|A Storybook Toy Chest|
About a month ago, my friend, Betsy, sent to me a small wooden chest that she'd picked up at a crafts store. The dimensions were approximately 5 1/4" long, 3 1/2" wide and about 4" tall to the top of the decorative back. She had an idea for me to paint scenes, or characters, from her favorite childhood storybooks on the piece, and turn it into a toy chest for her little dolls (probably most specifically her 9" Lawton dolls).
|In the beginning, there was wood and paper....|
The first task was to prepare the box for paint. In the past I've gone out to the garage and with my miniature table saw, cut up pieces of bass wood to make my own little trunks. I thought, "Cool!", the box is already made! Ha-ha! But, the wood these boxes are made from require just as much, if not more prep work.
I sanded the piece by hand, then gessoed it, covering the exterior and interior. Because the lid was stationary, I had to apply the gesso in thin layers so the lid wouldn't stick to the interior of the box. I let it dry over a couple of days, which is more easily done in dry summer conditions, then sanded the heck out of it by hand, trying to achieve as smooth a painting surface as possible. The very nature of the wood with its deep grooves would prove a problem on several sides as I began the actual painting of the characters.
|The First Panel Painted|
|The Second Panel Painted -" Is there any honey for me?", Piglet asks.|
What's all the fuss? Again, the design must be correct and often the pre-work, the brain work behind the piece isn't taken into consideration by a commission. That, to me, seriously, is where half the work comes from.
Peter Rabbit getting ready to make some trouble in McGregor's garden was the first panel I painted. With this, I had to relearn the techniques I'd practiced long ago and had forgotten. No, its not like riding a bike. And, its been that long! But, by the time it was done, I was ready to move onto Pooh and feeling more confident.
|Marcella's Treasured Companions|
From Pooh I moved onto Raggedy Ann and Andy by Johnny Gruelle. I love Gruelle, and everyone knows it. The gentle, sweet stories and very loving characters who always make a happy ending for every situation they come in contact with in their adventures. We should all live and behave so generously as Raggedy Ann and her companions.
Finally, it was Tenniel's time. Alice came first, then the White Rabbit. Betsy sent me a book, The Nursery Alice, so I could have a color plate to work from for his costume. Of all the characters I painted, I truly feel he came out the best. I cannot tell you why...maybe because he was the last, but I just love his checkered jacket and that wonderful pocket watch!
|Alice and the White Rabbit|
|With Corner Illustrations and Tea|
I love ending of the first book when the cards fly up and over Alice, so I took a short "spray" of them, and in a half semi-circle, painted them in below the White Rabbit. And, added a few in the top left corner for balance.
But wait! There's more! Before the inclusion of the corner art, I'd pulled all the stories together with an illustration I made up of my own. Open the lid and there are old books with different characters from each story "coming alive" from them. Timmy Willie with his, what looks to me like, a gingko umbrella, Beloved Belindy, Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum, and Eeyore, the sweet, silly donkey whose very name is a donkey noise. I love this interior panel piece. It, alone, was a full design combining the stories and I enjoyed painting it so much. (photos further down)
Lastly, a thin coat of matte Mod Podge to seal the artwork was done, and of course, I signed the bottom.
|From the Front, But Not Quite Done|
Thank you so much, my friend, because I know you'll treasure this piece for years to come! I love you!
Please enjoy the following photos I took, and remember to enjoy each moment. We grow by challenging ourselves, learning new things and thus, further discover who we are.
Please remember that you can click on the photos to enlarge and see them better!
Miss E. Mouse
|Close Up of Radish and Carrot|
|Gruelle's Garden Flowers|
|How It Looks Opened|
|The Cards - "Time for tea?", inquires White Rabbit.|
|In the Works. That's my great magnifying lamp.|
|Itty Bitty Brush Tips|
|A Storybook Toy Chest For Dolls|