Tuesday, December 7, 2010
And welcome to my newsletter for December, 2010! Please feel free to forward this to anyone you think would be interested in keeping up with me! To receive these newsletters regularly, please drop me an email or subscribe online from my website (http://www.JefMurray.com ) or at: http://groups.google.com/group/Mystical_Realms . Notices of events and items of interest are at the bottom of this email.
I have been doing some updating and thinning out of my website (www.JefMurray.com). In particular, I have added a couple of new graphite sketches and will continue to do so as I'm able. I have far more sketches posted to my Facebook page (see the Jef Murray Artist page, and the "Sketchbook" photo album thereon), and if you wish to have one of these originals priced or made available as a print, do let me know. All of the works in my online galleries are available as signed and numbered limited-edition Giclee prints.
The Jewelry Maker
"You're persistent, I'll grant you that," said the jeweler. He was seated at an oilskin-covered work table, magnifying loupe pushed up on his forehead. His tools were everywhere in the darkened room, but the visitor noticed, with a smile, that there were no valuables out. No golden rings, no jewels, no beads or earrings.
The visitor smiled. "I appreciate your seeing me. Your assistant "
" my assistant has strict orders to refuse all requests to speak with me in person. And since she has now disobeyed me, I will be forced to find a new assistant." The jeweler reached into a drawer, removed a large ornate knife, and began to hone its edge on a whetstone.
"As you see fit," said the visitor, "but I hope you'll at least hear me out."
"Five minutes," said the jeweler, looking up from his table. His eyes were ferocious. The visitor held his gaze until he resumed honing the knife, then pulled a chair up and sat down.
"You wanted more information about the brooch I left," said the visitor. "May I not satisfy your curiosity now?"
The jeweler put the knife down on the table between them. "Yes, you may. But I saw no reason to discuss it in person. I simply wanted to know where it came from, Mister ?"
"Raphael," answered the visitor.
"Ah, like the angel ." muttered the jeweler.
"Yes, like the angel," answered Raphael, smiling.
"Well, Mr. Raphael, from its workmanship, it could have been made in central Europe, but the style is curious. You bought it from some antique shop, I'm thinking? And wanted to know its worth? Is it something you want to sell? I can't offer you much ." An odd look came into the jeweler's eyes, betraying more interest than did his voice.
Raphael shook his head. "No, it's not for sale. It's an heirloom, one that's been handed down from generation to generation. And it's not mine; I borrowed it from a friend. I knew you wouldn't see me without it."
Raphael paused, then leaned across the table. "And you know very well it's not the sort of thing anyone would ever willingly sell: to an antique shop or to anyone else."
"I know nothing of the sort," replied the jeweler, his eyes on the knife. "I've seen trinkets very much like it sold in every stall from here to California."
"From here to Russia, you mean," said Raphael. "Or from here to the Court of King Arthur, you might even say."
"I don't know what you mean," said the jeweler.
"Of course you do," said Raphael. "There never were more than a few score of these ever made, and they were always guarded fiercely by those who wore them. They are kept secret, just as you keep yourself secret. They are denied, even as you deny knowledge of them and of what they represent."
The jeweler refused to look up. "I'm a jeweler," he said, "not an historian. How should I know about heirlooms and secrets? They have nothing to do with me ."
Raphael leaned across the table again. "On the contrary, they have everything to do with you, because you're one in a million: nay, one in a billion, more likely. How many of the Khazâd remain these days? A score? A dozen?"
The jeweler continued staring at the table. "Khazâd? Never heard of `em. "
"Come now," said Raphael. "Let's not play games. You've been in business here for over 75 years, posing as yourself, and your father, and your grandfather before that. You're at least 125 years old and probably older. You came here from Eastern Europe during the 1930s, but your work remains unique, impossible to reproduce. You sell it through anonymous middle-men so that no one can track you down."
Raphael leaned back in his chair, studying the bushy beard and heavy brows of the jeweler. "You won't see anyone because you don't want anyone to know what you are. But I do know what you are. I may be the only one alive who does, other than the remaining members of your own race."
He paused and waited for his words to sink in. "So," Raphael said again, "how many are left? Or do you even know?"
The jeweler rubbed his eyes and pushed himself back from the work table, sighing.
"I only know of a handful," he said at last, looking up at Raphael. "And they keep their distance from me as I do from them. You can't know what we've suffered, especially in the last hundred years."
He climbed down from his stool and Raphael could see that he was only about four and a half feet tall and heavily built. The jeweler stepped out of the light and toward an ancient oak cabinet that stood against one wall. Brass knobs gleamed golden in the gloom as the doors swung wide. Raphael heard a drawer slide open and shut, then the jeweler returned to the table with a silver brooch in his hand.
The brooch was star-shaped and glittered and gleamed in the light like a thing alive.
"It's lovely, isn't it?" said Raphael.
"Too lovely," said the jeweler. "Because of this and things like it, my people have had to suffer for thousands and thousands of years. Your kind can never get enough of gold, or jewels "
" or Mithril?" said Raphael, smiling.
The jeweler scowled. "No, nor of Mithril. But it has all gone wrong now. Now, it's not just wealth and treasures from the earth; now your kind wants knowledge... of machines, and engines, and hatefulness."
"My people were rounded up and killed like animals -- in Russia, in Germany, in countless other places -- because we lived apart; because we lived like the Jews and others who sought to hold onto their culture. And we were slaughtered along with them during your `Great Wars'."
The jeweler pushed the brooch across the table. "Here, take it. I don't want to know anything else about it, or about you. I just want to be left alone; to be forgotten by your kind."
Raphael looked at the Dwarf. "My kind?" he said. "My kind has never laid a hand on the sons and daughters of Durin. My kind has fought the Long Defeat in your defense, and in defense of all the others of so many races who have struggled against the darkness."
"Pretty words, but you're a man like any other man; another greedy destroyer of anything that stands in your way," growled the jeweler, eyes again ferocious.
"Am I?" asked Raphael. He stood and picked up the brooch from the table. The flickering light from the Mithril star seemed to run along his arm and spread to his shoulder, then to his chest, and then to every part of him. An electrical crackling and roaring filled the room as sparks and lightning bursts of bluish white fire played over the visitor's frame.
The Dwarf eyes opened wide, and he trembled as the light and fury before him peaked and then subsided.
"You see, Master Dwarf?" said Raphael, as the flames flickered and died around him, "You are not the only one who keeps secrets." The Dwarf remained seated, dumbfounded.
"But, my time is short," said Raphael. "There are others I'd like you to meet, if you will be persuaded. And although you may be among the last of the full-blooded members of your race, there are others of my acquaintance whose veins also harbor the blood of Durin. And I have friends whose Sires sailed from Westernesse. I even know of men and women who have Elven and Halfling blood, although generally not both in the same person." Raphael laughed. "There is work to be done, Master Dwarf, and you are needed ."
The jeweler looked at his visitor. "Why would I care about such folk?" he asked. "What difference can it possibly make to me to know that there are half-breed mongrels from the olden days still about?"
"It can make a tremendous difference," said Raphael, "because these are souls who need to hear the old truths and learn the old skills. It can make a difference because, as you say, this generation of men is destroying itself with the knowledge it is accumulating."
"If we cannot rekindle the older wisdom in these times, then we are all doomed. And how many years, Master Dwarf, has it been since you could share your skill with those who not only sought it, but who also knew how best to use it to stave off wickedness?"
The Dwarf sat silently, fingering the blade before him.
"Consider what I've said," said Raphael. "You need not answer me now. But I'll call on you again in a few days." He laid the Mithril star down on the table and turned to go.
"Wait!" called the jeweler. "You've forgotten your brooch."
"Keep it until I return," said Raphael. "And then, perhaps, you'll be ready to teach others about its virtues."
And with that, the Maia left the shop and went out into the snow-filled twilight.
[This tale was first published in the journal "Beyond Bree" earlier this year - Jef]
Turning Pages in the Magician's Book: There will be a Narnia-themed conference this Friday, December 10 from 1-6pm at the University of Minnesota. Sponsored by the Rivendell Grouop of the Mythopoeic Society and hosted by the Children's Literature Research Collections of UM, the event will take place on the west bank campus, next to the law school. You can contact David Lenander at email@example.com for more info.
Illustrator-signed editions of Black & White Ogre Country: The Lost Tales of Hilary Tolkien, by Hilary Tolkien, are now available to folks in the U.S for $25, postage paid. It is also available to Canadian folk for $30 Canadian, postage paid. I'm making the limited number of copies I have available to folks who have had trouble getting them shipped over from the UK. You can purchase directly from my website at www.JefMurray.com (click on the "Books" button on the left of the page).
Illustrator-signed editions of The Magic Ring: Deluxe Illustrated Edition, by the Baron de la Motte Fouqué, are now available to folks in the U.S., Canada, and the UK. You can purchase directly from my website at www.JefMurray.com (click on the "Books" button on the left of the page).
There are two new 2011 Tolkien-themed calendars that are either now available or soon will be. Both feature some of my work, as well as that of many other notable artists:
The 30th Anniversary 2011 Beyond Bree calendar is available at http://www.cep.unt.edu/bree/Flyer02.pdf . This special calendar features work by Sylvia Hunnewell, Ted Nasmith, and many others; it focuses on the Istari the wizards of Middle-earth.
The 10th Anniversary 2011 Northeaster Tolkien Society calendar is available from http://herenistarionnets.blogspot.com/p/nets-calendar.html . This calendar features the art of Anke Eissman, Sue Wookey, and myself.
The folks who brought you the Festival in the Shire in Wales this last August (see www.FestivalintheShire.com) now have some of my framed and unframed prints available, just in time for Christmas, at http://www.markfaithbooks.com/ . These are just a few of my most recent paintings, with more to come.
The November/December 2010 issue of the St. Austin Review (StAR) features one of my paintings ("Melkor") on its cover, plus a two-page spread of some of my latest paintings and a short article of mine within. This issue focuses on apocalyptic visions, particularly as seen in science fiction. Please check it out at the StAR website at http://www.staustinreview.com/ .
The current issue of Gilbert Magazine (see http://www.gilbertmagazine.com/ ) is the art issue, and in addition to including a couple of my dragonish paintings ("The Repentant Dragon" and "Pensive Dragon"), there is an interview with me and fellow artist Tim Jones which includes some of his fine work and a few of my illustrations from "The Magic Ring".
A new EWTN TV special is being prepared on J.R.R. Tolkien. Featuring Joseph Pearce, this production will also include dozens of my illustrations of Tolkien's world. Stay tuned for details on when this will air .
For folks interested in my original paintings and sketches, please take a look at the ADC Art and Books online catalog at www.adcbooks.co.uk. It features Tolkien-themed works by Ted Nasmith, Peter Pracownik, and myself. In addition, you'll find collectible items (e.g. Black & White Ogre Country: The Lost Tales of Hilary Tolkien) and rare books featured in the catalog and on the website.