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Folktale Week and Abandoned House Inspiration

Folktale Week 2021, an Instagram Art Challenge, is here!

Grab your crystal ball – the official @folktaleweek prompts are ready! This year we’re guided by the natural and supernatural world of folktales, and as always, let the prompts inspire you to interpret and create in any way you want! Folktale Week is open to creators from all skill levels and disciplines, from artist-illustrators and quilters to poets and puppeteers!

How to join: Follow the prompts, one per day, for each day of Folktale Week, November 15–21, 2021. Use hashtags #folktaleweek and #folktaleweek2021 to show your work. During Folktale Week, hosts will pull work from the hashtag to promote in our stories and in the official @folktaleweek account!

Art by @deborah.j.stein
Art by @kalyquarles

As for me, I was going to sit this year out, but was inspired by an old house I’ve had my eye on in the neighborhood. And too, taking the pressure off always seems to make a thing happen. I shall see where it takes me…

Prompt Art
Ghost child feet and licorice.

I walked without Pearl this time, to see the house Pearl and I often see on our walk. The house that has been nestled betwixt creek and trees for nearly 300 years. An unexpected snowball of a woman fell out of a car, and proceeded to tell me details about the family, the land, and added frivolity to my morning. “People don’t understand old houses,” she said. “That’s why I’m here.”

Who was this woman? Someone who spent 15 Christmases in a very brown room with what she called a ‘walk in’ fireplace which, though big, could not fit one of my ghost children sitting down with a mask on.

People try to sell you their memories. Their misunderstandings. I am reminded of the endowment effect. Emotional biases.

“Over here,” she said, “You can build a building for animals. But you can’t build a building for people.” Smiling, she begins to share the story of her last horse and the moldy hay her mom had fed him…

But that isn’t a story from this house. This house that housed the same family (not hers) since 1962. My mom was 12 then. My dad, 19. Memom was 51 already. More than half of her life had been lived. Sometimes time feels like a trick. Memom, 51 ever? Wasn’t she always just my grandmother?

This house, perpetually lived in for so long, is now too caverness, too dark, and too small to be lived in by most modern folk. I sift through dot matrix printouts of the home’s history – for something. Through the Silas’s and the Amos’s and the John’s that lived here. And the women – wives only – with first names anyway: Estella, Sarah, Gladys, Emma, Marion, and Viola.

Some of us will always be inspired by what remains, but Folktale Week especially inspires a backwards glance!

Detail from #folktaleweek2020
#folktaleweek spread in Orra Portrait journal 2020


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Margaux, you are a force!

As I read your words I felt like I was reading a new memoir I picked up from my local bookstore. Maybe it’s my love of old houses, but your words have the most lovely cadence of an author’s voice.

^^Agreed! Your musings are so mystical and introspective – this made me pause and linger on your words instead of jumping to the next thing. And bonus points for using ‘betwixt!’

No one sets a mood like you, Margaux! Your language delights as much as your art. And is it just me or does it not quite feel like fall until the Folktale Week prompts are released?