March 2, 2021

Faerie Godmother As Kitchen Witch, By Deborah Sage


Editor’s note: This sweet, tender poem manages to give a rare new twist on “Cinderella,” while also evoking the look and smell of some of my favorite herbs. Lovely.

She comes to my cottage, adorned in

Cinders and ash, silver-gray as the artemisia,

Growing in my garden.

She comes to tell me there will be a ball.

That she longs to go. For her, my only godchild,

I gather sage, lambs’ ear and lavender,

Lemon balm and mint, beginnings and endings,

In an ancient basket.


She shall have a dress the color of

Rosemary blossoms,

Drawn not from needle or wand, but from wish,

Slippers crystal-clear as rainfall, though they

Are more difficult, requiring freshly gathered dew

And a stronger spell.


For her hair, a circlet of

Pearls from the ashes so readily at hand.

Her scent, roses and anticipation.

A carriage from a pumpkin.

To break a spell of envy, gratings

Of lemons and oranges, but

No love potion. That is her work, not mine.


***

Bio: Deborah W. Sage is a native of Kentucky, USA. She merged her talent and interest in her first published book of poetry.

 

A former business executive who after years of being committed to the bottom line is gaining equilibrium in her psyche through her endeavors in folklore.


***

Image from Pixabay.


***

This poem comes to us thanks, in part, to Patreon. If you’d like to support this site, here are details. Every donation helps!

February 28, 2021

Submissions Window Opens Tomorrow


The March 2021 window opens for submissions publishing in April at 12 a.m., EST, March 1. It closes at 11:59 p.m. March 3, EST.

It will open again on April 1, 12 a.m., EST.

Submissions guidelines are here.

The first work for March 2021 will be published on Tuesday, March 2. 

***

Image is from the book “The Reluctant Dragon,” by Kenneth Grahame. Illustration by Inga Moore.

February 25, 2021

Throwback Thursday: What Beauty Thinks, By Tasha Mandell



Editor's Note: A kiss. A curse. Lost years...Author, Tasha Mandell's tale from 2011, will make you think about the mind behind the dreamer.

One hundred years is a very long time.  It is time enough for a rosebush to grow into a wall of thorns. It is time enough for a castle to crumble under the weight of plants and myths to spread far and wide.  It is time enough for a young girl to grow old and die and for her children to do the same. 


I am not that girl.


It is my hundred and sixteenth birthday, and I have just woken up from a very long sleep.


I did not dream for all one hundred years, or if I did, I do not remember.


The prince says that he is in love. The face I presented when he first discovered me, a face free of cobwebs and free of worry with carefully closed eyes and unmoving hair, with the crown resting gently atop my skull- how could a prince not fall in love with this picture of a princess? And he did, or says he does, and therefore he has asked that we are to be wed.


I wonder if I am merely his prize for cutting through the thicket of thorns, his award for perseverance, or if he truly needs me, desperately needs this princess and her lands: he claims that he is the youngest son of three, out to find something to fight for.  I wonder if this is what the fairies who bewitched me were hoping for, that on top of their gifts of beauty, kindness, and cleverness, I would end up loved by another with a throne to sit on.


This outcome cannot possibly be what the wicked old fairy aimed for when she first cast her vicious spell.  I cannot image it, and yet-- I know the servants' whispers, now that they have woken and realized what has passed, realized that they too are alone in this world.  I know that I was originally supposed to die on my sixteenth birthday once the spindle pricked my finger and a drop of blood was spilled, but now a lifetime and a half have passed and I have not lived at all.


There is a part of me that wants to blame my parents: years missed and a realm neglected because of a forgotten invitation. How foolish, how slip-minded were they, how silly to throw away an entire century due to forgetfulness. I do not know how I will forgive them, even if they beg. This is a grudge that should be held.


“You are my Sleeping Beauty,” the prince says, brushing a tangled lock of hair away from my face. I realize that I do not even know his name. Clearly, he has no clue as to mine. “I am so glad that my love woke you up.”


“Do you know my name? Do you know who I am?” I ask him, lips close to his ear. He blinks, long lashes sweeping the top of his cheek, confusion apparent at this bother of a question.


“That is immaterial, my love.”  He pats my hand reassuringly.


And I must wonder: is this the true revenge of the fairy’s spell? To have me wed to a man who does not know who I am, only that I have a pleasing countenance and I awoke at his kiss?  I had thought it could not be, but perhaps the possibility… it should not be, the fairy could not have had the foresight, but it is a trap she set, and her trap I have been caught in.


The prince tries to make further contact, but I turn my head away.

Tasha Mandell lives in a very small Manhattan apartment with her parents and younger brother.  She spends her free time playing classical piano and watching old episodes of Doctor Who.


Cover Painting: "The Sleeping Beauty" by John Collier, 1921

Cover Layout: Amanda Bergloff @AmandaBergloff

If you’d like to see even more stories, poems, and articles in EC, please consider becoming a patron. We have cool rewards and every penny we receive goes to EC.

And check out
Enchanted Conversation's
and listen to the
Classical Music to Write Fairy Tales By
playlist for some writing inspiration!

February 22, 2021

A Hedge of Rampion, By Kiyomi Appleton Gaines

Editor's Note:  Rarely understood are those that follow their own path. Perspective is everything in a tale, and Kiyomi Appleton Gaines' story offers a different view on a classic. Enjoy!

I never meant to be a witch. You should know that from the start. You don't notice at first, and by the time you realize what you are, it's too late.

I never wanted to be a mother. I always assumed it would happen one way or another. When you're young, you never imagine your life will look very different from others. Yet I was different even then. Odd. We married so young in those days, and I didn't want to marry just any man. Silly as they were, once girls were Mistress Baker or Goodwife Smith, they were no longer children. Girls my age started becoming mothers before we even knew what it was to be women.

I didn't want that. I didn't want any of those things. My father, resentful of my lingering, said I must earn my keep, so I tended the midwife and learned from her how to ease pains and treat minor ailments. I never kept a garden well. Strange, since that is what I am now best known for. But I know a little of plants and children, birthing and dying. And living.

I was old for a bride when I married my tinker. He came through with tales of distant places, and I dared to ask why I couldn't have that life too? Eventually, we settled in a place, a village not so different from this one. He offered services making repairs and traveled out every few months to bring goods from elsewhere. I had my garden and my knowledge of herbs, and so we made our way. The women there did not trust me, though, I with no small ones clutching at skirt and breast. They still came to me for those other things, to soothe a headache or a sour stomach, to heal a wound. But they did not trust me, and I knew what might come, and then knew that it would. I urged my husband to leave, but he didn't believe the threat in those evil looks. I left before their fears became dangerous.

I met my tinker again later. Our little home was burned, and he was chased out after me. He returned to tinkering. I went to another place.

The people came, though how they knew I could help, I don't know. I charged them nothing, hoping for goodwill, hoping to be left alone. You will understand my dismay when one evening I found a man digging in my garden, stealing ramps.

I grabbed a rake and brandished it, demanded his account.

He startled and had the grace to look ashamed. "Please, mistress," he said, "it's my wife. There's a little one coming. She says she must have ramps, or she'll die."

"And you can find them nowhere else but my garden?" I asked.

He looked down at his little pile of plants, "None like these, mistress."

I lowered the rake. I would have to spend the next day repairing my garden, but I did not want to take to the road again. "Take them and begone then, if she'll die," I snapped at him. "And don't let me find you stealing from me again."

He scrambled to his feet, mumbling apologies and gratitude, and left. He returned a few days later bearing a hen and begged more of my vegetables. I kept the woman in ramps for months.

You think you know what comes next, but you're wrong.

They brought the child to me whenever it became ill, and I did what I could. It was a sickly baby. I wanted nothing to do with it. If it did not thrive, who would they blame? But they begged me to help, so what could I do?

When she was a little older, she took a fever. I put her in a cot by the fire and tended her. For days I sat by that little cot. Her parents visited often at first, then less so. The fever passed, but she was still weak when her parents told me they had "happy news" once more. She was not their first nor only child. That isn't to say they didn't care for her. They just stopped coming. I called her my little Rampion, for the ramps that had brought us together. I taught her everything I could, and she grew up.

I did not keep her prisoner. I wanted to protect her. I didn't want her to be stuck in the life I had fled, nor did I want her to pursue my path, which had produced its own dangers. I wanted something better for her. When I learned a young nobleman would be passing through the town, I took her there and put her in his way, again and again, for the duration of his stay. That was my mistake. When he left, she said he would never have gone without her, that he loved her, that I had trapped her. It was some few months later, when her condition was just showing, that she ran away.

I searched for her. I went to the town. I begged at the castle for any hint of her. I went to the tinkers. I would not stray far or for long from my home in case she came back, but I asked them to look for her. They found her, with her child. When she came back to me, she was frail and sick, and never recovered. I laid her in the garden, and let the ramps go to flower over her. And I have raised her daughter, whom I have called like her mother, my Rapunzel.

I own my mistakes, Sister, I will not see them repeated. She must be safe, warm, educated. I know well what you do to ones like me, who are odd, we witches. Yet here is my confession. Do with me as you will, only take her as a novice.

Kiyomi Appleton Gaines loves folklore and fairy tales for what they teach us about what it means to be human.  Her writing can be found at workofheartkag.wordpress.com.  She lives in New Orleans with her husband, a one-eyed cat, and a snake.

Cover Design: Amanda Bergloff @AmandaBergloff
If you’d like to see even more stories, poems, and articles in EC, please consider becoming a patron. We have cool rewards and every penny we receive goes to EC.
And check out
Enchanted Conversation's
and listen to the
Classical Music to Write Fairy Tales By
playlist for some writing inspiration!

February 17, 2021

Throwback Thursday: The Goblin King and the Pig, By Oliver Eade

Editor's note: A pig, a goblin king and a fairy princess? What's not to love? This is a charming story in the mold of classic fairy tales originally published in 2013. 

Jimmy Halliday was an ordinary schoolboy who came from an ordinary home in an ordinary town somewhere in the centre of England. At least he thought he was until one Monday morning when, cycling to school, he was forced to squeeze the break and skid to a halt, almost colliding with an old woman lying in the road. Strangely, he only saw her at the very last moment. Even more strangely, she seemed unharmed when he crouched down beside her and spoke to her, for the traffic was heavy that day.
 
“What are you doing lying in the middle of the road?” he asked. Cars blared their horns as they skirted past Jimmy and the woman. It was a miracle she hadn’t been killed.
 
“Waiting for you,” she replied. She picked up her walking stick and struggled to her feet. “And you’ve passed the first test,” she continued, gazing vacantly into the distance.
 
“Please, let me help you to the pavement,” Jimmy insisted, supporting the old woman’s arm and steering her out of danger.
 
And the second!”she added, a faint smile softening her wrinkled face. 
 
“Sure!” agreed Jimmy, frowning. “Well… better be going. Late for school already.” He paused. “Will you be okay? Can I help you to wherever you’re going?” he asked.
 
“No, because this is as far as I go.”
 
“Fine… erm… bye, then!”
 
Jimmy got back onto his bike.
 
“What about the third test, Jimmy?” the woman asked.
 
Jimmy’s jaw dropped.
 
“You know my name?”
 
“I know your name and everything about you except for one thing.” Jimmy stared at her. “Whether or not you can pass the third and final test.”
 
The boy shrugged his shoulders. Maybe she was more than just a bit mad. But the name thing? Perhaps she was an old friend of his parents he’d forgotten. 
 
“I’ll try,” he answered. “But what…?”
 
“To save my granddaughter from the Goblin King. She’s a fairy princess.”
 
“Oh!” exclaimed Jimmy. “Well, erm…”
 
Of course, he could have pushed his foot down on the pedal and just cycled away, but he didn’t. Something was preventing him.
 
“Thank you for committing yourself. There’s no turning back now. I can take you as far as Goblin Hollow and turn you into a pig, but after that you’re on your own.”
 
“A pig?”
 
Call for help? The police… a doctor? Jimmy’s mind twirled like a carousel.
 
“Just follow me.”
 
Before he had a chance to say "sorry, no way!" the old woman flew upwards. For the first time he saw her four diaphanous wings, like those of some enormous damsel-fly. He began pedaling like crazy, but he, too, shot up off the ground, the bike following the woman as if pulled by an invisible thread.
 
“This isn’t happening,” muttered Jimmy as he peered down at the busy streets through half-closed eyes. But it was!
 
Soon they’d left the town and were soaring over fields and woods. Having no head for heights, he gripped the handle bars for all he was worth as his feet spun the pedals. Soon the bike began to descend. He had no idea where he was. He always thought he knew the surrounding countryside well, but the nest of hills ahead was totally unfamiliar. They landed below the crest of the largest of these.
 
“And this is where I must leave you until you’ve passed the third test – or not, as the case may be – for only a mortal can save the girl from the goblins.”
 
Jimmy felt truly afraid for the first time. A pig? He’d already seen what she could do.
 
“You must offer yourself up in the place of my granddaughter. The Goblin King wants to cook her and eat her. Just tell them pig is far tastier than young fairy.”
 
A dead pig? End up as pork chops? Jimmy struggled with his bike, trying to turn it the other way so he could take off down the hill, but the thing had a mind of its own. It would only face the brow of the hill.
 
“Leave your bike here. If you succeed, she will lead you home.”
 
“If not?”
 
There was no reply. Gradually the old woman was turning invisible. The bike fell sideways when Jimmy’s trotters could no longer hold onto the handlebars. He could see the end of his twitching snout through which became acutely aware of an unpleasant smell wafting down from the hill-top – like old socks, only a thousand times worse. But it was something else that forced his fat body to hurry up the slope. Something his large, flapping ears now picked up: the voice of a young girl screaming. He waddled to the very top of the hill and peered down.
 
In the hollow below a large fire was ablaze and a crowd of hideous goblins danced around the fire, whooping and brandishing spears. A particularly fat goblin, dressed in splendid gold and purple finery, sat on a stone throne watching the spectacle, his face contorted by an evil grin, but it was the sight of a girl tied to a tree that held the pig-boy transfixed. Her long, wavy black hair reaching her waist, a small crown of colorful flowers on her head, he’d never imagined anyone could be so beautiful. Sadly, her silvery dress was in tatters and her glistening wings drooped. 
 
The girl’s screams cut Jimmy to the quick. Snorting and squealing with fury, he capered down the hill scattering the dancing goblins asunder. He trotted up to the Goblin King who emitted the same putrid smell that had invaded his nostrils on the other side of the hill.
 
“Oink, oink, oink!” he demanded. He knew what he wanted to say: "Let her go at once! Take me instead"’ But all that came out was "oink!"
 
The ugly goblin roared with laughter.
 
“What makes you think I’d be interested in roast pig when I can feast on roast fairy?”
 
Jimmy thought of the delicious smell that came from the kitchen whenever his mother cooked pork on a Sunday. Uncertain what to do next, he dithered.
 
“Put her on the fire!"ordered the Goblin King. “If we have room in our bellies afterwards we’ll cook the pig as well!”
 
So I’ll die anyway! Jimmy glanced at the fairy princess and their eyes met. He saw anguish, despair and purity in those beautiful eyes. Scampering over to the fire, he turned around and stuck his bottom in the flames. The pain was awful, but he refused to budge until his nose could detect that same deliciously-tantalising aroma his mother always produced from a pork joint. The goblins watched, mouths agape, when Jimmy returned to the Goblin King and stuck his bottom in the creature’s face.
“Mmmm!” exclaimed the Goblin King. “Smells delicious!”
 
Jimmy felt something stab into his hind-quarters. He heard a crunching sound, and turned his head enough to see that the Goblin King was holding a knife in one hand and in the other a hunk of meat coated with crisp pork crackling. An idiotic expression of sheer ecstasy lit up the goblin’s face as he chewed on the pork crackling.
 
“Let’s swap them round, boys!” shouted the Goblin King, his mouth still full. “This pig is seriously good. We can finish off with the fairy. She’ll be our dessert!”
 
There were further agonising stabs at his haunches and his sides, and Jimmy was aware of chunks of meat being flung in all directions to other goblins who fought greedily over the mouth-watering morsels of… himself! He glanced again at the distraught fairy, and was about to return to the fire to roast what remained of Jimmy the pig, when he realised that the only sound was that of a sobbing girl. The goblins had gone quiet, and the Goblin King sat still, his eyes closed. Jimmy crawled over to him and nudged the creature’s knees with his snout. No response. His soldiers lay motionless around the fire. The boy could feel a large hole in his bottom where the Goblin King had hacked chunks of roast pork from him. He wriggled backwards and squeezed himself out of that hole, emerging as Jimmy the schoolboy. Whether the goblins were dead, or sleeping after overfeeding on pork, Jimmy didn’t wait to find out. He ran to the fairy princess, untied her from the tree, took her by the hand and together they fled back up the hill.
 
“My – erm – bike,” Jimmy said proudly, pointing to his bike.
 
When the fairy girl looked at him with those eyes of hers he feared his legs would buckle in the face of such beauty.
 
“Thank you,” she said softly. “You’ve saved my life. Granny will reward you for sure.”
 
“Oh… it was nothing really. Look we’d better get going. Can you – erm…?”
 
She giggled.
 
“Fly? Wouldn’t be a fairy if I couldn’t!”
 
She spread her damsel-fly wings, and, after springing gracefully into the air, hovered above Jimmy.
 
“Follow me!” she called down.
 
Jimmy leapt onto his bike and started to pedal furiously. It came as no great surprise when he found himself climbing towards the sky rather than wheeling down the hill. Not for a second did he take his eyes off the fairy princess as they flew over meadows, farms and villages. He almost felt disappointed when he saw the town ahead, for he now wished he could travel on forever with the beautiful fairy girl in front of him. Only too soon, they landed in the very same street where he’d braked hard to avoid hitting the old woman. 
 
“Is… is this it then?” Jimmy timidly asked, not quite knowing how to say farewell to a fairy princess. The girl smiled and, reaching up on tip-toes, kissed him on the cheek. 
 
“Granny will reward you,” she repeated.
 
He cupped his hand over the spot where she’d kissed him, watching her face and body grow transparent before vanishing.
 
“Curses! Didn’t even to think to ask her name or find out how we can ever meet up again,” muttered Jimmy, feeling cross with himself as he rode on to school.
 
“Sorry, I’m late, sir! I was…” the boy began after rushing breathlessly into the classroom, but he was rendered instantly speechless by what he saw: a new girl sitting behind a desk in the front row. He’d have known her by her long, wavy, black hair alone, but it was because of those eyes that he could be certain.
 
“Prin–” he was about to say on recovering the power of speech.
 
“You can sit down, Jimmy,” interrupted the teacher. “I was just introducing our new student, Gabriella, to the class! I’m sure, like everyone else, you’ll want to make her most welcome.”
 
Gabriella? What a lovely name!
 
And when their eyes met, Princess Gabriella winked shyly at him. He was pleased she no longer had wings, for he had no head for heights.
 
So this is my reward, Jimmy thought, happily, as he sat at the back of the classroom unwilling to take his eyes off the girl who was once a fairy princess.
Oliver Eade is a medical doctor living in Scotland, with family in Texas, and is a writer of children’s and adult books and plays. Although unconfined to any particular genre, he is often drawn into the space of magical realism.

Cover Image: "Boy and Angel," Abbott Handerson Thayer
Cover Layout: Amanda Bergloff @AmandaBergloff
If you’d like to see even more stories, poems, and articles in EC, please consider becoming a patron. We have cool rewards and every penny we receive goes to EC.

February 15, 2021

The Hedge Witch and the Fairies, By Lauren Mills


Editor’s note: It’s not often that EC gets a submission that includes the work of a professional artist and writer like Lauren Mills. That’s right. The adorable image, “Berry Harvest,” that goes with this delightful and unexpected poem is also by Lauren. You’re going to love this!

A fever led the witch to bed, 

Too weak to find a cure.

Her ragged breath, her aching head,

No more could she endure.


A healer she had been to all

Who dared to seek the crone;

But none would heed a witch’s call

She’d face her end alone. 


At dusk she spied a little light

Float by her garden wall.

She fancied that a fairy might

Be tucked inside, quite small.


She rose and stumbled out her door

To see what might be there, 

Then crawled across the leafy floor

With no one there to care.


Then, one by one, she watched them come

From out of mist and dew.

Her heart like rapid wings did hum

To glimpse them as they flew.


Their hair like tufts of milkweed down

Was lifted by the breeze.

Each gossamer and silky gown

As sheer as wings of bees.


They sang and played a lively reel.

Those dainty feet did dance

Upon the tufted chamomile,

A golden-fairy prance.


With fragrance as a sweet caress

Into a dream serene,

Her eyes half closed in drowsy bliss;

She saw the strangest scene.


A tiny, wounded mouse was laid

Across the blossomed-bed.

A mossy pillow, fairy-made,

Was set beneath his head.


One wrapped him in a petal shawl.

One kissed his tiny cheek.

With thorn removed, he stood up tall,

And thanked them with a squeak.


The next to come was old brown toad.

They set his broken toe.

His gratitude he shyly showed

By croaking rather low.


At last there came a chickadee,

Her feathers not quite right.

The fairies worked so carefully

To sew them back, snug tight.


And just when she began to think

Of taking slumber there 

The fairies turned and with a wink

Wove flowers in her hair.


What happened next, she could not say;

The tunes began to fade.

By dawn’s first light they flew away.

She hobbled from the glade.


When she awoke upon her bed,

The dew upon the lawn,

With fragrant herbs around her head-

Her fever? It was gone!


***

Bio: Lauren A. Mills has been a visiting art professor at the University of Hartford in Connecticut and Hollins University in Virginia. She is the author and illustrator of several books for children including, The Rag Coat, The Dog Prince, Tatterhood and the Hobgoblins, and Fairy Wings which she co-illustrated with her husband, Dennis Nolan, and which won the SCBWI (Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators) Golden Kite Award. She and her husband have a grown daughter. They live with their Italian Greyhound, Ollie, in Western Massachusetts at their homestead called Faun Hollow. Lauren, a self-proclaimed Hedge Witch, grows herbs that go into her Faerie Botanica of healing teas and body care products that she makes for her family and friends.


***

This story was underwritten by Marcia Sherman, whose generous support helps keep EC going. If you enjoyed this poem, please consider becoming a supporter of our Patreon program. EC needs your help to offer more writing opportunities and great content.

February 12, 2021

Enchanted Creators: Diane Plumley of D&D Digital Delights, By Molly Ellson



Editor’s note: I’ve been a huge fan of the Etsy shop D&D’s Digital Delights for many years, and this year, Diane Plumley is collaborating with EC so we can offer our Patreon supporters gorgeous, high-resolution fairy tale images. Thanks Diane! Read on to learn more about Diane and her fabulous shop. (KW)


The next time you happen to be scrolling through Etsy, on a quest for the next fairy tale themed treasure, I implore you to set your sights upon D&D Digital Delights—a wonderful shop that provides its customers with stunning digital images of vintage illustrations. Diane Plumley, the brain behind D&D Digital Delights, collects illustrations from wherever they can be found: charity shops, antiques markets... distant realms... and authentically and lovingly restores them to their original splendor, before making them available to buy on D&D’s Etsy site. With over 40,000 stunningly restored images already sold, it is obvious that Diane has a passion for vintage illustration and she is eager to share that passion with the world—and the world is responding.


So, without further ado, I present the second installment of Enchanted Creators: an interview with Diane Plumley.


1) How long have you been collecting and restoring these beautiful illustrations, and what inspired you to begin?


I've loved Mother Goose and fairy tales since I was a little tot. My favorite place was our local library, a building directly out of a Charles Robinson illustration. I also collected the Junior Classic fairy tale magazines every time I had a dental appointment, which clearly dates me! (Me too Diane! KW)


I found Green Tiger Press and would order a few art postcards at a time, and when the fairy cards arrived, it was like Christmas. I began collecting illustrations, and then books—some first editions.


While in college, I came across Anne Anderson's Mother Goose [illustration] and I've craved vintage children's illustrations ever since. For years, I hunted for a first edition of her Mother Goose... now with a flick of a finger, you can possess one.



Later in life, I began a jewelry line composed of vintage illustrations, with crystals and charms that matched each image.


When I saw how people were ripping the illustrations out of books, in order to sell them, it infuriated me. My friend, Dee, and I decided to pool our collections, restore illustrations—if need be—and offer them on Etsy as downloads, to hopefully keep people from destroying more books. I'd already been fixing all genres of images for my jewelry, so this seemed like a logical progression. 


That was in 2014. Since that time I've sold 42,911 images, and counting. 


2) Tell us about yourself; what is your background, do you participate in any other creative activities?


Oh, heavens, what haven't I done?! 


Back in the day I was an actress. I made marionette jewelry by moulding polymer clay into various subjects—movie stars, fictional characters, and more. I sold to high-end boutiques and department stores, including Bloomingdales. Then, I went on to make decorative marionettes.


I’ve made fairy dollhouses for my nieces and am currently working on a Mother Goose dollhouse. There’s a haunted house in the making, too.


However, my primary creative outlet is a fairy garden, called Gnomesville, which I create each spring and contains houses, real flowers, mushrooms, lots of fairies and, of course, gnomes. I also have every Cicely Mary Barker fairy figurine, bar one.


Gnomesville brings kids and grandkids to enjoy the town; it is a lovely distraction for people, particularly during this difficult pandemic. 



3) Are you a fairy tale fan? If so, what are your favorite tales/artists/authors? And why?


I love “The Shepherdess and The Chimney Sweep”; I think it’s the idea of going out into the big world, but finding it too much to handle—I sometimes feel that way! Of course, “Cinderella” was a major influence in my day.


I vowed to have a princess wedding dress. But, the only problem was that I didn't want to marry! When I did, I designed a gown influenced by Edmund Dulac's fairy godmother illustration, as it’s one of my favorite images. 


So many illustrators awe me, it's difficult to narrow them down... 


Anne Anderson is my number one favorite. She remains at the top. After that, my tastes have changed over time. I was a fanatical Arthur Rackham lover; so much so that I wrote a college thesis on his work. As time continued, however, I found that I was increasingly entranced by Kay Nielsen and Virginia Sterrett. I'm discovering artists from the past all the time. My latest favorite is Hilda Cowham and, for humor, you can't beat W. Heath Robinson.




4) How do you constantly find new material? Do you enjoy the search?


I still have tons of material yet to scan, but, oh yes, I enjoy the search. 


Antique flea markets  with used books, paper ephemera events—with any number of incredible items—and friends allowing me use of their collections are all very exciting. I do sometimes find wonderful illustrations online, but the quality is often less than great and I am a real stickler for perfection. As perfect as I can make it, at least. 


5) The images on your site are perfect and have stunning clarity—despite having often originated from antiquated source material—how do you do it? Is it a difficult process?


I try to start with the original source. For example, I have a first edition of Virginia Sterrett's “French Fairy Tales”; I carefully scan the tipped in illustration, and then color correct. To appeal to buyers, some images need a little punch, BUT—and I feel this strongly—the image shouldn't be so weirdly altered as to not be true to the artist's intent. There are other sellers on Etsy that change tone, vibrance, etc., to a garish degree. The buyer can't know the image isn't true to the artist, but they would if both examples were side by side. In a first edition example, little needs to be done.


If I find a book with a fabulous dust jacket but it's torn and worn, with dirt and spots, I have to spend quite a lot of time correcting the image—filling in spaces, cleaning up spots etc. It's absorbing work. And when finished, if I succeed, it's a nice feeling. 


6) Do you have a favorite illustration in your collection? Why is it your favorite?


My favorite illustration is by Virginia Sterret; I call it “Fairy Tree,” but I'm not sure what the caption says in the book. My second is Kay Nielsen's “In Powder and Crinoline,” when poison is about to be served. The old lady from Edmund Dulac's “Snow Queen” is another favorite—her house is just magical with little toy soldiers guarding the door. I obviously love all of Anne Anderson's Mother Goose, but “Ride to Banbury Cross” and “I Had a Little Nut Tree” stand out.


The artistry within each of these illustrations is sublime, the colors, lines and intent are all practically perfect. The dresses worn by the ladies are gorgeous. When I view these illustrations, I am enveloped in the magic of the story.


7) Do you have any help with D&D Digital Delights?

 

Originally my friend Dee and I collaborated. But she bowed out after a year or so. My husband is an expert in print so I will consult him on an image I'm not sure is up to par, but other than him, my three rescue Bichon Frises provide humor and love on my good—and bad—days! 



8) Is there anything else you’d like to tell us?


Just a pet peeve of mine. I state quite obviously and emphatically, on my shop page, that each image has a size at which it looks best and that some images will not enlarge well.


However, no one seems to read this information and the amount of questions about specific images, which I must answer, can be frustrating!


***

All images are from Diane Plumley. They include, in order, two jewelry photos, one of Diane’s handmade puppets, and two photos of her fairy garden, Gnomesville. The last is of Diane herself.


***

This post was sponsored by Marcia Sherman, one of our generous Patreon supporters. Thank you Marcia!

SITE DESIGNED BY PRETTYWILDTHINGS