Writers of Magic and Whimsy, it’s that time again! Turn your imagination loose and tell us your story of this illustration, One Thousand Stories High. How rare is that air, of volumes stacked to your imagination’s height, or at least as high as a bibliophilic giraffe’s nose? Email your own tall tale of these unlikely library-occupants in 1,000 words or less, by midnight August 18th, 2017. The winner’s story will be published on our website blog and on our FaceBook site! He or she will also receive a bouquet of Dandelion products and be placed on the short-list of possible authors for Dandelion’s next book publication (no date set!).
Dandelion Press is excited to announce the winner of last month’s Micro Fiction Contest, The Long Way. Marion Canning’s evocative setting, finely expressed details and imaginative characters all came together in the space of one summer’s day to beautifully tell the tale of The Long Way. We hope you will enjoy her winning story as much as we did!
We had so many fine entries, especially from the 18 and under age group, that we simply had to create an “Honorable Mention” category, where you will find the three more wonderful stories—one adult and two young people’s. Mindy Garza’s sixty-one word story is a masterful sketch—like the breath of a dream—no names, no place—just the perfectly balanced inhale and exhale of mutual recognition.
Among the many fine submissions from young people all over the country, we selected two for publication on this blog. Twelve-year old Lauren Brown penned a heart-felt coming of age story called “Isa’s Painting” that we loved for the way it captured Dandelion Press’s magical way with paint! Actually, she created an entire family’s coming-of-age, through Isa’s adventurous creativity.
Finally, ten-year old Sathvik Appana not only wrote a fast-paced adventure story, but he managed to create a convincing ten-year old girl as the heroine of his tale! Many of the young writers themed their stories around loss and grief. Though “Journey to Fortune” is also built around the now-orphaned girl Ivory, she discovers her own special means of resolving her loss.
Many thanks to all the fine writers who submitted their stories for The Long Way! Please don’t hesitate to enter again and again as you’re inspired by our illustrations.
The Long Way - shop now
THE LONG WAY
by Marion Canning - Springfield, Massachusetts
Caroline Elizabeth Weston climbed onto the back of the Earl of Wye as he began moving slowly away from the kitchen garden at Aston Place. Sweet peas and hollyhocks shielded them from Cook's sight. Only the top of Caroline's hat would have been visible to Cook's beady eyes if she happened to be standing in the dooryard.
It felt good to be perched atop of the ancient tortoise. He had waited patiently as she packed. It took a long time. There were so many things to sort out. Granny's deck of cards, a soft blanket for sitting, skeins of yarn and crochet hooks and the magnifier went into the hatbox. Mummy's jumper, two handkerchiefs, and Caroline's extra sweater fit snugly in the traveling bag. She squashed her mac and gum boots, Cook's horsehair broom and dear Iris's shawl, drawing pad, pencils and water colors in the portmanteau. The carry-all she held on her lap came from the spring house. It smelled like Mr. Mac's gardening gloves. The cheese, biscuits and lettuces, the pears she snatched when Cook was not in the kitchen and a packet of flakes just fit. The clasp was rusty from resting besides the milk cans stored in the stream trickling under the flag stones and it was very hard to close. Her grip was filled with Alice, Beatrix Potter and Black Beauty and fastened with a belt to keep them from tumbling out. Her father's camera balanced next to the Prince in his fish bowl.
Aston Place lay in a soft valley on the River Wye. The river chiseled out hidden pools and eddies along the shore bordering the property. These provided Mr. Mac with big fat trout for the dinner table when the family was in residence. Sheep grazed on the grounds that bordered the woods. Walking paths meandered all through the estate where Caroline and Iris, her tutor, sketched and read together. Now Iris was on summer holiday and Caroline had discovered in the post, among the letters, one with numerous stamps smudged from travel and with pictures of India on them. She did not have to be told that Granny and her parents were not coming back before the end of summer. Left without companionship she roamed long solitary hours by herself. She only appeared in the kitchen for tea with Cook and Mr. Mac at the end of the day.
Now the Earl, the Prince and Caroline edged along the high garden wall until they reached the backside of the stables. There the paddocks opened out to a rolling landscape towards the woods and river. It took quite some time to reach the trees. The sun was strong overhead and Caroline's face was hot and flushed. She was still cross about the letter that came with the mail and she missed Iris not sharing in today's most important venture. The Prince's small watery home had warmed considerably and he was flustered with all the jouncing on top of the wobbly pile of suitcases. He wished he had been left on the library reading table away from the sun.
At last they came to a place where the path became two. "Left please", Caroline commanded loudly since the Earl was so ancient he was mostly deaf. The new path took them into the wood along a wide, worn stretch and the sudden shade felt cool and refreshing. Up ahead Caroline could see the shape of her best discovery yet: an old mossy pavilion tucked away under an ancient beech tree that stood guarding a clear spring fed pool. Caroline imagined the ladies of Aston Place once spending lazy afternoons there reading and gossiping while the men were busy with estate business.
Upon arriving at the pavilion Caroline set to work unpacking the tortoise and sweeping away dust from the past. Paints, sketch books, cards and yarn all fit along the marble benches surrounding the walls. The suitcases she found long forgotten in the attic slipped underneath. A rickety table held her favorite books. "Now" she said, "we shall have our lunch." She spread out the cheese and biscuits on the soft blanket and shared the pears and lettuces with the Earl. It was very quiet under the tree and Caroline was weary from all her activity. She curled up next to the tortoise and set the Prince next to her and soon she slept.
When the afternoon sun peeked between the leaves of the beech tree, she awoke and remembered her most important mission. She knelt down and put her face close to the fish bowl and saw the Prince swimming listlessly around in the water. She said softly, "I have brought you to this secret pool where you will be able to grow big and shiny". She murmured almost to herself, "It is too lonely living all alone in the library". She then lowered the Prince gently into the pool and watched as he swam out of his cramped bowl into the deep cool water. She sprinkled the packet of flakes over the surface and magically, beautiful gold fish from lazy afternoons gone by, appeared at the surface to greet him. "There!”, she smiled with hands on her hips as she watched all the fish released from too small fish bowls left in nurseries and libraries receive the Prince.
"Cook will be looking for me", remembered Caroline. Turning away from the pool she went into the pavilion to fetch her hat and retrieve her umbrella and the violin she hadn't practiced at all! When they finally reached the vegetable garden the sun was low. She slid off the tortoise and as he he disappeared under the cabbages she set off for the kitchen. Cook and Mr. Mac were waiting for her. "Where have you been Caroline Elizabeth?" said Cook. "We took the long way round, and the Earl was so terribly slow", said Caroline.
THE LONG WAY
by Mindy Garza - Southern California
She sensed their dreams at all times, but they felt strongest when the stars shone in the darkness. Navigating with a strong steady pace, she found the little one alone with her tears. The girl took one look at her and understood. She packed her belongings, ready for the journey. They traveled in silent understanding to the place where dreams grow.
by Lauren Brown - Firestone, Colorado 12 years old
A little four year old Isa was walking along the edge of the small clearing that was her backyard when she, for no reason, decided to wander into the forest just a little. She found an injured baby tortoise with no mommy or family in sight.
“You have a boo boo. I will make you all better!” Isa picked up the baby tortoise and took him back into her cottage where she lived with her dad. “I will call you Baxter and you will be my bestest friend forwever!”
Isa opened her eyes, smiling. That was her favorite memory. Meeting Baxter had forever changed her life. She was leaning against him right then. Baxter had grown huge over the last twelve years, and was now big enough to carry Isa when she pleased.
Isa had big hopes and dreams, but she remained confined to her small town. Isa wanted to become an artist who painted landscapes, and got to travel the world. Her kind heart was hungry for some excitement. But her dad would never let her go.
Isa’s mom had disappeared shortly after the twins had been born. One of those twins was Isa herself. Her twin sister, Maria, was nothing like her. She and dad were always getting into fights. Raising two girls without a mother hadn’t been her dad’s plan. Isa was the one who did the cooking, washing, cleaning, and shopping in the market.
Her dad worked hard as a blacksmith to bring home money. And Maria was hardly ever around. Her dad thought he couldn’t keep their family together without her. But Isa wanted to see the world and discover who she really was outside of this town. Baxter could feel her eagerness to leave and spread her wings. She had only stayed this long because she felt as though she would be leaving just as her mother had. Leaving behind a broken family.
Yet she knew it wouldn’t be like that at all. The inside walls of their cottage were covered in landscapes Isa had painted. When she ran out of canvas, she’d replaced the wallpaper with her own. The walls were covered with rolling hills, setting suns, sparkling lakes. She’d even done the ceiling. Looking up in their home meant looking into the treetops where exotic birds were soaring and the occasional chipmunk leaping. It was truly remarkable to walk in the halls. A huge piece of Isa would always be in this house.
That night at dinner, Isa decided to ask flat out. “Dad, am I allowed to leave?”
Startled, he looked up and swallowed his mouthful. Maria continued on as though no one had spoken. “Sure, you go into town all the time.”
“No Dad. I think I’m ready to have my own adventure.” Now Maria looked up. “Sis? Why would you want to leave? Aren’t you happy here?”
“I love it here, but,” Isa gestured to the walls and ceiling. “It’s time for me to have my own adventure to do the things I love. I want to travel and paint the world.” Isa’s father looked into his daughter’s big brown eyes that sparkled. He sighed.
“I’d always known you’d leave. Your spirit is too big to be kept in our small town.
Your dreams too bright and your tortoise too large.” This made Isa smile. It was true, Baxter was getting too big to fit in the house. But the rest of what her dad said was also true. And Maria knew it too.
“I’ll help you pack tomorrow. You can take my trunk with the daisy for a clasp.” Maria and Isa stood and hugged. Tears fell from Isa’s eyes. “Thank you.” was all she could whisper.
Two days later everything Isa needed was strapped to the willing Baxter, who she would ride. He was smarter and speedier than he appeared. Isa had many bags other than the trunk her sister had provided. They each held something, like her brushes, the paint, or what she needed to make more. Plus canvases.
Isa stared at her reflection in the mirror. She’d chosen a sleeveless pink dress and navy blue shoes for day one. Putting a navy blue hat on her head, she twirled her short blond hair. Today was the start of something she’d only ever dreamed of. And with that, she turned and walked out the door of her room.
Hugs were exchanged before Isa climbed onto Baxter. Isa promised to visit for Christmas and would send gifts for birthdays. Maria and Isa decided that they would become pen pals. Her dad gave her a ring with a stone in the center. “As long as you wear this, I’ll be with you.” She’d hugged him tight. “Let’s go boy.” And they rode off.
Two Weeks Later…
Isa stood on a hilltop, paintbrush in hand. The first stars were starting to sparkle in the sky. Nothing had ever felt more right to Isa in that moment. Baxter was resting behind Isa, next to the tent she’d set up. Putting her brush down, she went and picked up the first painting she’d done on her adventure. In it, a small town could been seen at sunset. In the upper left corner, a cottage with a clearing in the back had a pink heart around it. Isa would always return to that clearing, no matter where her mind took her. Because her heart would hold that location close. Home is where the ones you love are. And her family would be there, waiting.
JOURNEY TO FORTUNE
by Sathvik Appana - Lexington, Massachusetts 10 years old
“Ivory, Wake up! It’s your 10th birthday.”
I threw off the covers, and leaped out of bed.
“Happy Birthday Ivory.” Said my mother.
“I made you your favorite treat.”
And she handed me a platter filled with sweet cream cookies.
“ Ivory, on this birthday, your 10th, I think that it’s fair that I should tell you what happened to your father.”
The temperature in the room seemed to have suddenly dropped, and so did my mother’s mood. She soon regained her happy face.
“Eight years ago when you were a baby, your father dreamed of finding a place called Fortune falls. It was said that Fortune had the greatest treasure man could ever dream of, flowing through it’s streams. Your father went to the elders of the village to seek their blessings to go find the falls. When he went to them, they gave him a ceramic turtle charm and told him that it would guide him to what he wanted the most. He used all of our money and bought a ship. We set sail along with some crew that he hired. On the first night, the ship hit a big storm. There were waves like mountains, and jagged white lines coming from the clouds. The ship was severely damaged. Your father sent us off in the one remaining lifeboat. As I rowed away, I saw your father’s ship sink.”
By now tears were forming in both of our eyes.
“Well, that was the past. Lets focus on the future. I’m going to give you your gifts. The first gift was from your father. It is his ceramic turtle charm. Your second gift is from me. I’m giving you 100 crescents. Spend it wisely. Now, go play with your friends.”
My mother’s story had shocked me, but she was right, the past is the past. For the rest of the day I played with my friends in the woods and around town. I was actually feeling good until my neighbor ran up to me, and said
“Ivory, It’s your mother, she was hit by a stampeding bull. Go quick.”
I dropped everything and ran home. When got to my house, I burst through the door into my mother’s room. She had a huge gash on her side and there were medics hunched over tending to her wounds.
“Ivory, go find Fortune falls. That was mine and your father’s wish; The turtle charm will help you.”
Then she gasped, and closed her eyes. The medics were shaking their heads.
“We’re sorry Ivory.”
At that moment lots of feelings surged through me, but I was determined to find Fortune falls and fulfill my mother’s wish. After my mother’s funeral service the next day, I went to the stream behind my house to wash my face. As I dipped my hand into the water my turtle charm fell off, and grew into a giant turtle.
“I am Aegis, your guide to fortune falls. Collect your belongings and get on my back.”
Speechless, I ran into my house, packed my clothes, the cookies my mom made for me, the money I got for my birthday, and a jar with my pet goldfish.
“Are you ready Ivory?”
“In that case, let us begin our journey to fortune falls”.
Over the next few days Aegis carried my belongings and me through forests, hamlets, and across streams.
On the fifth day, while Aegis and I were traveling through a forest, I suddenly felt a sharp pain on the side of my arm and Aegis collapsed. Then everything was black. When I woke up, I found myself surrounded by three burly men.
“She’s awake,” said one of the men.
“Who are you and where are you going with this giant turtle?”
“My name is Ivory and Aegis here is my turtle guide. He will take me to Fortune falls.”
The men looked at each other with suspicious grins. “How do you know about fortune falls?’
“When I was little, my father lost his life trying to find Fortune falls. Now I am going to find them.”
“ We’ve been searching for the falls as well. Can we join you and this giant turtle in your journey?”
“Sure, you can join,” I said
For the next few days, the men and me followed Aegis through many more jungles until we finally came to a huge sparkling water fall.
“We are at Fortune falls”, Aegis announced.
The three men’s faces changed. They were no longer excited. They seemed angry.
“Where is the fortune?” “I don’t know.” I said.
“Its all that blasted turtles fault.” They started hitting Aegis.
“No, please stop hitting him!”
As I put up my hand to block a blow from the stick that they were hitting Aegis with, I got a huge gash on my hand. My head was swimming from the pain.
“We don’t have any use for these two. Let’s dump them in the water.” Said the men.
The three men pushed us into the water. Something strange started to happen under water. The cut on my hand was starting to heal, and I could breath normally under the water. After we had been swept down stream by the current, Aegis got himself and me out of the water. Where we had gotten out, I saw a tattered old and rusty sign that said Fortune Falls ahead. We had found Fortune falls! It did contain the greatest treasure of all. It was not gold, but it was the ability to heal. I opened one of caskets that was tied to my waist and filled it up with water from Fortune falls. We started our journey back home. After we got back, I used the water to heal people so that they didn’t have to go through the despair that I did when I lost my mom.
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Writers of Magic and Whimsy! Turn your imagination loose and tell us your story of this painting, The Long Way. Then email us your tall tale in 1,000 words or less by June 30th, 2017 for publication in our July blog and FaceBook site! The winner will also receive a bouquet of Dandelion products and be placed on the short-list of possible authors for Dandelion’s next book publication (no date set!).
Be sure to read our contest guidelines here.
Just out of the studio and ready to spread good cheer and birthday wishes throughout the land!
Book Review By Jaime Cary | Thursday, Oct. 27, 2016
When you are a child, your world is often constrained to home, school and the places you read about in books. A book or a letter becomes an invitation to explore the outside world, a chance to experience new and alien things. This is the story told in Lori Preusch’s first children’s book, Delivering Dreams.
In the book, a girl waits every day for a letter from her globe-trotting grandfather. He writes her of safaris and pyramids, the wild West and exotic food. Through these letters, her mailbox becomes a door to another world, one that takes her on fantastic adventures that she cannot have at home. One day, the letters stop coming. The wait for another letter from her grandfather becomes unbearable. When she feels like she can wait no longer, a wonderful surprise shows up in her mailbox that was beyond anything she hoped for.
The writing is wonderful. The prose has a fantastic rhythm that drives the story, pulling the reader from one fantasy to the next. The rhyme scheme helps convey the exoticness of the places the grandfather goes, while helping to convey the fun that the girl has reading about his adventures. The story, while simple, is extremely charming and heartfelt.
The relationship the girl has with her grandfather is charming. The idolization of the grandfather by his granddaughter and friendship that exists between the two is conveyed extremely well without being explicitly stated, adding to the feeling of support that the girl receives from him.
The art, which Preusch is known for, is what truly drives the book. Each picture contains the girl and her mailbox off having the grand adventures her grandfather writes to her about. The pictures mix realistic settings with fantastic details, demonstrating to the reader that fantastic things exist in the real world and vice versa. It conveys the excitement that the girl feels when imagining her grandfather’s adventures, and shows how much she longs to go with him, even though it is never explicitly stated in the prose.
Preusch uses contrasting colors to draw the eye to the subject of each picture, skillfully using lines to convey motion that makes every scene seem as if it is moving.
This book has been 10 years in the making, and it was well worth the wait. An adventure book for children that is charming to adults, with imaginative drawings and relatable plot. It would be a fantastic book for any bedtime story.
With the last of the leftover turkey and stuffing comes the stuffing of our mailboxes. One of the more cherished traditions this time of year is the giving and receiving of Christmas cards. While opening envelopes, licking stamps and filling your coffee table with pictures and well wishes from loved ones, have you ever wondered where this tradition began?
According to the Smithsonian Institute, the first Christmas card was mailed in England by Sir Henry Cole in 1843. Best known for founding the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, Cole was a socialite with an overwhelming amount of letters that warranted a reply. As he was fretting over how to reach out to everyone without becoming a full time pen pal, he had an idea.
With the help of artist J.C. Horsley, Cole sent his correspondences a stiff piece of 5x3 cardboard. On the front of the cardboard was Horsley’s illustration, a family at table celebrating the holiday flanked by images of people helping the poor. On the back of the card was the message “ A Merry Christmas and A Happy New Year To You.”
And with that, the Christmas card was born.
The Christmas Card traveled to America 30 some years later from Cole and Horsley’s creation. Louis Prang, a Prussian immigrant, made postcards with a flower and the text “Merry Christmas” in his print shop outside of Boston in 1875. Throughout the years, Americans developed all sorts of formats for their well wishes, from lithographs to postcards. There has been one that’s seemed to stick. The Hallmark Company is credited for creating the format of a cardwe use today, the 4x6 card folded once in an envelope, in 1915 in Kansas City, MO.
Despite our increased preference for all things digital and the decline of all things print, we still value Christmas Cards as a holiday tradition, maybe more so than ever. According to the Greeting Card Association, the UK public spent more on greeting cards in 2015 than ever before – taking the market value up to a value of £1.7 billion.
It’s not a surprise that people still love them.
In a busy world, giving and receiving Christmas cards is a rare opportunity to slow down for a minute and connect with those most important to you, no matter where they live. It’s some sort of magic that just by opening an envelope, we can watch families we love grow, travel, and experience the best of life. Not often enough do we send mail with good news and love. As long as we cherish the holidays, we will cherish Christmas cards.
Also, if you haven’t sent yours out, let this be a reminder!
"The Moonbeam Children's Book Awards are intended to bring increased recognition to exemplary children's books and their creators, and to support childhood literacy and life-long reading. The Awards recognize and reward the best of these books and bring them to the attention of parents, booksellers, librarians - and to children themselves."
Two parts reality, one part whimsyTwo parts reality, one part whimsy
Ideas take on a life of their own
Detaching themselves from the source
As they begin to take shape
Anticipation pushes my muse to the edge
Where I discover forms, shadows, and meaning
I don't question the process
The textured layers of
Decisions and Revisions
The paradox of light and shadow
The brush marks of dreams
My love affair with greeting cards began as a child. I experienced the joy of receiving mail on birthdays, Christmas, and assorted milestones from my grandmother in France. The envelope, exotic by virtue of the foreign stamp, stirred anticipation. In the beginning, my mother read them to me, my imagination taking hold of the chain of words that linked me to my grandmother’s part of the world, her stories taking on color, shape, and texture.
Afterward, I’d store these timeless treasures in a hat box for future readings.
In time I was reading on my own, admiring the artwork that graced each card my grandmother selected just for me, a profound gesture that carried an endearing quality in its simplicity. Frequently, the letter started on the card, then continued onto a sheet of paper folded neatly inside. I took note and responded in kind.
The perfect card took on a significant meaning in our home. Sometimes making the card myself was the perfect idea, providing a welcome outlet for creativity: an original drawing, a photograph adhered to the front, a collage - - oh the possibilities! Other times, buying the perfect card was the thing to do. I would linger before the displays, hoping for that one card to catch my eye, providing the perfect backdrop to encapsulate my world - - the card the link in this loving ritual between grandmother and granddaughter.
Little time capsules of childish whimsy, pressed flowers, a smudge of chocolate, ink splashed by a tear when my mother died… the perfect card extended across the ocean that separated us, a bridge between two worlds and two hearts.
Sharing good wishes at Dandelion Press
One magical day, into the remotely quiet and peacefully serene world of one precocious little girl, comes a special delivery letter from her globe trotting Grandpa. The moment she opens that letter, she opens her heart and ponderings to the spectacular adventures, exotic worlds and unbounding thrills to come with every one of his wonderfully rich, wildly colorful and daringly adventurous tales.
Within no time, she is his kindred spirit of imagination and exploration, taking herself on flights of fancy sailing the white-capped waves of the salty seas, soaring into billowy clouds as a daring pilot and riding into gusty winds with teams of wild horses.
As his faraway world unfolds, it beckons this little girl to voyage far beyond her wildest dreams ...
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The energy and spirit that keeps us growing is continually inspired by the passion, delight and expectant wonder which is you. The possibilities are endless and we have treasured sharing this journey with you. As the year comes to a close, please accept our heartfelt thanks for the impact you have had on our lives. We wish you all a happy holiday and joy as the new year awakens cherished memories,unfolding stories and tall tales to delight in every step along the way.
Tall Tales and more ... coming in 2016
Like an unfolding story, choosing and sending a card is an experience to be savored and delighted in every step of the way. Our beautiful compelling works of art embody limitless possibilities for creative expression and celebrate both the giver and receiver. Let your imagination take flight and treat yourself or someone you love to the luxury of a beautiful hand picked selection of twenty Dandelion cards, tied with silken ribbon for $56.00. Shop
A simple sketch holds within it all of the the qualities, inner promptings and passion that makes the final painting come to life. If I ever lose my way in a painting, I go back to the original sketch, to once again feel the essence of that which seized me in the beginning.
A great big round of applause to all of you for the spectacular patience you have had as this project has moved along. Since it began, we have built a website, opened an Etsy store, planned an upcoming series of exquisite limited edition prints and have also added beautiful journals, studio prints and seven new cards to the shop. In addition to all of that, we have created inspiring new products that will accompany the book release. A Delivering Dreams correspondence set to inspire connection through hand written letters and four giclee prints depicting magical adventures from the story will be offered. We are in the process of sourcing a printer and although we are rushing to be ready for Christmas, we can’t say for certain until the next update....so please stay tuned for a bit longer. Thank you all. It is our hope that "Delivering Dreams" will inspire children to follow their true nature and live joyful lives that are in alignment with all that they love and dream of.
TEN TIMES THE FUN!!
Now you can save money and get more of what you love. A quantity discount for 10 or more cards of the same design is now available for any card in the shop. It is a great time for buying Christmas cards or stocking up on your favorite Dandelion image.
Each wondrous painting by Lori Preusch starts out the same way. With a dream, a vision and a planned escape into that all captivating world of the inner child. But before Lori can open the door to that world, she takes something special from this one. A simple, sable brush. It was never designed for the acrylic paints she uses…let alone the rough canvas that it dances on stroke after stroke. Yet, with it she blends precision with dexterity, which allows her to create the subtle soft tones in a polar bear’s protective embrace or the gleam and light that shines from the rainbow of colors surrounding a child. By carefully layering hue upon hue, Lori begins to build each story as it unfolds before her, letting the paintings become what they want to be. And, by the end of the day, this once soft, silky brush is all frazzled and worn from passionate use. Yet, lying in an old wooden box in the corner of Lori’s studio in another #000 sable brush…just waiting for the day it is chosen to luminate the canvas and bring to life one more treasured memory of a world where anything is possible…and everything is magical.