The Filigree–A World of its Own

Cromora Nicholson, Tightrope Walker Extraordinaire by the Filigree

ScareCrow Moni by thefiligree


Imagine a world where mermaidens sink ships, scarecrows compete to see who is scariest, and the clouds dance in the red glow of October’s Blood Moon.  Just such a world exists.  Last weekend at the Dickens Christmas Festival in Franklin, Tennessee I was bored by the usual jewelry and pottery vendors and tempted by the fried pie booth (which, oddly enough, was right next door to a booth extolling the benefits of cosmetic surgery)  when I was captured by an odd creature about two feet tall offering me a maggot on a serving tray.  The creature–a candy troll – was warty and wrinkly and strangely endearing.       

Candy Trolls Confectionary

 I had stumbled into the world of The Filigree.    



The Filigree is actually a newspaper, brilliantly edited by Celena Cavala, that is published four times a year.    Articles like Summer solstice in Sangamon Forest – Butterfield Sisters Host Fancy Dress Ball, and State of the Art Haunting – Old School Style at Vic’s Meatatorium,  cover the exploits and tragedies of the  imaginary population of the Filigree world.  Cleverly illustrated advertisements tout the benefit of fantasy products like Never Die Life Elixir and Ligeria Formula stain remover.    There are even classifieds, like this one from the Autumn 09 Issue:    

“Gorgeous assorted colored glass bottles Empty but very large capacity.  Maybe even bottomless as my sister fit a very small storm in one of the blue ones.”    

This is no flimsy, gimmacky tabloid.  The newspaper is substantial and well done.  The writing is engagingly whimsical and original  and the artwork (drawings and photos) is excellent.   But the best thing about this newspaper is that it “covers” the exploits and tragedies of the  imaginary population of the filigree world.    

This is where Martin Obakke, Artistic Director of the Filigree, struts his stuff.  Obakke brings to life these fascinating creatures, dubbed  Filigreetures, with a variety of mediums including resin and polymer clay.  Filagreetures are lifelike and etherial at the same time.  I would not have been surprised if one of the Filigreetures at the festival drifted up with a gentle breeze and landed on my shoulder.  The latent movement contained in these creatures is so powerful, you can’t help suspected they change position in the blink of an eye.  Even the clothes in which they are dressed – whispy clouds of thin cotton – take on life, draping  the creatures like  a gown on a Greek statue.     

The marriage of  the art and the word enhances the power of each form.  It creates a launch pad for the imagination.  Subscriptions to the newspaper are only six dollars for one year.  The Filigreetures aren’t cheap, but it would be worth it to have one of Obakke’s creations join your household.   A selection of black and white photographic prints – filigraphy -are also available.   Be sure to look through the Gallery on the Filigry website.  (   The mermaidens escaping from underwater after causing a shipwreck in The Sinking of the Concordia  is heart-wrenchingly elegant.   But, be warned!  A tour through the Filigree’s gallery and newspaper will make you want to lay aside your grown-up things and BELIEVE.    


Cromora Nicholson once again claims Crown by the Filigree 



It’s Greek to Me


If you’ve not been to Nashville, you may not know about our version of The Parthenon.  A full-sized replica of the ancient Greek structure stands in the middle of Centennial Park near Vanderbilt University.   It’s such an accustomed sight that I hardly notice it anymore, but Friday I had the opportunity to revisit the architectural gem.  On the bottom floor of the building is a fine arts gallery that has changing exhibits.  I was thrilled to see several collage and mixed-media pieces among the oil paintings.

Athena Gilded

The main level, though, is where the jaw-dropping piece of art resides.  I is a 41 foot, 10 inch statue of the Greek Goddess Athena by Nashville uber-sculptor Alan Le Quire.  I’ve seen Athena before, but each time I’m bowled over – at first by her massiveness, but ultimately by the uncanny grace and detail of LeQuire’s work.  You can see an amazing slide show of the making of Athena at and visit LeQuire’s  gallery at 

We visited Athena in her temple to see a production of Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex.   Three actors in traditional masks performed the tragic tale, and in place of the Greek chorus between scenes, each actor gave a brief recitation on the art of Greek tragic  drama. 

Their voices echoed eerily in the cavernous room where we sat in chairs at Athena’s feet.  The masks magically transformed the actor and despite the stiffness of the ancient drama convention, the modern audience had no problem suspending disbelief in order to travel back in time.  Theater has come a long way since Sophecles’ day, but it doesn’t get anymore dramatic that Oedipus at the golden-sandaled feet of Athena.

Etsy is a Great Place to Shop

Red Dress in the Wind

Red Dress in the Wind


This piece was the first item sold in my Etsy shop. 

If  you haven’t already visited, it is a great place to find original handmade arts and crafts.  Anything from soaps to purses to handbound journals abound on this great site.  Check it out for Christmas shopping!  Your gifts will be one-of-a-kind.