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Thursday, February 27, 2014

Guest Post by Mickie Mueller: Magical Illustrations for The Witch's Broom

Note from Deborah: I am SO pleased to welcome Mickie Mueller, who did the fabulous illustrations for my upcoming book. Take a look and tell us what you think! And I will be giving away one of those great little refrigerator broom magnets to one lucky commenter!

Hi all, I'm Pagan artist and writer Mickie Mueller.  Deborah invited me here to tell you all about how I created the interior illustrations for her upcoming book (that we're all very excited about) "The Witches Broom!"  Thanks Deborah!

It was a lovely October morning in 2013; the leaves outside my studio window were a golden orange, the same shade as the pumpkin on my porch.  My old wooden art table was freshly cleared off from my previous project Mystical Cats Tarot, and I was all ready to begin work on illustrations for the delightful book, “The Witch’s Broom” by my friend Deborah Blake.  I couldn’t have imagined a better time of year to pour over the witchy text and revel in the magic of broom lore! 
I fell in love with the cover art designed by John Kachik, I kept a print out of it prominently displayed as inspiration.  I wanted to make sure that I kept the cover art in mind while working on the interior illustrations. I felt that constant reminder of that cover would help retain continuity between the illustrations and the cover art.  I must admit, that I also loved looking at it!  The work on my art table that month was the best Samhain d├ęcor ever! 

 I gathered my supplies, for my interior illustrations I usually use a nice Bristol board with a super smooth surface.  My handy Staedtler Pro Mechanical Pencil is my weapon of choice when rendering my sketches, it’s like my magic wand, I’ve been using this one that was gifted to me by my dad for years. Staedtler also makes a great line of pens that I love to use for inking, my Pigment Fineliner set of four (0.1mm, 0.3mm, 0.5mm, & 0.7mm) has been my go-to inking choice for the last several books I’ve illustrated.
My first step is to go through the call out sheet for the sizes and descriptions and also refer to the books manuscript for extra cues as to what to include in each illustration. 

I lay out the sizes that I’ll need on the Bristol board, I “gang” them which means I will place several illustrations on a board, saving paper and time when they scan as well.  I’m sure to label each illustration in pencil so that they know what goes where when they lay out the book.  

First each illustration is sketched in pencil, then once approved by the Llewellyn art department and the editors; I begin inking over my penciled sketches. 

Once everything is inked, I wait about half hour to make sure the ink is good and dry, and I go over it with a kneaded eraser to remove all the pencil.  A half an hour is probably excessive, but all you have to do is smear one illustration, and you’re really careful after that! There is no white-out allowed in the process because it can show up in scans.  You get one chance when inking to get it right!

I was also was honored to be a contributing writer for this book.  In one of the “Real Witches, Real Brooms” sections I wrote about my personal magical brooms, how my old coven used brooms and my studio broom.  I was delighted to find a request to illustrate my studio broom for the book.  Here is my actual enchanted studio broom, and my illustrated version.  

When I saw the broom design Deborah described for a housewarming broom, I just had to include an unpacked box of books in the background.  Having recently moved into a new home that August, I had lots of those boxes marked “books” all over the house, it was a bit of a family inside joke.  I bet most Witches and Pagans have more boxes of books than anything else when they move too!

One of my favorite illustrations was the big splash page that spanned the first two pages in the book.  I was asked to illustrate a fantastic magical broom shop.  I saved it for last, like dessert! I dreamed of the vintage shopping district with cobblestone roads on Main Street in St. Charles Missouri where I have whiled away many hours shopping. I also imagined Diagon Ally from the Harry Potter books as well as every Pagan/Metaphysical shop I’ve ever visited. What I came up with is somewhere in between all those sources of inspiration, it’s a shop I would really like to visit.

I know you’ll enjoy The Witch’s Broom when you get it into your hot little hands, I sure can’t wait for my copy!  Now you have a little idea of what went into each magical illustration waiting on its pages that sweep across the pages of Deborah Blake’s new magical book, “The Witch’s Broom!”

Blessings from the old wooden art table,
Mickie Mueller

Mickie Mueller is an artist of Pagan myth and legend, creating images of faeries, gods, goddesses, witches, mages, and nature spirits. Both her art and writing have appeared in the Llewellyn periodicals. She is also the illustrator of The Well Worn Path and The Hidden Path decks and the writer/illustrator of The Voice of the Trees, A Celtic Ogham Oracle.  Her latest illustration project, the upcoming Mystical Cats Tarot is coming May 2014.

Drop by her blog and see what's new at the old wooden art table http://www.mickiemuellerart.blogspot.com/


  1. Thanks for stopping by, Mickie--I am really excited to share your amazing art with my readers!

  2. Such talent!! I can't wait to read this book and see these wonderful illustrations. The book is bound to be bursting with awesomeness because both of these ladies are masters of their respective crafts.

  3. Oh, what amazing illustrations! Mickie, your art is beautiful and makes me want to get my own pencils and pens out again! I can't wait to see these illustrations once the book is in my hands. Great work!

  4. This is excellent and fun! Thanks for sharing, Mickie!

  5. Wow, your art is absolutely amazing!! All the details, it's gorgeous!
    And I'm looking forward to reading this lovely book. As I witch, it's irresistible. :)

    Crossing fingers and toes to get the magnet. ;)

  6. The pictures look gorgeous! I look forward to getting the book one day!

    Kit Perdunn

  7. The anticipation for this book just gets better and better. These illustrations are tantalizing. Terrific project!

  8. How fascinating to get a glimpse of the thought process that goes into making such beautiful illustrations. Thanks for sharing.

  9. I am anxious for this book to come out - the art looks exquisite ( and I also follow Mickie on her blog ) . Looks wonderful
    Bonnie Schoening

    1. Woot! Bonnie, you won the little broom magnet!

  10. Makes room on her bookshelf...just for the illustrations alone that I've seen.

  11. Mickie is amazing! I have her oracle deck as well as some really special items from her etsy shop. I am really excited for the book to come out...it looks amazing!

    1. Mickie IS amazing! I was so excited to have her work on this book. And we have another project in the works too, although it is too early to say anything specific...

  12. Great stuff! Have my book preordered so as to not miss out! Looking forward to seeing your art first hand Mickie!

  13. I love the concept of this book. The illustrations look divine. A broom is unique tool, and there are many uses for it. Thank you for sharing this information, and some of the beautiful art that will be featured in this book.

  14. What a wonderful guest post! It's great to see more behind the scenes of the creation of The Witch's Broom. Awesome artwork, Mickie! Cannot wait to see it in the book, and I'm feeling inspired to decorate my own decorative broom. I honestly never thought about hanging cute things from it. It hangs in my kitchen and smells of cinnamon but I think it needs some spring ribbons and sprucing up! :)

  15. Love the style of the art work. Can't wait to see the book.!

  16. The visual elements in the illustrations will definately help readers like me to imagine a visit to the broom shop. It looks like a captivating read! I can't wait!

  17. This is great!! Awesome Job, Beautiful!

  18. Love the illustrations! I do a lot of similar pen and ink work. These should look really great in the book!

  19. I Love The Way The Brooms Are Decorated, This Has Inspired Me!

  20. Response By: Kitty Sullivan
    Email: BDKTY@AOL.com

    I Totally See Why You Saved The Broom Shop For Dessert :-)

    The Cover Is Intriguing, The Red Conical Hat Draws My Eye First Them I Wander Over The Length of the Broom And The Texture In The Bristles...The Little Black Cat Has A Secret I Just Know It By His Face...

    His Expression Would Have Me Peaking Into The Book And Then Drum Roll Please...Zap...There Is Dessert!

    I See This Magical Little Shop And I Have To Go In..The Twisted Handles And Different Brooms call Me Through The Doors Of The Shop...

    I Picture One Of Those Real Old Bells That Jingles When You Walked In Hung At The Top Of The Door, And A Big Older Fashion Cash Register With The Old Buttons You Push Like A Typewriter..

    The Shop Smells Like Wood, Sweet grass, a A Hint Of Lemon From Polishing All The Wood, And Cinnamon with a Jasmine undertone...

    This is where my mind goes with your artwork... Thank you for this journey, I must now read the book :-)