Grimm’s Fairy Tales..

I like many people, am always very poor before pay day! Bills have gone out. and food has been packed into the fridge and we can rest easy for a couple of weeks. Isn’t that all the time that the security seems to last before you’re poor again?
I’ve had a wonderful array of Care and Retail jobs since graduating University, each as hellish as the last, so after a bad month I always take the time to treat myself to something.. Even if it’s something small, as long as I will keep and  cherish it, it can come home with me.
A few months ago, I found this– It as on a cardboard shelf surrounded by other classics, Dracula (another favourite of mine!) Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, Frankenstein, Great Expectations….. It was too beautiful to leave. I simply couldn’t!

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Grimm ❤

You of course, already know of the famous brothers Grimm- the two brothers born in the 1780’s. Linguists, cultural researchers and academics who together studied their local folklore, culminating into collecting hundreds of German and Scandinavian tales and captured them in paper form. I hear that initially these stories were not at all for children-
In Little Red Riding hood, both the girl and the Grandmother are eaten through her naivety, and the woodsman has to cut the wolf open to save them, fill the wolf with stones, and sew him back up, where he falls into the well and drowns.

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All the better to….

In the Cinderella tale, the two sisters cut off their own toes to fit their oversized feet into the glass slipper..


Perhaps the most disturbing, is Rapunzel- When the prince first visits her in her tower he impregnates her, and she being unfamiliar to the facts of life grows more and more heavily pregnant- the witch cuts away all of her hair, casts Rapunzel out into the desert, then uses the hair to fool the prince into climbing up it- she cuts the hair when he is halfway up and he falls into the thorns where his eyes are scratched out leaving him to wander about, blind! Gory!

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”Rapunzel, Rapunzel, Let down your hair!”

Goodness know what happened to all of our English ones- do we have so many as the two brothers collected?
Although Arthur Rackham beautifully illustrated the inside- I’m not sure who did the illustration on the cover (of Rapunzel!). I do love it though, and if you look close enough, you can see the cracks in the glaze of the original painting. If you do know who did it, please let me know!

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Pressed, leather, embossed cover! ❤

The book was sealed up in a plastic sleeve when I bought it, so it filled me with joy to have bought something so beautiful, especially when I turned the cover to see this! (See below!)
I have always seen books as as investment, and something to be treasured and kept for a long time, so this one is probably going on a high shelf where curious fingers can’t reach it!

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Inside cover ❤ what a beauty!

Snow White, illustrated below. I have adored Rackham’s work for many years and studied him in depth in college and University- the array of intricate illustrations that he’s done are inspiring. His work has been highly sought since the early 1900’s where people bought his books in droves, typically as Christmas gifts. This was a lovely gift for myself!

I know the Brother’s Grimm is mainly associated with Children these days, and it is like finding hen’s teeth, getting hold of the original and more gory stories these days- some of the only copies lie in museums and ancient libraries- BUT.
Sometimes I like to curl up and read a short story- it goes along with the folklore that I so love to study, and fills the darker winter nights with a little tradition.
What are the books that you love the most? Are there any that you cherish?

 

 

 

 

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What is a ghost.?

This post may be a little odd for some people, and others may not like it- it all depends on what you believe in, but believe me when I say that I am securely strapped to the fence on this one. This post will only be for people to either tell me of their own belief, or their own opinions on the situation, because it was quite the confusing collection of circumstances.

When my step father left us, me, me mother and my younger brother moved into a tall, four story house that had been plonked onto the end of a row of terraces next to a river.
It was a relatively old house, but the only one on the row that wasn’t a listed building by a margin of a decade or so.
We lived in an area that was at one point, not such a happy place- there had been a workhouse across the road from us- a gargantuan building of misery, illness and drudgery that was unfortunately still fresh in the minds of some of the more elderly residents of our village. It was built in 1792 to house the poorest members of the town, but was expanded in 1834 as part of the Poor law Amendment act to house people from villages far and wide. People from as far away as Ireland were housed here, with nowhere else to go.

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The nurses and children housed in the ”daycare” centre of the workhouse.

This act in essence, ended the ”pauper’s palace” view of the workhouses of the time, a place of safety in a time of need, as it had been said by some that this was place for people to go to be cared for when they were too lazy to work. (Some comparisons could be drawn with the overall view of those on benefits today.) The new workhouses separated all of its inmates, men, women and children, even the elderly, and all of those who were deemed able bodied were cast out, or set to work. This new amendment was built to make the workhouse the last desirable option for people (before the river..) and life there was very unpleasant, an idea to be so feared that people would look for any other means of work before consenting to being detained therein.

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Looking as austere as it does, you could imagine this building on the set of Sleepy Hollow..

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A sunny view that seems at odds with the building itself. The tree in this picture still stands in the garden of a home made inside the only surviving piece of the workhouse (The section with the window arches on the far right.) A school friend of mine lives there with his family.

In the later years of its existence (the 1800’s), a chapel was added to the workhouse as a place to bury those who died of old age, destitution or the diseases and infections that are common amongst people living in such close cohabitation..

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The chapel built at the back of the workhouse, where those lost there could be tidied away…

The workhouse burned to the ground in 1982, and was demolished as a result.
Bricks from the structure of this edifice of poverty were used to make up the fireplace in the house that we moved into.
A housing estate was later built on the lands that once held the workhouse, and involved them digging up many of those buried there over the years and re-interring them elsewhere.
Does this remind anyone else of Poltergeist? You’d think they’d have learned by now!

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Eeek.

Now.. I wrote about the workhouse above for a reason- It has become part of a small theory of mine in the events that followed.
We lived in this house quite happily for a long time and nothing odd or anything of note happened, although a friend who lived on the housing estate built on the old grounds reported a lot of odd things in her house.
The things that went on in our house only happened about four years ago, but are morbidly clear in my mind.
It started with seeing things moving out of the corner of my eye- it was me who noticed them at first, but I stayed quiet because my mother doesn’t like this sort of thing (It frightens her!). She’s a nurse who has seen a lot of odd stuff in her time, so the thought that something might be in our house was one that she happily shut out.
Things got more and more noticeable with time, and the figure of a man started appearing at the end of the hallway- a friend who was house sitting said that he’d seen him while we were away and that it had terrified his poor sister. The dogs became restless and would often stare down the hall and growl at nothing, and the figure appeared more and more often and at the height of activity things were pushed from the shelves in front of our eyes.
I would hear something moving and look up, as soon as I looked the movement would stop, but I would always catch the last of whatever it was, shaking in its place on the shelf.
I have no explanation for these events, and I’ve never really been sure if I believe in anything in particular, but these things always made me wonder.
My best friend has always been a sceptic, but I even found him wandering around checking behind the doors and curtains because he thought he’d seen someone in the house..

These events carried on for around six months, coming to a head towards the end of the ‘happenings’ with a lot of activity- my mother was terrified and would bundle up on the couch with the dogs, refusing to look down the hall towards the front door. Nobody would go into the kitchen when the lights were off, and people avoided being in the house on their own.
Then, just like that- it all stopped, and we never saw the man again.

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The fireplace at my mother’s, built with the bricks from the old Workhouse.

It was definitely a man- you could tell by the shadow-like figure, and all who had seen him agreed, but none of us knew what had happened.
It was a little while after this that I found out about the workhouse bricks in our chimney (see above) and life in the building that had once dominated the horizon through my bedroom window, now covered in little brick houses. It was the general consensus of all involved that the ‘happenings’ had been the work of a ghost.

I’ve spoken of Guillermo Del Toro’s work before, and the way that he often describes ghosts is a striking one. Apologies for using a quote from a previous post, but it does  describe something heartbreakingly beautiful..

When something terrible happens, sometimes it leaves a trace, a wound that acts as a knot between two time lines. It’s like an echo repeated over and over, waiting to be heard. Like a scar… that begs for a caress to relieve it. You are a good mother. Your pain gives you strength, it will guide you. But only you know how far you are willing to go to find your son.  You hear, but don’t listen. Seeing is not believing. It’s the other way around. Believe, and you will see.
From Del Toro’s ‘The Orphanage’- 2007

”What is a ghost? A tragedy condemned to repeat itself time and again? An instant of pain, perhaps. Something dead which still seems to be alive. An emotion suspended in time. Like a blurred photograph. Like an insect trapped in amber.”
From ‘The Devil’s Backbone’- 2001

”Do you believe in ghosts? .. When a corpse is left out the elements wither it, dessicate it, twisting it into a distorted figure that’s barely recognisable as a human being. A ghost is an emotion bent out of shape, condemned to repeat itself time and time again, until it rights the wrong that was done.”
From Del Toro’s ‘Mama’- 2013

Del Toro quite obviously believes in ghosts and things linked to pain in the past- a lot of ghost folklore would agree with this, apparitions of tortured souls forever doomed to repeat their suicide after their lover rejected them, or the last steps they took before a murder. There are examples of it in almost every old house and Inn in Britain.
I’m not saying that this is what happened to us- These sorts of things only ever seem to happen in films or to ”somebody else”, but we are someone else, to everyone else, so is there a chance that this shadow was something trapped, forever linked to the bricks of the terrible building that housed so many of the destitute over the last three centuries.?
If it wasn’t something odd, why did so many people see it, even if it hadn’t been mentioned to them?
What do you think about all of it? Has anything of this sort happened to you? Have you seen anything unexplainable? What do you believe?
I can’t wait to hear from you!

B.P.R.D.- My weekends are numbered!

Me and my other half rarely get to spend much time with each other these days what with the onslaught of work and other arrangements.
He works nights too, the poor dear, so when we do come home from the madding crowd, we rarely have the energy for too much, and we retreat to the couch or the bedroom where we can read, draw, and be our own quiet selves.
This is something that although needed, can take its toll, and has pulled our chairs a little further apart at the dining table..

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Ornamental gardens and armies of prams..

 

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Reflecting the sun with moon tans.

We’re always good at rectifying this however, and all it takes is a day out together so that we can talk, reconnect, admire and compliment each other (wink wink), and wander to our favourite haunts, I.E- Rosie’s riverside cafe, the comic book shop and Paperchase.
Uncharacteristically, I didn’t buy anything in Paperchase this time, instead opting for a dusky rose perfume from The Body Shop. A change in scent has been long overdue, and M&S don’t seem to be stocking my usual anymore..
I always feel like I’m forcing him into a cup of tea, bless him! He’s ”not a hot beverage” man, and is a bit more rugged than me. Rosie’s is wonderful for the fact that it caters to everyone, so beer was there to save the day!

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The beer is his! ❤

After freezing under the shade of a sudden rain cloud, we decided to take shelter in the comic book shop.
My other half treated himself to a Star Wars comic book, but I had my sights set on something slightly darker..
On the bottom shelves, tucked away in a tiny isle was a shelf of ‘Dark Horse’ comic books- some Hellboy ones, but a small stack of B.P.R.D.
I was introduced to these whilst on holiday in Norway with my partner- we ransacked the comic book shop there too, and he came away with one for the long journey home. While he slept on the coach, he gave it to me to read, and it was wonderful!

My comic book buying logic works as such:
”If I buy the second volume first, it’ll encourage me to buy the first one, and then the rest!”
Doesn’t it just make absolutely no sense at all?! I’ve done it before, and years later still only have the second volume of Umbrella academy! This time it was going to be different, and I grabbed the first volume of the B.P.R.D. ”Hell on Earth” series- Then I remembered that it didn’t actually matter! These comics are a selection of short stories with few relations to each other!

I wandered to the till before I changed my mind.
I’ll be reading this in bed tonight, so I’ll let people know what I think.
Have you read them? Any favourites at all? Or do you prefer the Hellboy comics?

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Off to bed!

Virus shawl..

Last year was a year of progress- I never thought I would, but I finally learned to crochet.
I was inspired by the wife of a man I used to care for, who brought me a book into work along with a blanket that she’d made me, and told me that it was time for me to learn.
It was hilariously difficult at first, but then again so is everything that you’ve never done before.
My first ”square” ended up looking like a Christmas tree with slipped stitches and mistakes everywhere, but I was soon on my way and made myself a scarf and other little bits and pieces-
This post however is about a pattern I found online- It was a god send!
Stevie Nicks had recently wandered back into my life while I had been watching American Horror Story- Coven, and I fell in love with her all over again.


I had put all of my records away for the winter, but I pulled out the first one I was ever given, ”Rumours” by Fleetwood Mac, and listened over and over again as I used to.
I know that Stevie is of a pagan persuasion, as am I, and the shawls she was wearing just looked so snug. My dress making had taken off a little more by this time, and I had one with tie shoulders- almost exactly like the one below, although I don’t look quite so graceful in it!

tie shoulder dress

It’s one of my favourite dresses, and I wear it often, but the knotted shoulders tend to make me look like I’m wearing giant shoulder pads, or they stretch my cardigans beyond all recognition!
I decided that it was time to attempt a crochet pattern that was a little more difficult so I found one on Youtube! It’s a beautiful pattern and if you’re a fan of crochet it’s quite nice to give it a go!

Please don’t worry about the difficulty of it- the lady explains it very well, and you can easily follow with a little experience of crochet.

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It’s almost like a really pretty ”Fan stitch”!

I ran out of black wool but am well on my way- after all, who wouldn’t want to look like this…?

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The Orphanage, a heartbreaking, vastly underrated roller-coaster.

Me and my partner found Guillermo Del Toro’s ”Mama” today, in CEX exchange-
I’d been looking for it for a long time having only seen it once, but I had loved the design of the ghost and wanted to watch it again to compare it to the recent release of ”Crimson peak”.
We bundled up on the couch and put it on, but got to discussing another of Del Toro’s works. The Orphanage.
I had seen this film years ago, so this review is by no means a recent one, but it left a deep impression on me, and did the same to my partner when I introduced him to it.

There are few films that could be made that live up to the prowess, creativity and terrifying aesthetic of ‘Pan’s Labyrinth’- It was a masterpiece, but The Orphanage is a beautiful piece of Del Toro’s work that we both feel is vastly underrated, and perhaps even surpasses Pan…
(Bear in mind that the entire film is in Spanish, and subtitled!)

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The film communicates a close and loving relationship between Simon and Laura- how distraught things become in the remains of the film feel entirely justified and can even be shared in by the audience.

The film first introduces us to Laura, an orphan who returns to the children’s home that she grew up in, with the intention to reopen the home and care for other orphaned children with her husband, Carlos. They arrive with their small son Simon, a highly imaginative, but sickly little boy with ”invisible friends” that he talks to often, and invites home…
The film is one that unwinds relatively slowly at first, revealing secrets and snippets of the past, and making one beautiful and intertwining narrative. Part of what makes the film so gripping is that it really takes the time to show you the closeness of the relationship between Simon and his mother, and you grow to care about the two of them and the love they share. There have been too many films spoiled by a lack of care for the characters, and it is a well known fact that when there is affection, there is peril.  When Simon goes missing, seemingly without a trace it is utterly heart rending to see the destruction that is wrought on Laura’s marriage and even on the lines of her face. The grief and worry is entirely believable and has a weight all of its own, almost becoming a character in itself, and I found myself searching back in my mind through every snippet of the film that I had seen, looking for clues myself. I had no fingernails left by the time the movie had ended!

During the course of the film, a spiritual medium is called, which heralds the turning point of all that happens, like the descent into the dark spiritual essence of the house (Even the camera filters get darker and colder).
She utters a line that is very prominent and almost repeated in many of Del toro’s films- the idea that ghosts are like a scar on the walls of reality, a painful wound routed in the past where the horrors of what have gone before are doomed to be repeated over and over, longing for a salvation that may never come.

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”Believe, and you will see.”

When something terrible happens, sometimes it leaves a trace, a wound that acts as a knot between two time lines. It’s like an echo repeated over and over, waiting to be heard. Like a scar… that begs for a caress to relieve it. You are a good mother. Your pain gives you strength, it will guide you. But only you know how far you are willing to go to find your son.  You hear, but don’t listen. Seeing is not believing. It’s the other way around. 

Believe, and you will see.

It’s beautiful that this comes almost directly from a bible passage
John, 11:40- Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?”

The call for faith is an important feature, and obviously something dear to Del toro, who seems to spend much of his film career urging others to do the same (especially in the case of ghosts!) , and you by no means withhold yours in the remainder of the film.
Laura, like any mother, refuses to cease in her search for Simon, but spirals out of control in a blur of reality mixed with the childlike games of ghosts and the line between the living and the dead growing ever thinner as time passes.

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Lines of exhaustion and tea with ghosts.

There were few special effects that could make the film feel unrealistic, like ‘Mama’ did. Usually when something is revealed in a movie, it can grow old and stop being as terrifying. The reveal is kept close to the chest until the final moments- It was a film so harrowing that it even jerked tears from my other half (Bless him!).

Each of us said that it has everything needed in a film,
-Characters with depth, and believable, relationships,
-Care for the well-being of the protagonists,
-A true sense of danger, brought on by fragility in the characters,
-Scares that were necessary and not overused, as in many horror films today,
-Heartbreaking reveals and secrets that rock you to the very core,
-effective filters that enhanced the overall feel of the film, and stopped the past, present, other world and reality being too mixed together,
-stunning sets, particularly the house, that gave all of the personality the film needed- they need not have gone anywhere else (After all ”The Others” was just fine!)
-A solid ending that left the heart sore, but at least gave you a band-aid…
-creepy children and ghosts!

What else could you possibly want?
If you can see it, please- by all means, do! If you have seen Pan’s labyrinth I almost guarantee that it will surpass it, as least as far as storytelling goes (It would be hard to beat a faun costume as good as that!)
If you have seen this film, let me know what you think- do you agree with me, or think I was wrong?
I can’t wait to hear from you!

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*Heavy, gargled breathing*

 

 

It’s a matter of perspective.

This has been something that has been on my mind on and off for many years..
When I was 14 my piano teacher was murdered by someone in our town. It was a blow that I never quite got over, and I didn’t know how to get around such  thing happening.
It sent a shock wave through the lives of so many people. When my stepfather left us, my teacher looked out for us, he was raising money for charity when he passed, and after he died, his mother followed with a disease brought on by the ravages of grief.
He was beloved by the community, and by all of his students, and I was desolate.

It wasn’t that is was hard to believe that he was gone, it was more the fact that he had left a gaping hole and there was no way I could fill it- I didn’t play the piano anymore, and every key was ice in my heart.
He once told me that I could play with beautiful expression, and that I put myself into the things that I played, but with so much pain, it was all that came out when I sat at the piano stool.
It is something that has haunted the rest of my days, and I’d never known how to process such a tragedy..
Strangely, enlightenment came in the oddest place. My mother is tremendously enthusiastic about the Tudors, and the history behind them, and as an artist I was all too happy to sit with her and watch a programme on Hans Holbine, official portrait artist of Henry VIII.
His work was stunning to say the least, so very detailed and he seemed to capture the essence of a person, and trap them on paper or in paint, forever.

The programme we were watching was an analysis of one of Holbein’s most famous works, ”The ambassadors” in which Holbein performs an incredible feat of perspective and symbolism.

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Full view of Holbine’s ”The ambassadors”, with the distorted skull at the bottom of the painting.

The picture is of two quite obviously wealthy men, powerful and educated- in viewing the objects that they are surrounded by, the instruments and globes, these would suggest that they are also highly and classically educated, musical, well read and of high class.
Perhaps to prove the above Holbein chose carefully the gentleman he wished to paint- on the left is Jean de Dinteville, the French Ambassador to England in 1533 and on the right is Georges de Selve the bishop of Lavaur pictured at the young age of 25.

The instruments for measuring time lie between them, as well as objects or astronomy and the study of the skies- all of the objects have been carefully chosen and placed with care, symbolic and representative of the passing of time, study of the heavens, religion and hymns, but like a smear over the beauty of youth and the wealth of the gentlemen lies a distorted skull at the bottom of the painting.

This has so many connotations in it- you can’t take wealth to the grave, They don’t put pockets on shrouds, wealth, youth and beauty count for naught, no study of the heavens will bring answers and your fate lies in the earth, but what I was most interested in was the idea of perspective.
This could be looked at in a literal sense as Holbein has, by some feat of artistry, stretched and warped the image of the skull leaving it almost unrecognisable.
It is only when you view from above and at a right angle to the painting that you truly see the mastery of his work.

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Holbein’s skull, when seen in perspective.

There have been so many ideas as to the meaning behind this image, such as the pleas for Christian unity, memento mori… but for me it was all about what it was. Perspective.
Death is literal until looked at in a different way, such is the nature of religion, and I realised that it should be applied in all walks of life.
So long as I remembered him my teacher was still a part of my life, and I promptly removed my piano books from their place hidden away where I could never see them, and put them on my every day bookshelf.. Everything in life is about how you look at it, and you can turn your darkest days into happy ones if you try hard enough (It’s damn hard though!).
I found this little treasure at a charity shop where I live, and it’s PERFECT. It now decorates my living room to remind me..

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Such a lovely heartfelt piece of hand written calligraphy- I had to buy it ❤

Take heart, it’s the hardest thing in the world to find positives in life, but sometimes we have no other choice.

 

 

Gems and teacups! My first tattoo-

Hello there lovelies,
In the light of upcoming job prospects I have decided to update my humble little Blog with tattoo ideas and designs- Maybe one day I will be able to look back and see just how much I have improved over the years?
Firstly- I have wandered back into the realms of Wicca and spirituality recently and I didn’t realise how much I missed having them in my life!
Crystal décor has been a very IN thing on the internet, particularly on the pages of Pinterest, and since there’s such a great love of the shiny stones, I thought I’d attempt one as a drawing.

My god this was hard- there’s so many colours and textures- how the hell do you get all of the tints and highlights?? The depth and the translucent smoke that weaves in and out of the internal fibres of the stone? How?

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The gems have such difficult and geometric shapes to capture, and so many colours and layers- I have no idea how to capture the depth of them!!

I want to do one in watercolour, so remind me not to forget!
The second was based on a conversation I had with one of the lovely Girls who will work at the Tattoo shop with me- It was concerning whether I have any tattoos, and the sort of design I would want. I decided that the one that would best suit me was actually a ”cat lady” tattoo!

It was a bit of a revelation that I can sum myself up in a design that includes cats, tea, and witchery- but not a bad one!
I told Ingrid that I’d do a rough sketch and send it to her, and then she’d do another in return, but I think that will wait until I’m actually over there!

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Moons, cats, tea, ribbon, cups and saucers!

Once I’ve drawn this little design onto darker paper to better show the highlights and colours, it’ll look much better and a lot less flat!
Although I love the kitsch look of the tattoos I found online- they’re just not ME, and I am entirely of the opinion that if you are to get a tattoo it should be your own ideas and your own inspirations. Even if you don’t feel good enough to  draw your own from scratch- take it to your tattoo artist and explain what you want! I’m sure they’ll come up with something you want, and looking at it over the years will be much less difficult!
I’ve been thinking about this one for a long time, and I’m still not bored with the idea, so I’m hoping that it’ll be a good one for me to get!
I’ll post an image of it once I feel like I’ve done it a little more justice- the above image looks flat and lifeless- much more to do!!