silmarillion project

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Silmarillion Chapter 7: Of Fëanor and the Unchaining of Melkor

For Fëanor, being come to his full might, was filled with a new thought, or it may be that some shadow of foreknowledge came to him of the doom that drew near; and he wondered how the light of the Trees, the glory of the Blessed Realm, might be preserved imperishable. Then he began a long secret labour, and he summoned all his lore, and his power, and his subtle skill; and at the end of all he made the Silmarils.

Here is the beginning of the end for the peaceful days of the Elves. Never before nor after would anything as beautiful or tragic as the Silmarils ever be created again. Not an easy thing to illustrate, so I kept it pretty abstract.

On the topic of Fëanor’s appearance: the Noldor are only described as being more muscular than other Elves, and having darker hair and features. Additionally, we know the Noldor resemble the human House of Bëor, who are described as having brown, “swarthy” skin and dark features. Tolkien’s characters are often all portrayed as white Anglo-Saxon, but in reality this frequently conflicts with his ethnic descriptions.

Noldor Warriors - On the right is a generic soldier, while on the left is another illustration of Galadriel. While best known for her more regal role in Lord of the Rings, in this era, Galadriel is militant and ambitious, ready to defy the Valar and claim a kingdom of her own in Middle-Earth.

“Silmarillion Chapter 2: Of Aulë and Yavanna”

Of all the Valar, Aulë and Yavanna are my favorites, the ultimate husband & wife combo. Aulë is functionally the god of craftsman, and is said to be most like the villainous Melkor in personality (his servants Sauron and Saruman both turn evil, plus he trained troublemaking Fëanor) but Aulë himself remains virtuous and humble.  Even when he created the Dwarves in defiance of Eru, it was meant to be a tribute to the Elves & Men (Eru’s personal creations).  As such, the Dwarves were given true life and allowed to be awakened after the Elves.  Aulë represents the creative ambition of Melkor without the jealousy or vanity.

Yavanna, creator of the Ents, is great because she’s one of the only Valar who actively tries to keep Middle-Earth from becoming overrun with evil, as her interest is with the actual plants and animals of the world.  She’s also the one who chose Radagast to be one of the Istari sent to Middle-Earth.  It’s also worth noting that while they got along very well, Aulë’s and Yavanna’s creations or servants did not.  Dwarves and Ents have never had good relations, and Saruman despised Radagast to the end of his days.

 Previous Silmarillion entries:

  1. Ainulindalë - The Music of the Ainur
  2. Valaquenta - Account of the Valar and Maiar in according to the lore of the Eldar
  3. The Monsters of Middle-Earth
  4. The Free Peoples of the First Age
  5. Silmarillion Chapter 1 - Of the Beginning of Days

So we picked up reading LotR again a couple weeks ago and forged through Book Four, and I have had another Revelation.

We got to the part where Frodo and Sam are using the Phial to repel Shelob, and we stopped for a bit, so that my mom, since she knows the Silmarillion now, could think out loud and confirm some stuff – mostly, you know – the Phial -> Earendil’s star -> light of the Silmaril (tales never really end, etc.). So she had a moment. I pointed out for extra effect that the light of the Silmarils was direct from the Two Trees, the original and untainted symbol of goodness and light in Arda, and so one – and then I had to stop, and have a moment.

Because who destroyed the Two Trees?

Ungoliant. Ungoliant did. And then she went away and bred and had Shelob, or Shelob’s ancestors, among others. And the light of the Two Trees that she’d destroyed lived on only in the Silmarils, until Earendil’s was the last, and unreachable, mounted on Vingilot in the heavens. And that remnant of the light of the Trees came down and fell on Galadriel’s mirror and she bottled it and gave it to Frodo and he carried it all the way to Torech Ungol where he used it to repel Ungoliant’s scion.

Like, is that not mind-blowing and moving and I don’t know, EVERYTHING? I want to be articulate about it, but I’ve been struck speechless by wonder, and I’m also trying really hard not to blow the whole thing, because I’m a total child and despite the wonder I’m having to fight really hard not to make a really immature joke about UNGOLIANT VS. TELPERION: ROUND TWO or something.

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Art Feature Fridays! Featuring the art of @phobso. There’s too much wonderful work by this artist that it was extremely difficult to narrow it down. I decided on sharing Phob’s design work for the Demonslayer comic. The costumes are just stunning!

Be sure to check out this artist’s Silmarillion project at @melkorwashere as well for more gorgeous narrative art.

Silmarillion Chapter 8: Of The Darkening of Valinor

But now on the mountain-top dark Ungoliant lay; and she made a ladder of woven ropes and cast it down, and Melkor climbed upon it and came to that high place, and stood beside her, looking down upon the Guarded Realm.

…Then Melkor laughed aloud, and leapt swiftly, and leapt swiftly down the western slopes; and Ungoliant was at his side, and her darkness covered them.

A lot of the supernatural monsters in Tolkien’s mythology are deliberately left vague. In general, this is to leave it up to the imagination, but in the case of Ungoliant, I think it’s more interesting to depict her as a spider-shaped void than a detailed monster. She is, after all, more of an elemental, the embodiment of hunger. Similar to what I’ve done with the Valar, I think Ungoliant’s form is more of a vague facade she wears to interact with the world.

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“Silmarillion Chapter 5: Of Eldamar and the Princes of the Eldalië”

“But the memory of Middle-Earth under the stars remained in the hearts of the Noldor, and the abode in the Calacirya, and in the hills and valleys within the sound of the western sea”

Above is a painting of the Tirion, which became the capital city of the Noldor. It faces the gap of Calacirya, which is the only opening in the mountain range where the light of the Two Trees (a divine source of illumination) can pass through. I’ve also incorporated this image into the clothing and banners of the Noldor Elves. The black eye markings are used to mimic the dirt marks the Noldor get while working their furnaces, as they are very proud of their crafting and metalworking.

The House of Finwë From left to right:

  1. Indis - Finwë’s second wife. She is not actually Noldor, but a Vanyar Elf.
  2. Finwë - High King of the Noldor.
  3. Míriel - Finwë’s first wife who died after giving birth to her only son, Fëanor.
  4. Fingolfin - Indis and Finwë’s son, and a significant hero in the Silmarillion.
  5. Fëanor - Finwë’s eldest son, mightiest of the Noldor and creator of the Silmarils.
Finwë and Indis had another son, Finarfin, who was the father of two particularly noteworthy children:
  1. Finrod - Among the wisest of the Noldor, Finrod was the first High Elf to encounter humans, and was quick to befriend and defend their kind.
  2. Galadriel - Eager and ambitious, Galadriel is one of the leaders of the brewing Noldor rebellion.
Along with the Noldor, there are also the Teleri and Vanyar, who are notably less restless.
  1. Olwë - Younger brother of Thingol and king of the Teleri, Elves more concerned with shipbuilding and the exploring the sea.
  2. Ingwë - King of the Vanyar and High King of all Elves, Ingwë and his people are best known for their art, and since they never cause any trouble, they rarely appear in the Silmarillion.

 Previous Silmarillion entries:

  1. Ainulindalë - The Music of the Ainur
  2. Valaquenta - Account of the Valar and Maiar in according to the lore of the Eldar
  3. The Monsters of Middle-Earth
  4. The Free Peoples of the First Age
  5. Silmarillion Chapter 1 - Of the Beginning of Days
  6. Silmarillion Chapter 2 - Of Aulë and Yavanna
  7. Silmarillion Chapter 3 - Of the Coming of the Elves and the Captivity of Melkor
  8. Silmarillion Chapter 4 - Of Thingol and Melian
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Inspired by Phobs’ beautiful headdress and tiny Russian lacquer box paintings, I started thinking about elven fashion that was a little different than the more undone, ethereal brand we’ve been seeing in both of the Trilogies.  What if first-age elves wore layers of rich silks that moved with a heavy grace and voluminous veils to shade them from the sun?

Silmarillion Project Q&A

As promised, I’ve gone and compiled a short list of common questions of what exactly this project is all about!

It’s a side project I do in my free time to create a painted illustration to accompany every chapter in J.R.R. Tolkien's Silmarillion, as well as provide supplementary illustrations to round out the characters and world in general. My motivation is to create a Middle-Earth visually unique from the style of the Peter Jackson films. I like the movies, but I miss the days when there was more diversity and interpretation to Tolkien illustrations.

A second motivation is to provide a greater representation of women and people of color in the narratives. While Tolkien made more than a few missteps regarding race and gender, the “everyone is white” trend in adaptations is a symptom of other people ignoring what’s in the texts. Additionally, all of Tolkien’s writings are presented as if they’re written from a limited and flawed historical perspective (LoTR and The Hobbit were “written” by Hobbits, etc). The position of my adaptation is to present what “actually” happened- the events upon which the flawed or biased history is based. Just like with real historians, the presence of women and people of color, and their achievements, are frequently ignored.

I’m never going to contradict what’s written, but I’m definitely going to use all of the tools at my disposal to emphasize the importance of those who don’t always get their rightful share of historical credit.

Keep reading

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2014 Cosplay roundup!

For sanity’s sake I’m only including cosplays I made for myself, and not commission stuff. I did a lot of things this year and really grew as a costumer and a person; I made it to 2015! For people who follow my blog; most of you probably know that I am severely chronically ill. To be quite honest, I didn’t expect to get this far and my life plans really kind of ended around 20. So, now I’m just winging it and it’s working out pretty well so far.

  1. Maedhros - this costume is/was a labor of love, I plan to keep doing upgrades and making more versions of the character. The photo doesn’t even show the finished costume!
  2. Thranduil - one of my favorite Tolkien characters, and I love the film design. This photo was the first day I wore it; the second day I wore it, I won best in show at NFCC
  3. Lady Loki - I’m always lady Loki. This version I made out of scraps I had in my sewing closet a day before AwesomeCon, and it was a hit.
  4. Lady Loki 2: Electric Boogalo - a more comic-verse Lady Loki for NYCC to match my cosplay partner’s new Thor.
  5. Thranduil 2 - Thranduil is in here twice because I’ve now made it three times in 2014. New golden robe with longer train, and over-robe, to wear to the Hobbit movie with my Legolas. No good photos yet, but I posted step by step how I made it and it turned out very cool.
  6. Glorfindel - A rather basic costume I threw together for ALEP in September, I plan to do more with it soon, but it’s another of my favorite Tolkien characters and fun to sew and wear! Also worn to NYCC
  7. Margaery Tyrell - I’m working on the third of these dresses now. I wore it to DaishoCon in November; it’s a very basic costume but fun to wear and I am finally cosplaying Game of Thrones despite having been a book and show fan for years.
  8. Elladan - Yet another fave Tolkien character; I’ve always loved the sons of Elrond and wanted to do a ranging costume for them. I made everything but the shoes in two days. Woo. Worn to ALEP and for one shoot.

I had some amazing experiences this year thanks to cosplay and my many friends in the community, including being on Marvel Live with my Thor at NYCC, and attending the NA Hobbit premier with my Legolas and meeting Lee Pace while in Thranduil cosplay.

But I think my favorite thing this year was that at DragonCon and NYCC (the two largest cons I attended) so many people, many of whom I did not know, came to me and told me that I had helped them, or inspired them, and that means a lot.

I attended ten major conventions this year, several of them while I was honestly too sick to be there, a couple of them directly adjacent to surgery, but managed to have a good time at all of them thanks to my totally awesome support network. Thank you peppermonster errandofmercy tiny-tyrant aviva0017 psylynce77 ambrorussa beleggs for being quality con-buddies <3

And thank you to the costumers who I enjoyed watching and who motivated me this year,  theshatteredsilhouette hellofeanor hanahmiya @myrddin-emrys celticruinsdesigns

“Silmarillion Chapter 3: Of the Coming of the Elves and the Captivity of Melkor”

“But at the last the gates of Utumno were broken and the halls unroofed, and Melkor took refuge in the uttermost pit. Then Tulkas stood forth as champion of the Valar and wrestled with him, and cast him upon his face; and he was bound with the chain Angainor that Aulë had wrought, and led captive; and the world had peace for a long age”

 Previous Silmarillion entries:

  1. Ainulindalë - The Music of the Ainur
  2. Valaquenta - Account of the Valar and Maiar in according to the lore of the Eldar
  3. The Monsters of Middle-Earth
  4. The Free Peoples of the First Age
  5. Silmarillion Chapter 1 - Of the Beginning of Days
  6. Silmarillion Chapter 2 - Of Aulë and Yavanna

“Silmarillion Chapter 6: Of Fëanor and the Unchaining of Melkor”

“…and therefore in a while he was given leave to go freely about the land, and it seemed to Manwë that the evil of Melkor was cured. For Manwë was free from evil and could not comprehend it, and he knew that in the beginning, in the thought of Ilúvatar, Melkor had been even as he; and he did not perceive that all love had departed from him for ever.”

 Previous Silmarillion entries:

  1. Ainulindalë - The Music of the Ainur
  2. Valaquenta - Account of the Valar and Maiar in according to the lore of the Eldar
  3. The Monsters of Middle-Earth
  4. The Free Peoples of the First Age
  5. Silmarillion Chapter 1 - Of the Beginning of Days
  6. Silmarillion Chapter 2 - Of Aulë and Yavanna
  7. Silmarillion Chapter 3 - Of the Coming of the Elves and the Captivity of Melkor
  8. Silmarillion Chapter 4 - Of Thingol and Melian
  9. Silmarillion Chapter 6 - Of Eldamar and the Princes of the Eldalië
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Silmarillion Project Part 4: The Free Peoples of the First Age


The Free Peoples of Middle-Earth consist of Men, Elves and Dwarves. Elves were the first to arise, and are virtually immortal. When they awoke, they were called to reside with the Valar in their continent of Aman, though the journey from their birthplace in Middle-Earth was far. Many Elves never completed the journey, but those who did were known as High Elves, and are considered the most powerful of their race.

There are three houses of High Elves:

  1. Teleri - The largest of the houses, Teleri are a diverse group that has often found its home in the sea. They are among the most skilled shipbuilders and navigators of their time. The Teleri usually had brown hair and eyes, though those of royal lineage had silver hair.
  2. Vanyar - The ruling house of Elves, the Vanyar comprise the wisest and most powerful of their race, including the high king of all Elves, Ingwë. The most distinctive element of the Vanyar is that once arriving in Aman, they would virtually never leave it again. As such, their influence in the history of Middle-Earth is brief. Vanyar are exceptionally fair, with bright golden hair.
  3. Noldor - Easily the most famous of the High Elves, the Noldor are the most ambitious and industrious of their kind. They are above all legendary craftsmen; it was the Noldor Fëanor who crafted the Silmarils, for which the Silmarillion is named. As one might expect, the Noldor are extremely proud, becoming the source of much tragedy in Middle-Earth. Noldor have a strong, muscular build, usually bearing very dark hair and grey eyes.

Of the Elves who chose to stay in Middle-Earth, the most notable are the Sindar. They, along with the Dwarves, comprise the rest of the non-human allies during the First Age of the Silmarillion.

  1. Sindar- A large population of Teleri never completed the journey to Aman and stayed in Middle-Earth. These became known as the Sindar, and comprise the Elves most familiar to the human history of MIddle-Earth. They largely prefer natural surroundings, creating cities in harmony with the forests. 
  2. Dwarves - Created by Aluë as a crude imitation/homage to the true Children of Illuvatar (Elves & Men), Dwarves were given true life, though their nature and appearance is notably different from the other races. Dwarves are stubborn, hardy, and resistant to both evil and harsh elements. They prefer mining and crafting, surpassing all others in the skill of smithing. Their relationship with Elves is complicated, though they found good friends amongst the Noldor.

In the First Age, the humans who participated in the wars against Morgoth were known as the Edain, who were divided into three houses: 

  1. Hador - The House of Hador was large and fond of warfare. Many of the greatest warriors of the First Age came from these people, and above all the Edain gained the most renown. They were very tall and usually had blonde or goldenhair.
  2. Haleth - The House of Haleth were the most peaceful and reclusive of the Edain, largely keeping out of the conflicts of the First Age. They were dark-haired, short, and survived well into later times.
  3. Bëor - The smallest house of the Edain, Bëor consisted of patient, steadfast people who were quick to resist the evil temptations of Morgoth. They endured significant menace and tragedy from the Dark Lord and his armies throughout the First Age.

Silmarillion Project Part 1: “Ainulindalë - The Music of the Ainur”


This is the beginning of a side project I’ve been working on, where each week I’ll be posting an illustration that corresponds with a different chapter of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Silmarillion.  

The Music of the Ainur is essentially the beginning of Tolkien’s creation myth, where the Earth is slowly formed into being by ethereal song. Nothing too fancy just yet, but tune in next week as things heat up!