Recently I made a wooden menagerie for the children’s section of the Lake Forest Park Library, a branch of the King County Library System.
Public art is something new for me and it was an honor, opportunity and pleasure to work on this project.
Last year I illustrated Who Put the Cookies in the Cookie Jar? by George Shannon. In the book George celebrates all of the people who make cookies possible including the farmers, the bakers, the truckers, the cookie sheet manufacturers and more.
I thought of the book while I was working on this project. Many hands helped bake these cookies.
Bruce Schauer, David Scott-Risner and Deirdre Miller of the King County Library System chose me for this project: to create a piece of public art that went above the bookshelves in the children’s section of the library. I knew right away that I wanted to make a parade of wooden animals. David sent me measurements of the space which is roughly 40 feet long by 4 feet high.
I made a tiny sketch – one inch equaled one foot. Some of the animals in the sketch are real and some are imaginary, because children’s books lead you into both of those realms.
Kinkos enlarged the drawings which I then redrew at scale. I taped up the drawings in the library to see if they fit. Yes, phew.
Then I drew the animals on big sheets of plywood at Pioneer Woodworks. Wally Meyers cut them out, beveled the edges and added dowels as needed.
AND he let me complete the project in the basement of his woodshop because my studio is too small for a menagerie.
Linda at Maple Leaf Hardware gave me technical advice about gesso, paint and varnish.
Ralph mixed the 17 cans of paint. The people at Maple Leaf Ace are so friendly and helpful; this business could happily exist in a picture book.
I painted the animals in layers: 2 layers gesso, 2 layers color, layers of details, and then 3 layers of varnish.
T. Michael Gardiner and Ben from Art Tech picked up the pieces and put French cleats on the back of them. Roger Waterhouse and Ben installed them at the library.
After the project was up I began to wonder if I should have done something else – baked different cookies entirely. That is not part of Who Put the Cookies in the Cookie Jar? But it seems to be part of my process for all projects big and small. But now these cookies are baked, and it is time to enjoy them.
The book ends with a party and the Lake Forest Park menagerie will start with one. Denise Bugallo and Kalee Shearer are the wonderful librarians at Lake Forest Park. There will be an opening celebration at the library on May 17th. I hope that you can come if you are in the Seattle area.