Saturday, 1 September 2018

Into the Forest? Let's Go!

I love this quote from the author and philosopher John Muir "And into the forest I go, to lose my mind and find my soul."


And one rainy evening when my imagination was captured by the idea of an Irish elf with his rickety barrow  selling his magickal notions and potions in a forest clearing - I just had to create this scene in 12th scale for the All Hallows Hamlet!


As I've always the odd piece of wood stashed away for those 'just in case' projects - I found a nice piece of plywood which had already been transformed into an unusual shape.


And with a collection of Twisted Willow I had harvested during one of my many visits to York Cemetery as the Graveyard Squirrel and with masking tape, assorted wire, a borrowed wood saw and pliers - I was ready to begin.  


Any sensible artist with patience and planning would have worked out where to plant the pieces of willow and mark them up accordingly until they were happy with the layout - however, as I am neither sensible or patient, I dived straight in with the first piece of willow which I had to attach with a strong glue before securing it with electrical wire.  


Having arranged the wire to give the appearance of tree 'roots', I used a strong-lasting masking tape to secure both willow and roots to the ply base.

But when I shudder at the memory of that HUGE dry-build house crashing about my ears having secured it with cheap, short-life masking tape - I vowed never to be thrifty again!

And with one willow planted and many more to go - I continued using the same method:

Measure the willow to the desired height, saw to create a straight line and sand if necessary.

Attach with glue/wire and secure with masking tape.




When I was happy with the willow design, I began to raise the ground level using strips of newspaper. 

And as a daily reader of a newspaper I was able to do a little recycling as I tore up the strips to pack the tree roots and no, I shan't tell you which newspaper as I get enough grief about it from my spouse!



Using the newspaper in this way not only creates interesting 'mounds' and 'burrows' but will make it easier to apply the papier-mâché.  


And with everything safely in place, this is where the fun really began as I coated the newspaper tree roots and the surrounding area with lashings of papier-mâché.  


Papier-mâché has been used for thousands of years in a HUGE variety of ways and there is more than one recipe for making it, however, I prefer to use a bag of pulp to which you simply add water and mix well.

Having tried a number of papier-mâché ready mixes over the years, my favourite is the 'Creation Station Instant Papier Mâché' available on Amazon as is not as dusty as some of the others on the market.


I always try to do my papier-mâché sculpting outside as it can be really messy and I usually end up with the stuff on the floor, my clothes and even in my hair!  


However, with patience, time and preferably a sunny day, it really is a fabulous medium to work with!

And in a later post, I'll show you how I created the landscaping but I think that it's time for a nice mug of tea!

Monday, 2 July 2018

If You Go Down to Tee's Garden Today...

If you go down to Tee's garden today.
You're sure of a big surprise!
If you go down to Tee's garden today.
You'd better go in disguise...
For every witch that ever there was.
Will gather there for certain because.
Today's the day that Tilly Simms came to say 'Hi!'

Okay, I didn't find really find Tilly Simms at the bottom of my garden nestled among the ferns and ivy leaves...


Actually this wonderfully adorable witch found her way to me one September accompanied by her creator Jain Squires of Giddy Kipper Dolls who is usually to be found huddled in a cosy workshop as she creates her whimsical characters and other assorted unique familiars.

As I haven't seen Jain for ages, it was really great to enjoy a chat over a cup of tea and to finally meet Tilly Simms; a 12th scale witch that I had asked Jain to make for me.


 For those who are aware of my passion for anything related to Regency history; it will probably be of little surprise that Isabella is dressed in the resplendent clothing that any respectable 19th Century lady would approve of!

 And as Tilly has had plenty of time in which to enjoy a little private time in her new home; I have been very busy with the preparations for her first retail foray at the All Hallows Hamlet although it hasn't been quite the shopping trip that she had imagined...




For as she approached the abode of Monsignor Suárez, the grim and forbidding place, neglected and possessed of some hidden terror was everything that she feared it would be and the temptation to make a run for it was almost too great... particularly when she spotted the tell-tale sign that someone or some thing had recently been there too...


Oh Tilly! Oh my!

Tuesday, 8 May 2018

Go On, Crow ALL You Like!

Yes, dear reader, it IS true - the Yorvik Faerie is now NO More!

I have never really been happy with the name I created for my fantastical brand and a few weeks ago after several days of too little sleep and too much cake - I decided to unfasten her wings and once free, the Yorvik Faerie then flew away for the final time...


However, in her stead, comes the Crooked Hen!

The 'Crooked Hen' I hear you ask?

However, before I explain myself, tell me does the name NOT bring a smile to your face?

And even though I live in the ancient City of York with an entertaining family which includes a tetchy spouse, an moody black Persian cat with attitude and a very sociable Persian who thinks he's a small dog - I also have some chickens!


And although my lovely 'Little' and 'Large' were murdered by an urban fox last year; I still have three poultry pals who answer to the names of 'Snowy', 'Florence' and 'Allie' AND I do mean answer - particularly if they see me clutching a handful of meal worms or a piece of croissant - to which they are very partial!

However, it was 'Allie', pictured top-left who inspired my name change when one weekend having heard an unmistakable sound, I rushed outside and there she was with her head thrown back and crowing like a cock and later that afternoon when we saw her trying to ravish poor little 'Snowy' - well, we realised that we had a chicken who was now possibly 'gender fluid'.


But when I think of that very early morning when we literally rescued her from the jaws of that fox; it's perhaps NOT surprising she's more than a little confused about who she is.

So there you have it - the inspiration for the name of the Crooked Hen! 

NOT a bird bent out of shape or deceitful BUT a bird of two contrasts and of much entertainment value!

Also of much entertainment value was the evening I spent with the members from the York Photography Network last month.

I had been invited to take along some of the models from the All Hallows Hamlet on what was possibly the worst evening for moving - anything!

Torrential rain, high winds, fog - you name it and armed with acres of bubble wrap and my deep breathing exercises, I battled across town with the 'Monsignor Suárez Vampyre Slayer's Emporium' and the 'Harum Scarum Notions & Potions Emporium' in tow.




Despite the rush to unpack and dress the shelves as several camera lens were focused on me and my hands as I arranged those bottles of 'Holy Water' and other assorted notions and potions - it was a very insightful evening and amazing to see how the other photographers sought to capture my work.



And given the hurricane that occurred inside 'Harum Scarum' during transit with snippets of dried flowers and herbs scattered everywhere - I was rather relieved that I had left the grumpy proprietor at home - although she was the subject of much interest!


As the two 'Davids' have kindly given me permission to share these images, you can see more of their incredible work on the Crooked Hen website and here on this blog - you can discover how I transformed a piece of wood and and broken pieces of Twisted Willow into an enchanted forest clearing for you never know who you might just find there one sunny morning!



Bye for now!

Thursday, 22 March 2018

Top O' the Morning to You!

"The earliest truth that we're taught is that there is a world alongside this world, with spirits, not mortals, an enchanted universe of fairies, wizards, leprechauns and trolls. They are all around us. One has only to open his eyes." ~ William Holman Hunt


After a weekend of an awful weather here in York, I pottered off into the garden on Monday morning to see the chickens and enjoy a little of the sunshine AND look at WHO I happened to stumble across! 


With a feather in his cap and a distinctive pipe to hand, it was none other than Seamus Quinn; a cheeky, little Irish elf along with his rickety barrow of unique notions and potions inspired by his Gaelic heritage on display.


Besides the snow and ice, Saturday had also been the day for the celebration of ALL things Irish but as I watched Seamus bask in the morning sunshine as he waited for the first customer of the day, I did wonder if he might have had a little more 'luck' with his sales had he made an appearance on St Patrick's Day?


Whatever his reasons for hiding away at the weekend, their loss is OUR gain as some of his exclusive array of notions and potions are now available for sale in the Crooked Hen Gift Shop!

On offer and measuring just 2.5 cm or smaller, this collection of miniature vials have been personally created by that wise little elf and ALL are guaranteed to lace life with a little of that Leprechaun magick!


And even though the day of wearing green and sporting a Shamrock corsage may be over for some;  it's never too late to enjoy a little of that Irish charm with a drop of this unique 'Leprechaun Nectar' or perhaps a spoonful of 'Living in Clover' might be more to your taste?


However, when I think of how my son and his friends were celebrating St Patrick's Day with glass after glass of Guinness, maybe a sip or several of Seamus Quinn's 'Hangover Cure' may have been more appreciated the morning after!


Thursday, 15 February 2018

From Dusk 'Til Dawn...

Are the Models from the All Hallows Hamlet 'Real' Models?
Yes, they are 'real' models! And all have been created in 12th scale.

Can I Visit the All Hallows Hamlet?
As the models used as part of the All Hallows Hamlet have been on private and public display in the past; there are occasions when they can 'seen' in person and a subscription to the Crooked Hen Newsletter will keep you informed about our studio open-days and forthcoming exhibitions.

What is the Story Behind the Creation and Design for the Models of the All Hallows Hamlet?
Many of the structures have been created primarily with the use of MDF, plaster, strip wood, paints, mountboard, papier-mâché, natural foliage and of course with plenty of glue and lots of imagination!


However, some have been designed with the use of an eclectic assortment of materials including a huge plant pot, chicken wire, a tree stump, bicycle wheel and even an old and grotty plastic waste bin! And even though several began life in kit form as simple pieces of MDF purchased from several independent dolls' house suppliers; the original designs have been 'tweaked' by the artist.

The models remain the exclusive work of Tee Bylo.

Can I Follow the Stories About the All Hallows Hamlet?
As well as sharing in the 'Magick' through Crooked Hen Productions on the website, you can follow the tales of the 'Small Folk' on InstagramFlickrTwitterFacebookTumblr and Google+

And you can now join Tee as she weaves that special 'magick' from the confines of a crowded shed at the bottom of her garden or from her studio in the heart of York on this blog!

Why the Creation of the All Hallows Hamlet?
A day dreamer since birth, Tee is a natural creative and with a passion for the unique and mystical, the idea of creating a hamlet of weird and wonderful emporiums and abodes populated by the folk of myth and legend was impossible to resist.

And even though Tee has been creating 'Small Worlds' for many years now; the passion to continue with the design and expansion of this fantastical world remains just as intoxicating!


How Can I Learn More About the Work of Tee Bylo?
You can discover more about the artist's work with a visit to her official website Tee Bylo or by signing up to follow her blog Life in 12th Scale?

Tee can also be found on the usual social media platforms including FacebookInstagram and Twitter.

Tell Me the Inspiration for the Tales about the 'Small Folk'...
With an instinctive gift for weaving stories and as her designs for the All Hallows Hamlet continued to evolve; Tee fell in love with the idea of a gaggle of unique characters to inhabit this fantastical world and with the help of Jain from the Giddy Kipper and Pearl from Literature in Miniature the tales have begun to unfold!


And now having created the first of her 'Little Folk' -  an Irish elf who answers to the name of 'Seamus Quinn'; her imagination is now soaring to new heights!



And the Plans for the All Hallows Hamlet?
As there are structures in the design and creation process including a Christmas Grotto, flower shop, patisserie; barista bar and herbarium; there is plenty to keep the artist and those 'Small Folk' busy for some time to come!

And as the doors to the Crooked Hen Gift Shop have FINALLY opened; there is now the opportunity to indulge in a little retail therapy and buy a 'little something' from the All Hallows Hamlet for yourself or a loved one.


Can I Share the Information and the Images from the All Hallows Hamlet on My Website or Blog?
Of course! However, all we ask is that you will remember to fully and accurately credit the artist and her work. Thank you!

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Stirring Up Some More Trouble...




Why not indulge in a 'little' retail therapy as you browse the shelves of a magikcal emporium nestled somewhere in the All Hallows Hamlet and linger over the intoxicating array of exclusive notions and potions designed to entice your imagination AND your wallet.

On offer and measuring just 2.5 cm or smaller is a collection of miniature vials now available exclusively on the Crooked Hen Gift Shop.


Available for sale individually and from the shelves of the 'Harum Scarum Notions & Potions Emporium' in the All Hallows Hamlet, each vial is an exclusive (and a somewhat sinister!) remedy ALL freshly brewed from the ancient recipe book belonging to one Claire Eno.




With a pinch of 'This and That' suspended in resin, labelled in parchment and finished with paper tied with jute, raffia or silver wire- these little vials will add a perfect finishing touch to YOUR fantastical miniature world... OR could YOU discover another use for it?


Whatever your plans for this miniature; a unique vial of will find it's way to you beautifully packaged with a collectible 'Thank you' card and a poster from the 'Harum Scarum Notions & Potions Emporium'.

This is a collectible miniature and as such is NOT intended as a toy OR suitable for children.