Monday, 2 December 2019

Finding Kay - Winter Circle Plaque by Julie Ann.

How are your Holiday preparations going? Last night I dreamed it was Christmas Day and I hadn't purchased a single gift! I'll try not to worry too much about that possibility and share with you an idea I've had for Christmas/Winter d├ęcor this year.

One Christmas Day many years ago I watched an animation of the Hans Christian Anderson fairy tale The Snow Queen. Gerda's courage and determination in her quest to find her childhood companion, Kay dwelling in the icy halls of the coldly beautiful Snow Queen left a deep impression on me. I have read different versions of the tale myself and then aloud to my children, watched dramatizations and listened to radio plays based on the story and it still captivates me. I decided to create a seasonal assemblage with the story's young heroine at the centre.

All stories begin with a blank page - a snow-covered field waiting for us to make our mark. Calico MDF mixed media boards withstand anything you care to throw at them - a good thing, as I was about to turn this snowy circle into an explosion of colour!

After applying several coats of gesso to my mixed media board and then sanding it off, I took the top layer of a selection of Christmas napkins and fixed them onto the board with fluid matt medium. It really doesn't matter what this collage looks like as it largely disappears and provides just hints of text or pattern and texture.

What a mess! This is the collage coated in a thin layer of gesso with Gerda's face sketched out roughly so that I can gauge the position of the eyes, nose, chin and hair. The very first layer comprises acrylic inks dribbled over the surface and sprayed with water. At this stage I tilted my mixed media board in all directions and had lots of fun with the flowing inks.

Several layers of inks applied over the top of the chaos with different sized brushes and a pen for the finer detail and I have something resembling Gerda as she stands on the threshold of the Snow Queen's palace.

I added snowflakes, which I  stamped onto the board using white acrylic ink. I also doodled white gel pen lines. I like how, when the ink is diluted, the layers beneath give a life to the face and hair. I used a photo of my daughter for reference. Her hair is like a warm, flaming hood, melting the fading snowflakes.

For the snowflakes, I used a combination of white gesso, white embossing powder and shaved ice frantage.

In this close-up you can see some of the frantage on the ivy leaves in Gerda's hair and the texture of the piece with the spattered ink effect.

As I look at my little Winter installation, I think about the closing pages of Hans Christian Anderson's story, when the Snow Queen's enchantment melts, little Kay can see clearly once more and love unites the two friends:

Gerda's song opened the strong gates the sharp northerly winds had created and she saw Kay, a tiny, frozen figure in all the icy splendour of the Snow Queen's halls. She ran to her old friend's side but he was little more than a tiny lifeless statue bent over a pile of jagged ice shards and Gerda cried hot tears as she hugged him. One of her tears fell against Kay's chest and melted the ice that locked his heart. He cried then and as he did so his tears washed the piece of enchanted mirror from his eye and he could see Gerda again and he could see the Snow Queen's Palace for the barren, empty place it truly was. He said, 'What am I doing here? Where have you been?' He clasped Gerda's hands and they danced there in the freezing, echoing halls. And the shards of ice danced with them and formed themselves into the word that was the very puzzle Kay had been trying to solve!

Calico Craft Parts used in this Project
Round Circle Shape MDF Mixed Media Board
Mini MDF Christmas Snowflakes
Snowflake Wood Shape style 5 
Ivy Leaf Corner Garland


  1. A wonderful christmas/winter fairytale, I love it too and your project has become an enchanting little work of art, I admire your painting and the lovingly placed small winter details with the Calico parts. Hugs, K. xx

    1. Thank you so much, Kerstin. That's so kind of you. That story has had such significance for me throughout my life. xx

  2. This is an incredible tribute to the snow queen, your faces evoke so much deep thought and that flowing hair is magnificent. A beautiful piece of art

  3. Thank you so much, Ann. Your comment means a lot. xx

  4. Oh Julie, you never fail to impress! I love the story of the snow queen and the face you created is so full of character and emotion, she has completely captivated me! Hugs, Anne xxx

    1. Thank you so much, Anne, that's so kind of you. xxx