Xipil – The Noble of Fire

Good morrow curious travellers!

Introducing Xipil. Inspired by mythic lore regarding salamanders and their affinity with fire, this wee fellow is my favourite baby dragon.

Unlike their amphibious real world counterparts, the mythical salamander is seen as the elemental of fire. Leonardo da Vinci proclaimed that

“This has no digestive system, and gets no food but from the fire, in which it constantly renews its scaley skin.”

In early China fabric woven from ‘salamander hair’ was claimed to be fireproof (sounds pretty cool huh, what a pity it turned out to be asbestos). It’s thought the association between our slimy buddies and fire stems from their habit of hibernating inside rotting logs. When the logs were brought inside and thrown on the fire, the salamanders promptly made their escape – causing onlookers to assume they born out of the flames.

Not to be predictable or anything, but reds and golds seemed a suitable colour palette for my fire elemental. To capture the shape and movement of fire, I individually mixed the colour for each scale, blending them to create a flow of colour that highlighted the dragons form – cloaking him with a thousand tiny licks of flame.

Surprisingly this process didn’t drive me slowly irreversibly mad as it would 99% of the population. It was actually a very meditative ten hours .

If you attempt a dragon, or any other beastie in this style, I suggest you build him on a prop. In this case I used a small liqueur bottle. Having a prop gives you something to hold onto, making it considerably easier to work on your sculpture without squishing parts you’ve already finished.

(Believe me, nothings breaks your brain like realising your wayward fingertip just smooshed two hours of work!).

I’m lucky enough to have a full set of clayworking tools to help with the fiddly bits. If you don’t, never fear, a needle and a butter knife will do just as well for adding texture and details. If you have long fingernails these are incredibly helpful for smoothing difficult areas with leaving tool marks.

Fire elementals were originally the stuff of myths and alchemists’ labs. Xipil however resides in my living room – where he plays around our many candles, and we try and keep him away from the fire staff!

Giving Birth to Baby Dragons

Phew, I’ve been hacking away at this post for a week and a half now! I’m still new to this blogging business, and talking about myself is much harder than originally imagined.

I’ve been trying to explain how I give birth to baby dragons (figuratively of course, literally would be most unpleasant!). Gestated as concepts, I bring the little beasties to life in polymer clay. I love polymer clay- but that’s a tale for another time.  Dragoncrafting is my hobby, my meditation. Existing in a reality of our own imagining, dragons are unconstrained by the laws of logic and science. They are shaped entirely by our whims and dark dreamings, and as such encourage creative freedom.

My dragon breeds are shaped by my surroundings- coaxed out of the clay as skinks and geckos, garbed in the colours and textures of New Zealand’s sands and seas. I create them for stories, for people, and for me.  Although I have a basic technique for building their bodies and limbs, their details and personalities develop organically as I work.

Next time we talk I’ll introduce some of my dragons.Stay and hear their stories. Meet their people. Discover the secrets to creating them. Maybe you’ll be inspired, after all, giving birth to baby dragons isn’t as painful as it sounds!

(If you’re wondering why baby dragons specifically, it’s because they’re easier to control than their adult counterparts, and they haven’t realised I’ll taste good with ketchup!).

The Definition of a Creative Magician

My blog is titled “Cog & Compass – Explanations of a Costumier and Creative Magician”, but what exactly does that mean?

It seems to be time for the first of many explanations…

Why that tagline?

Every story has a beginning, a middle and an end, so we’ll start at the beginning, with the Explanations part.

I toyed with a lot of words at  first…

Musings: Meaning meditative or thinking in a calm manner.This went straight out the proverbial window. I am rarely calm and it doesn’t encapsulate the conversational tone I generally write in.

Thoughts: Thoughts went much the same way as Musings. It’s too internal, and I want to talk to you, not to myself.

… And so it went until Explanations popped up. Explaining is my style – explaining my inspirations, ideas and creations is what this blog is all about – so in it was typed.

On to the middle – Costumier.

I am a costume designer. It’s what I studied at university, what I write on my business cards and what I want to do for the rest of my life.  Costumier is just a shinier word for it.

And thus we reach the end of the story (and the tagline) – Creative Magician. This phrase requires the most explaining, probably because I made it up.

I’m a creative magician because my creations are more than the sum of their parts.  I don’t pull rabbits out of hats – I pull hats out of buckram and lace.  I don’t draw bouquets out of thin air – I draw characters out of fabric and knick knacks.

My creations help people be who they want to be, I think that’s magic enough.

( Besides, if all else fails, I always have a few tricks up my sleeve.)

Valkyrie Dawn- Reality Tweaker

Salutations Traveller,

Since this blog is essentially a conversation (albeit largely one-sided), it would be rude for me to begin without introducing myself properly.

In the real world I’m Jaimee – Spectacle wearing Designer, Wife and Creative Messy Type.

In my world I’m Valkyrie Dawn – Steampirate, Dirigible Captain and all-round Snappy Dresser.

Being a snappy dresser is important to me. Clothes can change your personality. They can transform this reality into a better one. A more intriguing one. One where ray guns and bustle skirts are commonplace, and no one questions your highly questionable accent.

That’s why I started Cog & Compass. I want to help you tweak your reality.

This tweaking starts with the workroom in my New Zealand home. Here I handcraft items with character (and story lines.. and their own theme music… ). I want to send them out across the world to you – little parcels of fantasy and imagination. But I don’t just make what I want, I wish to make what You want.

That’s why I’ve started this blog. To bring you behind the velvet curtain. So I can show you my ideas, and you can tell me yours. So I can create exactly what you need, just for you.

If your reality needs a little customising, let me know. I can help.

Time Flies