kris kringle

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Mama Kringle Work-in-Progress Part 1: Design, Sculpting, Painting, and Assembly

Published April 4, 2017 by baileyquillincooper

As promised, I took a lot of work-in-progress photos of Mama Kringle. Normally I like to write a series of many entries as I’m working on a doll and so I can post my progress photos as I go along, but let’s just say that I have a lot of catching up to do this time. Due to the sheer volume of the photos I have taken since I first started on her, this entry and the one that will follow are going to be mostly photos with very brief explanations in between. If you guys have any questions about any of them or my process in general, please feel free to comment below!

I. DESIGN

Without further ado, here are first some images of Mama Kringle from my children’s book, Kris & Krampus Kringle, to serve as a reminder of the character design.

Mama Kringle Design

I usually make my dolls just based off of a singular idea or sketch and sort of make the details up as a I go along, so making a three-dimensional version of a pre-existing fully-formed character is somewhat rare for me and a lot of fun.

Mama Kringle Portrait

II. SCULPTING

I took inventory of my massive polymer clay collection and gathered an assortment of colors to make a custom skin tone. Some of them were quite sparkly.

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My workspace, complete with weird Netflix documentary about men who like to dress up as giant masked dolls.

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A pair of beautiful glass eyes that I found on eBay.

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A lot of the more ornate and unusual glass eyes that I buy are intended for Dollfie ball-jointed dolls. I know that the Frouds and many other doll-makers out there really don’t like glass eyes because they can be somewhat restricting and a little bit tricky to focus, but I personally really have a thing for them. There’s always such an interesting variety of them online that sometimes I will even get an idea for a character based solely on a pair of eyes that I find.

I always start by making an internal structure for the neck and skull out of looped armature wire, epoxy putty and fine jeweler’s wire for some extra grip, shaped pieces of aluminum foil, and then masking tape.

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I made sure to gore out some eye sockets before putting any clay onto the skull.

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Then I mixed up all this clay by hand. It took a while.

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I seriously need to get me a food processor.

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I then set the eyes into the sockets as I began to cover the skull with clay. This is how I started to form the face with basic shapes first.

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This is what she looked like by the end of my first all-too-brief sculpting session.

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This one is from my Instagram, probably after I returned to her for another brief session a day later.

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Another Instagram photo after she was ready for her first trip to the oven.

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A wonderful thing about polymer clay is that you can bake it in layers to better save your work. It definitely helps you to prevent stressing over things while you’re working quickly, like delicate facial features that you wouldn’t want to accidentally smash when you’re working on the ears or the back of the head. You can bake most polymer clays at least three times before the coloration or texture changes that much.

Into the oven with you!

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Creepy…I really love my Amaco craft oven though.

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The glitter clay shines even more after it’s been baked!

Ears next.

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Next I made her hands, while watching my old Wendy Froud DVD and rocking out with my rod puppet, Lucia.

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As per Wendy Froud’s hand sculpting technique, they actually do start as a simple throwing up the horns shape before I add the other fingers on one by one. Apparently I didn’t take any pictures of that, but here they are going into the oven.

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Just waiting around for some hair.

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I think all the glitter clay worked out great for her skin, but by this time I had also discovered another kind of special effects Premo Sculpey clay at Blick called, “Opal.”

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I thought this one was so cool, and was pretty excited to try it out in her hair!

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I made the basic structure of her hair by twisting many different other colors of polymer clay together into tapered rope-like shapes, fixing them onto her scalp, and then adding additional little branches onto the larger ropes in the same exact way. Working my way in a circular pattern from the forehead and the nape of the neck to meet in the middle on the crown of the head, I eventually ended up with this.

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III. PAINTING

Time for some paint!

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I love that photo.

After trying out many different kinds of paints and doll-painting techniques over the years, I now prefer to use many thin glazes of acrylic paints over the polymer clay until I can build up the depth of color that I want.

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I occasionally will also use glitter and metallic paints, acrylic varnish for varying levels of shininess, and even stuff like nail polish and clear nail varnish for things that I want to be really shiny and wet-looking (like a tiny doll manicure!) Mama Kringle ended up being very colorful and sparkly, and a very fun one to paint.

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Next I made her some feet, which were even balanced enough to stand on their own!

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Although you can only ever see the tips of Mama’s shoes poking out from her robe in all of my illustrations of her, I decided to make the the tops of the shoes a little bit fancy. I looked at lots of photos of Victorian shoes for reference.

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I think they looked way better after I stained them with acrylic paints so that they would more closely resemble worn leather.

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Here she is all painted and ready to be assembled!

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IV. ASSEMBLY

To assemble her body, I began by making a basic skeleton out of armature wire with a spinal cord, pelvis, and stick limbs. I used more epoxy putty on the pelvis, kneecaps, and wherever I needed to make some strong joints that would’t shift around while I got the proportions on the shoulders and the limbs right.

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I also added some wooden skewers to the femurs and other larger bones for some additional strength.

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I made her elbows on loops of wire like hinges so that I would be able to pose her arms later.

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Next came the foil.

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In case you are wondering what I was watching this time, it’s “The Secret of Roan Inish,” a charming Irish film about Selkies. It was great to watch it again along with my small collection of other Irish movies around St. Patrick’s Day!

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Side view:

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First layer of masking tape to hold her all together:

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I later added a bit more masking tape to bulk up the limbs and strengthen the skeleton.

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After I get a strong yet still posable skeleton, I begin to flesh out the body with batting…yes, just like in the Wendy Froud video in the background.

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Batting sticks to itself and is pretty easy to shape and sculpt with a little finagling, so I usually tend to make a pretty detailed body shape with this step.

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The very last step that I do before I move onto the costuming is I make a cloth body stocking over the batting. This creates a more cohesive “skin” and holds everything underneath in place. To do this I use some kind of thin, stretchy fabric; lycra in this case, and carefully stretch it over the toro and the limbs. I cut it all to size and then glue and hand-stitch it tightly over the batting “guts.”

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And there you have it, the design, sculpting, painting, and assembly of Mama Kringle! The last bonus photo I found on my camera roll before I moved onto the costuming was one of Mama standing next to Lucia for a size comparison. For the record, Lucia stands at about 17″ tall, and Mama Kringle is about 19″ tall without a stand. I’m really enjoying working in this larger scale!

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Ok. Well that was pretty exhausting, and I again apologize for all the major catch-up posts that I’m having to do now! The good news is, you won’t have to wait very long at all for part two of the work-in-progress post since she’s already finished now, and I just have to type it all out. Be sure to check in again for that sequel soon!

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What’s Happening Now

Published November 16, 2016 by baileyquillincooper

On Tuesday of last week, which was the fateful night of the election, I came home to find these boxes from Book Baby stacked high on my doorstep.

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It doesn’t get much more exciting than that, and they came out beautiful!

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I especially love that they now have a barcode and ISBN number on the back!

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When you scan it with a smartphone it gives you the title of the book and all of the places online where it will available for pre-order up until the release date (which is December 5th, 2016.)

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I had meant to post right away with this update, but then I couldn’t really bring my mind to focus on writing anything after all of the chaos on Tuesday and the week to follow. Instead I decided to spend some time organizing and ordering the remaining supplies needed to put together the backer rewards packages.

So far, I now have…

The postcards:

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The Christmas cards, or Krampuskarten:

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The majority of the buttons printed; all ready for @powerpoppins to take to the button press:

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A bulk order of shipping supplies now ordered and on its way to me:

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Custom sheets of metallic gold sticker seals also ordered and on the way, which I plan to stick on all of the front covers of the first run of 150 books to mark them as the special first-edition copies:

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Two metallic gold Sharpies, for signing all of the first-edition copies:

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And a new (mostly vintage) outfit to wear to my book signing and release party. The dress is traditional Dirndl style from the 1950’s coming to me from Amsterdam, the peasant blouse is from the 1970’s and coming from California, and the horns are made from expanding foam in a silicone mold cast of actual goat horns, created by an FX sculptor in Boulder, Colorado.

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It looks like I’ll be having my book release party at The Fernie Brae on Sunday, December 11th. I’m currently planning the event with the owners of The Fernie Brae, Bryonie and Eric Arnold. It’s going to be such an honor, and as we finalize the details of the event I’m starting to get really, really excited about it! I will be sure to keep all of you posted as soon as I’ve got an official press release about it.

So that’s all the major stuff that is going on right now, besides the obvious that my book is now available for pre-order from Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, and a few other online retailers. I’ll also be putting together an order form of some kind very soon so that local people will be able to order from me directly and not have to pay for shipping. Again, the official release date is December 5th, which actually falls on Krampusnacht. The more pre-orders I can get before the release date, the more books the big online retailers will want to stock in their warehouses so that they can have them on hand, available for immediate shipping…which is always a good thing!

All I can say, folks, is that it’s about to hit the fan for real. My fortune cookie from last night not only had two fortunes inside of it, but it just might have been onto something.

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I’ll be doing my best to keep you updated over the next couple of weeks, so don’t give up on me just yet!

Kickstarter: The Final Three Days

Published September 28, 2016 by baileyquillincooper

The Kickstarter campaign for Kris & Krampus Kringle has come a looong way since I last posted! It seemed like we were at 70/80-something percent funded for a good while, and then this past Friday it really hit the fan. Over the course of the day the campaign got five new new backers in addition to two adjusted increased pledges, and shot past 100% funded! When I last checked this morning it was at $2,910 or 116% funded because the goal was only for $2,500! I’ve had so many fears and self-conscious doubts along the way that I’m still kind of in shock with how well it’s been doing, and there’s still three days left to go until time’s up!

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With all of the additional funding I am hoping to order a slightly larger first run of books from Bookbaby. That way I’ll have enough for all of the backers who have reserved their copies first, and some left to bring to the local indie bookstores and libraries here in Portland on consignment or donation. I want to see if the same library on Belmont where we hold our monthly Children’s Book Authors and Illustrators Meetup group would be willing to take one off my hands.

Some pictures I posted on Instagram featuring the custom Krampus button sets that my husband Martyn is making as rewards for the backers. In case you didn’t know, he runs his own button company out of our house called Power Pop Pins, and his buttons kind of rule!

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Close up so you can better see the designs on the smaller vintage Krampus buttons. I’ve always found Victorian Krampus Christmas cards, or Krampuskarten, to be simultaneously beautiful and hilarious!

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On Saturday Martyn and I spoke with four different independent comic and book shops that had an interest in stocking my book during the holidays (and a few that might even let me read my story to some kids!) One is a children’s book store on Alberta Street called Green Bean Books, and the other three were all on Mississippi Avenue–Bridge City Comics, Another Read Through, and Reading Frenzy. I also hope to speak with Floating World Comics sometime soon and possibly some people at Powell’s Books. The Fernie Brae on Hawthorne is my favorite place of all of these, and they’ve always been there to cheer me on as I worked on my book. It’s going to be the biggest honor of all to see my book on the shelf in their little bookshop this Christmas right next to their various signed Brian Froud books!

Another photo I had posted of all of the buttons pinned to my stocking. I really didn’t want to have to look at any of the Christmas stuff in the garage at this time of the year, but I figured that I should share because it was kind of a clever gift-giving idea that Martyn thought of last Christmas when he made me some special “I don’t like Star Wars” buttons as presents.

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Beyond my daily annoying posts about Kickstarter on the Official Kris & Krampus Kringle Facebook page and my working double shifts at both jobs multiple days in a row to save up some extra cash for an upcoming big purchase, I haven’t had a lot of time for much else. I did get a very brief start on the illustration for my own Krampuskarten that I’m making as part of the backers rewards packages. They’re going to be based off of this vintage Christmas card of St. Nicholas and Krampus on a motorcycle:

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Only my version is going to be of my own characters when they were reckless teenagers. This was the pencil sketch:

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Here’s it with some of the inking done, but as you can see I haven’t quite finished with that step yet:

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If you’ve been following me on Facebook I apologize that I don’t really have any new visual material to share with you. Thankfully this weekend I might get a few seconds of free time so I can finally bust this one out and post it again when it’s all finished! Overnight Prints did such an amazing job with my last professional artist postcards that I can’t wait to see how they turn out!

In case you haven’t seen them, these are my professional artist postcards. Overnight Prints printed them with a beautiful soft matte finish that really lends itself to my style.

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So anyway, that’s it for now. I CANNOT WAIT for this campaign to finally be over and done with, it has been more hard work and headache than I ever could have imagined, but I’m forever grateful that it’s already funded so I can stop stressing about it so much. I’ll post on here again after it ends!

Kickstarter Insights: Trolls, Witches, Anxiety, & Triumphs

Published September 12, 2016 by baileyquillincooper

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It’s been ten days since the launch of Kris & Krampus Kringle on Kickstarter, and here are some things that I have learned:

1. Reddit is pretty disappointing as a forum for sharing creative endeavors.

I suppose that I already knew this from every other time I’ve tried sharing art or creative posts on there in the past, but this latest attempt did a pretty good job at reminding me. Perhaps as an artist who loves monsters and horror just as much as I love children’s books and fairytales, I’m still dealing with some of the usual difficulties that I always face in trying to find the right niche for my work. Make a children’s book featuring a misunderstood monster protagonist, and narrow-minded horror purists will hate you, many traditionalists in the children’s book universe will think you’re just another sicko weirdo, and then there’s all of the people from neither camp who just happen to get upset by any new or unique ideas.

When speaking about Reddit specifically, this must be the equivalent to leading three billy goats to a bridge as a sacrifice. I generally find trolls to be ridiculous, comical, and a little sad by nature…and although I have never come across one skilled enough to really get to me on a personal level, I do think it’s a shame that so many of them exist. Trolls are merely a product of their environment, and their increased numbers are often proof of a depressed land ravaged by fear, hate, and apathy. Perhaps because it is in their nature to hide from the light of day in conscious isolation beneath the shelter of the internet forum, then it is only natural that their population expand to fill the growing void left behind in the place of community and enlightenment.

So… You say you like the krampus mythology and then take a fat shit on it by not actually using the alpine mythologies? And then you want to advertise your book on a completely unrelated subreddit? Is it possible to down vote someone so hard they actually physically suffer for it?

More diluitutation of folklore through pop culture. Thanks, Disney.

(I had to include this picture from Faerieworlds–it seemed oddly appropriate!)

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All I’m saying it is, it would be nice if I knew of some more supportive online forums for creatives to share their art and encourage each others’ hard work and innovation. If you know of any, feel free to direct me in the comments!

I will mention that the most supportive online groups of strangers that I have come across so far (besides other fantasy illustrators) are forums on Reddit and elsewhere that are associated with the Pagan, and most especially Wiccan, faiths. I suppose this doesn’t surprise me too much either; I have always found this community to be a very accepting bunch and this is part of the reason why I have always been drawn to it. For the past several years we have celebrated both Yule and Christmas in my house, so I chose to make a secular holiday book that focuses on family and acceptance as opposed to specific beliefs and religion.

2. Kickstarter is terrifying, and a brand new major source of anxiety!

After about a year and a half of perfecting my book, I of course wanted to set up the best Kickstarter campaign that I could possibly come up with. Besides backing a project once, I had never used Kickstarter before and was completely ignorant to how crowdfunding works. I spent about a week researching how to make a campaign, and then three days and three very late nights actually writing the campaign and trying to get it just right. I dreaded making the video most of all. I absolutely HATE being on camera above all else, but I did understand the importance of having a video so I knew I would just have to suck it up and give it my best try. Like I mentioned in my last post, I’m just lucky my husband Martyn who shot the video also knows how to edit. SO AWKWARD!!!

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In the beginning, I very foolishly believed that launching the of the Kickstarter campaign would be the perfect thing to calm me down and take my mind off of the whole house-hunting and first-home-buying process. Well, I was half right. Although I have temporarily stopped wearing out the Redfin app on my phone, I now find myself constantly checking on the Kickstarter app, the Official Kris & Krampus Kringle Facebook page, and the temporary Instagram business page that took over my old account, @krisandkrampus 

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Perhaps the most terrifying tool that I have discovered so far is called Kicktraq, a site with some kind of mystical math-wizard that uses daily averages to predict the projected success of your campaign. I almost didn’t want to look, but curiosity killed the cat. Here’s the chart for Kris and Krampus Kringle, which appears to be updated every couple hours. Below is a screencap from right now:

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Both of those seem pretty unrealistically optimistic to me, but whatever, I’ll take it.

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Then there’s that whole challenge in finding a balance in knowing when put yourself out there and spread the word in order to be seen and adequately promote yourself, and when to remain silent for fear of annoying everyone in your social circle. I’m shy and not very good at that. I would much rather simply ignore the timer on Kickstarter and just let nature run its course, but luckily the fear of inadvertently self-sabotaging my only chance at getting this book published and letting all of my backers down has kept me far, far out of my comfort zone. I’m constantly thinking about what else I can try to get the word out, and every time I get another backer, I get such a rush of excitement and hope…which eventually starts to fade as another day ticks by and my relentless feelings of self-doubt return. This must be what an addiction to gambling feels like. I know that I seriously need to relax, but despite the outcome when it all ends at in 18 days at midnight on September 30th, I really can’t wait until all of this is over!

3. I am surrounded by friends and family who truly love and support me.

All anxieties aside, my experience with Kickstarter has also reminded me that I still have A LOT of friends and family that truly love and support me in all that I do. I recognize the names of all of my current backers with the exception of two strangers (who still might be people I know, but you don’t have to use your real name on Kickstarter.) I also have received massive encouragement and support from all my friends on Facebook; vouching for me by sharing my posts, ‘liking’ the Kris & Krampus FB page (140 people and counting) and not to mention all of the really kind and thoughtful comments! It’s because of them that I got this email only one week after the launch.

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I am overwhelmed with love and gratitude whenever I really think about it, and this is the only thing that truly calms me down and keeps me going. That’s all I’ve got really got for you right now, just a slice of life, a neurotic ramble, and a little glimpse inside my head. Perhaps it will give you better insight at what it’s like to run a Kickstarter campaign for your ultimate creative accomplishment and labor of love. I think it’s entirely stressful and terrifying, not at all for the faint of heart, and demanding of every ounce of strength and courage that you can muster…but probably all worth it in the end!

 

 

…Right?

Kris & Krampus Kringle Kickstarter Launch!

Published September 5, 2016 by baileyquillincooper

I’m back from another soggy yet fun-filled Faerieworlds festival weekend and ready to brave the real world again! I actually have a pretty insane amount of stuff going on in my life now. I’ll catch you up on some of the other things later, but just to name a few…teaching more classes at the new Vine Gogh painting studio, trying to buy our first house, and the launch of the Kris & Krampus Kringle Kickstarter campaign! 

The goal is to raise enough money to fund publishing with Bookbaby, provide the universal ISBN number/barcode, and pay for the print-on-demand service and online distribution of the book. Writing up all of the info on the Kickstarter page took me so long that I actually didn’t finish it until right before we left for camping at Horning’s Hideout for Faerieworlds on Friday. Considering that this was my first attempt at creating any kind of crowdfunding site, I think I did a pretty good job. Martyn filmed the awkward video of me in front of the beautiful giant tree in the backyard, which was a little bit of challenge with all of the background noise. Good thing he knows how to edit!

The Kickstarter campaign will go until midnight on the last day of this month (September 30th.) Martyn and I are collaborating on a bunch of cool Krampus rewards packages for all the people who participate in the fundraising. Quite a few people have contributed so far, and since I was gone over the weekend with no internet reception whatsoever it was such a nice surprise to return today and see all of the new backers and thoughtful Facebook shares and comments. I don’t have much more to say about it other than you can figure out yourself by checking out the campaign page. Please have a look, contribute if you can, or share with your friends! I’ve only just started promoting the Kickstarter online and can definitely use all the help I can get! Thanks guys!

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A Welcome Good Day & The Hardback Proof

Published August 17, 2016 by baileyquillincooper

The last week has been very stressful and upsetting. Martyn and I were struggling with the home loan pre-approval process for what seemed like an excessively long amount of time, only to come to the rather horrifying realization that the $12,000 or so odd savings that we have barely managed to scrape together over the past couple of years might not even cover the closing costs of our theoretical house in question, much less a down payment. Just a recap: we also spent the better part of this year battling debt that was still left over from our cross-country move in order to make our credit look as squeaky clean as possible. After a few extremely depressing conversations with our bank and our future realtor about the skyrocketing prices of houses in Portland and the greatly more monetarily endowed competition that we’re going to be up against in what is currently one of the most cutthroat markets on the West Coast, we were both about ready to give up on the dream before we even really began. It really seemed like the past decade of running the rat race, being a stickler about my credit even when I would have much rather been another irresponsible partying 20-something year old, working so hard towards moving to a state where I would want to grow up and settle down, and having the strength to decline dream jobs in order to continue working at dependable places where I no longer want to work for years and years just for the reliable job history that looks so excellent on paper had all been for nothing. We were, in a word, crushed–and literally both facedown on the bed in a sad crumpled pile in a darkened room in the middle of a beautiful sunny August afternoon.

Then, somehow…and I don’t really know how…we managed to pick ourselves up, do a little frantic research on the computer, and make the decision to try it again anyway. Maybe it’s still all pointless, but at least now I feel that we’re a little better educated on some of our other options for low or no down payment option loans. It’s almost enough to dare to hope again, and goddamnit if that’s not something!

So it was such a welcome surprise today to find out out that we have in fact been pre-qualified for $250,000! I know that might not be much for Portland anymore, but it’s at least enough to finally give it an honest shot! There are plenty of three-bedroom, rough-around-the-edges ranches and well-worn bungalows on my Redfin favorites list for under $250,000 that I know we could make shine with a little TLC if only we could be lucky enough to score one. Our real estate agent has advised us that unless we experience a miracle, it will probably take us a couple of trys…so all the reason to start our trying right now. I’m just so relieved that at long last, we can at least do that much!

In other news…THE HARDCOVER PROOF ARRIVED TODAY FROM BOOKBABY! And it’s…well, gorgeous.

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The inside is even better. I’m so incredibly happy with it!

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Even Grendel was curious why I was so excited about the little flat thing that I found inside the box on our doorstep.

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Next is the launch of the Kickstarter campaign, where I will include all of the information I know up to this point about the release of the book and the amount of fundraising that will be needed to reach that goal. I’ve never used Kickstarter before, but my understanding is you need to spend a lot of time making a very informative page complete with an awkward and embarrassing home video to plug your proposed product.  I wish I could afford to just pay for the whole thing out of pocket, but alas, I am not one of those aforementioned greatly more monetarily endowed persons…so awkward and embarrassing home video it is! Now that I’ve got my book in the mail Martyn and I will most likely try shooting a little something this weekend. I’ll let you know whenever that atrocity goes up!

 

 

I’m Back/Recap 2: Bertha

Published June 23, 2016 by baileyquillincooper

It’s been a month since I’ve been posting weekly or on the regular, so here’s recap part two! Some of you might recall how I fell down a lucky rabbit hole on Wikipedia a few weeks back and discovered Perchta. Please actually click on the wiki link that I just provided for the complete article, because it’s entirely fascinating and obviously much more articulate than anything I could possibly ever describe in this post! She’s also quite a looker:

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From what I have gathered, Perchta (or Bertha in English) is another Yuletide character from Alpine folklore who is kind of like the female counterpart to our good friend Krampus. Her name means “the bright one” and she is a pagan goddess/wintertime witch who is sometimes said to be a ruler of beasts and the leader of the Wild Hunt. She appears during the Twelve Days of Christmas in two very distinct guises. Sometimes she is very beautiful and fair; clothed in white robes as she visits the dwellings of good children and rewards their yearly efforts with gifts of silver coins left behind in their shoes.

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At other times, when children have not been good, and especially if they have committed the particularly loathsome crimes of not spinning their entire allotment of wool, or eating something on the night of her feast day other than the traditional meal of fish and gruel, then Perchta would appear as a haggard, hideous monster and slit their bellies open in the middle of the night!

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She would then proceed to disembowel her prey and replace their organs with pebbles and straw, presumably then stitching them all back together nice and neat since she is also a goddess who oversees sewing, weaving, and spinning. She can really make Krampus look like a nice guy…and that is saying something!

Speaking of which: I guess Krampus has a girlfriend! Don’t they make an adorable couple?

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I’m in love.

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Seriously though–from all that I have read so far, Perchta and Krampus do kind of go hand in hand during Krampuslauf parades and similar events involving all manner of Christmastime merriment and debauchery. Festival goers might dress as “beautiful Perchten” (the plural form of Perchta) for good luck:

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Some were perhaps not quite so beautiful.

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Alternately, others would don animal skins and scary masks as flat out “ugly Perchten” to scare away the local ghosts and devils from the town. A lot of the ugly Perchten masks even resemble Krampus, but often with lighter fur and multiple intertwining horns.

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I always love the group photos.

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Perchten on parade!

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Some of the masks even highlight her dual nature and serve as a two-in-one!

Frau Perchta

Frau Perchta

Another interesting aspect of Perchta is that the older stories describe her as having an odd, extra-large foot, or goose/swan feet.

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In some of the older portrayals of Krampus he also has mismatched feet; one human foot and one cloven hoof.

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I always assumed this was a demon thing. Since I was that weird kid who spent all of my free time in the library reading everything I could find on mythology, the paranormal, and the occult, I actually do know a thing or two about demons, or at least how they were oftentimes depicted in medieval artwork. The medieval Christian explanation went something like: Man was created in God’s image, so although demons are known for their powers of deception and their shapeshifting abilities, they can never truly take on the sacred form of a human being. Like, they can ALMOST do it, but they’ll always be at least one thing that’s a little off about them–like a cloven hoof or a tail or something.

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As a fellow person with unusually large feet, I can only imagine how this would make shoe shopping an absolute nightmare. I feel you, dude.

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This explanation also accounts for changelings and fairies and all kinds of other weird fantastical humanoid critters that were ever said to roam the Earth before Christianity became the dominant religion in Europe. A clever way to transform the pagan gods into something that you wouldn’t want hanging around your village, and probably further enforcing the need to go to church!

However, just like Krampus, the origins of Perchta predate Christianity. The only two explanations that I could find about the odd foot thing is that it’s an indication of Perchta’s shapeshifting abilities, since she is a goddess after all, and my favorite explanation…she needs a big ol’ goose foot to work the treadle on her spinning wheel! And that, my friend, is evolution if I ever heard it!

So with all of this amazing inspiration, I quickly decided that I need to draw my own Perchta character. I’ve already been considering writing a sequel to Kris & Krampus Kringle someday down the road. Other ideas for possible characters in the second book include some other cool characters from Nordic Christmas folklore, The Yule Cat, The Yule Lads, and their mother, the wicked giantess Grýla. With all of these characters essentially originating from the same universe, it makes me want to write crossovers and backstories on them even more. I also think that I will write the sequel to take place four years later, so that Krampus would be as old as Kris was in the first book (nine years old) and Kris would be about thirteen. This would set things up perfectly for an awkward first romance!

Based on the idea that my Perchta character would be the same age as Krampus in the second book, I started sketching what I imagined she would look like as a young girl. For pronunciation’s sake I decided that I should call her by the English spelling of her name, Bertha. I mostly based her design off of the beautiful Perchten form, but I decided that I still wanted to incorporate a few of her more monstrous features as well. This is the first sketch that I drew.

Bertha Sketch

You see, this way she’s still very beautiful but she also looks like she can be a bit of a brat if provoked. I kept the long blonde hair and let the golden halo/stylized rays of light in some of those beautiful Perchten masks morph into a more naturalistic braid crown. I also added some small curled double horns. Her nose is also a little bit beastly, but still more delicate than how I draw Krampus’s nose. I was happy enough with the initial sketch to then refine it into a finished character design.

Bertha Design

I made sure to include her lacy bonnet this time, as well as the goose feet and her love of the textile arts! I also gave her an ugly Perchten mask that I imagine her wearing most of the time…like maybe she’s really shy so she doesn’t usually let people see her real face. It ended up looking a little like a creepy tiki mask, but I swear that I based the design on the wooden masks in the old drawings posted above. I think that someday I would also love to make a puppet of her just like I plan to do with Kris, Krampus, and Mama Kringle.

So that’s about it for this post. Over the past few days I’ve been working on an illustration of Bertha knitting under a wild rose bush tunnel in the woods. It’s going to be another pretty little portfolio piece when it’s done, and I might also be turning it into a promotional postcard to send to agents and publishers along with my info and dummy book. I will be sure to include some work in progress pictures of that piece in my next blog entry!