Hobbit Chronicles, and for those of you with a Domythic bent, I definitely recommend it the most highly of all the associated books out there right now.  The book is more about the art design of the film, and the entire first chapter is devoted to Bag End interior and object design.  Even the aesthetic patterns on the furniture and soft furnishings are discussed. 

Second, I know it's not entirely decorating related (although I did spend some time distracted by the items on his mantle behind him) but I have to share this incredible video submitted for Terri Windling's new Moveable Feast, A Dragon's Feast.  I wasn't familiar with this poet and bard before now, but his performance here is captivating and timelessly mythic.  Do watch!

Finally, our own Shane Odom has been working on redecorating his daughter's bedroom in his house, and he put together a short instructional video on how to paint ceiling clouds.  Watch for the shout-out at 6:00!

Shane is indeed right...clouds on a ceiling are another way to make your home a mythical space.  The library where I work is currently undergoing major renovations, and our children's department is going to have drop-ceiling clouds like these:

In your own home, you should never forget the sixth surface of any given room: four walls, a floor, and the ceiling