Tree Frog Tattoo by Sylvie le Sylvie

pacific tree frog tattoo by sylvie le sylvie

My first tattoo. Inked and finalized by Sylvie le Sylvie.

Pacific tree frogs (Pseudacris regilla) are the most commonly heard frogs in British Columbia. They can change their colour in a matter of minutes. As amphibians, they live their lives in two worlds: the submarine life of a tadpole and the semi-terrestrial life of a grown frog. They embrace the elements of Earth and Water, making their homes in each.

The hind legs of my frog are represented by a feather and a leaf of the broadleaf plantain (Plantago major). The feather is a representation of elemental Air. Broadleaf plantain leaves are used to soothe stings and small cuts. They are like natural bandaids!

The square together with the intangible circle represents the altar, a sacred space, with its magickal circle of power.

Surrounding the altar are four offerings. In the upper left is the flower of the bitterroot (Lewisia rediviva), an edible, if bitter, taproot. Following clockwise is a representation of solar Fire: the sunflower (Helianthus maximiliani). An ammonite fossil (Ammonoidea) resides in the lower right corner. As the remains of an extinct mollusc, ammonites represents the element of Water and mortality.  Elemental Stone (or Earth if one prefers) is represented as a quartz cluster (SiO2).

These were not the original symbols and meanings, though the central image of a frog and its connection to the four elements has remained consistent throughout the three year revision process.

From the beginning I was keen to design the tattoo myself and have that design translated by a tattoo artist to better fit the medium of skin and ink. I wanted to have the tattoo inked in my home town of Nelson, BC. After careful consideration, I found the work of Sylvie le Sylvie, of the Timber Tattoo Co. Animals and plants are plentiful in her work, which has a rich, black and white, aesthetic. After a consultation, she made several changes to the design, arriving at the finished product a week later. The tattoo was inked on a drizzly morning on the day after the vernal equinox.

This is my first tattoo. It may not be my last, but for now I could not ask for a more magickal connection to nature, the elements, and the mineral, floral, & animal kingdoms.

Turning Paperbacks into Beautiful Hardback Tomes 

Recently, I decided to revisit my long standing project of re-covering the books in my library. I’ve been using a new more versatile technique which allows the artist to create many different styles of books. The covers are made from card stock much as the ones made in this blog post. The covers are then decorated with raised designs and covered in a fine paper mâché. The mâché technique ends up looking a lot more impressive in person than I had at first imagined.

For more information on the building of these books, you can watch the video I made documenting the process. I used several other articles for the inspiration and technique behind the creation of these books: For the Love of Books: A Guide to Knocking Together Your Own Journals’08 Halloween #12: Making Creepy Books, Altered Halloween Books Tutorial, new and improved!, and Crafty Mommy & Me.

Foam Board Dragonbone Dagger

Recently I came across Will from stormthecastle.com‘s youtube channel epicfantasy. He has many, many video tutorials on making props, usually swords and other weapons, with foam board. I was fascinated by the level of quality he was able to achieve with such a cheap material. I wanted to try using foam board as a material for myself and I knew that I wanted make another Skyrim prop to go along with my Windhelm guard’s shield. Because I had never worked with foam board before, I chose a small project, the dragonbone dagger. I didn’t take the same number of progress photos as I usually do for my props because Will’s tutorial is excellent and shows in detail all the various steps.

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Smoothed and sealed foam board.

I knew going in that foam board is a flimsy material which cuts easily, but cannot be refined (smoothed out or sanded) to any great degree. One thing which I disliked about Will’s prop was that the seams between the layers of foam were raw. In order to blend the layers of foam board and to fill in the gaps, I used extra hot glue which I smoothed out with my finger, ouchie ouchie! This didn’t quite give me the effect which I wanted so I used silicon to get a more accurate effect. Silicon isn’t really a good choice, but it was what I had available. I would have preferred to use some sort of putty or clay for this. To stop the silicon from peeling and to even out the seams even more, I coated the entire dagger in 5 coats of modge podge. I followed Will’s tutorial for the paint job, then sealed the project with 2 more layers of modge podge.

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More Book Covers

Yesterday I completed three more book covers. For each cover, I used a different technique. For each cover, I used a slightly different technique. For my copy of Animals as Teachers and Healers by Susan Chernak McElroy, I decided to try to create the cover on top of the existing soft cover. Visually, the book turned out well, but the binding is very stiff. For the other two projects, I fully removed the covers. I used paper with ribbon trim for the finish material as opposed to using just fabric as with my first project. For the third book; The Crystal Bible by Judy Hall, I covered the spine in a grey/silver velvet and the rest in paper. Finally, I have an old copy of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table by Howard Pyle. This is the very first ‘novel’ that I ever read and I have held onto it ever since. Unfortunately, time has not been kind to this book and the cover was ripped and falling off. I chose to cover the book in a plain deep purple velvet. This binding technique varies from my first in a few minor ways. First, the text block is held to the cover by paper, not cloth, and second, the first and last pages are not sacrificed by gluing them to the leaves connected to the cover.

Creating Hardcovers For My Books

A few months ago I donated most of my books in an effort to live minimally. Those books that I did keep are the ones which I reread or that I have a special attachment to. Even though some of these books are old or falling apart after years of reading, I still want to hold on to them. I have made a notebook from scratch before and when I was ten, created a hardcover for my copy of Eragon with some success. I have decided to relearn that skill, improve upon it and to make new hardcovers for all of my books which are not already beautiful. This is an art project perfect for minimalism as you do not end up with more things than you started out with, only more beautiful ones. For my first attempt, I decided to start simple and create a cover for my copy of The Fifth Sacred Thing in black cloth with a patterned paper for the lining. I mostly followed this instructables tutorial though I did make a few changes most notably the addition of faux headbands created by folding two pieces of cloth in half (see image 2 below). I find their addition to greatly add to the complete look of the book. The entire process of creating a hardcover is easier than one might think, though it is important to pay attention to every minor detail especially early on. One thing which I have yet to do is mark the title and author on the outside of the book. I am currently looking for a set of alphabet stamps that will allow every book to have a uniform feel when viewed together. I plan on creating more covers and on trying new techniques. Hopefully, my library will only expand in quality, not quantity.