cats

Magical Items Can be Found at Fairy Behind the Door An Interview with Artist Jassmond Masters-Bell

July, 2018

 

Fairies. Gnomes. Greenman. The moon. And lots and lots of doors. Hundreds of original, intricately designed and brightly painted items are for sale at Fairy Behind the Door on Etsy.

It all happened by accident,” Jassmond Masters-Bell

said. “I just happened to see a small fairy door mold 10 years ago, and I bought it for myself just to have a little door in my garden I was establishing at the time. I love creating gardens and I was just looking for accessories to go into the garden. This was when the fairy garden explosion happened

When I molded it and it came out beautifully, I showed my first molded fairy door to my husband and he said. ‘Why don’t you make more and see if you can sell them?’”


She did and got rave reviews at a Ren Faire. She made more and put them on eBay.

They just went.”

Although Jassmond comes from an artistic family, working long days in broadcasting – sometimes 100-hour weeks – left her no time for artistic endeavors, but the doors continued to captivate her and so she began making them at home between shifts of her daily job.

It was a very messy procedure,” she said of working with concrete and having dust all around the house all the time.

When the broadcasting company employing Jassmond folded in 2010, she wanted to continue working in the magical fairy world. Moving from Maryland to Colorado’s Rocky Mountains allowed her to have a workshop where she could fully concentrate on more of her own designs and whimsical ideas, finding a pathway to a new career.


When I am in my workshop, I can get locked away down there for hours on end in my own little area … and hope my brain will create something wonderful,” Jassmond said, adding only her cats are allowed in.

Through the years she tried various compounds until recently finding PermaStone.

It’s a beautiful thing to work with. It’s crack and frost resistant. It lasts. It’s soft and light,” she said.

The process is involved. She sculpts an item from clay that must be dried slowly over several days. Layers of latex are applied to make the mold that is then filled with a concrete mix or stone compound, painted in vibrant detail and sealed to withstand the elements.

Each product has a little story that gives it some fantasy as well as a personality.

I’m very fussy about my work. It doesn’t go out unless I’m absolutely positively sure this is what I want to represent me.”


The description for one weathered blue door reads, “This Fairy door belongs to Mrs Odina. She owns a Nights Fairy dormitory where she allows the traveling fairy to stop by and sleepover before they continue on their journey. She runs a tight tree house, her fees are fair but you have to bring your own berries and goats milk for breakfast. It says on the Door ‘Fairies Sleeping’ so be quiet when you pass by.”

Not all doors open to fairy abodes. Take the purple Wibble door. It belongs “to the tiny Wibble people that live among the fae. They are very strange, cute but rarely seen. They usually are the ones that go hunting for ‘Ambergris’ mushrooms so that they can cultivate them and sell their perfume to the Fairies.”

Jassmond said, “I love writing. I want to put what each symbol actually means. I want it to be very earth-like.”

Accessories she has designed allow customers to create their own magical spaces with a selection of windows, flower pots, trellises, mailboxes, lanterns, trees, mushrooms, watering cans, bird baths, pathways and fences.

From fairy doors, she moved onto other beloved objects such as dragon eggs and Buddha cats, which soon found themselves in saturated markets.

I don’t want my shop to look like somebody else’s. I want to be original, so that’s what I’m aiming for – to open up a range of things other people will not have. You get them by designing them yourself.

I look for things that people love all the time … like cats and dogs. People always want cats and dogs because cats and dogs are always part of the family. So I’m expanding my cat range at the moment,” she said of avoiding current fads.

She does commission work as well, such as creating an animal in remembrance of a beloved pet that died. While she likes dogs, she loves cats, and painting them is one of the tasks she most likes.

A commissioned piece Jassmond recently began working on – a large one-of-a-kind plaque for a high priestess – is moving her more into the pagan world where she is quite comfortable.


I have a lot of ideas and I really want to get those going” she said of making more pagan symbols.

I would like to bring back some of the old pagan symbols … Nature is not respected, I feel, in our culture. I would like to make people more aware that these symbols do actually mean something.” Customers have also been asking her to add them to her shop.

For instance, she said, “a lot of people think the pentagram is a witchcraft symbol. It’s not. It actually is a sign of protection, but a lot of people think it’s a sign of evil. I think by doing more of these symbols I really would like to educate people about what these really are.”

Jassmond was somewhat surprised that most of her customers are adults.

That’s the kick I get out of it – that it’s not just for kids. I get more adults approaching me for advice on how to create a fairy garden for all the family if not for themselves.”

Inventory is limited.

When I’m making something I try to make two or three. The reason why I do that is one year I made a door for a customer. I was packing it up and I dropped it. …Since that accident happened I always have a backup and that backup now becomes stock. I always try to have at least one.”

Everything is infused with her own love and magic, and customer reviews bear that out.

Items range from 1-14 inches and from $9.99-$110.00. Those in stock ship sooner than those requiring casting, painting and finishing. She welcomes custom work as well.

You can visit Jassmond Masters-Bell and see her work at her Etsy shop Fairy Behind the Door on her site:

https://www.etsy.com/shop/FairybehindtheDoor?ref=si_shop

Be sure to check out Jassmond’s Facebook Page at:

https://www.facebook.com/FAIRYBEHINDTHEDOOR/

***

About the Author:

Lynn Woike was 50 – divorced and living on her own for the first time – before she consciously began practicing as a self taught solitary witch. She draws on an eclectic mix of old ways she has studied – from her Sicilian and Germanic heritage to Zen and astrology, the fae, Buddhism, Celtic, the Kabbalah, Norse and Native American – pulling from each as she is guided. She practices yoga, reads Tarot and uses Reiki. From the time she was little, she has loved stories, making her job as the editor of two monthly newspapers seem less than the work it is because of the stories she gets to tell. She lives with her large white cat, Pyewacket, in central Connecticut. You can follow her boards on Pinterest, and write to her at woikelynn at gmail dot com.

Spot – Our Magical Cat: The Story She Wants Me to Share

January, 2011

Spot – Our Magical Cat:

The Story She Wants Me to Share

Spot was our very special pet.  She came to us from out of the wild in the spring of 1995 when she was about a year old.  We decided that May 1st was her birthday.  She had a very playful and inquisitive nature.  For a couple of months when my husband, Mack, and I would walk to the nearby restaurant down our street, often on the way there and back we would become aware of the presence of a little black cat following us.  We would turn to look and she would scamper into the shadows of trees and nearby objects only to emerge and follow us when we had turned away again.

Sometimes we would pretend to chase her and she would pretend to be chased, only to resume following us, and eventually disappear into the shadows.  I thought to myself, “There is a cat who knows she is black.”  I assumed she had a home somewhere in the neighborhood, but she had no collar.  For the next three weeks it rained almost continuously.  Then, one day, we returned to our home to find this little black cat all drenched and crouched on our doorstep.  She was obviously in need of a home.  We took her in, fed her, and nursed her back to health, as she needed some nourishment and de-worming.

Mack said he thought she had been living in the wild for some time, but, as she was very affectionate, she must have been raised by some loving humans.  She had no fear of people, only a healthy wariness of them.  It was also obvious that she was in heat, and we were deciding whether we really could keep her as we were not supposed to have a pet in our apartment.  We are on the second floor and have a spacious porch.  Naively, we thought she would stay on the porch with her food and litter box when we were away.  That is how we discovered ‘the cat elevator.’  One of the juniper bushes along the side of the building had a trimmed area off its trunk, just at the level of our porch.  By the time we discovered that she could come and go as she pleased, we also discovered that she was pregnant.

By this time, it was also pretty obvious she had chosen us and we were going to have to make things work out together.  We named her Spot because she was all black but for a large white patch from her throat down to her chest.  I checked out the cat encyclopedia and found her in its pages staring back at me, matching exactly the description of the beautiful longhaired black Norwegian Forest Cat with the large intense yellow eyes and exquisite triangular shaped head and face.  She also had the characteristic of ‘rusting’ when exposed to sunlight.  I would refer to her as my fire cat when her reds, bronzes, and golds reflected in the sunlight.  When out of the sunlight she would transform again to black.

Spot gave birth to five beautiful babies.  We ran an ad in the paper and found loving homes for all of them.  Then, I rushed her to be spayed, assuring her that she would always be my ‘kitten’ no matter what.  Spot was a natural birder.  She was not at all much interested in mice or frogs or anything other than birds.  She was so good at catching birds that we kept a bell on her to give the birds a fair chance.  In spite of the bell, Spot still managed to occasionally catch birds and would bring them to us, dead, as a gift, or, quite often, she would release them alive inside the house so she could chase them.  This always created pandemonium, which she loved.

Spot would regularly accompany us on walks in the neighborhood, usually to the post office, but she would not go all the way.  She had a favorite set of bushes she would sit inside of, and watch and wait for us to return.  She would then come out and resume the walk home with us.  She was not as fond of riding in the car but, with some persistent encouragement, she would tolerate it.  At her best, she really enjoyed watching the world pass by through the windows.  At home on her porch, she would constantly survey the neighborhood, her ‘domain.’  Riding in the car expanded her sense of place.  She knew exactly where she lived in the scheme of things.  She could come and go freely, and she was known and loved throughout the neighborhood by people and creatures alike.  She was a true queen.

I had become accustomed to Spot being around me a lot now that I was working from home.  She was always very communicative.  Very talkative.  And, she had a large vocabulary.  She would boss me around and make me do things just the way she wanted them to be done.  For instance, she would command me to make the bed for her every morning, and would not allow me to leave any wrinkles.  Sometimes I would hold Spot on my lap and gaze into her deep yellow lantern eyes and ask, “How will I ever live without you?”  Not that I was really expecting an answer, but her answer would come innocently, “What do you mean ‘without’?”

I know the life span of a cat, in human terms, is short.  But my last cat was a venerable Siamese who lived to the age of 23.  He was very healthy all of his life and was never under a regular veterinarian’s care because I could not really afford it.  When we lost Si, it was difficult, but understandable.  His bodily systems were shutting down.  He had lived a long life and it his time had come.  Now that Spot was going to be a part of our family, I wanted us to do the best we could for her.  We decided that rather than rely on the same country doctor who had done her spay surgery, we would take her for annual checkups at the large veterinarian facility in nearby Sumner.  They were well established, with a good reputation, so we trusted them and went along with their program of recommended vaccinations.

Spot was very happy and healthy and we never had any problems until the summer of 2007 when, based on her blood tests from her standard annual examination, she was diagnosed with early feline hyperthyroidism.  She was 13.  As far as I could tell, she really was not manifesting any symptoms of the disease.  I was curious about its cause and asked her doctor lots of questions.  According to him, in many cases they are finding that it is hereditary and begins to manifest as a cat approaches its senior years.  He also told me that it has become more prevalent in the later part of the last century, which veterinarians theorize is due to successive inheritance of the trait among the cat population.  He gave me literature to help me understand what effect the disease can have if it is left untreated and what the options for treatment were.  He also strongly recommended radioactive iodine treatment, which is a onetime procedure done at a specialized clinic.  As it so happened, there was one nearby, in Tacoma.  He referred to this treatment as safe and assured me that it was a ‘cure’ for the condition, whereas the other treatments would require lifelong therapy.  My husband and I discussed it and agreed to have it for Spot.

Because it was an expensive procedure, we could not have it done until March 2008.  By this time, Spot was 14.  Everything went well with the treatment.  Spot’s 1st month follow-up examination was perfect, and so was her 3-month follow-up.  This examination coincided with the time that her standard vaccinations were due, so I asked that they be done at the same time, thinking it was convenient to do so.

Over the course of the next 14 months, Spot began to develop a progression of serious medical conditions: osteoarthritis, lupus or similar auto immune disorder (requiring chronic steroid dosage), prerenal condition (earliest indicators for a body in danger of developing chronic renal insufficiency that can often be averted with appropriate medical treatment), chronic urinary tract infections (requiring antibiotics), chronic kidney disease (requiring 3 times a week intravenous fluid), anemia (requiring a blood transfusion), diabetes (requiring twice daily insulin injection), and ultimately, end-stage renal disease and sepsis.  Spot was in and out of the emergency hospital and several times needed to stay in for extended periods of time.  At home, we cared for her and gave her the treatment she needed.  Assisted and supported by Mack, I nursed her throughout her progressive stages of health and appealed to the Goddess to heal her.

Throughout this period of Spot’s illness, Mack and I were in the process of closing a deal, on a lot across the street from where we live, where we plan to eventually build our own home.  I found myself, on several occasions, sitting by a little crab apple tree on our soon-to-be-own land, praying to the Goddess to heal Spot.  Every time the thought occurred to me that she was dying, I was afraid because we did not, yet, own our own place.  Where to bury her?

Spot, however, was not afraid.  She made an amazing recovery and seemed to be making progress to her good state of health.  In May of 2009, we finally closed the deal and got our land.  Spot had become healthier than she had been in quite awhile and spent the next three months hanging out with us on our property, doing wonderful lazy cat things in the sun and exploring all of its plant life.  Until nearly the very end, I believed that Spot could be healed.

Her time to die came on August 19, 2009.  Spot was 15 years old.  Mack and I were with her during the day and a half of her passing, until her very last breath.  The Goddess had given us time for Mack to build her a beautiful wooden coffin, and we knew where we would bury her.  Now, she is the heart of my sacred grove near the little crab apple tree.  Mack later built me a beautiful garden bench, where I can often sit and meditate, and be with Spot.  It is a powerful place.

But this is not the end of her story.

Initially, my grieving period was intense.  I could still feel Spot’s presence and I strove to maintain contact with her.  In meditation, I can see her eyes gazing back at me.  I can feel the exquisite silky texture of her long fur and the velvet of her nose and paws.  I can feel the outline of her cheek bones while I rub her cheeks.  Now, when I do this, it is a joy.  But it was extremely cathartic for me in the beginning.  Several times, I asked Spot for a sign.  Once, right after I asked, a crow landed on the window ledge, called loudly, and then flew off.  Another time, when I was on the bench in the grove, a black walnut dropped from the sky.  It landed ten feet away on the grass glistening with dew, making it look like a jewel in the sunlight.  What is most interesting about this experience is that crows like to drop these nuts, usually on the pavement, to crack them open.  But, as I examined the sky, I could see no sign of a crow nearby.

For months after Spot died, I tried to deal with nagging thoughts and emotions regarding the progression of her illness, things I had not allowed myself to completely process earlier because I was so absorbed with trying to save Spot’s life.  I was conflicted.  I could not let go of the feeling that something was not right.  I asked Spot what she wanted me to do, and she told me she wanted me to uncover the truth.  I had kept all of her health records and I started going back over things.  It was a puzzle I felt I had to solve, and I also felt Spot driving me to do it.  There was data indicating Spot had had signs of a prerenal condition prior to having the radioactive iodine treatment and studies show that the radioactive iodine treatment can worsen such a kidney condition.  It looked to me like Spot’s doctors should not have recommended this treatment and should have alerted us to the need to be proactive in treating her prerenal condition.

I learned that a pet loss support group was available at the Tacoma Humane Society so I went there for two consecutive Saturdays, and was fortunate to be the only person attending.  Therefore, I was able to have a one-on-one session with the same facilitator both times.  She helped me find my conviction to go ahead and put together a detailed report of my findings to present to the veterinarian specialist who had given Spot the radioactive iodine treatment.  I decided to send him my report and ask him to meet with me to discuss it.  It took awhile to make the connection with this doctor, but he eventually honored my request and we talked the entire experience out over the phone.  He pointed out where some of my conclusions were not correct, agreed with some of them, and also pointed out some other things that were astonishing to me.

When Spot’s osteoarthritis was diagnosed, I had taken her to her doctor because she seemed to be in pain around her hips.  They gave her an injection of Metacam, which they referred to as ‘Kitty Tylenol’ and also gave me an oral form that I was to give her several more times at home.  But this veterinarian specialist informed me that Metacam is usually given to dogs and is known to be toxic to cats and especially damaging to their kidneys.  There is a website that has some startling information regarding this:  www.metacamkills.com .

The veterinarian specialist graciously offered to contact Spot’s doctors at the Sumner facility for me.  Eventually, all the doctors involved in Spot’s care, including this specialist, conducted an in depth review of her case and held a conference.  The outcome of their conference is that the hospital has made specific changes in their health policy for cats, and they have even named the new policy, ‘The Spot McLaughlin Health Policy for Cats’ in honor of Spot.  They will no longer prescribe Metacam to cats unless the owners insist on having it, in which case they must sign a disclaimer.  They also will stop giving vaccinations to any cat over ten years old.  In gratitude, I sent them one of my favorite photos of Spot, framed, to hang on their office wall, next to her health policy.

It was some consolation.  Far from replacing Spot, of course.  But both Mack and I feel satisfied that our efforts have born fruit for Spot to be long remembered, knowing that she lives on in a way that will make life better for many other cats.

Ever since Spot died, I have sensed her presence with me often.  She still goes walking with us, like she did in life, for she was that kind of amazing companion.  I know when Spot is walking with me now, because even though I cannot see her, I can feel her and am filled with a joy that is like warm sunshine.  There are other creatures, and a rare person, who also seem to notice her with me.  Spot is here because she likes this place.  It is still her earthly home and even though she can travel anywhere anytime she wants, she always comes to me when I call her.  Sometimes, sitting at my computer, I feel her lightly brush my bare leg with her fur.  Sometimes I see her from the side of my eye, but when I turn to look, she has disappeared into the shadows.

Now, more than a year later, we have another wonderful kitten.  A Ragamuffin breed, he was given to us in circumstances filled with synchronous coincidence that leaves us no doubt that Spot picked him for us to fill in, with joy, the deep space she made in our lives.  His name is Socks.  As a result of my veterinarian experiences with Spot, we chose to take a different health path for Socks and find an alternative to allopathic medicine for him.  Just at the time we decided this, a friend introduced us to Dr. Jennifer Preston, Holistic Veterinarian.  She has opened our eyes to the truth surrounding the current widespread common use of vaccinations in animals and the fact that there is a healthy alternative.

She provides a lot of excellent information on her website:  www.holisticvetexpert.com .

I am still shocked and amazed, that I was so naïve.  But, I also know that I am not alone in having blind trust in allopathic animal doctors’ advice.  I am also grateful that I want to learn and understand more.  On behalf of Spot and Socks, Mack and I encourage you to do the same.

Mary McLaughlin, November 2010