It was the strangest feeling to be able to walk across water, but far and away I did.
I had no concept of time, and only realized it was dawn, when I found myself stumbling through the woods, past mossy rocks and through a path that had long been obscured by fallen trees.
I walked until I came to an island surrounded by a moat within the woods, and I'll tell you something now, it chilled my blood to see it, for I knew at once what it was. My great grandmother, born in Cork, told my grandmother stories about this. It was a fort belonging to the sióga.
"Personally , I never cut even as much as a thorn in that fort. 'Tis belongs to ...the unknown. I'll put it that way. The Good People. 'Tis there for generations, for longer than we're aware of , or know of. We don't know what the origin of it is, nor we don't know what them people are about. Just leave 'em alone."
-Drumline, 19 September 2001 excerpt from Meeting The Other Crowd by Eddie Lenihan (with Carolyn Green)Gill & MacMillan 2003)
Something flew by by ear, a heavy whirring of wings like the sound of a hummingbird. And his little thing, she flew right up to my face.
"Child, you are far from home," she said in voice I can only describe as like hearing tree peepers at night, high and tiny like far off silver bells. I was so stunned I could only come up with a ridiculous reply. "I'm hardly a child. But, I shouldn't be here I know, please don't hurt me." The Others have their own way of collecting when they felt threatened. She hovered by my face and I got a good look at her as well. Her face was perfectly proportional, smaller than a doll's with a tiny crown of twigs atop her tightly coiled brown hair. Her dress, made of decayed leaves and brambles, blended right in with the bare trees in woods. "Stay," she said. "You are under my protection. Would you like to see where we live?"
I looked up. I looked around. I had no idea where I was, or how to get out of these woods. "It won't be for very long," she said. "Then I'll lead you back." I looked into her little face once again, into her wide brown eyes. "Okay," I said. "but I need to be back soon."
Story to be continued...stay tuned to our Facebook page for more.
Oh April, we know you're supposed to rain down showers to bring May flowers, but did you have to rain all damned month? So dreary. This little dress will get you thinking of beautiful spring days and lazy days on the beach reading fluffy bodice rippers. This dress is made from one and adorned with faux pearls and petal skirt.
The back of the bodice is done up in pretty, pink lace. Update: this dress was sold within 24 hours of posting it online. I can custom make these for bridal showers, wedding presents and special birthday gifts. ($35) Contact me.
This is how the dress is supposed to make you feel.
I found a second hand paperback copy of Edna St. Vincent Millay sonnets and have made a series of miniature dresses out of them as April is National Poetry Month. This dress, made from an unnamed sonnet of her earlier work (see below). These one-of-a-kind dresses are $25; if interested, contact me
Not with libations, but with shouts and laughter
We drenched the altars of Love's sacred grove,
Shaking to earth green fruits, impatient after
The launching of the colored moths of Love.
Love's proper myrtle and his mother's zone
We bound about our irreligious brows,
And fettered him with garlands of our own,
And spread a banquet in his frugal house.
Not yet the god has spoken; but I fear
Though we should break our bodies in his flame,
And pour our blood upon his altar, here
Henceforward is a grove without a name,
A pasture to the shaggy goats of Pan,
Whence flee forever a woman and a man.
-"Unnamed Sonnets I-XII" by Edna St. Vincent Millay (1892-1950)
The Huntress sits watchful in the newly budding trees. She has been hard at work collecting milk and honey for the Changeling. A tiny fire has been built to warm the offerings. Later, when the moon comes out, so will her sharp arrows and a feast will be had tonight.
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"A Room of One's Own" in miniature
"A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction." -Virginia Woolf
This is your retreat; a tiny cabin of your own. This soft summer evening however, you are easily distracted by the gorgeous view of the Maine coast outside as you sit, and smoke for a few moments. Your eyes wander to the map above your desk, of the places you've just traveled. That one place in particular that inspired your new novel. The evening is growing long and that manuscript before you won't write itself. You take one last drag; stub it out. Take a belt from the Killarney Irish whiskey and pray the telephone remains silent so you can concentrate. It's time to get down to it.
A Room of One's Own shadowbox is encased within a vintage cigar box that closes. The furniture is handcrafted. This one of a kind piece can be found at Red Barn Marketplace in Lincolnville. ($50)
The Fairy Nurse
Sweet babe! a golden cradle holds thee,
And soft the snow-white fleece enfolds thee:
In an airy bower I'll watch thy sleeping,
Where branchy trees to the breeze are sweeping.
-1st verse by Edward Walsh
This spring dress made of birch and brambles belongs to The Fairy Nurse who watches over The Changeling, a human child that this clan has stolen and replaced in its cradle with one of their sickly fairy babies. If you "over look a child" which means to be envious of it, the fairies will whisk it away. Here, The Fairy Nurse has the babe in her ever watchful gaze as she hangs onto a pussy willow branch. She is awaiting the arrival of her clan of hunters and gatherers from the wood and waters wild to bring the babe food. The stolen child will be in her good care, and as he grows, will forget his human mother. When he cries, he will reach for The Fairy Nurse instead.
I just gave this one to my best friend for her birthday. This is the dress's story. "This is one of my Wee Folks creations for you, an original...Fairies, as I've learned…are not Tinkerbell. They are creatures driven down underground by the greed and avarice of men and will not abide by your bulldozing their sacred grounds. They are fallen angels and vengeful spirits at that: a cautionary tale for anyone who thinks the human impact on sacred areas of the Earth has no consequences. This dress belongs to the Queen's warrior. And now it belongs to you."
Tonic of The Woods now has a physical location! We can be found at the Red Barn Marketplace off Route One heading toward Lincolnville. Open Wednesdays through Sundays from 8 am to 4 pm. By Memorial Day, you'll be able to grab one of Katie's famous cookies or scones in the gourmet bakery.
This is what I initially started with: a glass case with light blue velour padding and a barn board base turned around.
Scavenging moss, bits of rotted trees and rocks from my woods, I created a miniature fairy rath inside the case. A fairy rath is a raised mound of earth, typically in a farmer's field encircled by stones and is widely believed in Ireland (to this day!) to be a sacred dwelling of fairies. Therefore, anyone who disturbs this space or bulldozes it will invite the vengeance of the Wee Folk.
Next to the fairy rath is a low tree from which the Wee Folk dresses hang. As lore has it, fairies love to romp and dance all night long. Here the dresses await them to come back from trooping about during the day.
The Wee Folk are said to be fallen angels, fallen from grace. In the back, a Dark Angel dress belongs to the Queen's warrior, made of dried grass, lichen and wings of turkey feathers. At night, she flies the perimeter of the rath, watching for enemies, such as cats, mischievous children or the heavy step of Man. In the forefront, the Queen's dress is ready for her to step into it, made of birch and dried hydrangea.
Besides Wee Folk dresses, I also make literary dresses from iconic short stories and novels. Seen here are my "Bodice Ripper Ballet Dress" series and a steampunk dress made from William Gibson's Neuromancer. More dresses will be added to the case after our Book Arts Bazaar.
The corner of the case is reserved for Justin's miniature watercolor paintings and handmade furniture as well as our literary shadowboxes, coming soon. This nightscape was done imagining the beach nearby. He crafted the tiny easel, as well as the palette and brush to go with it.
Above the case are mini art installations using the dresses. To the left is a manga comic book dress I made enclosed in an industrial light fixture. To the right is a Bodice Ripper Ballet Dress entombed in a vintage glass cloche. The piece is called "Escape." (If you look closely at the dress, that word is prominently displayed.)
The base of the case is perfect for selling signed copies my book, The Ghost Trap, as well as other second hand books and odd knick knacks such as that Prohibition-era tonic bottle and the clamp I got from Liberty Tool that functions as a cool photo display.
Tonic of the Woods
the inspiration behind the creations
Photos, stories and concept ©Kay Stephens
Look up the story behind a fairy dress by clicking on the name below