Mama Kringle

All posts tagged Mama Kringle

Padraig the Pooka Final Photos

Published April 7, 2017 by baileyquillincooper

Here are some photos of the pooka character that I created during the Froud Faery Creature Bust Workshop at The Fernie Brae two weeks ago. I had Padraig at about 99% completed by the end of the twelve-hour weekend workshop, but I did add a few finishing touches after I took him home. Just little things like real eyelashes, whiskers, a few extra wildflowers in his bouquet, some weathered staining on his cloak, and a couple of patches on his back. I have some pretty decent unprocessed photos that I took with my phone around my neighborhood over this past weekend, so here you go!

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I found this patch of wild bramble in a neighbor’s front yard while we were out walking the dog, and I thought that it might make the perfect atmospheric background for my photos.

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His little streak of grisly gray hair is especially meaningful to me. It’s a tuft of yak hair from the workshop that Toby Froud had donated to our doll-making supplies, leftover from his work as a fabricator for the film, “Where the Wild Things Are.” Ok, I’m a nerd.

Another little detail about Padraig that I ended up loving after the fact is the especially creepy metallic gold glint in his pupils, which always reflects the light like a nocturnal animal in the dark. I just tried that out on a whim, and was really happy that I did!

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Obviously, this tricky fellow is NOT to be trusted.

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You can see his little eyelashes a bit better in profile.

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Something I really enjoyed painting (and pretty much always enjoy painting) was his freckled nose. I just love animals with freckled noses, and whenever I get to paint a prosthetic werewolf nose with this coloration I get super excited about it.

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Always the foolishly ambitious one at a workshop, I decided to sew the entire jar of old mismatched buttons that I found at the always-wonderful SCRAP onto his cloak. It took a little while but I love the mad-collector-packrat look it lends to him. I think he probably stole the buttons.

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He’s also got the grodiest teeth ever…I would definitely describe them as, “mossy.”

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I made his whiskers by saving the shafts of some of the longer feathers that I used in my Mama Kringle doll’s collar, then painting them with a thin glaze of acrylic paint.

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In case you were wondering, in the little jar are two preserved quail eggs. I bought this little curiosity at Paxton Gate because I thought that it seemed appropriate for the season.

One last detail shot of his button collection, which I also weathered and dirtied-up with a little grungy patina of acrylic paint; as well as his Celtic cross brooch, which I happened to find on eBay.

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Oh, and here is the back of him.

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Clearly, the Unseelie folk like goblins and pookas can’t sew very well.

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But at least they have nice taste in fabrics.

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There you go, Padraig the Pooka, now coming to a neighborhood near you.

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I guess I’m finally all caught up for now with my blogging about my latest projects! I’m expecting a ten-day long visit from my in-laws early next week, so it might be a little while until I post on here again. Either way, I plan on keeping up with my sketchbook and rapid-firing of ideas for future works in the meantime. I had so much fun making Padraig that I’ve been thinking of making more of these bust sculptures; like a whole motley crew of other Unseelie Court fae creatures that I can create to sell. In fact, just yesterday I staggered into Fred Meyer on my lunch break to buy some stuff to deal with a wicked migraine I was having, when I discovered six beautiful rustic pillar candle holders on extreme knock-down clearance. The surface on them really looks like hand-carved driftwood, and I think that they would make the most perfect pedestal stands for some future sculptures. I guess it was meant to be, and now I kind of have to do it!

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Until I write again…Happy Spring!

Mama Kringle Final Photos!

Published April 5, 2017 by baileyquillincooper

For my last Mama Kringle post, here’s a huge collection of finished photos that I snapped over the weekend. They’re unprocessed, disorganized, and taken from just about every angle I could think of because I’d always rather have too many photos than not enough! Enjoy!

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And one more, because there’s just something inherently awesome about allowing a two-dimensional character to transcend into the corporeal plane!

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Mama Kringle Work-in-Progress Part 2: Costume Fabrication

Published April 5, 2017 by baileyquillincooper

Now I had created my 19″ posable polymer clay soft body Mama Kringle doll.

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She was finally all ready for some clothes and finishing touches! Costume fabrication is one of my all-time favorite parts of doll-making; probably tied with painting depending on how interesting the costume. Again, this is what I was going for:

Mama Kringle Design

For some reason I felt a little uncomfortable with the idea of Mama Kringle just being skyclad underneath her robe, so I decided to make her a pair of cute frilly undergarments that you will never see (unless you’re a creep like me who has always had to look at what’s underneath dolls’ dresses.) For this purpose I have an enormous bag of antique lace scraps that I once was lucky enough to find secondhand. Then I was even more lucky, because I happened to find in the bag a crinkly Victorian lace collar that was the perfect size to use as a one-piece negligee.

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I fitted the front of the lace to her body, then wrapped the straps of the collar around her shoulders and down her back. It really was such a perfect size that I was able to create the rest of the onesie with just a couple of carefully-placed contrasting lace panels.

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I know the garters and tiny buttons were completely pointless, but I kind of had to.

Here’s the back of it:

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Before I made her robes, I also decided to give her a fluffy layered petticoat to add some more volume to her silhouette.

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Next I cut out her robe. I forgot to take a photo of this before I had already stitched most of it together, but I used this generic robe pattern that I found online as a reference.

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The fabric I was working with was a very messy, long-pile silver faux fur, so I didn’t bother with cutting a pattern out of separate pieces of paper. I just folded the thick fabric over and used it as a pattern for itself, cutting everything on the floor fur-side down with very sharp scissors at an angle in an attempt to make slightly less of a mess.

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It was still a bit of a fluff massacre, but whatcha gonna do? I also attached the white fur trim to the panels of the robe before I had sewn it all together, which was a little tricky as I had to fold the trim in half as I worked for the desired thickness. Since I don’t have a working sewing machine, I also sew all of my costumes by hand. I finally caved and bought my first thimble during this project because I had to use extra-large needle to get through this tough fabric, and after a while it was pretty brutal on my fingers.

In the following nightly work sessions I made her sleeves and feathered collar, which I embellished with antique lace and tiny real freshwater pearls.

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Next a few more finishing touches–more feathers on the collar, gossamer white eyelashes, a shiny red bead for a bindi, some additional delicate opalescent fiber strands in her collar, some perfect little round lavender Barbie spectacles that I found on eBay, lots of additional glittery winter twigs and flora in her hair, and a sprig of mistletoe in her hand/hair.

IMG_6495.JPG I didn’t have any mini mistletoe on hand, so I actually custom-made this for her by combining three different kinds of artificial plants together; the frosted heart-shaped leaves from one, the white berries from another, and the little yellow clusters from the third. I twisted it all together in a tiny bouquet to hide the drops of glue.

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And for the very last touch of magic…I wove a fine strand of micro LED fairy lights into her hair, and hid the little battery pack with the on/off switch in a slot in the back of her robe. I think the warm white glow when she’s switched on is really beautiful.

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Much like Lucia with her glow-in-the dark skin, she could also double as a night light! The shadows she casts of the wall are really cool; much like being in a forest at night.

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I’ll make one more post for the finished photos!

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.

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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!

It’s Been Forever

Published March 30, 2017 by baileyquillincooper

It’s been forever. It’s honestly been so long that I kind of don’t even want to bother going into everything that’s happened to me since November. I’ve also been so stressed out over the past couple of months that I hardly even remember any of it. So here’s the extremely condensed version, in bullet points.

  • We bought a house. It’s our very first one, it looks like a fairytale cottage, and it is perfect.
  • Immediately after moving into the new house in early December, we got slammed with four freak blizzards that hit not even a week apart from each other. Well really, it was more like four and a half. After Portland Snowpocalypse IV in January 2017, which was the biggest and the baddest of them all and gave us an entire foot of snow overnight, we also got hit with a final ice storm just for good measure.
  • The flurry of the holidays came and went, and as promised my book was released on Amazon on Krampusnacht, December 5th, 2016. Between prolonged moving drama, DIY home improvements, blizzards, blizzard-related car troubles, fulfilling mountains of Kickstarter rewards for my books campaign, and a minor concussion from slipping on the ice and cracking my head on our new front steps, we somehow still managed to throw our first Yule housewarming party at our house, and I somehow still managed to have that book release party at The Fernie Brae. Toby Froud even came to the party to buy a signed copy for his son, Sebastian. It was truly unreal!
  • I also got to participate in my first tabling event for my book, the Eyeball Burp Zine East Portland Holiday Bazaar at the Jade/APANO Multicultural Space. It was the first year of this particular event and was a lot of fun despite all of the stressful things we were going through at the time. I really hope to do it again this year, as well as a lot of other events like it (since I should presumably have a lot more time for this kind of thing the second time around.) My book has been for sale at The Fernie Brae and Vine Gogh, the painting studio where I teach classes, but the next time around I hope to have more time to market it to all the indie bookshops like I had originally planned. Honestly with the way everything went down at the end of last year, I was super lucky to have even accomplished all that I did, so I really can’t complain!
  • Just as soon as we thought things were finally starting to calm down a little in February, Grendel squeezed through a gap in our fenced front yard to chase after another dog, was hit by a truck right in front of our house, and then ran away. We were both home when it happened but neither of us had actually seen the accident occur. I was inside of the house and Martyn was outside with Grendel when it happened. Martyn was just around the side of the yard taking out the trash when he looked up to see Grendel tearing down the street at an unnatural pace. Although Martyn is a really fast runner, Grendel was completely terrified and running so fast that none of us could catch him, and we soon lost sight of where he had gone. There was a good hour when we couldn’t find him, even with the help of the man in the truck who had hit him, a random bystander on a bicycle, Martyn in my Beetle and me on foot calling his name everywhere around the park and the neighborhood. Luckily the man on the bike happened to see Grendel run into the yard of a neighbor who lives on the other side of the park. The woman who lives there and the man on the bike discovered Grendel hiding behind a shed in her garden. Grendel then went to the emergency vet where it was determined that he had no broken bones or serious injuries, only some significant bruising and all his nails worn down to the quick from running so frantically. It took many difficult nights of doggie painkillers, assisting him in lying down and standing up, and dealing with an obvious bout of PTSD, but eventually, he recovered.
  • In March we got zapped big time on our taxes due to a silly error on a W-4, celebrated St. Paddy’s Day with our friends regardless, and then Martyn found out that he was being laid off from his job at the magazine. This was of course in many ways completely terrifying for us, but we were also both in many ways ready for a major change. When we found out that Martyn would be losing his job in two weeks, we just tried our best to stay calm and view it as another blessing in disguise. Martyn put together a gorgeous illustrated resume and went door to door searching for anywhere that would take him. He was hired at a local pub a week later, where we both suspect that he will actually be much happier. His orientation was yesterday and he will probably be starting his training next week.
  • The latest incident has been Grendel tearing up our house while we’re gone for the past couple of days. We’re not exactly sure what the issue is, but it’s all pretty extreme and out of nowhere. The latest unusual theory involves my old phone that Martyn had decided to keep for himself and use just for Spotify. A few days ago it apparently “woke up” on its own while inside of a drawer, and proceeded to sound off alert bings and buzzes for every text message that had been received on the current phone all year. Martyn realized that this could possibly be the cause of Grendel’s sudden and unexplained freak-outs when he was home with Grendel today, heard the old phone in the drawer buzz and his own phone bing with a Facebook notification, and observed Grendel waking from a deep sleep to start panting, drooling, growling, and trying to look out the window to determine where the sounds were coming from. We really hope that we might have solved it this time, but we’ve bought him another crate just in case. Unfortunately even that won’t fix our shattered blinds or all of the other damage he caused…but this is just another big expense and stressful situation that we have no choice but to get through.
  • And lastly, through ALL of this, I have just been all the more determined to continue creating in my new art room and to wrap up some projects that have been taking me much longer than I had originally anticipated. My idea to create posable mixed-media art dolls of all three of the characters from my book is well underway. I actually just finished up Mama Kringle over the past weekend and plan on taking some quality, non-Instagram photos of her this weekend.
  • I also was still able to attend the Toby Froud and Wendy Froud workshop at The Fernie Brae over the past weekend. It was a completely amazing experience that I still can’t stop thinking about it. We created polymer clay and mixed-media bust sculptures of faerie creatures over the two-day workshop. Everyone’s pieces turned out to be so beautiful and so different from each other that the group photos were really something to behold. I was pretty proud of my own piece, which was a creepy Spring pooka who I have decided to name Padraig. I will also be posting some photos of him after the weekend.

So there you have it, that has pretty much been my life over the past few months. If you follow me on Facebook or Instagram all of this might have been extremely redundant, but I just felt that I needed to get the crazy catching-up post out of the way before I could return to my regular work-in-progress entries. I promise that my next post will have actual work-in-progress photos of Mama Kringle, and I actually remembered to take many of them this time! Until then, farewell, and thank you all so much for your continued understanding and encouragement. Getting all of this out has been a major relief!

Also, here are some photos of our new house for the sake of having some photos in this post!

Redfin photo:

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The day we got the keys:

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Grendel’s first day at our new home:

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Our house after the first couple of snowstorms:

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Our house during Portland Snowpocalypse IV:

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I need to get some Spring pictures now that the snow has finally thawed and the flowers are starting to bloom.

Oh, and here’s two last bonus photos from the book release party at The Fernie Brae!

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