Tag Archives: Fairy Tales

A Box for the BOOK


I decided to make a box for the little book, The Tally Keeper’s Folly.  I had a very old wooden cigar box that was just the right size.  Some one had painted it black and scratched their name on the top – Bertha Wright.  Sorry Bertha, I had to cover up your name!  I painted the box with acrylics several times before I decided on the dark red for the top.  I’m going to finish up the edges with some antique gold acrylic – just haven’t done it yet.  I used the cover of a very tattered book I had for the cover of the box.  I really liked the front graphics – and they already had just the right amount of wear on them.  I had a large sheet of paste paper I’d made years ago, and decided to use that to glue a title over the books original title which was The Peep of Day, which is pretty neat, but it wouldn’t work for this!

On the sides of the box I used strips of the paste paper to put a line from the verse which is on the back of the book.

I sanded the letters a little so they didn’t look so harsh.  I ran the paste paper through the printer cut to 8.5×11 size, and then printer the lines spaced apart so I could cut them out.  The cigar box is about 6×8 inches.

I used the paste paper to cover the inside lid and came up with another verse for it.  I lined the inside of the box with antique silk sari ribbons that I ironed flat and tacked together over a piece of cardboard.  I also used a scrap of sari ribbon on the front of the book.

The little book fits perfectly inside!  Now a few touches of gold here and there and I send it off to the Illahe Gallery in Ashland, Oregon for their April 6-28 show of Artist’s Books.


The artist’s book completed! The Tally Keeper’s Folly – Imaginary People I Know -Will be on exhibit!


Addendum: Since I published this post about this little book,” The Tally Keeper’s Folly,”  it has somehow attracted enough attention to be invited to participate in the April is National Poetry Month.  To celebrate the gift of written word and the beauty of handmade books, the Illahe Gallery in Ashland, Or. .http://illahegallery.com/exhibits/2012/february/ The Illahe Studio and Gallery is staging an exhibit of artist’s books of every size and type!  “The Tally Keeper’s Folly” will be there with the best of them!  April 6-28.  It will be a wonderful exhibit if you love handmade books.  Posted Sunday February 12, 1012 at 12-midnight.  Can you tell I am a little bit excited!

Front of Book

The Tally Keeper’s Folly – Imaginary People I Know

Oil pastel, watercolor, gouache, collage on muslin 5 x 7 inches

This is a handmade muslin book created by Lynne Hoppe, http://lynnehoppe.blogspot.com/ which I won in a give-a-way.  I’ve been saving the book for a couple of years.  I started doing some drawings in it, and saw a loose storyline form.  I have been thinking lately about people who have a very strong need to “keep score” or count up all the “wrong” things people have done, but never think much of all the good things people do every day.  So this little book turned into a story about a woman who was driven to keep her scores of every slight, real or imagined, until it began to destroy her life.  She is visited in the end by two strange figures who tell her of the mistake she is making by counting sorrows instead of joys.  In my version she believes them and changes her ways!  I decided to use another time era ambience for this book, thinking of medieval times when people counted their debts on tally sticks where they would make a mark on the stick for each debt owed, and the size of the mark often had bearing on the size of the debt.

The words in the book were printed directly to the coffee dyed muslin with an inkjet printer.  I ironed 8.5 x 11 pieces of muslin onto freezer paper  then I cut each quotation apart with scissors and used a straight pin to pull threads from the edges – then I just glued them down with matte polymer medium (I used Liquitex).  I think sewing them in would have been really perfect, but I would have had to sew through the illustrations on the other side of the page, and it just wouldn’t have worked, so I glued them in.

Pages 1 and 2 – The Tally Keeper is looking at marks on a stick while her favored child observes.

Pages 3 and 4 –  Portraits of her other children.  A sad lost boy and his older sister, who has little to say.

Pages 5 and 6  The Lost Boy in a younger portrait – when he believed in magic.  The Tally Keeper with little time for him.

Pages 7 and 8 – A study of The Tally Keeper’s jumbled dreams.  The Old King who never kept a count of sorrows.

Pages 9 and 10 – Her favored son again, still watchful, older now.  She cut a paper minion – I just wanted to use the word minion!

Pages 11 and 12 – She continues to count her scores, and keep tally of all her woes.  Her husband begins to wonder if maybe his name is on a tally stick too?

Pages 13 and 14 – Two strange old women come to visit her one night to help her see the error of her ways, after  a few tears she agrees to change.

Back of the book

Artist’s Book in progress – “The Tally Keeper’s Folly” Imaginary People I Know


“The Tally Keeper’s Folly” Imaginary People I Know 7×10 inches double page – Oil Pastel, watercolor, collage on muslin

I’ve been working on this little book for quite some time, but only recently did it come together in a cohesive way.  The story is about a vindictive woman who keeps count of all her slights and insults, real or imagined.  She forgets or dismisses the good in others as she focuses on the bad, and in the end loses everything.  I wanted the art to have a kind of medieval fairy tale look – hence the silly hat on the husband!  I will share more pages as I complete them.  Some of the art I’ve already shared, for example, “The Lost Boy.”

“The Tally Keeper’s Boy”  Imaginary People I Know – Oil pastel, watercolor, collage, gouache, on muslin

More Imaginary People I Know


“Fiona Knew Things” from “Imaginary People I Know”

Oil Pastel, gouache, watercolor on muslin 5 x 7 inches

I can’t seem to move past doing these faces!  I am doing them now in a handmade muslin book that I won in a giveaway a couple of years ago.  I was so afraid I would mess it up that I avoided working in it until I did “He Was His Mother’s Favorite,” (below)  that got me started.

Now I’ve decided to fill the whole book with these imaginary faces and add some mixed media scraps, and titles,  after I’m finished.

I think it will be a nice little book of strange people!

“The Boy Who Talked to Elves,” Imaginary People I Know – oil pastel, gouache on muslin 5 x 7 inches

A younger version of “The Lost Boy,”  who is also in this muslin book.  There is something really satisfying about working on muslin this way.  Lynne Hoppe ( see my blogroll for her website)  made the book and decided her sewing wasn’t right so she gave it away.  Yay! – I won it and have saved it all this time.   The muslin is tea-dyed first ( I think) and then each side of the muslin is gessoed and then lightly sanded so the pages are somewhat stiff.  It’s almost like painting on loosely stretched canvas – but the muslin is a smoother surface, more sensitive to oil pastels.  Sometimes watercolor will seep through the page – but this just makes it more interesting!

This is what the outside, back and front look like.  I plan on painting both covers too.

This is what the inside pages look like before I paint on them.


 “She Made Wands from Other People’s Wishes” from “Imaginary People I Know”

Oil pastel, gouache on muslin 5 x 7 inches



Red Riding Hood

Acrylic on canvas 11 x 14 inches

I saw this movie recently, Red Riding Hood, and the luscious fairy tale cinematography really caught my imagination.  I have always  loved fairy tales, and this one seemed just right to try painting a few of those fleeting still shots from the film, and my own imagination!  This was a difficult painting for me — I used Golden’s gel medium “Fibre Paste” as a texture layer – not so good for this kind of a painting.  It dried to a really hard finish that looked something like 1950’s California stucco.  I couldn’t even sand it away.  I probably should have started a new canvas, but I was already partially invested in the painting before I realized it was going to be an issue.  The plastic surface was the thing that really put me off.  On the jar it says “A flexible film with a handmade paper appearance.  Use as a texture or as a ground on canvas or board.”   I liked the idea of a handmade paper appearance – but that isn’t what it looked like at all, and I kept thinking I could make it better somehow.  No.  It made all the acrylic layers turn very patent leathery, and I kept trying to sand them off, I tried matte medium, I tried all my tricks for decreasing the inherent plastic look of acrylic, which I usually do not have a problem manipulating into a less plastic looking surface.  I can only assume it was the “Fiber Paste” ground layer.  Anyway – this looks about as good as its going to look.  I can’t seem to figure out why they call it a “look of handmade paper?”  Doesn’t look like any handmade paper I’ve ever seen.  So I gave up painting and just attacked it vigorously with sandpaper.  I do kind of like how the sandpaper made the stucco look like snow, I thought that was kind of neat.  Anyway, I’m working on some other paintings in this theme without the ” handmade paper” look.  Now I’m trying encaustic, just a clear layer of beeswax – this hasn’t worked out to well for me either — you will see what I mean in my next post!

PS:  Do visit Michele’s blog http://michelemeisterart.blogspot.com/ to see her really powerful images of Red Riding Hood – her’s are so beautiful I am totally inspired and a little daunted – she is an amazing artist!