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Old Iron Kills the Fae, and So They Shield...

I started with an image of a broken piece of iron gearing that I photographed in the ruins of a munitions factory that caught fire and exploded in Canada on Thanksgiving weekend of 1918, just as WWI was coming to a close.   

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The explosion forced evacuation of the Ontario town where it occurred, and blew out plate glass windows all along the main street, leaving the roadway 3-5 inches deep in shattered glass.   All night long, the chemical factory burned, throwing rockets, coloured flames, and fireworks into the air which could be seen 12 miles away.   

It would have been much more devastating except for a railway man who realized the danger early on, and ran through the burning grounds to move a locomotive hooked up to two cars full of TNT across the railway bridge over the river to the east, and out of reach of the flames.  

Eyewitnesses to the night of devastation later said the sky looked like it had been invaded by giant, angry fairies.

In my Celtic household, I was told many stories about the Fae, or fairy folk as a child.   One of the legends has it that iron is lethal to them, and that they cannot exist in a place where there is much of it.   This is purportedly why we have not had the Fair Folk around since the dawn of the iron age.  

I figured any fairy around that particular site would necessarily have to have some kind of shield against all the iron embedded in the grounds and in the surrounding hillsides.   So I started by building an umbrella-like shield for the fairy to use between herself and any of the vast array of menacing residual iron at the site.   

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This I placed on a layer and reduced the opacity to make it more transparent.   

Then I started drawing the fairy:

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Once I had her sketched in enough that I could place her on another layer over top of the umbrella shield and the original photo, I used the eraser tool to judiciously remove bits that didn't need to be there.

Then I added some coloured shadows on yet another layer to round out her flesh and provide just a hint of colour here and there to soften the starkness of the drawing, and here's the final image, entitled

"Iron Kills the Fae, and So They Shield":

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Why this delicate creature must work in an area reputedly so inimical to her kind remains buried deep in the recesses of the hoarder's heaven that passes for a brain with me!

Leah M. 

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