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Beltane: The Goddess & The Green Man

Earlier this year I was asked to participate in a project that involved taking an old discarded piece of furniture (or whatever) and transforming it into something decorative for a local charity fundraiser. I came across a silverware chest that had seen much better days and that is how my "doll in a box" was born. Since the project was about recycling, I decided to keep with the theme of rebirth/renewal.

Beltane marks the peak of Spring and the beginning of Summer when earth energies are at their strongest. All of life is bursting with potent fertility at this point in the Wheel of the Year. On May eve, Flora, the maiden goddess of growth and renewal, has reached her fullness. The Green Man (also known as the Young Oak King and Jack-in-the-Green) falls in love with her. Together, the May Queen and the May King are symbols of the Sacred Marriage, the union of Earth and Sky. Beltane honors life and has been celebrated by May Day festivities for hundreds of years.

Below are a few pictures of the various steps that I went through in creating the Beltane Box. I should note that my daughter, also an artist, lent her talent to painting both the inside and outside of the box lid.

I let the traditional colors of Beltane (green, red and white/silver) dictate the palette for this project.

First off, I decided to design the May Queen as a half-doll lying in a bed of lush greenery. This was my first time sculpting a half-doll of this type. The material I use is air-drying clay. The eyes are simulated pearl beads. I like to do the sculpting in stages and sand between applications.

Once the doll was painted and the hair applied it was time to place it into the box, the bottom of which had been lined with muslin that was stiffened to create folds and molded to receive the shape of the doll. The hair (which was embroidery cotton) was also stiffened and shaped before being painted. The lovely floral painting by my daughter was done on canvas and then glued onto the inside of the lid. All painting was done in acrylics and sealed with varnish.

I was very fortunate to find perfectly-scaled greenery and flowers from which to create the May Queen's bed and her crown. A silk scarf was used to protect her modesty. Once these things were secured into place, additional embellishments were added such as the metal corner pieces. I thought that the hearts were appropriate given that the doll depicts the May Queen's yearning for the Green Man as she gazes skyward.

The box was sanded and stained before being re-sanded to give it a distressed look. I decided to do something a little quirky for a finishing touch. What better than the eye of the Green Man peering out?

So here is the finished box. I have to say that it was a lot of fun and would certainly urge others to give it a try. Thanks for letting me share my work with you and have a great day!

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