THE BARROW BLOG
As a child, I acted like a bit of a little goblin. My pockets were always filled with pretty rocks and bits of nature I found in the woods. I filled any container I could find with caterpillars, fireflies, and crickets. I've always had a penchant for little oddities.
Even now, my house is filled with jars, bottles, terrariums, and other displays of weird specimens--dried moths, a live snake, an array of reproduction Egyptian scarabs, porcelain flowers, fossilized trilobites, dehydrated mushrooms, crystals... Goodness, that doesn't even account for the ones that don't fit in containers, like the carnivorous plants, Victorian medical pamphlets about conjoined twins, or the poison darts of Papua New Guinea.
What I hadn't yet found was a bit rarer-- specimens from the folklore of the world. A bit rarer, no, to track down objects from stories people believe were simply fiction?
I've indulged in the study before, but this year I've finally bottled, labelled, and archived a small collection of specimens to share with the world.
This curio includes a small zine booklet to highlight the origin behind each specimen, and will hopefully encourage you to further research the history and literature behind your new collection.
These fairy tale curios are limited, so if you're interested in owning your own little collection of fairy tale oddities, swing by the shop. We also have a number of lovely mushroom terrariums, moths to alight in your hair, and other specimens of the strange and beautiful.
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.
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!