THE BARROW BLOG
Who could have possibly imagined the strange world in which we would wake?
I had such hopes for this year.
I began my year across the sea, in Tokyo. It was beautiful there, just as I remembered, although the winter carried a far different charm than the cherry blossom season of my last visit. I walked the snow-wet paths of Nagano in my yukata, soaked in the ancient hot springs, and nibbled at apricot biscuits from the local bakery.
I climbed the myriad steps to the top of the Inari Shrine in Kyoto. I wept in the watercolor-papered rooms of the Ghibli Museum. I watched koi fish in the gardens of the Meiji Shrine. I hid away in Marufuku Cafe of Osaka with strong coffee in delicate china cups.
Back at home, things were more complicated. The past year has been a struggle for us, as our household worked to build two small businesses. Only one survived, and our little literary coffee shop closed its doors in October.
Once home, I pursued my art with new life. The market season approached, and I eagerly struck out to create new pieces--an array of original, matted watercolors, featuring subjects from Zelda, Final Fantasy, and nature. Our first event of the season hit, and these quickly found new homes.
Around this time, I began to plan my next steps--quit my office job, book more frequent market events, and create new pieces more consistently. This was finally becoming a realistic goal.
Then suddenly, the world changed.
Now, we don't leave our homes. We don't see our friends or family. We seal our doors tight, and look inward.
It's still such a surreal feeling. I know things won't be this way forever, but I can't imagine that it will so easily resolve itself, either. How long will we live this way?
In the meantime, I create. I do whatever I can to make magic of each moment. I don't remember a time when I last felt such a lack of...pressure. I've spent so much time rushing from obligation to obligation that I haven't stopped to breathe in so, so long.
I don't mean to say that there are not...complications, but at least I can be grateful that I am permitted so much time now to bake, rest, create, and breathe.
I'm going to enjoy it for as long as I can.
How quickly the seasons change. Already, summer is upon us, and the year half gone.
This year, I ushered in the Solstice by reconnecting with nature in ways I have not recently permitted myself.
The night of the Solstice, I cheered floral gin with friends and family, swam in the dark waters of a lake, and stargazed. The Big Dipper shone so brightly that I could have plucked it from the sky to sate my thirst.
On Sunday, I celebrated in an entirely different way.
A friend and I attended an event called “Rewilding,” put on by Where the Wild Garden Grows. WWGG is a beautiful local business run by Tessa Cadet, which focuses on promoting the “wild side of our spirit,” and provides products, services, and workshops towards natural wellness and sexual health.
”Rewilding” was the most recent in WWGG’s Sacred Sister Circles. These circles are an opportunity to re-connect to sisterhood and nature. This was my first time attending, and I already look forward to the next one.
We began the circle by exploring the surrounding area, foraging for whichever vines, branches, leaves, and flowers called to us. Already, each woman had brought small bouquets to the event, so foraging allowed us to supplement these with that which we found naturally.
We used these findings to each build our own flower crowns. The beauty lay in how, from the same array of leaves and flowers, each sister created a circlet entirely her own.
Tessa read a beautiful excerpt from Women Who Run with the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes about the “wild woman archetype,” and I must say, I’ve already ordered a copy of this book. Estes captures a feeling that I've wanted to put into words for quite some time.
I’ve spent the past few years exploring the enchantments of nature, and discovering how to connect with it on a deeper level, through foraging, herbalism, and simply spending time in the forest. The more I learn about my relationship with the earth, the deeper down the path I want to go.
It becomes very easy to ignore one’s natural instincts in the noisy bustle of society, but I long for the quiet stillness of the woods, the water, the sun and the moon. I want more time listening to the birds and the breeze. I want to connect more with my place there. It doesn’t happen on its own. You have to make it for yourself. I’m getting there, but slowly.
The rest of the evening played out beautifully.
There is nothing more powerful, or more beautiful, than a group of women coming together to support and connect with one another. It called to mind the poetry written and read by Fleassy Malay called “Witches.” I’ve watched her video maybe a dozen times since the first, and I love it all the more each time.
As the sun set on our circle, we gathered around the fire and sang together to the beating of drums. Even now, the solemnity of our voices coming together gives me chills.
As we finished, we stood to our feet and howled at the moon in unison. The raw, primal energy of it flowed around us, and we all laughed together in exhilaration.
I cannot imagine a better way to celebrate the season.
Interested in attending the next Sacred Sister Circle, or one of Tessa’s other workshops?
Check out Where the Wild Garden Grows at www.thewwgg.com!
“Who knows where a woman begins and ends? I have roots, roots deeper than this island.
Deeper than the sea, older than the raising of the lands. I go back into the dark.”
-Ursula K. Le Guin
Hello, my darlings. This has been a year of firsts, and I hope you are enjoying all the adventures that 2019 has brought to your doorstep.
Our dearest friend Lindsay of Phantasm Creations invited us to begin participating in Art Elements' monthly challenge, and I must say, the theme this month features a subject I've wanted to explore for a while.
Moths, especially the luna moth, have such an ethereal quality to them that I was certain I would find all sorts of lore and stories surrounding them. Though I found a great deal on their cousin the Butterfly, there was surprising little on hand about the moth.
Moths, like butterflies, symbolize the souls of the departed. They also represent the slow, quiet decay of the things we love. One story tells of how the moth symbolizes the danger of passion, and how the "moth to the flame," who is drawn helplessly to the light, will also be destroyed by it.
I checked out a few books from our local library for inspiration, including Titian Peale's Lost Manuscript & Rare Treasures from the Library of the Natural History Museum for inspiration. There is something so charmingly beautiful about these paintings and sketches of times gone by, featuring the same subjects we still explore today.
I'm so attached to my tools when it comes to my art. I've had them for a few years now, and I'm still so in love with my Mab Graves-edition Draft/Matic pencils. I use them exclusively for all my sketches these days.
This has been my first finished piece using (primarily) my new Wildthorne watercolors. I am absolutely delighted by the range of the colors and the way they layer upon one another.
I'm pretty happy with the final product, and it has been such a wonderful experience participating in this challenge!
Melody & Katherine also worked on some lovely pieces for this challenge. Katherine has been working on a stunning Luna Moth embroidery piece, framed with delicate moonflowers. She chose these because these flowers bloom specifically during the light of the moon, and they are a lovely complement to her stunning Luna Moth piece. This one isn't finished yet, but we will post photos on our Facebook when this lovely creation is finished!
Here's Mel's story about her project for this month, a leather Luna Moth hairpiece:
"Like the others I spent some time researching different morphs of luna moths, and found some lovely images of "albino" moths that I thought would translate well in my main medium of leather. It seems as though these "albino" moths are usually the result of an egg hatching the same season it was laid (as opposed to overwintering in the cocoon) along with age and sun-bleaching, each of which results in less and less pigment in the iconic green wings. I'm certainly delighted with any process that results in these haunting and pale Luna Moths.
I combined a few online images into a sketch, which I then traced onto the damp leather. I often cut my original sketch in half and trace it twice to ensure symmetry on pieces. After that I use my heavy shears to cut the shape from the leather hide and round off/slick the edges. From there I use my 45° swivel knife to cut the design into the piece and do any tooling, which was just a small amount of texture on the antenna and using bevelers to achieve a soft layered effect for the wings. That is the stage of the image on the left, while the image on the right has a coat of light brown dye and some darker brown accents in the wing spots and other markings. The shape is achieved simply by handforming the moth while its damp from carving and dyeing stages.
Here I used a rubbery paint called EdgeKote to flood the wings with a thick matte white that still allowed the brown dye to seep through. I tilted the piece as I did, allowing extra material to drip off and producing a fade to thicker paint along the edge of the wings. This was a very long process as the paint needs to fully dry before I can work on the next wing--otherwise I'll end up with drippies and globs.
I used two layers on the wings and three to four on the body and 'moon' behind the antenna. The piece was a tad subtle so I went back in with the light brown dye and highlighted the veins. Usually then I would use a sealant but this time I painted two layers of glow-in-the-dark acrylic over the cream portions of the wings. It looks quite nice in the dark now but unfortunately my camera is not nearly impressive enough to show the green glow! I'm very happy with it and love the look of a sweet moth alighting on someone's swept up hair by day, or a mysterious glowing moth bobbing along a dark trail at night.
Greetings, oh beautiful Fogbarrow Followers! I'm Melody, teller of bad puns and the leatherworker of the collective.
We've just barely started here at the Barrow Blog and we already have some exciting news. Thanks to some wonderful networking friends we were able to apply for a space at the Museum Center at 5ive Points Gift Shop -- and we've been accepted!!
Much to our delight, Fogbarrow wares are now officially available in our first brick and mortar location. We are incredibly grateful for the opportunity and are keeping a healthy stock of ceramic pieces, prints, stickers, and leather work in our little home away from home. The Musuem's address is Cleaveland, but it's just a tiny hop away from downtown Chattanooga!
Hulon, the shop curator, was such a pleasure to spend time with while we picked through product to see what pieces of ours would work best with the art around it and the overall space. While the work in the Gift Shop is extremely varied (oil and acrylic paintings, local honey, pottery, woodwork, handmade soap, jewelry, fiber art...I'm sure I'm missing some!) every bit of it is curated within a 150 mile radius of Cleveland itself. This lends itself to the "Uniquely Local" slogan, and many artists in the shop boast regional and national acclaim via juried shows, publications, and awards.
I have to say, when I went to deliver some of our work I was really quite shocked at how beautiful the space was. One doesn't often find classy, comfortable spaces attached to museums. Just look at this adorable display unit they made with tables!! The whole shop is full of stunning work that creates a cozy atmosphere you can really lose yourself in. Plus, if you're local or a frequent visitor, Museum Center members receive a 10% discount on all the work in the shop!
The Museum Center at 5ive Points also offers classes from artists in the community. In fact, I'm elated to say that I'm teaching a Tooled Leather Bracelet course there on May 25th! Non-members can enroll for $45, and Museum members enroll for $30. We'll be making sturdy snap-closure cuffs starting off with just a strip of leather, so it can be entirely customized by the students.
I've taught this class many times both at the Knoxville Arts and Fine Crafts Center and at The Basement, an art center in the heart of Knoxville Old City district. I always love seeing what people create and I learn something new every time I teach. I'm especially looking forward to teaching in Cleaveland at the Museum Center because it will help me learn more about what kind of artistic community they serve. Here's the link for anyone interested, and if you have any ideas of classes you'd like to see please post them in the comments!
Now, just having our work in a physical location was exciting enough, but when I was researching everything the Museum Center did I was delighted by how involved they are in their area.
They offer a ton of cultural events in the area. Music Under the Stars serenades attendees with both acapella and orchestral delights, a History Happy Hour is available for locals and visitors to connect with the history of the region, then the Stitches in Time Quilt Show and multiple Galas round out their selection of entertainment.
If you're in the Chattanooga/Cleaveland area or might be passing through, I highly recommend checking out the website below for more info about those special events as well as the current exhibits gracing their walls. Lindsay, the curator, has a slew of exhibits in place that showcase specific areas of fashion and history. From sewing machines and fabrics to selections of items once offered by local shops in years gone by, they are a treasure trove for learning more about the how's and why's of vintage fashion. I'll definitely be exploring their halls after I'm done teaching the bracelets class!
(Isn't their website gorgeous? Their social media overlord Courtney must be a sorceress. You didn't hear it from me though.)
We are just so ecstatic to have been offered a physical space to showcase and sell our artwork, and for it to be such a lovely and immersive venue was simply perfect. Thanks for spending some time with us, and we'll see you on our next post here at the Barrow!
Till then, walk the wild path my dears.
How else should I begin this faerie tale, but with “once upon a time”?
Welcome to the first chapter of Barrow Blog. Consider this the prologue.
My name is Colette, and I am the founder of “Fogbarrow,” an artist collective that showcases fairy tales and a romantic, enchanted lifestyle through various art mediums. Our current collection features watercolors, porcelain sculpture, and leather accessories.
I have enjoyed quite a journey before falling down on Fogbarrow’s hearth.
Since childhood, I have enjoyed art and nature with equal fervor. If the weather suited, I was climbing crabapple trees, nibbling at flowers, wading through streambeds, and imagining fanciful creatures filling my forests when my back was turned. If the weather sulked, I spent my time with a pencil in hand, writing stories or drawing my magical world. I poured through every book I could get my hands on, and practiced baking sweets as often as my mother would entertain.
As an adult, very little has changed. I told myself I would never grow up, and it seems to have come true.
In Japan, they refer to this as a “Mori kei” lifestyle, but you may call it what you wish. I am overly romantic, and I live a simple, hobbit life.
I grow herbs in my garden, and I wild-forage mushrooms often. I am learning to identify a variety of types of each, and discovering how to use them for culinary and medicinal purposes.
I love to travel. Outside the United States, I have explored Ireland, Canada, Japan, and England. I dream of visiting Finland, Peru, Scotland, and more.
I read a large array of books, from classic Victorian literature to modern faerie tale reimaginings. This can mean a variety of targeted age ranges, because quality stories are timeless, and can age with the reader.
I graduated from the University of Tennessee with a Bachelor of Science in Anthropology, with a focus on folklore and mythology. I have always believed that stories and religion are some of the most telling aspects of a culture, and these studies are greatly reflected in my work.
When I wish to create, I take up a pencil and my watercolors. I paint nature specimens primarily, but I am exploring illustrative pieces as well, since illustration has been my oldest and fondest hobby. To date, I have two illustrated short comics published in the Chattanooga Comix Co-op’s anthologies, and I look forward to many more. I am also currently working on a collection of faerie tales, which will be my first completed prose work.
Of course, I have more hobbies than time allows. I also enjoy knitting, embroidery, sewing, costuming, and felting. I love fiber art, and I’m certain I will continue to explore these mediums as the seasons change.
It would be remiss to leave out the fact that I am also an avid gamer—Zelda, Final Fantasy, and Animal Crossing are but a few of my guilty pleasures.
Ah, but I think that is enough about me.
Now, on to the Barrow.
You’ve come this far, so I hope to think you are a kindred spirit.
To me, Fogbarrow was never just a place for me to feature my art—I wanted it to be a resource and community for others who wish to live a faerie tale life. Last fall, Fogbarrow went from a story of one to a team of three. My hope is that through this blog, we can connect and share with kindred spirits more than just our art.
The Barrow Blog will explore book recommendations, recipes, foraging finds, art progress, featured faerie tales, and other enchanting topics that we hope will help you discover new ways to enjoy this beautiful world around us.
Though I will be primarily managing the blog, our other artists, Melody and Katherine, will also be sharing favorite topics from time to time.
We look so forward to meeting all of you here at the Barrow—please consider commenting to introduce yourself, let us know what brought you to our hearth, and what you would like to see here on the blog!