The Jan/Feb 2012 issue of The Horn Book Magazine is out, with my illustration on the cover. This issue has many wonderful articles and book reviews, including the 2011 Boston Globe-Horn Book Award speeches, which were delivered at the colloquium on Sept. 30th. Subscribers will soon be receiving their copies. You can read my “Pocketful of Posies” speech in the magazine or on the Horn Book website, which includes a close up photo of my hands making a tiny hand. They’ve also printed a poster that will be given away at the ALA Midwinter Meeting in Dallas, TX, Jan. 20-24. So, if you’re a librarian who will be there or know a librarian who’s going, have them pick up a poster at the Horn Book booth. At the end of this post, I’ll announce a Poster Giveaway and also give information about ordering magazines or posters through the mail.
Read on to see the process of making the cover illustration, which I worked on for about 6 weeks this past summer. I first found a twisted vine to use as the central tree and made a sketch with the Horn Book logo and child characters. The original size is about 12″ wide and 18″ high. I drilled holes on the vine where wire branches would go.
To form the branches, I covered wire with felt and embroidered them to match the real vine/tree trunk. This coiled branch has thread-wrapped wire thorns attached.
The Horn Book logo was rendered in wire branches and found objects. For one of the O’s, I sawed the back of a walnut-shell, so that it would lay flat and not stick out too much. The O in the word Horn is a nest-like acorn cap from an oak tree in Iowa and the B’s spiky acorn caps are from northern California.
For the background, a solid color looked too plain, so I stitched together scraps of naturally dyed wool felt to make a more interesting field for the action.
I made a little fairy to fit in the walnut-shell.
I didn’t want the characters to be animals, but children dressed in animal costumes. So, I made every effort to make them look like children by giving them bangs, ponytails, hands and shoes.
During the process, I changed some of the characters in the original sketch and substituted a boy in a dinosaur costume pulling an acorn cap wheeled wagon full of books.
I printed out the words on acetate, so that I’d be sure to leave enough room at the bottom edge. I then embroidered plants and leaves to the felt background.
This little child/mouse is having red shoes made.
The Horn Book staff suggested I include a reading child, so I made a felt book for the face-painted mouse.
All of the parts piled up as I worked. It’s a miracle nothing got lost!
It was really fun thinking up costumes to make for these kids. I wanted to create a scene of children immersed in imaginary play and story.
I added a sun to the upper left corner and embroidered a wavy chain-stitched border. Then, I sewed the felt background to a sheet of foam core board, pulling it flat and straight.
Then, I stitched the tree, characters and other props in place, right through the foam core board. After everything was in place, I took it to the photographer, so he could take its picture. After that, I removed it from the foam core board and remounted the felt background and all of the parts on a cloth-covered stretcher. It is now framed behind glass and was recently bought by a collector. It was a joy to work on this project with Lolly Robinson at the Horn Book Magazine! Having my illustration on the cover will be a great opportunity for many people to discover my work for the first time.
UPDATE: Obviously the poster giveaway is past.
Magazine Orders: To special order the January/February issue of the Horn Book Magazine, go here.