The story of Swamp Boy
To peek into my home would be to peek into a magical place filled with stories. Essentially, we are all stories. We edit, change and rewrite them as we travel. All of the books in my home have given me gifts that have become part of my adult identity. I take joy in the idea that I steeped my heart in the words of Ransom Riggs, Neil Gaiman and Roald Dahl. My Grandma used to tell us growing up, be careful of the company you keep because you become what they are… I have. I am essentially bits and piece of all the magical stories that I’ve read. Stitched together messily into a girl, who believes in the magical more than she believes in the mundane.
This year, my collection for Bewitching Peddlers of Halloween is themed around oddity. The things that are viewed by some as odd, macabre or possibly even monstrous. At the heart of any good story you will find someone who is a bit of a monster, but who just wants to be loved up.
Swamp boy, who’s name is Forrest Benjamin Murkwater, woke in the dark of my studio one warm Summers night. He opened one eye slowly and then the other. My face was the first face his eyes saw. So, he calls me Mama. As he came to life, I could see that this one was full of rascality. He giggled at me as I tried to sew clothing for a boy with webbed hands. I can’t tell you how many times he hid his socks in the studio before I could snug them on his feets and slip on his time-worn shoes. I told him the story of Paddington Bear, Coraline and the Tales of the Peculiar Children as I worked on his heart. His heart was the last thing to finish. I wanted to make my little monster boy both startling and loveable. He hates pickles but loves Swedish fish, he loves sailboats and kites but hates football. His heart is good, but it’s lonely. On an enchanted piece of old parchment, I penned this sentiment by Caitlyn Seihl. It read “When is a monster not a monster? When you love it.” I folded the paper up into a tiny bit and placed it in the open chamber of his heart. I kissed my pinky finger and pressed the chamber closed and put his heart into his chest.
Forrest, my little Swamp boy, stood up on my work table and frowned because all at once, he felt everything. All of the things I had filled his heart with were at the surface. I had given him a heart transfusion consisting of my fears, my hurt, my sadness as well as my love, my dreams and my magic. He was in pain and alive at the same time.
Forrest sat on the edge of my work table and I offered him my hand. He took it. He climbed quietly into my lap and just sat with me for a long time. Anytime an artist creates something that was not there before they are giving part of themselves to do so. Forrest listened to me as I made him. His pieces and parts scattered on my table. He is my tears and my laughs, he is stories of childhood mischief. He is a story of eating breakfast and then going to Grandmas, only to spin a tall tale of hunger and having a second breakfast. He is monster, enveloped in a person who is magic.
The cathartic process of making is one that many artists take. I am not special. I am, however able to offer it up as a story, a little morsel of how I make. Just maybe my stories will become part of your story, my dear.
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My Dearest Witch is a term of endearment. A love story between my heart and my hands.