Frogs, Trolls and Amigurumi

My challenge to revive the lost art of the handwritten letter continues to be, well, challenging. I am writing a letter a day, but also illustrating each one with an original Ziggy Elf. I wanted to post up what I was doing, but quickly realized that I couldn’t show the contents of the letters. That would spoil the surprise for the recipient. So, ingeniously, I decided to illustrate the envelopes. So far I’ve come up with something that has meaning to each person, but it’s taxing my drawing skills. Just check out the latest batch.

Number 34 is going all the way to CHINA! I was so excited to hear from Chenchen who is creator of Pure Sketch and Comics. This is a young man who is so talented. His ink sketches are fabulous. He lives in Nanjing which is famous for its salted duck….nom nom.

illustrated letter 34

Letter 35 is going to somewhere equally exciting…Hawaii. Well it’s exciting to someone who lives in the North of England. It is for Paul who is a ceramicist and is the creator of Paper, Mud and Me. Like the letter that went to Hansi in California, this one is adorned with Sunny the Campervan. How wonderful to tootle around Hawaii in a VDub bus.

illustrated letter 35

Letter 36 goes to Virginia who hails from Eldersburg, Maryland, USA. She is another 3D artist, a sculptor and you can find out more about her at Muse-ings. Virginia made some lovely frogs, so I thought I’d have a go too.

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Letter 37 is staying in the UK and heading south to Dorset. Now this may not be the exotica of Hawaii but I can tell you this is one of England’s most beautiful counties, and pretty cool for a campervan adventure. The coast is known as the Jurassic Coast and is a World Heritage Site. Ha! Who needs palm trees now? It is home to Joanna who is creator of Pippin Run Wild, a veritable feast of all things vintage and crafty. Joanna made a beautiful bluebird pin cushion that inspired her envelope illustration.

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Letter 38 is the first to go to Sweden and is for Janna. She is the creator of Janna’s Whimsies. This blog is packed with lovely images and creative stories. The envelope illustration is inspired by a post about an ancient forest and it’s trolls.

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Letter 39 is going just up the coast to Amble in Northumberland, another breath- takingly beautiful county. It is for Jean Rafferty, an award winning journalist and author. You can find out more about this very talented lady at her website here. One of my favourite walks with the Skinny Dogs is from Warkworth, along the beach to Amble and back up by the estuary. You can always spot a magnificent heron or two, and here’s mine.

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The penultimate letter in this batch is going to Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. I actually have relatives in Vancouver going back two generations. I would love to visit. Maybe one day. This is for Caroline who is the creator of the very stylish blog The Girl in the Yellow Dress. The subtitle is Yellow Bird Dreams, so it had to be a little Tweetie Pie.

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And finally, letter 41 is going to the Illustrated Letter projects favourite destination; Australia. In particular Melbourne. This envelope is adorned with the strangest thing I have ever dreamt up and it is especially for Sharon at Gentle Stiches. She is all about the stitchery and the “gentle art of repair.” But Sharon is particularly fond of amigurumi, the Japanese art of knitting cute mini animals. So I’ve had a go at an Amigurumi Elf. What do you think?

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Phew! Around the world in eight illustrations.

Well, I still need help if I am to complete my challenge of a letter a day. I need 365 people to send letters to. Would you like to recieve an original Ziggy Elf? If so you’ll find all the details here.

Illustrated Letter 10; A Little Closer to Home

In a bid to revive the lost art of letter writing I am composing and sending an illustrated hand written letter a day through 2013.

The first batch of letter elves have now flown the coop including number 10. This one is not roaming too far away from Newcastle, just a little further up the coast to Berwickshire, to nestle down with Hannah, creator of Cameo Curio. I discovered this blog back in February last year and love it. Inspirational art, beautiful photos….and Buddy the Puppy. Pop over and take a look.

As always the content is hidden so Hannah can’t see her elf, but there is a cheeky little creature peeping out of the envelope.

To see the other letters take a peek here.

 

Illustrated letter 10 Hannah

I am having so much fun with this challenge but I need people to send the letters to. If you would like to receive a Little Letter Elf the details are here.

Constable and Toop; Me and Mr Jones

 I love it when I find myself immersed in the world of a book that I feel reluctant to leave. And when I reach that final page I feel exhilarated yet a little melancholy because I’ve got to say goodbye to some fabulous characters. Constable and Toop by Gareth P. Jones left me feeling exactly that way. Set in Victorian London it follows the fortunes of Sam Toop, a fourteen year old living and working with his father in a funeral parlour, and Lapsewood (deceased), a quill pushing clerk who works in the Dispatch Department of the Bureau. Sam has an unusal talent; he’s a “talker.” That is, he talks to ghosts. They seek him out and unburden their miseries on him or ask for his help in contacting the living. However, it is a gift that Sam would rather live without preferring to lead a quiet life. Much like Lapsewood, who loves his predictable and structured life, or should that be death, sorting and filing paperwork to keep the world of ghosts in order. But through a series of ghoulish, wicked and often bloody events both find themselves drawn into an adventure to save London’s ghosts. Above all, this is a very witty tale, crammed with a huge cast of well written characters that move the story along at a cracking pace. Ooh, and there are dogs in it…and you know how much I love dogs.

Ghostly sketch of Gareth

So it was with great delight that I went along to Seven Stories to meet Gareth P.Jones himself who’d popped by the museum as part of his promotional Ghost Tour 2012.  Looking every inch the dapper Victorian, dressed as he was in a three-piece suit complete with top hat, he entertained the group reading an interactive Gothic Ghost story. Set in Highgate Cemetary Mr Jones introduced us to Helly Hoxton and a ghost chicken, pausing periodically to ask the audience what should Helly do next? The children in the group eagerly discussed the character’s dilemmas and then voted on which action Helly should take. Just like Constable and Toop, the story had twists and turns and comic moments giving a wonderful flavour of the novel for those who had yet to read it. Mr Jones then picked up his ukulele (as well as being an award winning novelist he has mastered a variety of stringed instruments) and taught us the chorus to the Constable and Toop song. He likes to write songs for all his books and we enjoyed singing along. A Q & A session revealed he started writing short stories at secondary school,  after university wrote a novel and a children’s story that were never published but found success with The Dragon Detective Agency. And his advice to aspiring writers? Learn to take critisism….especially from your wife! We finished off with some more singing, this time The Meercat Rap inspired by Mr Jones’s Ninja Meercat series, which involved alot of Kung Foo “hi-ya’s” and clapping. I thoroughly enjoyed myself and joined everybody down in the fantastic Seven Stories bookshop to get my copy of Constable and Toop signed.

You can find out what Gareth thought about Seven Stories and his trip “Up North” here.

Well, it wouldn’t be a Ziggy Shortcrust post without an elf, and the very lovely and charming Mr Jones gave me permission to create his “elfter ego.”

I would highly recommend this novel, be you teen or adult. And if you can purchase it in an independent bookshop so much the better.

I Spy An Elf for All Hallow’s Eve

Hallowe’en or All Hallows Eve is the time of the year when the door to the OtherWorld is left ajar and the souls of the dead dine with the living. It is also an opportunity for elven folk to slip through unseen as they mingle with guising mortals. It is easy for an elf to remain undetected amongst so many people caked in face paints, smeared in fake blood and sporting gruesome masks. Would you be drawn up short by someone with pointy ears? Not around Hallowe’en. But if you know what to look for you’ll find an elf or two.

Elves have incredible night-time vision. Their pupils dilate to let in as much light as possible and often reflect light back, like a dog, or wolf. I spotted this creature weaving her way amongst the Hallowe’en revellers around Newcastle Central Station late on Wednesday evening. Eyes as black as coal gave her away.

 

Fact or fiction? You decide.

29 Faces in September; Doodle Man 2

It has been a long and very busy day at work. So I didn’t get chance to put pen to paper artistically speaking. Doodle Man 2 was on the same scrap of paper as  yesterday’s original  Doodle Man who I now know to be Cousin Benny; a man with an embarrassing comb over and snugly fitting tartan slippers. Thank you so much Sharon at A Number of Things and This is Lemonade for fleshing out this character. take a look at the comments on yesterdays post to find out more about Benny. If anybody wants to add to this please do.

So….. Doodle Man 2. Unlike Benny, he is elvish but I would love to know more. Who is Doodle Man 2?

 

Only three more faces to go!