It started with a query – from 2 scholar/witch/fae/creatrix – would there be interest in an online course on Fairy tales? The dynamic duo of Sara Cleto and Brittany Warman are folklore scholars, authors, Phd candidates and all around magical women. the answer from the “tribe” was a resounding YES. And so The Carterhaugh School of Folklore and the Fantastic was born.
We read original tales, we read variations, oral accounts, famous versions, obscure versions. We discussed themes, cultural and historical context, symbolism…. I created a kick ass Pinterest board for myself. I have been a reader of fairy tales my whole life I didn’t stop at an age when so many “grow up”. I had one rare elective block in college/art school and I studied Children’s Literature, for fun. I regularly reference fairy tale themes in my current work. If anything I appreciate them more now for their symbolism, and archetypal references.
So as the Carterhaugh course drew to a close, we began to think on our ( optional) final project. Optional? Really? This is the whole reason I wanted the course! To discuss, and learn, but to put that all into practice. I decided to do something COMPLETELY different than the artwork I do as my job. I was giving myself permission to play – to take the path less traveled… Enter block printing.
I decided to do a series of 6 prints based on the tales we read. There were 10 lessons in the course – I WANTED to do 10 prints and I still may over the course of the year. But 6… ok I have three done. I designed the compositions to use and re-use many iconic motifs, a mix and match in a way. I just finished today, on the due date! Ink is still drying… but let me share with you…
Red Riding Hood:
I have always liked Little Red Riding Hood. I like the versions where she makes choices, where she chooses her path. Literally and metaphorically. There is a great article by Terri Windling here that looks into the symbolism of needles and pins in the RRH tale. Choices, woman’s work, woman’s roles… SO I knew needles and pins would be included in my print.
From the Perrault “BlueBeard” to Angela Carter – I am drawn to this gruesome tale – again with an active female protagonist who makes choices! Im not really a princess kind of girl… I do find the symbolism of key and egg and blood to be evocative, and not too Freudian but very primal and archetypal. Blood and fertility and sex and death. This is an icon I have used before in jewelry – it was greatly satisfying to add text. A little spin on the egg, referencing the tales and their tellers.
Aschenputtel ( Cinderella)
We all know the tale of the Fairy Godmother, the pumpkin coach, the singing Disney mice. But I find the older German version ( Grimm Bros naturally) much more haunting. Cinderella/Aschenputtel waters her mothers grave with her tears. A pear tree grows – and through all the magics the tree is the benefactor. Theres a natural Earth/goddess vibe here, IMO, a remnant from pagan folk roots? Ash is put through trials, she perseveres, and is aided by creatures from the natural world. This morphed in my mind with the Tree of Life in cultures around the world, and became a very rich, multi faceted idea. I will revisit this in clay – perhaps a Mythic Nature tile?
Here are a series of images to show the printing process. Each item is printed individually – and I simply eyed up the placement. No complex registration marks needed. Broom. Tree. Tears. Then Dove 1, Dove 2. Pear, Mouse 1 and Mouse 2. Whew! These are strewn about the studio – ink wet – as I write this.
Next up will be a design from The Glass Castle – a variant of the Sleeping Beauty tale. I simply ran out of time.
One thing about printmaking? There are multiples! I have a limited edition run of each print – 9 or 10 of each. And I printed cards as well. I will be listing these on my Etsy shop this weekend if you care to take a look.
Thanks again to the Carterhaugh School and Sara and Brittany! It was a pleasure and I look forward to future courses!