Storybook Tales: The Owl & The P-Cat

storybooks - photo by marty magic - books by original authors

Selected titles from Marty’s collection of classic storybooks

This month we’re celebrating our Storybook Collection. In light of this, we’d like to share some interesting stories about the stories, including a comparison of famous story books vs. their movie counterparts, and  the account of how Marty once ran (innocently) afoul of Google’s profanity filter.

Classical children’s stories were a significant influence in the jewelry Marty creates. As a child, her parents read to her from Alice in Wonderland, Winnie the Pooh, Mother Goose and Arabian Nights….just to name a few. As Marty grew older, she became a voracious reader. She devoured Edgar Allen Poe’s Tales of Mystery and Imagination, Jules Verne’s Fantastic Voyages, and adventured with Rudyard Kipling and Mowgli of The Jungle Book.  Her imagination was fueled at an early age.

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The Graveyard Monster Mash!

Frankenstein Pendant - Sterling Silver

Frankenstein Pendant – Sterling Silver

Dracula Pendant, Sterling Silver

Dracula Pendant -Sterling Silver




“Listen to them, the children of the night. What music they make!”

― Bram Stoker


Have you noticed the daylight dimming, and the shadows growing? How the warm air is cut by a sudden, chill breeze? Autumn is here: withering our gardens, bringing death to mind, and setting the stage for…Halloween! And what better way to mark this day of spirits and fright, than with a look back at some of the great gothic monsters of yore: Dracula and Frankenstein.

dracula and frankenstein boris karloff

Dracula and Frankenstein portrayed by Boris Karloff.

The story of Dracula has frightened and entertained millions of readers, movie goers, and theater aficionados since its original publication in novel form in 1897. At the time, author Bram Stoker was working for the Lyceum, a famous theater in London, and made ends meet by writing gothic adventure novels that titillated their Victorian audience.

Interestingly, Dracula was not the first vampire novel. At the time, many writers such as horror author Sheridan Le Fanu, and penny dreadful writer James Malcom Rymer, had produced short stories and books centered around vampiric monsters. Stoker was undoubtedly inspired by these works, as well as his personal readings on Eastern European folklore and the reign of the sadistic Vlad Drăculea III, a Prince of Wallachia (modern-day Romania). This research gave flavor and color to his descriptions of the Transylvanian mountains from which Dracula descends, and introduced many now-famous vampire related superstitions.

carmila and varney the vampire

Illustration from “Varney the Vampyre” by James Malcom Rymer (Left, Public Domain), Illustration from “Carmilla” by Sheridan le Fanu (Right, Public Domain).

When Dracula was published it received almost universal praise, and inspired a kind of “vampire craze” across Europe. This further boosted the popularity of the novel and gave birth to a informal market for vampire related artifacts and amulets. In the following decades its popularity continued to grow, and spurred the production of a plethora of adaptations, including, the 1931 film Dracula with Boris Karloff in the title role, and the 1992 Academy Award-winning adaptation Bram Stoker’s Dracula.  The incredible – or should we say, supernatural – longevity of the Dracula tale seems to indicate that the Count will be haunting fans for generations to come.

vampire hunting kit

Vampire Hunting Kit, c. late 19th century.

Long before Dracula, however, writer Mary Shelley created a different kind of (un)dead monster with her novel Frankenstein. The circumstances that surround the writing of the novel are both eerie and fascinating: In 1814 Shelley traveled through Germany, making a stop at the storied Frankenstein Castle, where alchemist Johann Conrad Dippel was rumored to have performed bizarre anatomical experiments centuries before.

Portrait of Mary Shelley (Left, Public Domain), and Castle Frankenstein (Right, by Wikipedia User Pascal Rehfeldt).

Portrait of Mary Shelley by Richard Rothwell (Left, Public Domain), and Castle Frankenstein (Right, by Wikipedia User Pascal Rehfeldt).

Two years later, Shelley traveled to Geneva to spend the summer with her friend and poet Lord Byron. The weather that year was particularly dreary due to the  fallout from a large volcanic eruption in Indonesia, and the guests found themselves spending their days huddled around the fire, reading ghost stories to stay entertained. This inspired Byron to propose a challenge to his guests: to each write their own tale of horror. Shelley was dismayed as she struggled for days to come up with the beginnings of a story. Finally, late one night, she found herself pondering the recent discovery of galvanism - the role electricity plays in animating severed limbs – when inspiration struck:


“I saw the pale student of unhallowed arts kneeling beside the thing he had put together. I saw the hideous phantasm of a man stretched out, and then, on the working of some powerful engine, show signs of life, and stir with an uneasy, half vital motion.”

Thrilled by Shelley’s vision, Byron encouraged her to lengthen and publish the short story she produced at the retreat. In early 1818 the first edition of Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus, was published, and a legend was born. Much like Dracula, the novel has inspired countless adaptations, including the iconic 1931 film “Frankenstein,” featuring Boris Karloff (yet again!), and our personal favorite here at Marty Magic, the 1974 Mel Brooks comedy classic “Young Frankenstein.”

Marty is carrying on the tradition of “reviving” these classic monsters, and hopes that the new pendants will both delight and fright. Dracula and Frankenstein are now available in sterling silver.

Do the Monster Mash this Halloween!


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Scorpio Rising

Scorpion Pendant by Marty Magic

Scorpion Pendant by Marty Magic

In August we wrote about Marty’s childhood spent in the Mojave desert of Southern California, and how the critters she encountered there have inspired her jewelry. Scorpions were common in the desert by her family’s adobe cottage, and their strange, angular beauty is the inspiration behind this   “striking ” Scorpion Pendant.

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Maryland Renaissance Festival Photos

This gallery contains 27 photos.

Hail, fair lads and ladies! How now? Marty and Art have just returned from a weekend full of fun and frolic at the Maryland Renaissance Festival. There were oh-so-many corsets, knights in shining (and tarnished) armor and considerable pageantry and … Continue reading

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The Sting of the Scorpion Pendant!

Introducing my new Scorpion Pendant, pictured here in green wax, and soon to be added to my Arachnid collection.  Made in sterling silver, these scorpion pendants will be available just in time for those born under the the Scorpio sign of the zodiac (October 24 – November 22). This extremely lifelike and three dimensional pendant is 2 1/4 long, it’s tail curving upward and forward, realistically.

lost wax scorpion pendant marty magic

New Scorpion Pendant by Marty

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Ear Cuffs and Ear Wraps, Oh My!

Marty has been designing ear cuffs and ear wraps for 30+ years.  Her ear cuff and ear wrap line has come to represent the “signature style” of Marty Magic. Though there is much talk about this trend on jewelry blog sites today, Marty considers herself and her friend Tabra Tunoa to be pioneers of the current resurgence of ear cuffs and ear wraps that began back in the early 1980s. Continue reading

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New Jewelry Designs from Marty Magic

Between answering phone calls and emails, packing orders to ship, and making lunch for the Marty Magic crew (her most important job, they contend), it’s a wonder that Marty ever finds time to sleep. Somehow, though, she still manages to come up with new jewelry designs!

Marty usually creates her new jewelry designs before her show season begins but in spite of the chaos of show planning, she has managed to create a few new designs.

wax jewelry design ear cuffs

Ninja Stars Stacking Ear Cuffs – separated…

wax jewelry design ear cuff

Ninja Stars Stacking Ear Cuffs combined!

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Maryland Renaissance Festival

Good Morrow to ye! The Maryland Renaissance Fair approaches!

Marty and her Maryland Crew are busily preparing for the opening of the Maryland Renaissance Festival. A favorite gathering place of refined lords, ladies, and rogues alike, amazingly, Marty has held the same booth there for the last 35 years!

There is still much to do before opening, however. Jewelry to be made, the crew gathered and prepared, and the booth must be readied for the 9 week long festival.

Opening weekend is August 23-24, and the festival runs 9 consecutive weekends through October 18-19.  Marty will be in attendance the weekend of September 20-21.

Below are a few photos from previous years of Merriment!

Put your best foot forward, Maryland Renasssance Festival

Put your best foot forward, Maryland Renasssance Festival

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Adventures in the Azores, Part 1

Marty’s son John is currently off on another great adventure — this time in the Azores Islands! John’s girlfriend Steph has family there, and the pair went to visit and explore the islands. Marty’s been getting periodic updates through her phone when the internet connection is good, and we thought that it was time to share some of the fun photos that John has sent back.

John,  Arriving in the Azores

John, shortly after arriving in São Jorge Island

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Growing a Cottage Industry

cottage industry jewelry

Alisha, Alison, and Laura hard at work!

Marty Magic Jewelry is a cottage industry, and one that has grown steadily over the past  36 years. Many shops and galleries have carried Marty’s work, and we manage a number of  medium sized wholesale accounts. We recently fulfilled one our largest orders yet, and the process was quite challenging. With that in mind, we thought we’d share our story of some of the “growing pains” we’ve experienced as we take our designs into the corporate marketplace. Continue reading

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