Iceland: Part 3

It is snowing today, when I woke up the mountains were clouded in white. Yesterday, I started making little studies in silverpoint, pencil, and gouache. Grass, coastlines, mountain shapes, muted colors, layers of white. Today, I started a large drawing on the wall. This evening, I sat around a table with the director of the residency and others and I listened to and sang along to Icelandic folk songs. It was amazing.

 :: snowy mountain ::

 :: the studio ::

 :: the studio, with big paper on the wall ::

:: little study, silverpoint, graphite, and gouache ::

:: little studies ::

Iceland Part 2

First impressions of this island. There is so much texture, everywhere, I don't know if it's the air but there's a clarity and detail in the landscape that is overwhelming. The air smells like salt and earth. It's a beautiful smell that is something forgotten. The feeling of something forgotten. Monolithic shapes, black against white. White bone, white snow, black and white birds, black rocks, black bread. The grass that leans against itself, like sleeping heads. 

Stem and Stave

Wave runes shall you make
If you desire to ward
Your sail-steeds on the sound.
On the stem shall they be cut
And on the steering blade
And burn them on the oar.
No broad breaker will fall
Nor waves of blue,
And you will come safe from the sea,

- from the Saga of Volsungs

 :: Stem and Stave, Marianne Dages, 2013, letterpress print, polymer and type ::

:: detail ::

 :: detail ::

Language is a virus

 :: Yukaghir "love letter" ::

:: Drumconwell Ogham Stone ::

:: Icelandic Magic Staves ::

 :: Saami Runebomme ::

 :: Chinese Bamboo Annals ::

:: Traditional Croatian Tattoos ::

:: my print, Small Fires No. 3 ::

I'm very interested in pictographic images as modes of communication and their relationship to folklore. I've also been looking at the distortion of language and information that occurs as cultural objects
and stories are viewed out of context by outsiders.

 The images I make are a personal and idiosyncratic dictionary of symbols with pictographic imagery rooted in the history and folklore of the Arctic. They are an attempt to communicate with the long gone and far away, and to create a new personal narrative and connection to these far off places.

A coffer full of words

:: A coffer full of words, 2012, Huldra Press ::

This new print was printed on the Risograph at The Common Press. I hope you like it. I'm very excited about the direction my new work has been taking and hopefully will have more to show you soon. I am also posting now at my new tumblr page, Tiger Feathers, which is about the things I think about. I'm going to keep posting here to show you new work and talk about the studio as well.


Some of you may already know, I'm fascinated by Scandinavia. Here are my reasons. They may not all make sense...

- I like the way the languages look when they're written.
- A book I read when I first started binding books called Finnish Handicraft greatly influenced me.
- When I was in 6th grade, I did a report on the tundra.
- The Norwegian forest cat
- This picture

- Lichen, birch, mushrooms, little country homes...
- Intensely strange and wonderful mythology and folklore.

I'd really like to go there someday. I would go here.

And there's other things I like, these...

:: From Fine Little Day ::

:: From Anna Emilia ::

:: From Paperiaarre ::

One Hundred!

Welcome to blog post one hundred, a milestone I had doubts of ever reaching when I started this project. It's not that I didn't want to, but I don't have a good track record when it comes to things like this. But I've really enjoyed working on this and I hope you all have too.

This is a book I recently made for myself. I made it with the cover of an old science book. I liked the cover for its sturdiness and classic design. The text block is densely sewn together so it has a nice weight to it.

I rebound the book with a mix of recycled paper from French Paper and old maps, graph paper and illustrations. I made sure to include a map of Scandinavia to daydream over.

This illustration is one of my favorites, the colors are out of this world. Green sky and purple clouds!

The whole book is sewn together and glued in, so you would never know it was a new book by looking at the outside. Pretty neat.

So thank you everyone for reading, and I look forward to the next one hundred.
Happy 100 blog posts!


:: Anselm Kiefer ::

Thinking about drawing and ideas for a book. Lines and shapes. Grey palettes. The feeling of winter.

:: Anselm Kiefer ::

:: Thea Djordjadze ::

:: Sofia Arnold ::

:: Anette Blaesbjerg Orom ::

:: Anselm Kiefer ::

:: Anni Albers ::

My roommate read my horoscope from Free Will Astrology to me yesterday...

"The Norwegians used to have a concept called svoermere, which meant something sweetly futile or deliciously unprofitable. While I can see the appeal that your particular version of svoermere has had for you, Gemini, I think it's time to think about moving on. According to my reading of the omens, you have both a right and a duty to seek out more constructive pleasures that not only make you feel good but also serve your long-term goals."

I take this to be a sign that it's time to walk off the mountain and start making it all happen. Good. I'm looking forward to it.

Old Books & New Drawings

Used books. My greatest weakness. Remember that in case I ever become a super villain or a zombie and you have to defeat me to save the world. As I was saying...used books. There is no greater pleasure then wandering through aisles of musty books looking for that one treasure. I hardly ever buy new books, instead relying on chance to guide me towards my next read. Old books are also key material in my projects. I use them for stationery, blank books, and drawings. Sometimes, one book can even become the foundation for a whole body of work.

Recently, I started a new series of drawings using the pages from an 1897 geology textbook. I haven't done a series of drawings for quite some time. The act of drawing doesn't come easily to me, I liken it to pulling teeth. There's no structure to hide behind, no rules really. You just have to do what comes to you. That can be pretty scary.

I can't say I know where these are going yet, but I like it.

Huldra Press

a huldra chatting with a collier

I'm sure some of you are wondering where my press name comes from and this entry will answer that question. I read a great deal of folklore and mythology. This started about four years ago when I read Bulfinch's Mythology, a time-honored retelling of mythology spanning from the classical Greek fables to medieval tales of such as that of Perceval and the stories of the Welsh Mabinogen. It's so good...

What fascinated me about these stories was that they suggested our humanity was a changeable state. People turned into plants, disguised themselves as animals, and were always in danger of being led astray into stranger, looking glass worlds that overlapped theirs.

So Bulfinch's Mythology had a brief introduction into Norse mythology, which I just thought was the weirdest stuff I'd ever read, and I loved it. I started reading Scandinavian folklore. I love the oddness of the stories and the superstitions they contain. For example to find out if you want to find out if your kid is a changeling, you brew beer in an eggshell. The changeling will exclaim, "I'm as old as the hills, but I've never seen beer brewed in an eggshell!" Case closed.

I first read about the Scandinavian huldra in a book called theThe Forest in Folklore and Mythology by Alexander Porteous. A huldra is a woman who appears human from the front but like a hollow tree from the back. She also has a fox or a cow's tail depending on the origin of the story. In many stories, she is friendly to colliers and others who are kind to her, like in this lovely story.

A boy in Tividen went fishing, but he had no luck. Then he met a beautiful lady, and she was so stunning that he felt he had to catch his breath. But, then he realized who she was, because he could see a fox's tail sticking out below the skirt. As he knew that it was forbidden to comment on the tail to the lady of the forest, if it were not done in the most polite manner, he bowed deeply and said with his softest voice, "Milady, I see that your petticoat shows below your skirt". The lady thanked him gracefully and hid her tail under her skirt, telling the boy to fish on the other side of the lake. That day, the boy had great luck with his fishing and he caught a fish every time he threw out the line. This was the huldra's recognition of his politeness. (Hellström, AnneMarie (1985). Jag vill så gärna berätta)

After the Christianization of Scandinavia, the huldra became a more villified temptress. So Typical... But that aspect does not interest me.

To the contrary, what I love about the folklore of the huldra and European folklore in general is the banality of it. That these creatures longed for the same things we did, that they farmed and married and had children like we do. That there was a time when these stories were traded as truth and they reveal so much about our fears and desires, and about our relationship with the natural world.

So I hope that sheds some light on my press name and what inspires a great deal of my work.