Friday, March 29, 2013

Image-ing Our Wee Faeries

Back in 2009, when we embarked on the first Wee Faerie Village project, we envisioned printing a map for visitors that would aid them in finding their way around the Museum's campus. Likewise, it seemed appropriate to have some wee faerie images of our very own that we could use to advertise the upcoming event. We commissioned Jeff Himmelman, a young illustrator with experience drawing fantastical creatures and beings, especially for the mystical world of online gaming.
The collaborative creation process was a great deal of fun. After some initial conversation about the map and what kinds of faeries would best represent the project, Jeff got to work. One night, an email arrived with the words "faerie sketch" in the subject line--these emails most often arrived in the middle of the night, so this gives you an idea of when these enchanted creatures are conjured. Deep breath time: it's always a little nerve-wracking to open the attached image; you have no idea what you're going to see. Double click. Ahhhhhh! The first demo faerie was truly beautiful, but not quite the tone the Museum was hoping to set with families. Back to the drawing board--or, to be more accurate, to the computer and keyboard.
Not to worry. Jeff took the feedback in stride: 
"Love the autumn leaves as wings." 
"The dress of natural elements is inspired." 
"She may be a bit too adult and perhaps a tad too stern for this project."
Days went by before the first sketch of Griswold appeared. He was a boy faerie who was just the right age with a playful and slightly devilish personality. Next came Florence. She was sweet and demur, but also a perfect muse for the Old Lyme artists. Yeah, we had our first pair of faeries. 
I personally loved his tattered leaf wings and artistic weaponry. The small pencil tucked into his belt like a sword. Griswold holds the ink pen like a spear, the sheafs of blank paper readied for creativity. Jeff Himmelman was masterful in the details: the acorn beret, maple seedling upper wings, and the pair of pointed shoes. For Florence, he gave her a tiara of purple flowers and work belt strung with jars of pigments. 
For the 2009 project, we planned to have both a girl and a boy faerie to represent the inhabitants of our Wee Faerie Village. However, as the process continued, it became apparent that a few more faeries were needed. Himmelman to the rescue!
He even created a wee faerie dog and wee faerie cat to welcome visitors to the Village--L. Frank Baum would have been thrilled since he believed in animal faeries.
Last year, we added to wee faerie family with a few more faerie characters. Another playful boy and impish girl, however, the creative process remained the same.
In 2013, however, our Wee Faerie Village in the Land of Oz characters will most likely look different from the ones above. Firstly, Jeff Himmelman has turned over the creative reins to a friend, Aaron Miller, so the illustrator's personal vision and style will be new--more on Aaron in the upcoming weeks. Secondly, this year's characters will be informed by L. Frank Baum's original text whereas earlier characters were not based on anything too specific. And lastly, it's our goal at the Museum to push beyond what we've done and to create something excitingly new for the audiences who love to visit the Wee Faerie Village, and for them, we will work hard not to disappoint.

David D.J. Rau
Director of Education and Outreach

David D.J. Rau coordinates as well as participates in the Museum’s October creative endeavors. You can contact him at

Upcoming Blog Entries:
  • Illustrating the Museum's Non-Faerie Village Events
  • Meet the Museum’s New Fantasy Illustrator Aaron Miller
  • Just C’Oz: Other Creative Endeavors Inspired by Oz

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