Something Completely Different…

Eric and I decided to try something new a few months back. We agreed to work on set design for Swamp Meadow Community Theater’s upcoming play based on Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Our kids were going to be in the play, so we’d be pretty involved anyway. We both figured it would be a fun, non-work diversion. We both like making and designing stuff, after all. And it’s nice to get away from the computer sometimes!

So, the first thing we did was collaborate on the production logo, which has been used for the playbill, t-shirts, ads, and what-have-you.


We tried to get as many of the wacky elements in there as was graphically feasible- the Grail, the Holy Hand Grenade, killer rabbit, coconuts, French taunters, a shubbery, and the Black Knight!

Set-wise, we started by making some of the bigger props. Here’s the Cave of Caer Bannog (where lives the Killer Rabbit), and the Trojan Bunny. Eric built it out of a humidifier box, and I painted it in faux bois. The cave is made out of a foam insulation panel.


Here’s me painting the Black Beast of Arrrggghhh, which is sort of a giant puppet operated by one person dressed in black.


We have never made a cloud for God before. But we have now!


We decided to make a curtain backdrop, painted to look like a forest. I had the idea to give it an Eyvind Earle look (inasmuch as can be done while painting on a giant piece of floppy fabric). Eric worked out the details in miniature, then we transferred it to the fabric. It was the biggest thing I have ever sewed in my life!


We had some volunteers on a cold day in November to help paint the backdrop.


We worked on the 2 castles simultaneously. One was a castle exterior, and one was an arrangement of panels that would look like 2 castle interiors, depending on how you arranged them. The castle exterior:


And the castle interior, being worked on the exterior of our house! We did end up doing detail work inside on them.


Eric’s doing some detail work.

The castle panels had to be assembled on-site at the school where the plays play out:

Bob and Eric assemble castle walls while a kid “supervises”!

Here’s how things look in the real production!

God rides his cloud and tells Arthur about his new quest!

Swamp Castle exterior, complete with confused guards.

Herbert waits to be rescued from the castle.

The Knights Who Say Ni are in the forest…you can see the backdrop well here.

The castle interior, set up for the tragic wedding scene.

The castle interior, this time rearranged to look like the Castle Anthrax.

There’s the killer rabbit in his cave!

Another prop- the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch. The pin is removable so it can be hurled at the killer bunny. I hope it survives the last 3 shows!

The Legendary Black Beast of Aaaarrrggghhh! In action!

It’s been a lot of work, but also great fun to watch this all come together. This being our first attempt at stage design, we’ve learned a lot.
That’s good, because we’ll be helping out with the next show, too- Alice in Wonderland!

If you’re in Rhode Island, there’s still time to see Swamp Meadow’s Quest For The Holy Grail.
Click right over here for tickets!
Shows are Dec. 11 and 12, at 7pm, and Dec. 13 at 3pm.

Half Pint in Rachael Ray this Month!

My little glass creamer called “Half Pint” has made an appearance in the November 2009 issue of Everyday With Rachael Ray magazine! They do a great job over there of finding cool current items. I appreciate their enthusiasm for my designs!

They listed the link for The Museum of Modern Art store in NYC as a fine place to find it, and I agree. They still have it listed as one of their “best sellers.” Yay!


Ben’s Bar Mitzvah

OK, I had never been to a Bar Mitzvah before last weekend. I didn’t know what to expect, really.
My good friend Barb’s son Ben was the guy of the day- and what a great job he did! The actual ceremony was beautiful. Luckily for us, it was explained along the way, full of music, and very joyful. Then, after that….

The party portion took place in a grand ballroom that was decked out like Fenway Park:


The kids had their own head table and buffet of kid-approved foods:

head table

No detail was left to chance! As far as I could see, everything was perfectly themed.


The kids (mainly 13-year old boys, of course, but with a smattering of girls, too) were able to take instant pictures in a photo booth, get into Red Sox gear and have their photos put into banners, and visit their own ice cream bar. There was a kid-friendly concession stand:


And guys on hand to airbrush custom t-shirts (the kids could choose the design):


There was a beautiful cake that had a lot of tall candles on it- each candle represented an important person in Ben’s life.


The Nook was well-represented that night. Here’s Monica, MB, and Janet, wearing their Bar Mitzvah best!


There’s Ben in the middle of the dancers (yes, dancers!):


‘Twas a night that brought out the best in everyone. It was impossible not to have a great time. Thanks to Barb and Phil and Ben for letting us share this amazing experience!


2009 RI Festival of Children’s Books and Authors

Also known as one of THE BEST book festivals you can go to, and lucky, us, it’s right here in RI!


Every year, the Lincoln School in Providence opens up and we get treated to the best writers and illustrators currently working. That is no exaggeration! To wit:

Here’s Brian Selznick explaining some of the windy journey that led him to create The Invention of Hugo Cabret. What’s fun about this festival is that the speakers have to be ready to talk to a mixed audience of kids and adults. I find that a lot more engaging, and it seems like they feel that way too! Brian is at the top of his game- a wonderful author/illustrator, and a contemporary of ours from RISD (he graduated in ’88, Eric and I in ’89). Go Brian!


Here’s the amazing Lois Lowry, signing our festival poster. Our kids have read a bunch of her books, so it was a treat to see her in person.

lois lowrey_sign

Jerry Pinkney. What can you say about him? I’d say he’s in the Liz Top Ten of Living Illustrators. Oh, yeah- and add to that he’s a totally genuine guy who really cares about people. You can see this in person for sure, but I think it comes out in his art, too.

That’s his childhood home in the slide.

Look- there’s betty Brown getting her book signed!


Here’s Mary Ann Hoberman:


With a few fans!

Chris Van Allsburg: My old teacher from RISD!

A very popular presenter at the festival each year!

Christopher Paul Curtis gave a great talk, also geared for the mixed kid/adult audience, that had the place in stitches. Here he is coercing a boy to declare his love of reading, after which he gave him a cash “bookmark.” Ha! Hearing him describe his ascent from Detroit auto worker to Newbery and Coretta Scott King Award winner was purely inspirational.


Paul O. Zelinsky was there too…add another name to the Top Illustrator List! He’s prolific, and also seems to be able to bend his style to match a story, sometimes in very surprising ways. What an array of work…very inspiring. And very dapper to boot!


AS IF that weren’t enough, The Very Hungry Caterpillar was there, too!


I simply had to add to my signed book collection. Wouldn’t you? My only regrets are that we couldn’t see everyone there and hear all the talks. It’s pretty much impossible to do…but for however long you are there, it’s a top-notch treat and a wonderful experience. If you’re anywhere near RI next year, be sure you come to the Festival!


Brimfield…Brimming With Style!

Yes! I finally managed to get up to Brimfield for the fall show. If you’re not from these parts, it’s a simply gigantic antique show that sets up 3 times a year. Sprawling. Hundreds and hundreds of dealers. If you’re into vintage, retro, etc. you WILL find something interesting here. I did not come home empty-handed!

I saw this cute guy on patrol in his owner’s booth at the beginning of the day. Sure enough, he was still there when we headed to our car at the end of the day!


First thing I found was this wooden/paper litho target game. LOVE it. Vintage games from this era are a big favorite of mine.

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Hot Off the Press!

I love seeing where my designs turn up. Here are some neat new places to find a couple of my items!

Crazy Books, the Food edition is coming out in October in Germany from Edition Braus. The publisher is debuting it at the Frankfurt Book Fair this year. My Calf and Half creamer is in it- keep your eyes open when in Germany (drat, I was just there a few weeks ago)!

Crazy Books-Food

Here is the current Fall ’09 MOMA (Metropolitan Museum of Art) catalog, with another of my glass items, the Half-Pint Creamer. Every purchase made thru the catalog supports the museum. Sweet!