In 1929, Virginia Woolf's essay "A Room of One's Own" imagined a literal and figurative space for women writers. As a writer myself, I made this miniature room out of a vintage cigar box that imagines that space.
I made the furniture myself, a rustic ladder back chair and a simple writing desk, as well as a tiny cork board and a "picture window" made from a vintage postcard of the Camden Harbor. When you have a room like this, you need a beautiful view.
The feminine space includes a blotter, a calendar, a letter opener,a blank note pad, a pot of white tulips and a bottle of wine.
The cigar box can even close so you can take it with you. Normally these custom made shadow boxes go for $75 (not including shipping or tax), but this one can be found at The Red Barn Marketplace for a summer sale of $55. There is one more that can be found at Beyond The Sea in Lincolnville. It is an ideal, one-of-a-kind gift for the writer in your life. I can also do custom work where your favorite miniature book is included on the desk. Contact me for more info.
In July, 2017, Coastal Mountain Land Trust donated nearly a hundred slabs of ragged wood to Midcoast Maine artists for them to fashion an art piece from it. (Read more details about that here.) My husband, Justin and I collaborated on this sculpture, a suspended fairy dress, calling it The Banshee.
This art piece is named for the Irish fairy who has grown solitary with sorrow. She shows up at the moment of death and wails out her grief. Some say she is really a ghost, wronged by the ancestor of the dying.
But wait...it gets better. See what happens when darkness falls....
Buried beneath the wood slab is a tiny red LED light that can be clicked on and off, turning her sinister heart light on at the moment of someone's impending death. Created exclusively for Coastal Mountain Land Trust's "Ragged Wood Art Project," this fairy dress will be donated to CMLT and sold as part of their campaign to protect 1,400 acres of land on Ragged Mountain. This dress comes from the woods and it will go back to the woods.
Justin and I are actively working on a body of work this year around literary shadowboxes, altered book arts and "Wee Folk" Irish fairy tales embodied in sculpture. Our interests are on the darker side of literature designed for a show in libraries and galleries that lean toward the alternative. If you are interested in having us display our work with you, please contact us.
These are sociable fairies and they hide in the beach roses lining the ocean during the day. On a full moon, like we had the other night, they come out to watch the seals in the cove as they dart around and flank the translucent squid, attacking them for their meal. The Beach Rose Red fairies find that completely amusing and "in the grove of great rose-trees, with the moon shining on it as bright as day, and thousands of nightingales singing in the branches"* the Wee Folk dance the night away.
Here is a closer look at them. They are made from birch bark collected on my property and dried beach roses collected by the sea in Maine. They smell wonderful. The back of the bodice is laced up with pale pink thread. You can find this one-of-a-kind fairy dress with a custom hanger at The Flower Goddess in Rockland ($45).
*Excerpt from The Story of Fairyfoot by Francis Browne (Through The Fairy Halls of My Bookhouse, Chicago Publishers, The Bookhouse for Children, 1920)
Far from sociable, these fairies are to be avoided at any cost. Pictured here are two sisters after the full moon we had recently. They were raised, as all Sentinels are, like the Amazons, a tribe of warrior females who protect the raths or "forts," the ancient fortifications in fields encircled by ditches. The Sentinels are always watching for human interference. Should you stumble into a field and see a curious mound of raised earth in a circle, know they are nearby, watching you. They have been known to attack people and dive into their hair like bats. They will lure you to the fort and drag you down for eternity. They are most keen to keep Man away from the sacred fairy dens, so beware. And don't ever go out walking alone on the night of a full moon.
A closer look at one of the sisters. This one-of-a-kind fairy dress can be found at The Flower Goddess in Rockland with her own custom hanger ($45).
And the other. Their decayed leaf bodice, dried bramble and bird-like wings allow them to blend seamlessly into the duff of a forest.
Little fairies, the ones who dwell on land, are called Sidheog and I caught this one yesterday sunning herself in the blue hydrangea bush.
Like a hummingbird, she doesn't like to be seen up close and she quickly hurried away. She is a sweet, summer fairy, the most sociable kind when they get to trust you. I have heard them all around our property at dusk playing their fairy music. It's like the way the light changes blue into dusk. All of my worries sort of fade into the background in a pleasantly numb way, listening to them. That's the only way I can describe it; it's like being slowly intoxicated. Here she is again sunning on the rock.
The dress is made from birch collected on my property and dried ferns and honeysuckle collected in Maine's Highlands, which are very similar in topography as the Scottish and Irish Highlands. A dried daisy is her corsage. This is one of my favorite, all dusky greens and whites, reminiscent of the fading light of summer. She is a one-of-a-kind fairy and can be found under a glass cloche at The Red Barn Marketplace in Lincolnville ($50).
Midsummer is a powerful time for The Wee Folk. To discover the portal to their world, you must walk nine times around a suspected place on a full moon night. They can make themselves visible or invisible and can change their shapes and sizes but May Day, Midsummer’s Eve, and Halloween are good times to see them.
Here is the Pine Nymph caught in one of my custom cigar shadowboxes ($65). More of these are available at Penelope's Gift Shop in Bar Harbor.
Here, The Fairy Nurse is cradled in a picture frame shadowbox ($100). Each one of my Wee Folk dresses come with a back story, which you can simply look up on my website Journal by viewing the right hand column.
This trio of custom one-of-a-kind fairy dresses and shadowboxes can be found at The Red Barn Marketplace in Lincolnville ($50-65)
Stephen Crane's short story "The Blue Hotel" published in 1898, is about an Irish man who gets in trouble with other inhabitants of the Palace Hotel in rural Nebraska and believes they are trying to kill him. Crane’s use of vivid colors is evident throughout the story. To pay tribute, Justin has painted watercolors on these altered book pages, which have been made into miniature dresses.
This one is more stark, adorned with a white ruffle and blue beads and a white sash.
This one uses hints of red, white and blue (not intending to be patriotic) and is adorned by feather and bead bling.
Pine Nymph is a "merry little creature, always dancing, always skipping, her little toes twinkling, her gauzy skirts rippling! For sheer joy she danced like a sunbeam here, there, and everywhere."*
*Adapted from My Bookhouse Through The Fairy Halls "Columbine and her Playfellows of the Italian Pantomime." (The Bookhouse for Children, 1920)
This unique dress is made from a white pine bodice and a lichen petticoat overlaid with some kind of white fluffy flowers I plucked from a tree in June on Sears Island. (*If anyone knows what these are, please email me.)
Pine Nymph is joined by other Wee Folk (who will be revealed soon) as they spend their summer days playing and pantomiming in the woods. Coming home from her heyday in the meadow, she sits and rests upon the pine boughs.
In the midst of Fernald's Neck, a mysterious mossy forest surrounded by a lake in Maine, there are fairy forts all around...you just need to know how to look for them. These forts are usually below overturned trees and deep crevices in rocks.
Since I was "carried" by The Wee Folk, my eyes are sharper. I saw my first one on top of a bed of moss in the sunlight.
Deeper into the forest I saw what she was protecting. There it was, a fort. I did not dare go near it, for they do not take human meddling kindly. And I did not wish to be dragged down into it.
There was not one person in the forest that day. But ahead on the trail covered by pine needles, a fawn crashed through the trees. I could just see the tip of its white tail as it fled. Soon, I came to the height of the land, overlooking the lake, where sure enough, I encountered two more.
Adorned in white birch and dried grass, lichen, moss and fungi, all of these green fairies blended in. They knew I could see them and yet...they let me pass.
The deeper I ventured into the forest, the more it became clear. Fernald's Neck had a network of forts all along the trail. There was a moat that led to the Queen's court and many pairs of eyes watched to see what I could do.
I passed on and kept my eyes on the path until finally I was back in the meadow once more, back to safety.
You don't see them; but they live among the summer wildflowers keeping the Queen amused. This is another of the Queen's Handmaidens adorned in a birch bodice, a dried hydrangea skirt and a ruffle of Silverrod at the throat.
In Tanglewood, the Musk Mallow is a sign that the Queen resides nearby. They pluck the fruits and one-seeded nutlets for her meals.
Tonic of the Woods
the inspiration behind the creations