Saturday, August 24, 2019

Juliet Marillier Retells "East of the Sun, West of the Moon" in Audible Exclusive "Beautiful"

Yes - you read correctly: this is an ears-only story!

Most fairy tale fans have heard of Juliet Marillier. Ever since meeting Sorcha in the first book of the Sevenwaters series, Daughter of the Forest, still many folks' favorite retelling of The Wild Swans, she's been an author who guarantees a fresh, folklore-based and well-researched take on any fairy tale she puts her pen to.

This time she's tackled the popular Norwegian fairy tale, East of the Sun, West of the Moon, and, true to form, the narrator isn't someone you'd suspect.

Marillier's look at the beloved tale is told from the perspective of one of the players in the story who was taken advantage of, then unceremoniously left behind as the main couple "get their Happily Ever After".

Here's the description:
Illustration by Anton Lomaev for the novel East, written by Edith Pattou
With the Nordic fairy tale East of the Sun and West of the Moon as her inspiration, Juliet Marillier weaves a magical story of a young princess' search for her true self.
Hulde is a queen's daughter and lives in a palace. But her life is lonely. Growing up atop the glass mountain, she knows only her violent and autocratic mother and a household of terrified servants.

Then a white bear named Rune comes to visit, and Hulde learns what kindness is.

But the queen has a plan for Hulde. When she turns 16, she will wed the most beautiful man in all the world. Hulde has never met her intended husband, and her mother refuses to explain the arrangement. Hulde becomes desperate to find out more and seeks the help of a magic mirror. Perhaps someone is coming to her rescue.

On her wedding day, Hulde's existence is turned upside down. For the first time she leaves the glass mountain behind, setting out to be as brave as the heroines in her beloved storybook.

The journey will test Hulde to the limit. Can she overcome her fears and take control of her own life?
Marillier posted this little insight on her personal blog:
East of the Sun, West of the Moon by Bev Johnson
Beautiful (the novel) is in three parts. Part one follows the pattern of the fairy tale, though the central character is not the white bear prince or the intrepid young woman who travels east of the sun and west of the moon to save him from a curse. Our narrator, whom I named Hulde, only had a bit-part in that original story. The novel-length version takes Hulde way out of her comfort zone as she heads off into the unknown world beyond the glass mountain, to find out what it means to make your own story. I really loved writing this book and I hope readers will enjoy it too. It has adventures and catastrophes and a dragon. Beautiful is suitable for both adult and young adult readers.  
One reviewer, Steff (Mogsy) at Bibliosanctum, had some interesting things to add about the book, which made us more inclined to consider taking the time to listen:
Hulde is what you would call the bit-parter, the forgotten one. Not the bold and indomitable heroine, nor the girl who gets the guy, she is in fact the troll princess, the quiet and unassuming daughter of the power-hungry Troll Queen. Marillier has described Hulde as “rather hard done by” in the original tale, so her novel was a chance to explore the character and her viewpoint in more detail. The first part of Beautiful tells of her childhood high in the mountain castle, growing up under the thumb of her temperamental and ambitious mother. Hulde is told that when she reaches age sixteen, she will be married to the most handsome prince in the land, though having been sheltered and isolated all her life, our protagonist isn’t really sure what to make of that. Her only friend—and the only one she’s ever had those kinds of feelings for—is Rune, the kindly white bear who only visits the castle every three years. 
Well, knowing the gist of the original fairy tale, you can probably guess what became of that relationship and how Hulde took it. Hard done by, indeed. After the introduction, I began to better understand the author’s fascination for the forgotten troll princess’ role in the story as well as her motivation to come up with the next chapter for her character, and I was glad to see that parts two and three of Beautiful did just that. Following Hulde after she finally steps out from the shadow of her mother, this book chronicles the epic journey of her self-discovery.
While Marillier did publish a novella-length version in the Aurum anthology late last year, this story, released in May 2019, is novel-length, and clocks in at 7+ hours of listening time. To date, if you want the whole story, this audiobook exclusive is the only way to go. (We hope that changes in the future!)

You can have a sample listen at Amazon HERE or at Audible HERE. It's free with a 30-day trial of Audible.

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Animation Short: "Iron Hans" by Xun Wang (& Comparison of the Prince with Finn of "Adventure Time")

Since #FolkloreThursday is due to talk about wild men, wild women and wild places on August 22, 2019, we thought it was high time we posted this animated short, telling the fairy tale of Iron Hans.

It was created by animation student Xun Wang (aka Bunnyisgood) for her MFA thesis project, with posts on her process still able to be seen on a dedicated blog HERE. Finished in 2013, it was beautifully designed in collaboration with illustrator Eleanor Davis, and the narrator (Jon Avner) did a wonderful job, with his rough, mature voice.
The short film animates approximately half of the fairy tale, up to when the prince joins the wild man and runs into the dangerous woods, but make sure to continue to watch, as still scenes decorating the credits tell the rest of the story through to the end.


Iron Hans (2013) by Xun Wang adapts traditional animation techniques to retell a classic Grimm Brothers fairy tale of the same name. In collaboration with the illustrator Eleanor Davis, Wang’s poetic animation of flowing 2D drawings transports the viewer to the comfortable dream-like ritual of the nightly bedtime story.
We were not surprised to learn the film did well critically, becoming an Official Selection for The Melbourne International Animation Festival, and garnering another Official Selection for the Golden Orchid International Animation Festival, a semi-finalist for an Adobe Design Achievement Award, and two international student animation wins. All were well deserved!
Some scenes from this animated film have also been used in a short contemporary video, with lots of other clips, discussing Robert Bly's book Iron John - A Book About Men. It includes the reading of some extracts, explaining how Bly sees the fairy tale as a mirror for the maturation boys must undergo to become balanced men - a key part of which is accepting and becoming comfortable with his inner 'wild man'. It's an interesting video, worth the watch and the book is recommended.
We've included the video, "Iron John by Robert Bly - What's Missing in Modern Man", below. It's entertaining yet clear and full of contemporary references, and a quick 8-ish minutes worth your time (there are some other fairy tale references in there too):

We have to mention one very important pop culture tie in that we couldn't help but be reminded of while rewatching the animated short, and that is of the character of Finn in the long-running, fantastic cartoon series Adventure Time.
Adventure Time touches on many myths and fairy tales over the course of the series, sometimes very obviously, sometimes obliquely, but it's clearly telling fables for a purpose, and part of that purpose is the "hero-boy named Finn" a.k.a. "Finn the Human" finding his way in the world and growing into a man.
Clearly, there is no coincidence that Finn has the name he does (think Fionn mac Cumhaill, also known as Finn McCool), and it does require that he succeed at extraordinary and heroic feats for him and his friends to survive. While there are many episodes of Adventure Time that could be paralleled to the Prince's journey in Iron Hans, and it could be extrapolated that, instead of a golden ball, Finn has his golden (yellow) magical dog, (we checked, the parallel holds up!), there is one aspect of Finn that almost broadcasts his journey to manhood and that is of Finn's long golden hair.
Like the prince in Iron Hans, whose hair becomes golden when he accidentally lets it dip into the Wild Man's special spring water (a "no-no", with the results just as telling as the bloody key in Bluebeard, though the punishment is almost the opposite... another subject for another time!) Finn hides his hair under a white eared-cap for much of the series, revealing his long golden locks only at specific moments. Though there are times when it's used like the princess does in the Goose Girl - for distraction - Finn's hair is usually a symbol of taking responsibility or successfully overcoming (yet another) rite of passage. The importance of a moment isn't ever in doubt when Finn's hair appears. Just as in fairy tales, it's clear that hair is a very important symbol in the storytelling. The first glimpse of Finn's hair, doesn't happen until the second season, thirty-six episodes in, and it's a very dramatic reveal:
During the course of the series, there is even a "wild extension" of Finn that eventually splits off from him into a separate person, then-called Fern, that's nature-like, wild and acts like an alternate Finn with a more instinctively destructive nature. Fern struggles with identity issues once he appears and is separated from the original Finn, but clearly remains an external aspect of him. It's a pretty interesting exploration of growing up.
After ten+ seasons over eight and a half years, the widely-loved Adventure Time recently had its series finale (September 2018), something of a challenge with the "winding path (that) led us from small-scale whimsy to intergalactic adventure, building up dense layers of mythology, making for hours worth of wiki-reading", to quote Forbes, but it wrapped up the main thrust of the show well; that of a boy searching the wilds of the world, and himself, to figure out who he was and where his place was to be, as he grew from boy to man. The final episode even delivered a symbolic resolution for Fern, Finn's doppleganger, by using him to bookend the beginning of the series in an unexpected, unique and very satisfying way. Even more interesting, the finale didn't 'finish', exactly, except to imply that they (as the character BMO says) "lived their lives" and the adventure continues -  a very fairy tale ending indeed.

For a contemporary equivalent of the Iron Hans tale, Adventure Time - and the character of Finn in particular - makes for a fascinating case study.

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Petzold's "Undine" To Be First In A Trio Of German Myths (& A Tour of Germanic Fairy Tale-Like Legends As Contenders for Films 2 & 3...)

During the conversation, the stranger had already occasionally heard a splash against the little low window, as if someone were sprinkling water against it. Every time the noise occurred, the old man knit how brow with displeasure; but at least when a whole shower was dashed against the panes, and bubbled into the room through the decayed casement, he rose angrily, and called threateningly from the window; "Undine; will you for once leave off these childish tricks? and to-day, besides, there is a stranger knight with us in the cottage." (Excerpt from Undine, Chapter 1: How the Knight Came to the Fisherman)
Production has just begun on a brand-new, mythic film trilogy, the first of which will be based on the fairy tale Undine, written by Friedrich de la Motte-Fouque. The story is well known in Germany and worldwide, largely thanks to Arthur Rackham's popular illustrations, and prima ballerina assoluta Margot Fonteyn's signature role as the titular Ondine with the Royal Ballet (with an 'O' instead of a 'U').

The director, Christian Petzold (of last year's acclaimed film Transit) has offered a few clues as to the direction he'll be taking:
"The next trilogy is about German myths. (The) first one (is) about Undine, a woman who comes in from the water, living in Berlin wanting to kill all the men. (And) yes, (it will be) very modern."
Petzold was interviewed recently, just after production started, and elaborated a little more on how the character of Undine will be portrayed. The article extract below includes information on the film's cast and crew for any who might be familiar with Petzold's work to date:
Director Christian Petzold has now embarked on his next film, the fairytale-inspired Undine, and it finds him reteaming with Transit stars Paula Beer and Franz Rogowski, Cineuropa reports. Also starring Jacob Matschenz and Maryam Zaree, see a synopsis below for the film that kicked off production last week. (Ed: Reported in July 2019)
Named after the water nymph that seduces men in a number of mythological tales, the German director’s new movie will portray Undine (Paula Beer) as a history graduate who works as a guide in Berlin in the present day. After her partner (Jacob Matschenz) leaves her for another woman, she is cursed and compelled to kill the man who betrayed her and return to the waters she was once summoned from. Yet unlike the mythological character, in the film, Undine tries to defy her fate. Immediately after the break-up, she meets Christoph (Franz Rogowski), an industrial diver, and falls in love with him. The two have a wonderful time together until he realises that she is running away from something and starts to feel betrayed.
So it will not have the fairy tale feel of Ondine, the 2010 romantic Irish-drama (with Colin Farrell and Alicja Bachleda), which was based on the same source. Ondine has few magical effects but very much taps into Wonder and has a very fairy tale feel. Petzold's Undine, however, will be worlds away from that and will be considering a very different aspect of the story.

Petzold is one of the few German film directors who consistently gets US distribution for his films. In an interview with The Film Experience, he was asked why he thought that might be. His answer is very interesting, both for German cinema and American:
"Americans need cinema like the Greeks needed theater. It’s where you learn about community and society. In Germany cinema had to be re-invented because Nazis infected it. So I learned from American cinema." 
We have to wonder, with his eye so firmly on the social and political dynamics of the world stage, particularly with regard to Germany and the US, what Petzold's commentary on current issues will be.  Clearly, he will be exploring the changing role - and perception - of women in his film Undine, but that's unlikely to be the only issue he'll be exploring.

In de la Motte-Fouque's original Undine, a strong contrast is drawn between the wild, (and soulless) Undine, who laughs inappropriately, is 'tricksy' and brazen (see excerpt at the beginning of the post for a taste), and her transformation to the woman she becomes (overnight) on getting married to a human and therefore gaining a soul. From then on, she is demure, quiet, modest and "well behaved". It is completely opposite to her essential nature, one which is surrounded by devilish spirits and creatures that accompany and pursue her, and frighten her knight and the priest that marries them. It is even implied in the Undine text at the beginning of the story, that the water nymph did away with (drowned) a couple's human child, in order to become the replacement foster child - a huge contrast to the meek and tragic figure she later becomes. (You can read the full book online HERE.) Petzold's Undine, rather than being mysterious and romantic, is set to start with quite a brazen edge too, and a very real threat, but also promises complexity as the story develops.
As for the other German myths that might be tapped for the trilogy, there are quite a few famous ones, and though we can't know how the director is considering tying the three films together, here are some possible subjects:
  • The Pied Piper (not to be confused with the tragic Children's Crusade, another German legend)
  • The Changeling (Or How To Protect Your Child - written by Jacob Grimm for German Mythology)
  • The Hoofprint on the Rosstrappe, or Princess Brunhilde escaping the Giant Bodo (in which her stallion left a hoof print, still visible today, on Rosstrappe, in the Harz mountain range, as he leaped off a high cliff, carrying her to safety. This is from Legends and Tales of the Harz Mountains by Toofie Lauder 1881, but it can be seen that Germanic mythology has a lot of overlap with Norse mythology)
  • The Morbach Monster (the location of the last werewolf kill in Germany, which has a shrine with an ever-burning candle, as legend has it that if the candle goes out, the monster will return)
The Lorelei legend (similar to a mermaid) is also one of the most popular German myths, but with Undine already being the basis of the first and sharing many of the motifs, it's unlikely Petzold will be using this one. There is a third water nymph legend that overlaps as well, loosely titled The King of Mummelsee (also known as the Singing Nymphs of the Black Forest), which takes place in the locale of the Black Forest (and a glacial lake) and includes mention of a monastery and nymphs-who-used-to-be-nuns; in some ways, a reversal of the Undine story. Other magical legends are based around Mummelsee (the lake) too, one in which a man in a rat fur coat, with an owl companion, takes a midwife with him to the lake, to help with the delivery of his baby. He paid her in straw, which turned to gold. Another legend says that deep down in the Mummelsee is a blue flower which can make someone invisible.

For the last of the major myth contenders, there is the notorious legend of the Watzmann mountain range, said to actually be a family of blood-thirsty people, who enjoyed hunting local peasants for sport, and were eventually cursed during a particularly cruel and bloody kill, and turned to stone, (each peak of the range a different family member) but it's a fairly simple story. There is a variant in which a little pocket-sized man helps the farmers defeat the wicked king and his family, and the community ends up stoning the entire awful family to death, using so many stones that the mountain range was created, but again it's a fairly straightforward tale. (An interesting local folkloric note: There is a tradition called "Kick the Royalty" in which, even today, locals encourage hikers to "kick the wicked royalty" with their shoes while "walking on their bodies".)

As one might imagine, The Black Forest has it's own unique set of legends (and fairy tales), many of which include a magical element; water nymphs, monks catching ghosts, a giant ditch-digging hen, disappearing night ladies, a headless horseman and a good witch who caused the local vineyards to produce the best wine in Europe. All of these legends are lesser-known, though, and unlikely to be a mythic source for the trilogy.

Veering slightly off the legend-as-complete-story' track, there are the popular legendary characters of German myth that could be considered as well. These include Godfather Death, Krampus (Santa's dark helper), the Erl King (German King of the Fairies), the Rübezahl (a trickster mountain spirit), Barbarossa (a famous king whose very long beard is linked with prophecy) and characters from The Nibelungenlied (knights, dwarves, and dragons).

Then there are many other collections of legends and folktales, beyond the Grimm brothers, any of which may also be in the running, as long as they have some popularity or legendary status in Germany. There are tales by Bechstein (whose work was apparently more popular in Germany than the contemporary Grimm's work, for about fifty years), Schönwerth's collected (and largely unedited) tales, and respected fairy tale scholar Jack Zipes also writes of many other German fairy and folktale collections, alerting us to many other tales and collections "more interesting" than Schönwerth's as well.
"...I can point to some brilliant German collections by Theodor Vernaleken, Johann Wilhelm Wolf, Ignaz and Joseph Zingerele, Heinrich Pröhle, Josef Haltrich, Christian Schneller, Karl Haupt, Hermann Knust, Carl and Theodor Colshorn, etc. "

There is certainly a wealth of possibilities for this new "mythic trilogy", but like Petzold's other trilogies, Undine is likely to be both a stand-alone film, and have a unique context within the trilogy, when it's complete. With Petzold's star shining so brightly at present, it's clear many critical eyes worldwide will be watching to see what he does.

For now, however, German fairy tales are front and center.
All illustrations in this post are by Frances Bassett Comstock.

Sources Referenced:

Friday, August 16, 2019

A Hodgepodge of Timeless Tales News

If you follow us on Facebook/Twitter or receive our newsletter, you've probably already heard that we've released new editions adding poetry to issues #1-3 (Puss in Boots, Pandora's Box, and Twelve Dancing Princesses). Rather than repeat it all again, I'm going to focus on other news. But if you haven't checked out those five new poems, head over to our LIBRARY and get reading!

So instead, let's start this update off with a reminder that submissions for Hades & Persephone open up on August 25. Full details at

What I haven't talked about on social media is the major facelift we've given to ALL our back catalog. Shoutout to our amazing graphic designer, Geoffrey Bunting, for spending almost a year working with me to make everything polished and uniform.

There's far too much new artwork to show off them all, but here's a sample:

Arthurian Legends

Arthurian Legends

Arthurian Legends

Baba Yaga

Baba Yaga

Baba Yaga

Baba Yaga

Baba Yaga

Baba Yaga

Perseus & Medusa

Perseus & Medusa

Perseus & Medusa

Psyche & Cupid




 Still with me? Cool. Let's wrap up this update by talking about what's next:

1. I'm doing my very first public event on October 12! If you live in Central Texas, come on out to the Texas Teen Book Festival near Austin, TX. We'll have a booth and be giving out hard copies of our magazine!

2. Kindle Editions of all our issues will be coming soon. I've been wanting to offer ebook versions for ages, but it's been so daunting, I've procrastinated until this summer. Stay tuned for details!

3. We're still looking for a volunteer Marketing Assistant to join our team. More details on the original blog post.

4. I'm working on a book review for a collection of socialist fairy tales, so keep an eye out for that soon.

Monday, August 12, 2019

Cinderella Represents Inclusivity in New Musical "Stepchild"

We read about this inclusive musical in an article posted on Yahoo (originating in The Mighty) on July 16, 2019. Though the previews and available performances are over, with no new ones yet advertised, what these Broadway veterans (hearing and deaf) are collaborating on is not only worth sharing but supporting.

The different take on Cinderella is an intriguing use of a very familiar fairy tale to highlight and explore a specific social issue, too; one that not only speaks directly to and for the deaf community, for whom it was created, but for anyone considered 'different'. It's a tale all too relevant and has something for everyone.

Yes - you read correctly: this is a musical for deaf and hearing people to enjoy equally. (Yahoo)
“Stepchild,” (is) a musical that combines songs, spoken word and American Sign Language... (and aims) to make every aspect of the show accessible and meaningful to Deaf and hearing audiences alike. 
Here's the premise:

Loosely based on the classic fairy tale Cinderella, “Stepchild” tells the story of Orella, a deaf girl coming of age during the Italian Renaissance. She and her widowed father Massimo struggle to eke out an existence as street performers until their shadow puppet shows attract a wealthy benefactor, the kingdom’s young prince Luca. As Orella’s father seeks out stability by courting Antonia, a widow with two daughters, Orella encounters Allegra, a mysterious fortune-teller who is also deaf and teaches her how to communicate using sign language.

Orella discovers a joyous new world, but when she tries to teach others in the community about sign language, she attracts the ire of the ignorant and fear-mongering King, who ruthlessly punishes anyone that dares to embrace what makes them “different.” After an unimaginable tragedy, Orella finds herself fighting for her life, and must find the courage to combat the darkness and liberate her kingdom from oppression.
Interview excerpts (combined from 2 interviews - apologies for the odd-formatting!):

Although “Stepchild” is a fairy tale set long in the past, how does it shine a light on the discrimination Deaf people experience today?

“As we began delving into our research and outreach to the Deaf community, we uncovered a dark and at times brutal history for people with disabilities. The widespread disregard and common violence against many Deaf and differently-abled people is a heartbreaking truth left out of our high school history books. So we set out to create a full-length musical theater piece with the gravity of this dark historical past and the weight of mankind’s propensity for vilifying ‘the other’ as our dramatic base... — David James Boyd and Chad Kessler, Creators of “Stepchild”

“As have other ethnic groups and cultures, the Deaf have had to fight for the existence of and the right to their language. The deprivation of language acquisition is political and abusive. Political because it is about control and abusive because of the severe psychological, emotional and social harm it does to the individual.” — Kim Weild, Hearing Director
Why is the tale of Cinderella the right choice for your specific adaptation?
David: Oh, that’s a good question! I think the tale is oft-told for its primal yearning to be recognized as someone important in society; it’s become a tale about being a member of the elite. But here, in Stepchild, she doesn’t want to be in the highest echelon of society, she just wants to be a part of society. Her goal isn’t to be the Queen, to wear a beautiful gown and glass slippers, but for her kingdom to be able to communicate using sign language. Becoming Queen happens to her because of her hard work and efforts to create communication and understanding between people who are deaf and hearing, so our focus is more social than economic or political. - David James-Boyd - Writer for Stepchild

Chad: We set the story in 1590, on the imaginary island of Costa Bella in Italy, but it’s actually based on the history of Martha’s Vineyard, which was a Deaf colony, once considered to be a kind of “Deaf Utopia,” where everyone was fluent in ASL. When trading, shipping, and, eventually, elite tourism took over the island in the 20th century, the colony died out. But it existed for 350 years as an important Deaf colony, up until the 1950s, and some of the present-day residents still know ASL.
Kim: In our story, Costa Bella is a pious world, where sign language is seen as “the devil’s language” and people can be put to death for using it. So our character is deprived of language until the gypsy Allegra (the equivalent of Cinderella’s fairy godmother) teaches the girl and her father sign language. Her world blossoms, and her relationship with her father deepens, through her new-found ability to communicate.

What do you hope to accomplish with Stepchild?

David: To be very clear, we are hearing writers. We do not claim to represent the Deaf culture/experience. Only a Deaf person can truly relay what it is like to be Deaf. We are storytellers, people from our own diverse backgrounds, who wanted to tell a story about how ignorance, prejudice, and fear can divide a family and a community at large – the story of how people’s efforts to communicate with people who are not like them can take steps towards uniting us all. It’s also very rare that a Deaf heroine is featured in a musical; maybe this is the first. Also Orella is not just rescued, but against all odds and obstacles, she triumphs through her own courageous efforts and empowerment. So along with her accomplishments and pride in being a Deaf Queen, there’s also a definite feminist element in her story.

“One of the most important things we can do to increase diversity is to make sure that characters who have a disability are being cast authentically and played by actors with those same disabilities. Disability is a lived experience, not a technical skill. But even if a project doesn’t have characters with disabilities in it, creative teams should be open to actors with disabilities auditioning for those roles anyway. We already have plenty of able-bodied actors taking roles with disabilities and then winning awards for it — it’s a slap in the face to us.” — Dickie Hearts, Deaf Actor (Prince Luca)

You may also be interested in this book: Deaf Culture Fairy Tales by Roz Rosen
Description, with front and back covers shown below:
Readers are transported into the enchanting world of fairy tales in this book — with one slight twist: all the stories have characters who are Deaf or sign. Designed for the reader who uses American Sign Language or wants to learn about sign language and Deaf culture, each story takes unexpected and fun turns, always with a lesson in mind. Classics in this book include Snow White, Hansel and Gretel, Three Little Pigs, Beauty and the Beast, and many others. Also included are signed songs and poems one can play with in sign language. Original illustrations help make the stories come alive. With such magnificent culture, history, morals, humor, and imagination, this marvelous book will delight readers of all ages.

About the Cinderella mosaics:
The mosaics are from the Walt Disney World Resort, Cinderella Castle - and yes, they're not the Disney Cinderella you're used to seeing. Walking inside the castle archway, one will find five beautiful mosaic murals telling the story of the fairy tale. The series was designed by Imagineer Dorothea Redmond and set by a team of six artists led by mosaicist Hanns-Joachim Scharff. Each panel is a 15 feet by 10 feet shaped Gothic arch. Skilled artists took 22 months to complete the murals using over 300,000 pieces of Italian glass in more than 500 colors. The tiles are hand-cut and many are fused with sterling silver and 14k gold. Some tiles are as small as the head of a tack! (Information from DisneyFanatic & Disney Parks Blog)

Sources Referenced: