Sunday, May 30, 2010

Dandelion Clocks - Make a Wish

I love the silver spheres of dandelion seed heads, the magical globes of "wishes" ready to be blown away on a hopeful breath. On local walking paths and ecologically friendly herbicide-free lawns and sports fields the shaggy golden crowns have flourished and have given way now to seed heads that catch the setting sun and glow like lamps in the early evening hours.
It is a mixed blessing, leaving nature alone. If natural and beautiful the dandelions are also invasive and I have spent some hours on my knees uprooting the shaggy darlings from my flower beds. I usually find, on brushing my knees and finishing up, that some healthy specimens have escaped the purge. Sometimes I'll put them in a jar, to paint. But in their proper place, among tall grasses and buttercups, they surely must be sign posts to the fairies' meeting places.

Acorn Moon's beautiful post about buttercups sent me hunting through my bookshelves for a long-remembered image from "Faberge, Jeweler to Royalty", the Spray of Buttercups.

(" gold enameled translucent yellow and green over engraved grounds, and cornflowers enameled translucent blue with diamond centers, with green gold stalks and leaves in a rock crystal jar. A diamond, ruby and black-enameled bee in red gold is poised on one of the buttercups. " Height 9 inches. From the collection of H.M. Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother).

I know that somewhere I have seen a photo of a Faberge dandelion too, but it is not in this book nor in any other I have here, which is a mystery. As I recall it had little diamonds clustered at the centre or accenting individual seeds. Perhaps it is time to find a dandelion puff and make a wish to find the lovely thing again.

(If it is fern seed that confers invisibility on fairy folk perhaps the airborne feathery dandelion seed boosts levitation?)
Best fairy wishes to all, whatever your heart's desire may be.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Victoria Day

Victoria Day weekend - fishers on the pier, sail boats on the lake, families on the board walk, dogs on leashes, boys on skateboards (hair carefully brushed over their eyes), girls in shorts and flip-flops going by in groups, the distant sound of firecrackers (leading up to full fireworks at nightfall), an ice cream van with it's tinkling music drawing adults and children from the park next door, and gardeners like myself happily up to our elbows in potting soil.

Fifty three years ago today my parents arrived in Canada from England, docking at Halifax after two weeks at sea. They look stylish and impossibly young in the photos, their two little sons in their arms. Interest in seeing more of the world had brought them to Canada and here was the first of many surprises, that their new country celebrated the birthday of the previous century's monarch. "It's Victoria Day!" was the greeting on that first morning as they made their way from the docks to the train for Toronto.

Back to painting tomorrow, and to preparations for the upcoming art show at Sovereign House.
Meanwhile, Happy Victoria Day!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Puck, Plain and Fancy

A certain youth here used to climb the door frames and swing from the carved brackets, sometimes pausing long enough to be sketched or at least photographed. Most of the fairies in my paintings are young ladies, but every fairy tale needs its Kay or Puck and it has been handy to have one about the house. The sketches are turned into detailed paintings with details of leaf and petal, wing and antennae, and the in-between preparatory work, with the transformation from present realism to timeless tale, is set aside. But both have their magic.

For a Mother's Day treat last week I revisited my favorite book, Good Housekeeping's Cookery Compendium of 1954 (and I could dwell all evening on the delights therein - puddings, pies, crumpets, jam roly-poly, biscuits and cakes, including the exciting chapter on Special Occasion Cakes that I used to leaf through even when my birthday was months away) and looked up the recipe for biscuits with feathered icing.

After an hour or so with the mixing bowl, rolling pin and cookie cutters, I had an impressive stack of plain biscuits (the resident lean young man efficiently disposing of the broken ones for me).

Glace icing was next: first the white, then with the piping bag I applied bars of colour...
dragging the lines with a toothpick to make feathered icing.

The butterfly pattern was a new approach and they turned out reasonably well, with no two alike. Like stages of sketching and painting, the plain ones were as enjoyable in their way as the finished, polished product.

So I wonder, which do you prefer in life - sketched or polished, plain or fancy?

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Mothers and Godmothers

Specially for Mother's Day, on the Etsy shop this week are some hand-bound issues of the "Mothers and Godmothers" edition of our original small Illustrated Fairy Gazettes. Stitched with rainbow thread, this little fairy-to-fairy magazine has 16 pages of articles and advertisements of interest to fairies everywhere. Each one comes in a fairy parchment envelope,

with the Fairy Gazette label as a finishing touch.

We have enjoyed putting together each and every page of these limited editions, small to be shared with small hands, and as perfect in detail as we can make them.

A recent search through long-stored boxes here turned up this 2" item from a Mother's Day some decades ago, my young attempt at perfection in small stitches. I have been enjoying Salley Mavor's beautifully stitched and whimsical illustrations which have brought back memories of my early instruction in embroidery, a lasting gift from mother to daughter.

Have I passed on the craft? Suffice to say that it is rumoured that a hand-wrought gift from welding class is in progress for me this Mother's Day, and I know it will be remarkable.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Welcome May

White petals are falling from this Spring's early blossoms and the lawns and sidewalks are covered with scented confetti, as if festive for the May King and Queen.
On this beautiful first weekend of May I set out with friends to mark the turn of the season with a long walk in the woods. There were trilliums, may apple about to flower, and masses of trout lilies; yellow ones, such I have seen before,
and translucent white ones, which are new to me.
On every walk up in these woods I hope to see the deer but once again only small wildlife showed themselves, like this bright-eyed garter snake beside the path.
"Yellow and black, you're all right Jack,
Red and yellow, a dangerous fellow"

Following fresh deer tracks in the mud we found another small field dweller. He was in a hurry and in one hop he was out of the picture frame and away.
Not pictured here are the furred black ground bees that swarmed around our ankles at a spot overlooking the ravine. They were busy making their new homes in the clay ground and, fortunately, unconcerned with our big boots.

I came home crowned not with a garland of May flowers but with a fine clump of burrs in my hair, and a camera disc full of wild flowers to paint.

"Now every field is clothed with grass, and every tree with leaves; now the woods put forth their blossoms, and the year ass
umes its gay attire."
- Virgil