Sunday, 24 May 2015

Split Pin Puppet - Bird Character

I wrote a post many moons ago about making split pin puppets again, inspired by the fantastic Rima Staines at Into The Hermitage! Now I am hankering to make more again. They are so useful for creating playful, dynamic poses that otherwise might not seem obvious. This bird character was a joy to make and I'd like to make more working with the folklore, faery, and fertility themes.

Comparing English and Norwegian folklores - Mêl-An-Tol and Giftesteinen

I have just read something fascinating which fits beautifully into a project idea I've had brewing for the last few years: comparing Norwegian and English folklores and faerytales to inspire new creative work. It also links into the fertility theme that's been inspiring me since spring two years ago!

So without further ado! I read about an ancient stone site in Cornwall, called the Mêl-An-Tol. The site comprises four stones, one of which is big and round with a hole in the middle (so basically, a giant, Bronze Age Polo!). The site is thought to be about 3,500 years old. The stone has many magical powers attributed to it, one of which was to aid fertility. By passing a set number of times (often 3 or 9) through the stone on a full moon night, a woman's fertility was said to be boosted. Farmers could also use the stone to increase their bounty.

The Mel-An-Tol - photograph from

Now the Norway bit! A few years ago, my hubby-to-be, family and I were on a road trip around his home territory in Western Norway. We passed by a big stone with a hole in the middle, with a fertility story attached to it. It was said if a bride-to-be could pass through the stone, all was in order, and if she couldn't... she was probably pregnant! (Maybe because her big bun-in-the-oven belly would get stuck?!)... The stone is called Giftesteinen or Jomfrusteinen (the marriage stone, or virgin stone), and lies in Hornindal.

Giftesteinen / Jomfrusteinen - photograph from

Aren't they both wonderful? Just humming with magical ancient energy! As an interesting aside - thinking about magical stones with holes in - there are also hag stones (which have many alternative names too, see below!) in England, small stones with holes in, which are said to hold magical faery powers.

A hag stone / witch stone / serpent egg / snake egg / Glain Neidr in Wales / Gloine nan Druidh (Druid´s Glass) in Scottish Gaelic - photograph from wikipedia

Saturday, 23 May 2015

Foxy Folklore of the Northern Lights!

I've sketched a couple of fertility-related characters - a sheela na gig birthing a tree, and a green man dancing, and I want to combine them in a big painting with other supporting characters. Meanwhile, I've also discovered some beautiful folklores around the phenomenon of the northern lights. Having lived in Norway for nearly four years, I am yet to catch a glimpse of the emerald inferno in the sky (except for a few little shimmery puffs!) - so I'm getting impatient and will just have to ignite some of my own with paint! From I found these lovely tales (fox tails??):

  • Finland - the Finnish name for aurora borealis (the northern lights) is 'revontulet', which translates as 'fox fires'. How beautiful is that... The translation in itself just sparks the imagination into a foxy frenzy! The name derives from an ancient Finnish myth which suggested the lights were caused by a magical fox sweeping his tail across the snow so it flew into the sky. states there are variations on this theme - one where an arctic fox runs far in the north and his fur touches the mountains, causing sparks to leap into the sky. Another says the moonlight reflects off the snowflakes the fox has swept into the sky. Such beautiful imagery - just begging to be painted, and have songs written about!
  • Other cultures have ideas of the lights being departed spirits, departed spirits playing football with a walrus skull, departed walrus spirits playing football with a human skull... great fires lit by gods, battling warriors, dancing maids... 
  • Some have reported hearing a whistling, crackling noise accompanying the aurora. I love the idea of the lights being musical! It reminds me of the idea of 'the music of the spheres' - the philosophical concept that the movement of celestial bodies could be translated as a kind of music. The following is a quote from Ernest W. Hawkes' book, The Labrador Eskimo:

The whistling crackling noise which sometimes accompanies the
aurora is the voices of (departed) spirits trying to communicate
with the people of the Earth. They should always be answered
in a whispering voice. Youths dance to the aurora. The
heavenly spirits are called selamiut, “sky-dwellers,” those who
live in the sky”.

Sunday, 17 May 2015


Seeking inspiration and musing about fertility tonight - spring is in the air!

Leafing through seedlings of ideas:

Sheela na gig - Giving birth to trees, foliage
Humans and nature interwoven
Green man
Hedgehog, rabbit
Constellation related to fertility?
Norwegian / English / Sami folk lores related to fertility?

Pipit flying in with a new art adventure!

Hello from Norway's National Day! I hope everyone is sparkling and enjoying the spring!
I am going to be inspired by all the cake, coffee (well, tea in this cup, ahem - well, you can take the gal outta England, but--), patriotic pride and frenetic flag waving and touchdown back in blogland (or bogland, as the autocorrect says - oo I like that, might pinch that one for a story!) after many (merry) moons of buns in the ovens! Now that Bun no. 1 goes to barnehage and Bun no. 2 is a bit more settled into a routine of longer snoozes, it might be possible to get back to some painting! I am loving being a mamma and hope there might be some mamma-related paintings in the mix, also weaving in threads from faerytales, folk tales, witchy magic, animal and plant lore, forest preservation, ancient astronomy, music makers, Celtic harps, Shakespeare, Chaucer, Sami culture and tea!.... Um yes, well that might end up as quite a busy painting, but these are all the topics which inspire my socks off (which do have teacups on today!) and I want to be working with. I have a new plan brewing, when both buns are in the kindergarten, I will take a Norwegian course and then hopefully train to be an art teacher!! How exciting that would be. I do hope also allowing time in holidays for indulging my itching painting paws!

It was so fascinating a while back in the blog to analyse appearances of emerald green in art, literature, and the universe, and I'd love to use this blog as a place where some good ol' fashioned analysis could go too! At the moment I like the thought of delving into Norwegian and English folk lore and tales of enchantment, finding similarities and differences and maybe even combining the findings in new paintings, poetry and music. I love to play Celtic harp too and was thinking how lovely it would be to illustrate traditional harp songs - some have beautiful, yearning lyrics which would be exciting to translate in pictures on canvas! There are many traditional instruments which intrigue and inspire me, and I like the thought of painting music makers too.

So raise your teacups to celebrate a steaming new art adventure!!