Rabbitat – part 6 (rabbit characters)


Originally, I was going to make human characters living in the drift wood house, but I kept imagining long ears sticking up from their heads, so they changed into a rabbit family. Hence the name Rabbitat (see film here). The mother and father dolls are about 4 inches tall and made with a bendable pipe-cleaner armature. The heads are made from wooden beads covered with wool felt. There’s a seam down the front of the face, under the embroidered nose.


As soon as I added front teeth, they lost their bland cuteness and took on personality, or should I say rabbitality?


Maybe I just identified with them more, having been a buck toothed child.


The faces are embroidered, with glass bead eyes.


The ears have fine wire sewn around the outside edge, so they can be bent expressively.


The baby carriage is made from this wire, which is covered with a bark-like natural material I found at a florist supply business. The wheels are acorn caps with holes drilled in the center.


I embroidered a carrot motif on the clothing.



And let’s not forget the biggest character of all — the rabbit topiary.


To see more posts in this series and to view the Rabbitat film click here.

Rabbitat – part 5 (garden gate)

I added the garden gate about half way through the process of making Rabbitat. Since I changed the design from vertical to horizontal, I needed something in the lower right to balance the rabbit topiary on the left. I also wanted to create  a transition from the foreground to the background and make an an entrance into the rabbit world.

I selected some driftwood and carved joints into the pieces. I then drilled holes in the joints and glued the pieces together with wire in the holes for reinforcement.

On a jig saw, I cut out a wooden rabbit shape to put on top of the gate.

I wanted bars in the gate, so I bent some 32 gauge cloth-covered wire and wrapped it with embroidery floss.

Then I had to figure out what to use for hinges and a latch. I got out my collection of little metal do-dads, but wasn’t satisfied with how they looked. Shiny metal didn’t seem to fit in the rabbit’s world. I ended up using clay tube beads for the hinges and wrapped wire for the latch.

I worked around the gate for many weeks, sewing the tree and constructing parts of the scene’s landscape.

I created a felt stone pathway leading to the gate, with french knot moss. Thinking ahead, I stitched my initials into the design on the right hand corner.

To see more posts in this series and to view the Rabbitat film click here.

Rabbitat – part 3 (title animation)


Now that summer activities have slowed down, I can get back to writing about the making of Rabbitat.  This post will show the letters that I made for the film’s title animation. See  the completed film  here.  I was originally just going to spell out the word Rabbitat in found objects. Then the filmmaker (Daniel Cojanu) and I decide to try our hand at some spot action animation.



I formed the letters with driftwood, adding embroidered felt vegetation to complete the shapes. One “B” features a roving, rounded vine made of felt covered wire. The thorns are thread wrapped wire.


And a “T” is crossed with thread wrapped wire branches laden with felt leaves and bead berries.


I found just the right beach stone for the other “B” and used a green mushroom, which is a florist product, for the rounded top of the “R”. For the filming we used a solid black felt background.


We started with the word Rabbitat spelled out and then moved each piece about a 1/4 inch for each shot.


Every piece had its own path to follow, so the 2 of us had to keep track of several objects at once. Instead of trying to construct the letters from a pile of objects, we deconstructed the word and then reversed the order of  the hundreds of photographs, so it looks like we built it in the film.


When we were ready to shoot, I bought some vegetables to include; a carrot, a parsnip and a peapod.  It took us many hours to move and photograph the letters for what would become a 15 second title sequence. After working side by side for most of a day, moving little objects a tiny distance at a time, Daniel and I weren’t frustrated at all. We said to each other,”That was fun!”.

The next post in this series will be about my animated stitched signature from the Rabbitat title. For other posts in the Rabbitat series click here.



SCBWI conference in LA

It was after 2 am yesterday morning when I got home from the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators summer conference in  LA. I always refer people to SCBWI when I’m asked about getting into the children’s book market. This past weekend, 1300 writers and illustrators from literally around the world gathered together to hear inspiring speeches and attend practical workshops. Some have published books, while many are honing their craft, working toward a dream of sharing their writing and art on a larger scale. Most participants come away with a more realistic idea of how much work is required to have a book published. A lot of famous authors gave key-note speeches, including Judy Blume (on stage, in brown, pointing her arm).

I was there to accept a Golden Kite Award for my picture book Pocketful of Posies. Here’s the little bronze statuette, which is a child holding a kite (out of the picture). They even spelled my name correctly! In my 8 minute speech, I talked about the support I received from my agency (Studio Goodwin Sturges), who stood by me while I took time to experiment with projects other than children’s books, my editor at Houghton Mifflin (Margaret Raymo), who waited patiently while I worked on the artwork for the book, sometimes not showing her anything for a year at a time and my husband Rob Goldsborough, who has never suggested I get a real job. I also told a story about how I grew from a child who liked to play with dolls, to the grown woman who still likes to play with dolls.

I met Laurie Sharp of Wool Pets. Here she is at the portfolio review with some photos of her wonderful needle felted animal characters. We’ve been communicating through e-mail for a while and have so many interests in common; natural fibers, kit making, storytelling, Waldorf education, writing how-to instructions. Read about her needle felting how-to books here.

In my workshop, “The joys and challenges of 3 dimensional illustration”, I showed Laurie’s work and we talked about ways she could develop her characters and use photos as illustrations.  I could really see them in a series of baby board books.

Laurie Sharp's needle felted characters

Here I am after the Golden Kite award ceremony with SCBWI co-founder Lin Oliver.

At the book signing, I was seated next to Bruce Coville, who was my sons’ favorite author when they were around 11 or 12.

I was reminded of how nice children’s book people are, but also of how ignorant I am about current authors and illustrators. Working as I do, in isolation for long periods of time, I lose touch with what’s going on in the children’s book world. There’s got to be a balance somewhere! So, I took off my blinders for a few days, mingled with my tribe and have returned home energized!


New visitors from France

Since last week, many new subscribers have signed up, with dozens from France. They may like to know that my how-to book, Felt Wee Folk was published in French in 2003. It is titled Personnages et Motifs: Creations Malicieuses, published by Les Editions de Saxe. I believe it is out-of-print, but used copies may be available.

Depuis la semaine dernière, de nombreuses personnes, des douzaines de français, se sont inscrites. Soyez les bienvenus sur mon Blog! Sachez que mon livre explicatif Felt Wee Folk est publié enFrancesous le titre Personnages et Motifs: Creátions Malicieuses par les Editions de Saxe.

Felt Wee Folk, French edition

Also, the Rabbitat film has been viewed over 1000 times! Word about the film is spreading through cyberspace, with links on several websites and blogs. If you haven’t watched it yet, you can see it here.