WEYMOUTH – Ian Day is a storyteller at heart.
But rather than writing novels, songs or short stories, the Weymouth resident uses calligraphy pens, paints and polymer clay sculptures to build worlds full of stretched mountains and streams, terrifying creatures and creatures. an endless barrage of characters.
“I’m someone who’s very passionate about design, and map design in particular,” Day said.
It all started when Day was running a Dungeons & Dragons campaign for a group of friends. In fantasy role-playing, the main storyteller – called a dungeon master – has complete creative license to invent entire worlds filled with paranormal creatures, eccentric characters and magical abilities, right down to the scenery of the setting itself.
As the group embarked on a new game – called a campaign in the world of D&D – Day drew a map for players to understand where they were in this invented world, where they could go and what they could do .
“I have this philosophy of ‘Try it. Dive into it. Why not? If it doesn’t turn out the way you hoped, that’s fine,” said Day, who uses the pronouns them/them. “I wasn’t trying to make the first map I drew fantastic, and it was not. It was pretty terrible, actually, but I wrote it down on paper.”
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From there, it took off.
“Creating that first map helped me remember that I’ve loved fantasy maps since I was a kid, ever since I started reading fantasy novels,” Day said. “I looked at some of the fantastic cards that I had seen and just felt that passion waking up inside me.”
Soon after, Day launched the Cartography by Pyro brand, selling original maps and prints. They have a stall in Kilroy Square Market and an Etsy shop selling original artwork online, and Day also works with other Dungeon Masters to create maps of the worlds they’ve created. While drawing, painting or sculpting, Day streams art on her Twitch channel, @friendly__pyro.
Using Windsor Newton calligraphy ink and watercolor paper, Day is able to transform basic line art into maps with unique geographic features, borders and other landmarks.
“My technique is definitely meticulous detail. It uses extremely fine point pens very well and just has these tiny little details all over the page,” Day said. “Most of the time, I’ll just start putting pieces together and see where it takes me. And in the end, I have a map.”
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In addition to cartography, Day paints miniature figurines to represent characters and has recently begun shaping creatures and objects out of polymer clay. Until the first card written four years ago, they had no real artistic experience. Today, Day dreams of working with more Dungeon Masters to create custom maps, exhibiting work in a gallery, and collaborating with fantasy writers.
“I want to do my part to fill the world with more stories,” Day said.
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Uniquely Local is a series of stories by Mary Whitfill highlighting South Shore farmers, bakers and makers. Do you have a story idea? Contact Mary at [email protected]