Thursday, September 27, 2012

I'm Still Kicking . . .

Okay, so I knew starting a blog was a bad idea :)

   What happened RIGHT after I started: I got a job, and worked about 50 hours right off. Then, I had a custom glove order (Awesome!) that needed attention. And then I got a great book idea and went deep into the abyss of inspiration. This was also good, but intense. So today I am revisiting everything I have neglected in September. It's a long list.
    So hello, I'm back.

    Shealynn, from Shealynn's Fairy Shop and Blog, kindly featured our work in a wonderful blog post here, where you can enter to win a set of Elven Handflowers, and a $10 gift certificate to VirvatuliDesigns.

   Anyhow, another thing I've been behind on is the 30 Day Drawing Challenge I started back in July. I got stuck on Day 6: Favorite Book Character, which is an almost impossible task. After much deliberation, I narrowed my list down to 23 pivotal characters that I loved. Then I decided to draw ALL of them, but as chibi, instead of as full blown out pieces. I selected two of them, one male, one female, to illustrate in Manga/Fusion style, which is, of course, a mixture of Japanese Manga and American/Western art styles. For these two, I selected Sabriel, from Garth Nix's Sabriel, which is one of my favorite books as well.

 It's the story of a young school girl who lives next door to an old kingdom filled with magic, among other things. Her father is the Abhorsen, an anti-necromancer, who puts the dead back instead of calling them up. Sabriel receives a message from her father, who is caught in Death (conceived as a giant river, with different gates and levels, sort of like Dante's hell meets the Greek underworld). He sends her his sword and his bells, the tools of the Abhorsen's trade.
   Though she's terrified, and worried, Sabriel goes into the Old Kingdom, and encounters one horror after the next on her way to her father. It's a great story, and the characters are awesome. I drew Sabriel just as she is confronting one of the dead.

  You can see the picture full size here

    The second picture is of Tom Imura, from Jonathan Maberry's coming-of-age/zombie apocalypse novel, Rot & Ruin.
Now, I never would have picked this book up if not for a review I read in a literary mag. Just look at the cover, and it's about zombies (boring) and coming-of-age (worse than zombies), two things I--as a reader--have never liked in my fiction. But this review said it was more heart, less gross, and that the central story was really about two brothers' relationship in a hostile world, and that the older brother was a modern Samurai. I was intrigued, so I gave it a shot. Now it is another one of my favorite books.
    So Tom Imura. He's not the main character, rather, he's the main character's older half-brother. He's a complex guy with a story that unravels throughout the novel, showing us (and his brother Benny), that Tom is not just a calm, peaceful man who kills zombies. He's a hero, self-sacrificial, and he's got quite a past. His parents were Japanese American, which makes his Samurai thing more believable, and is a standout for YA post-apocalyptic fiction.
   I depicted Tom as he is in a memorable part of the novel-dressed in pajamas, a rain slicker, and barefoot, with his katana-on a rainy night as he heads to rescue his brother Benny, and other townspeople, from invading zombies. The aftermath isn't humorous, but the idea was, and I am in serious doubt as to Tom wearing plaid pajamas, but who can choose their look after the apocalypse, really?

       Soooo, who were the rest of the 23 characters? Here's a list with links to the books they came from-and silly categories to excuse the fact that I couldn't narrow them down. Stay posted for their chibi portraits as I color and upload them.
  1. Favorite Wizard: Gandalf, from The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, by J. R. R. Tolkien
  2. Favorite Couple: Eowyn and Faramir from the above
  3. Favorite Elves: Luthien and Nir, the former from the Silmarillion and the latter from In the Coils of the Snake, by Clare Dunkle
  4. Favorite Drama Queen: Howl from Howl's Moving Castle, by Diana Wynne Jones
  5. Childhood Favorite: Aerin from The Hero and the Crown, by Robin McKinley
  6. Current Favorite: Sydney Carton from A Tale of Two Cities
  7. Favorite Revolutionaries: Enjolras from Les Miserables and Cinna from The Hunger Games
  8. Favorite Jane Austen Character: Elizabeth Bennet from Pride and Prejudice
  9. Favorite Dark and Tortured Character: Edmund Dantes from The Count of Monte Cristo
  10. Favorite Antihero: Mordred from The Book of Mordred, by Vivian Vande Velde
  11. Favorite Character I Identify With: Sophie from Howl's Moving Castle
  12. Favorite Assumed Vampire: Silas from The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
  13. Favorite Thief: Gen (Eugenides) from The Queen's Thief series, by Megan Whalen Turner
  14. Favorite Monster Hunter: Europe, Duchess of Naimes, from The Monster Blood Tattoo Series, by D. M. Cornish.
  15. Favorite "Dreamboat": Corlath, from The Blue Sword, by Robin McKinley
  16. Favorite "Odd Couple": Artemis and Butler, from the Artemis Fowl Series by Eoin Colfer.
  17. Favorite Governess: Jane Eyre, from Jane Eyre

So there we have it, a list of a few of my favorite characters. All of the books they belong to are HIGHLY recommended reading, ;), so check them out.

      Anyhow, that's all for tonight,

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

At long last . . .

Titania, Fairy Queen by Jane Priser on Etsy

My Titania mitts were featured in this great treasury.
   Be sure and check it out!
  Anyhow, I have been too busy for blogging-but I am going to a production of A Midsummer Night's Dream on Sunday  which I plan to review. I also just got in a bunch of research books from the library, so I may have more to say than I thought.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Tam Lin

Thursday is the Day of Writing-which is what I'm trying to do right now. Instead, I find myself distracted by this gem: How to fold a Fitted Sheet!
 That's more exciting than it should be.
  Or better still, my latest Etsy Treasury, inspired by the Scottish version of the ballad Tam Lin. It's a fabulous story (the ballad) about a brave young woman named Jennet, who decides to get her stolen family lands back, despite rumors of a fierce guardian. The guardian turns out to be a young man named Tam Lin, who was kidnapped by fairies years earlier. Of course, they fall in love-but there's a problem. You see, the fairies have made a bargain with the Devil. They must sacrifice one of their best and brightest to Hell every seven years (not a predicament you want to be in). This year the Fairy Queen has settled on the unfortunate Tam Lin, as she's apparently tired of him. Instead of crying and going home, Jennet decides to do something about it. Despite the danger and the doubt of those around her, she declares that she will not give her own true love for any lord in the land, and determines to rescue him. How she does this comprises the rest of the story-but it's clever and bold, and she is ultimately rewarded. If this piqued your interest, check out the rest of the  ballad here: Versions of Tam Lin
   Anyhow, here's a link to the treasury, and some teasers:

The amazing Celtic Warrior Circlet Poppy Jasper by Thyme2dream on Etsy. Buy here:

A lovely piece of art by the super-talented Marta Morales of DreamSight on

You can purchase in her shop here:

There's even more amazing art and other loveliness in the treasury, just check out the link below.

   Of course, based on my love for the ballad, I wrote a novel based around it. It isn't polished (by a long shot)-and I wrote most of it at ages sixteen and seventeen, but I intend to pull it out eventually. In fact, I've considered publishing a chapter a week, here on the blog. It could happen, we'll see how things go.
    I am avoiding writing my current project by writing this post, as I just realized. It's much easier to do this than to figure out exactly where and when my MC (main character) should be in golden age New Orleans . . .
    Enough procrastinating! So long, good night, I'm off to write a book.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Steampunk Quiz and Farming-They Are Not Related

Okay, before I launch into some thoughts from a semi-reluctant farmer, I want to post my steampunk style, according to

My result? The Officer, and I must say that it does sound like me:
     Anyhow, if you're in to this sort of thing you should check it out.

    But back to my topic. Since this is my first Wednesday, I'll explain a little about my "semi-reluctant" farming situation.
   For anyone who doesn't know, I live in a tiny township (not even a town), in the middle of no where, Western Michigan. There are a lot of trees and rolling hills, which is a good thing. However, the closest gas station is twelve miles away, so running out of gas is a real and present danger.
  I live on my family's farm, where we raise chickens, among other things. Our chickens spend their lives on grass-just like a cow, or sheep-and are moved every single day. We don't feed them anything unnatural, or genetically modified. We also treat them as well as any chicken could be, making sure they have clean, fresh water and feed (a corn, soy, and mineral mixture that we have specially mixed). We process our chicken right on farm, in an officially licensed building (that was an adventure!), with only family members for employees.
  It's very important to know how, where, and by whom your food is grown/raised. Also, I think you should try to buy local, in season, and in your community. Living out here has made it more important me, but I still miss they atmosphere and excitement of the city.
  I like towns. I like cities, and lots of energy, and bright lights. I especially like being able to walk to libraries, stores, and post offices.
  All this aside-I really do appreciate the up-close look at raising animals in a humane, sustainable, and truly natural way. And I meant up close. I have moved my share of "chicken tractors," movable pens that keep chickens corralled and on grass, and I have eviscerated plenty of chickens. I know how much goes into food production and care.
  It's a mixed blessing, living on a working farm. I always get great food, and I've been able to flex my experimental recipe muscles. Chasing cows is great exercise, but it gets tedious. And it can be a bit jarring to be writing an action sequence, and have to hurry down and move a giant, dirty pen in the middle of it!
     As this blog goes on, I'll have recipes, ideas, and stores of strange anecdotes to relate, but for now I just wanted to set the scene.
       Thanks for reading, and here's to another day on the blog, and farm :)

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Day Two: Waterhouse, Van Gogh, and Matsuri Hino?

So, this being only my second day at this, I'm impressed that I am even putting up an entry :)

   My Tuesday topic is art-and I love the arts. I have a lot of favorite artists and art styles, but there isn't room for all that. Instead of making a list, I've decided to profile/highlight three random artists who inspire me. Trigger word? Ethereal
   All three of these artists nail it, in my opinion. So without further ado: J. W. Waterhouse, van Gogh, and Matsuri Hino. It's a random group, and at first glance they have nothing in common. But you might be surprised.
 Here are some examples of their work and why I like it:

   John William Waterhouse was born in 1859, in Rome. Throughout his life, he painted a variety of classical subjects, such as the paintings below. His private life is still a bit of a mystery, as there are few of his personal documents around to read :) It suits him well, as a man who generated iconic fantasy art such as Hylas and the Nymphs (below),
 These beautiful nymphs look innocent and scary all at the same time. Look at the water texture, as well as the nymphs' skin. There is a glow and an evanescent quality that makes all of Waterhouse's paintings look fairy-touched.

Psyche Opening the Door into Cupid's Garden

Psyche (the soul) in the Greek Myth of Cupid and Psyche. A tale about the soul's quest for immortality, in the guise of a love story. I love how Waterhouse painted women-they never scream "beauty" at you-but there is a richness to them that transcends mere good looks. The softness of Psyche's dress ties in to the flowers on the left, reaffirming her youth and innocence.

     All pictures borrowed from You can buy prints and more from this awesome website. To find out more about Waterhouse and his art, visit

    On to van Gogh:
       Pretty much everyone knows that Vincent van Gogh was a post-impressionist painter and has seen this picture-The Starry Night. (picture I think most people also remember that he was Dutch. Born in 1853, van Gogh has had a lasting influence on the art world. The Starry Night is one of the most recognizable paintings in the world, after all.
     My favorite van Goghs are actually his flower pictures:
Japonaiserie: Flowering Plum Tree (after Hiroshige)-from

I love the woody, raw colors he used. It really makes the delicacy of the flowers stand out. Like Waterhouse, van Gogh had a dreamy, glowing aspect to his art. They both made art that was great for inspiration and creativity!

     Check out for more art and info!

Lastly, we have the very modern, and Japanese mangaka (manga artist) Matsuri Hino:

   While you can't read much about her online (unless you can read Japanese,which I can't, yet), Matsuri Hino is a popular manga author/artist. I'm not particularly fond of her manga writing, her art is so luminescent. I discovered it a few years back while paging through a Japanese magazine, and I always come back to it when I'm wanting manga inspiration.

Image credit: Copyright belongs to Matsuri Hino, image URL:

    Hino has Waterhouse's knack for "innocent" young girls, as well as the inner glow, and some of the rough, dark color action of van Gogh. And don't even get me started on Hino's props and clothing! (image credit, top: Copyright, Matsuri Hino. Image source: bottom: Copyright belongs to Matsuri Hino, image URL:

See, ethereal, right? These artists capture the fantastical element in art: flights of imagination, imagined/stylized landscapes (dreamscapes) and transcendent looking subjects. They also share(d) a fondness for flowers.
So next Tuesday? I think we'll cover some fanart-an often ignored place to find great artists on the web.

           That's all for tonight, Sayonara :)

Monday, August 13, 2012

Hello, Happy First Birthday, Blog

So, today (Monday, August 13, 2012) is the first day in the life of Gloves, Gears, and Elves-the blog output of Rebekah from VirvatuliDesigns, which, coincidentally, is the same date that Think Geek was established 13 years ago, but I digress . . .

My goal is to put an entry up every single day of the year, minus Sundays and Holidays.
We'll see.

Anyhow, I will attempt to be as interesting as possible. With that in mind, I guess I'll start at the beginning . . .

    For anyone who stumbles upon this-I am a writer living in rural West Michigan. I know the ins and outs of chicken processing, and I consider myself a proficient knitter. I love reading, traveling, Renaissance festivals, steampunk, superheroes, and Shakespeare, and I typically write for ages 10 and up. Follow my blog for writing snippets, random interesting things, and possible information on chicken butchering.

I'll try to stick to this posting schedule (because I like things orderly):
Monday: Product Overview/Review
Tuesday: Art
Wednesday: A Day in the Life of a Semi-Reluctant Farmer
Thursday: Writing
Friday: Book/Movie/Music Review
Saturday: Week in Review/Wild Card

So, starting today: the Product Overview
Since I am just beginning, I will start with something easy, my sister Grace's fantastic Odette Rag doll:

 Lovely, isn't she? (Odette is on the left)

       Odette is the heroine of the ballet Swan Lake. Represented as a princess or queen, Odette is the leader of a group of enchanted maidens. Placed under a spell that makes them swans by day, they are restored to their true forms at night. Each evening, they come back to a lake formed from Odette's "mother's tears" and become maidens again. This spell can only be broken if a man who has never loved another woman swears to love Odette forever and marries her.
    Swan Lake tells how she meets that man, Siegfried, and the ultimately tragic end to both of them. You can read the whole story, as well as the history of the ballet, here:

       The Odette doll has a pensive, yet sweet look to her, as if she knows things aren't going to turn out well, but she is going to try anyway. You can purchase her at

     All of VirvatuliDesigns dolls are 100% hand made in our West Michigan home. No two are exactly alike, but Grace is willing to duplicate any design, and she takes custom orders.

   Thanks for looking, and make sure to check out the rest of our store!

     So, there we have it, a very long first post. Congratulations to me.