Tuesday, May 26, 2009


It's my third Etsyversary! It's actually a double Etsyversary: the third anniversary of the day I joined Etsy, and the second anniversary of the day I listed my first map. And what an amazing few years it has been.

In celebration, I am offering free worldwide shipping on all prints through 2 p.m. ET (-4 UTC) tomorrow, May 27th (cause I was gone all morning and I am a fan of extended celebrations, anyway).


I am offering a giveaway of a print one of my earliest and still most popular maps, Kingdom of Delight (see above). All you have to do is comment here (and leave your email address IN your comment) in the same time period, by 2 p.m. ET tomorrow.

Comment about anything!*

If you'd like additional entries, please feel free to blog or tweet about the contest, or both, and leave another comment with a link to the blog post or tweet.

Thank you for helping me live my dream!

UPDATE (8:44 ET): I forgot to mention, this giveaway is open to anyone in the world (provided your country doesn't have legal restrictions against such giveaways)!

* But if you need suggestions, I would especially love links to quick and easy, tried-and-true recipes for people who don't like to cook, since my personal chef's... er, I mean, my husband's... work schedule is pure madness at the moment, so I'm doing a lot the cooking, and man and woman cannot live on spaghetti and quesadillas alone.

I could, but I never claim to be normal.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Shiny Happy Things

Almost two month agos, I entered a giveaway at the Etsy Chainmaillers Guild blog and then promptly forgot about it.

It isn't so much that I enter so many giveaways that I can't keep track, because I rarely do. It's just, I'm easily distracted by shiny things* so when I saw the link on Twitter, I followed it, and I voted, because I love to vote. And then I was distracted by other shiny things, and so it goes. This is my life, folks. I am rarely bored.

Then I got an email from Marion of Marion's Dream Works to tell me that I had one won one of her necklaces.

Well. Speaking of shiny things.

This photograph doesn't even begin to do this necklace justice, and neither can I.

It is gorgeous. It is stunning.

In fact, there's only one way to explain how beautiful this necklace is, and that's to admit that, while I had fun browsing the entries in the competition, I don't know that I would ever have purchased a piece of chainmaille jewelry for myself. (I wear so little jewelry and there's a lot of competition out there...)

So I was pleased when Marion emailed me for my address, but, well, then I was distracted again and forgot again. And then, because we were out and about, I finally picked the package up from the post office yesterday, and opened it in the car in the afternoon sun.


Between the flexible links and the crystal at the center, this necklace sparkles. It glows. It actually dances in the light.

Argh. I told you words wouldn't be enough. But I tell you, I am in awe. This necklace (another of which can be found here) begs for a black-dress occasion to do it justice.

Thank you so much, Marion. I will wear it with delight.

*As is my husband, which is why "Shiny things," plus a shrug,
is all you need to say to explain why you're not paying attention in our house,
and forgiveness is usually forthcoming.
Incidentally, even my husband, who went with me to the post office,
was oohing and aahing over this necklace.

Friday, May 15, 2009

The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet

Oh, how I wish I could tell you where I first heard of The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet. It really was only a week or two ago, and it was on some cartography blog, or another. It may have been here. But I'm sorry, I can't remember, so can't give proper credit. I wrote the title down on a scrap of paper, and two or three days later, my birthday gift card in hand, walked into a bookstore-that-shall-not-be-named and, not seeing the book anywhere, inquired at the information desk.

And the store manager, who happened to be standing right there, and whom I've seen many times before, but have never seen smile, took my slip of paper out of my hand, turned to her employees, grinned a big grin, waved the paper around in the air and said, "See! What did I tell you!" then turned to me and said, "I just know this book is going to be big."

It is big. It is extra wide, to make room for a delightful assortment of notes and illustrations on the side. And it is big in scope, rambling and bouncing along from Montana to Washington, D.C.

And it's big in... I'm not sure how to say this, exactly... big in possibilities. Books are so often self-contained little worlds, but this story hints at so much more that is never even mentioned. It offers a generally expansive feeling that off the edges of the pages, there are people living their lives who, even though they have nothing to do with this particular story, are still connected to a larger story, of which this is only a part, and if I fell into this book and couldn't get back out, I would still be able to create a full life for myself, because there's a big wide world in there.

T.S. Spivet, an obsessive and nerdy 12-year-old who maps everything in his life and is too mature in the way of really smart kids, somehow manages to flatly and critically describe his surroundings and his family members, even while, almost as if he is unaware of it, he conveys a striking amount of compassion and love for his family. It's that subtle emotion - that humanity - that gives this book its charm, even as T.S. heads out on an inexplicable adventure that left me baffled as often as it left me wanting to jump on a train carrying Winnebagos (although I think I would have had more food with me, since I take a granola bar with me to the grocery store) and go on my own adventure.

Baffling and inexplicable because... well, I think you just have to read it to understand what I mean. This is not a book that can be easily summed up or described. It is far from perfect. It is both enchanting and disconcerting. It isn't tidy. It is often vague. The supporting characters, for all that they are thrown together in unique ways and are clearly supposed to be offbeat, often come across as so eccentric that they come full circle to stereotypical. And I was unsatisfied with the ending, which arrived abruptly and jarringly, and left too many questions unanswered.

But the book is filled with a spirit of discovery that makes even the strangest, the saddest, the most unsettling events that happen as T.S. makes his way through his story seem somehow magical. Add to that the illustrations - intriguing maps and diagrams and charts and little asides that add a final dimension of wonder - and this book, for all its flaws and strengths and humanness, is a true marvel.

UPDATE: Here's a review of the book from the Austin American-Statesman. I completely agree with this review, although I'd add one thing. It's still well worth reading.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Rainbows, Rainbows Everywhere. Plus Butterflies.

The title for this map has been dancing around in my head for months, and I am so glad to finally present The Land of a Thousand Rainbows.

The Land of a Thousand Rainbows, 8" x 10", ink and watercolor on paper

Love those mountains - they were the first feature in my mind. And wouldn't you love to visit the Candy Forest? Delicious rainbow-colored candy grows right on the trees, and these incredible fruits are completely free of calories and tooth decay! Amazing!

This gemlike creature welcomes all visitors to his beloved country. Those flames aren't vicious at all, just a warm welcome.

The culinary delights of the Land of a Thousand Rainbows (called just "Rainbows" for short, as in, "Oh, yes, we're taking the kids to Rainbows for a weekend getaway) are fabled around the imaginary world, and are served farm fresh from the fields of marvelous crops.

Prints are available in the Interimaginational Institute.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Fortunicity: The Paris of the Magic World

I present my latest map, the quintessential map for magicians, witches, wizards, sorcerers and sorceresses:

Fortunicity Map (Imaginary Places Cartography)

Fortunicity, India ink, gold hued ink, and watercolor on paper, 8" x 10"

Fortunicity is the in place for the crème de la crème of the magic world. It's practically bursting at the seams with enchantment. From the Witches' Quarter to the University of Wonder to the Great Illusory River, you'll see plenty of marvelous things in this metropolis of magic. And you never know which famous magician you'll spot, sipping a latte, or wand-ering* around.

Prints are available at the Interimaginational Institute. (Browse all of my maps at: http://paintandink.etsy.com)


Please note, the locations on my maps are invented;
these maps should not be used in navigation,
except in the realms of imagination, storytelling and play.

The copyright for this artwork remains with the artist, Alison Whittington.

* I'm sure you know by now, but I just can't help it. The puns, I mean.