Animal Images from our Scotland/Ireland Trip!


Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin (basement exhibits)

Greetings, Art Lovers!  If you’re an animal lover, too, this post is for you.  This week on my post for Poetry Friday over at my author blog, I included pictures of (actual) animals encountered on our recent trip across The Pond, with a shout-out to some new animal-themed books for young readers by a few kidlit buddies. I promised to feature some other animal-themed trip pictures here, so off we go!

(First, a pic of the human animals on our trip:)

The Fam at Loch Lubnaig, Western Highlands, Scotland

Starting with heraldic symbolism, we saw lions and unicorns everywhere. :0)

Royal arms of James VI (1567–1625) as depicted on a mantelpiece in Edinburgh Castle. (And the arms image inside the fireplace, too!)

I’d like to study up on all this much more, but basically, the Lion represents England and the Unicorn, which is chained, represents Scotland.

Doune Castle, Scotland

Christ Church Cathedral (basement exhibits), Dublin, Ireland

In Scotland, we saw solo unicorns as well, and the Lion Rampant.  “Rampant” refers to the position of the animal. According to the Cambridge Dictionary, the word after a noun means: “(of an animal represented on a coat of arms) standing on its back legs with its front legs raised.” The Royal Banner of Scotland features a red lion rampant (with blue tongue and claws) on a gold background.

Atop the recently-restored Mercat Cross (market cross) of Edinburgh, Parliament Square next to St Giles’ Cathedral. The Royal Unicorn holds the The Flag of Scotland, known as St. Andrew’s Cross or the Saltire, and a shield featuring the Lion Rampant.

The Royal Banner of Scotland (Wikipedia)

These beauties were sculpted by Phillis Bone and flank the entrance to The National War Memorial for Scotland at Edinburgh Castle.  Inside the Memorial are Rolls of Honour of Scots servicemen and women from all the Armed Services, the Dominions, Merchant Navy, Women’s Services, Nursing Services and civilian casualties of all wars from 1914 to date.

Also at Edinburgh Castle, there is a dog cemetery!

Since 1840, it has served as a resting place for canine companions of high-ranking military members. It has more than 20 headstones.

Robert Burns wrote of it:

Berkin dugs here lie at rest
The yappin worst, obedient best
Sodgers pets and mascots tae
Still the guard the castle to this day

On our way to the Scottish Highlands, we were enchanted by the world’s largest equine sculptures. Officially unveiled in 2014, these 30-meter-high steel horse heads, The Kelpies, preside over Falkirk.  Created by Andy Scott, they weigh 300 metric tons each and celebrate the role of horses in Scotland’s industrial history. (Kelpies are legendary aquatic beings who can shape-shift, haunting rivers and other bodies of water ….)

At the other end of the size spectrum, I was enchanted by this wee birdhouse in the idyllic village of Luss on Loch Lomond:

A four-star B&B for birds!  Just 5 flies per night.  This coal-tit is a happy guest.

The house featuring these avian accommodations must be a haven for animals, as this sign also appears in the front yard:

Happy Wee Doggy Rosie Stays Here….

Another day trip while (whilst!) in Scotland found us meandering back from St. Andrews through the charming village of Falkland (where the opening scenes in Outlander were filmed, as Inverness!) .  Walking back to the bus, I had to snap some pictures of another residence.  There was originally a real bird perched in the garden vignette, but it flew away faster than I could capture it, so I have this darling little sculpture to share instead.  Can you find it among the flowers?

Also guarding this enchanting home was an irresistible Scottie dog statue:


And now for a a few animal-themed pictures from Ireland. One of our first stops was a tour through seven-story Guinness Storehouse. I was delighted to discover the third floor’s advertising exhibit, chronicling 80 years of imaginative ads!  Here’s a fun sample:

The Guiness Toucan first appeared in the mid-1930s; this ad dates from 1946.

Speaking of signs, one of my favorites was in Kilkenny, a beautiful village in the country outside of Dublin.  Here you will find Kyteler’s Inn, established in 1324!  (Yep – that’s not a typo.)

Black cat images abound here and there near the inn, paying homage to the original proprietress, Alice de Kyteler. She married four times, accumulating quite a bit of wealth.  Jealousy and accusations erupted, and she was eventually accused of witchcraft. Sentenced to be burned, she managed to escape to England before the execution could take place.

Alice de Kyteler, frog in hand, greets diners and visitors at the inn.   

Animal imagery also abounds in The Book of Kells, an illuminated manuscript from about 800 A.D. and housed at Trinity College, Dublin.  My family indulged me in a morning visit.  You can’t take photographs of the actual manuscripts (under glass in a small room, with certain sections exhibited at a time), but here are some pictures of the display boards before you enter, featuring reproductions of illustrations from The Book of Kells and other related manuscripts.  (These large boards were curved, hence some wonkiness picture-wise.)  If you find yourself in Dublin and fancy hand-lettered scripts and decoration, you must get yourself there!

“Irish artists learned about Germanic-style animal ornament primarily from their Anglo-Saxon neighbors in Britain, adapting the motif to native Irish taste.”

Lion from The Book of Armagh

And, of course one of my favorites, a wolf:

And the style spills right over into signs on campus:

After Trinity College in the morning, we visited Christ Church Cathedral in the afternoon. Our hearts were warmed to read the story of this cathedral kitty who now has a loving home there, Laurence MagifiCAT.  (Um, you can find him on Twitter here. Another kitty at a different cathedral, Doorkins, is on Twitter and has a new book out to boot!)

Of course, not all animals pictured in the cathedral’s exhibits are of the warm, fuzzy variety… some are shining in heavy metal, like these priceless birds!  The exhibits in the medieval crypt – Ireland’s largest,  and the earliest surviving structure in the city – were well worth the meander.


And you have to have a king on a steed, right? Here’s King John hunting a stag in some 14th-century woodland.

The most popular exhibit in the crypt is the one I’ll leave you with.  “The cat and the rat,” or, as they are locally known, Tom and Jerry, make quite the impression. Here they are with the explanation reprinted:

THE CAT & THE RAT “The one, presumably chasing the other, became trapped in an organ pipe in the 1850s and were mummified. They are referred to in James Joyce’s “Finnegan’s Wake” where someone is described as being ‘…As stuck as that cat to that mouse in that tube of that Christchurch organ…’ “

I’ll have to dig out this picture again closer to Halloween….

I hope you enjoyed this wee journey, and thanks for tagging along!  By the way, new animal-themed offerings in my Etsy shop include these “teeny wee notebooks,” featuring a “hairy coo” (Highland cow) and my little Writer Mouse, pictured & linked here:

And my animal-themed note cards are also bundled together (2 each) in an “Animal Combo Pack”:

Happy travels, whether you go by paw, hoof, feathers or flippers!

FIRST FRIDAY! (& August Shop Hours)

August Greetings from artsyletters!

Join us for FIRST FRIDAY this Friday from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m. (Look for my sandwich-board sign on the sidewalk.)  We’re covered up in family for the next couple of weeks and I’m also covered up in a commission or two; Friday open studio/shop hours will resume after mid-August.  In the meantime, my Etsy shop is always open! :0)

Heads’ up – I’ll be offering another mixed media workshop at Coastal Art Supply on Sat., Oct. 13 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.  Details to come.

Happy End-of-Summer-ing!

artsyletters lands at The Beaufort Emporium!


While I will actually be closed this week (July 19-20) because our kids are visiting, I’m delighted to share that you can now find some artsyletters offerings at the BEAUTIFUL Beaufort Emporium & Dry Goods Company on Bay Street!

Check out my table on the left after you walk in, and be sure to peruse the variety of gifts, souvenirs, and special treasures all around.  Friendly folks and classy gifts!

I’m honored to have some items there, including some new local-themed goodies such as upcycled and handmade journals, magnets, key rings and bookmarks featuring hand-aged images from antique South Carolina maps. (Listing similar items in my Etsy shop in coming days!)

Enjoy Water Festival Week, whether you’re here in town or just here in spirit!


First Friday and June Calendar

EventPhotoFull_First Friday Poster June 1st - Dads and Dudes

Happy JUNE! We are getting ready for FIRST FRIDAY AFTER 5,                              5:00 – 8:00 p.m. downtown on June 1.  Come on up for a howdy, and maybe a gift for letter-loving grads or literary gents for Father’s Day! :0)  Look for my little A-Frame sign on the 800 block of Bay Street.

The rest of the month we will be either gallivanting around soaking up literary inspirations on vacation, or I’ll be tucked behind the door madly making, making making.  We’ll be back with bells on in July.  My Etsy shop will be on holiday from    June 7-24.

CLOSED JUNE 2018 artsyletters hours old paper add calendar page red

Hope your Summer starts out with plenty of art and poetry!

#RoyalWedding! Celebrate with some artsyletters Fun!


Feeling Royal?  Here are a few new offerings to celebrate British roots:

Click here to see on Etsy!

Click here to see on Etsy!

I came across these wonderful vintage brass stampings of the British Royal Coat of Arms (“Royal Arms”) and had to do something with them!  I’ve made three of these pins/bag tags.  The pin is an antique/vintage brass laundry pin, probably from the 1910s and military, according to vendor.  It’s heavy duty.  I’ve attached the stamping with a large brass ring from an old clock chain.  Cheers!

Click to see on Etsy!

Click to see on Etsy!

This “Royal” necklace makes a fun statement for typewriter fans.  The vintage Royal name plate has been attached to two black rope chains and flanked with vintage black Swarovski crystal drops and fun pewter quatrefoil links.

Click to see on Etsy!

Click to see on Etsy!

You don’t have to be at the very top of the nobility food chain to enjoy a family crest or coat of arms… I’m making up some Scottish coats of arms keychains/tags for the rest of us, too!  This one pictured happens to be for the family name, Scott.  The image was clipped from THE SCOTTISH CLANS – With the Badges, Arms, Slogans, etc. of the Clans (Circa 1930).

If you’re in the States and rising early like I am to enjoy the festivities (the bride is American, after all!), here’s a raised cup of Earl Grey to you!  And lovely wishes wherever you are in the world.


little women magnet artsyletters c 595

Ready for the LITTLE WOMEN 2-part miniseries on PBS?  It starts Sunday, May 13 – Mother’s Day!  If you’re a fan or have one on your gift list, here’s just the thing to hold that reading list to the fridge or filing cabinet!

The vintage US Postage Stamp on this magnet features Louisa May Alcott’s beloved “little women” from the book, first published in two volumes in 1868 and 1869. The stamp is part of a series of Children’s Classics issued in October of 1993 (Scott #2785-88), four 29-cent stamps honoring classic books for young readers. Click here for more info or to order from my Etsy shop.  (Or click here for a gift set featuring this and three other classic children’s book magnets featuring stamps!)