Posts tagged ‘christmas’

From 'Twelve Days of Christmas' Illustrations to Hand-Made Ornaments | Barefoot Books and Rachel Griffin

Talented artist and Barefoot Books illustrator Rachel Griffin now adds Christmas tree designer to her list of credentials! Her unique decorations (like the one pictured above) are inspired by her gorgeous illustrations from her picture book The Twelve Days of Christmas. By using memorable icons from her book, Rachel’s array of materials and vibrant colors help weave a story throughout the tree.

Rachel traveled all the way from England for this special event! The tree is now available to view at the Concord Museum.*

While she was here, Rachel delighted us by sharing her insight on the finished product:

Now that you’ve finished, do you have a new favorite ornament, or is it still the three French hens?

The French hens are still my favorite individual ornaments, but as a whole I really like the way the “three geese a laying” have been displayed on the tree—the blue eggs look good where they hang! Instead of painting them, I drew on dirt which give them a more natural look. And everyone seems to love the Indian elephants!

From 'Twelve Days of Christmas' Illustrations to Hand-Made Ornaments | Barefoot Books and Rachel Griffin

What has the entire process felt like for you?

I’ve really enjoyed it! Now that it’s all done, it’s wonderful seeing the final product, though it took longer than I thought to get here.

What are you hoping viewers will get from your Family Tree experience?

I’m really hoping that way people look at the tree will be the way they look at my book. That they will then look more deeply at the details of the pieces. When you see the French hens, for example, you can then examine it up close and see all the fabric and beads that go with it.

Were there any challenges throughout the process and if so, how did you overcome them?

When I finished decorating yesterday, I felt fine about it but not brilliant. Taking it down today and then doing it all over again was a little overwhelming because there was so much work to do! Especially when rehanging the pears for the fifth time. I feel really pleased with it now. It reads just like the book—people can stare at each section and take it all in and then move to the next one. Its eye catching and familiar to the story and the song.

From 'Twelve Days of Christmas' Illustrations to Hand-Made Ornaments | Barefoot Books and Rachel GriffinDo you have any favorite Christmas traditions in your family?

We go out to the moor and find an amazing branch—it takes a lot of time—everyone has their own opinion on what it should look like. I like to decorate it very simply.

Questions from Ambassadors:

Which page of Twelve Days is your favorite and why?

The first one because it was done in France when I was there for three months. I sketched the tree and added a French twist to it.

From 'Twelve Days of Christmas' Illustrations to Hand-Made Ornaments | Barefoot Books and Rachel Griffin

Rachel, your artwork is gorgeous! How did you develop this unique style?

It took a long time. When I was very little I was always collecting things and I still collect things. When on holiday and traveling, I just collect pieces. The creation of the Oxford calendars is where I really developed my style.

*Each year, the Concord Museum located in Concord, MA fills its galleries with over thirty uniquely decorated trees featuring artwork inspired by acclaimed children’s storybooks. If you’re in the area between November 25 through January 3, be sure to check out the exhibit for yourself! For more information about Family Trees or the Concord Museum visit

From 'Twelve Days of Christmas' Illustrations to Hand-Made Ornaments | Barefoot Books and Rachel Griffin

Read the book that inspired the decorations!

The Twelve Days of Christmas

A sparkling version of the popular Christmas song, in a new edition embossed with silvery-gold foiling and beautiful fabric illustrations by Rachel Griffin. This book includes an insightful note from the illustrator, information about the celebration of the Twelve Days of Christmas (history, including the pre-Christian tradition, and customs), and the history and meaning of the song itself.

For babies to 10 years; Hardcover ($14.99)

Last month we shared with you the exciting news about Micha Archer, illustrator of Lola’s Fandango and The Wise Fool, and her magical decorations for a 10 foot tall Christmas tree, bringing Lola’s story to life. True to the story, big sister Clementina makes an appearance on the tree as well.


Photo courtesy of Jennifer Waldon

Adults aren’t the only ones who feel the stress of the busy holiday season. Between parties, entertaining, shopping, wrapping, decorating, hosting visitors, baking, and other festivities that go along with the winter season, it can be exhausting even to think about, never mind take part in!

The 18th Annual Family Trees: A Celebration of Children’s Literature at the Concord, Massachusetts Museum is quickly approaching! This year, the wonderful illustrator of Lola’s Fandango, Micha Archer, has the great honor of decorating the main tree at the exhibit. The Family Trees exhibit will be open from November 27 – January 1 and all proceeds benefit the Concord Museum’s education initiatives. If you’re in the New England area this season, bring the whole family to see Micha’s tree and dozens of others inspired by children’s stories!  If you’re not in the area, please share with those who are, it’s a real treat for children’s book lovers.

We’re in the thick of the festive season and were wondering how families celebrate this time of year. We asked our friends on our Facebook page and were so excited by all of the responses (nearly 100!) that we wanted to share some of them them all with you. Read on for some favorites!

We’ve seen books being giving as gifts wrapped up in so many creative ways. From a simple brown paper wrap with a bright red bow on top to a full book basket that includes hot chocolate, tea, mugs and a blanket, giving books as gifts is a fun way to share your love of literature with loved ones in your life.

For more than 100 years, people have been giving books to loved ones as gifts. Books are a wonderfully thoughtful way to thoughtfully tell someone you care. When you inscribe the books and wrap them up with add a personal message, the lucky recipients will enjoy complimentary goodies to enjoy with the book (think hot chocolate), and remember you every time they open the book.

It has been said that the world does not lack for wonders; what it can and does suffer from is our lack of ability to wonder. As a little girl, few things awoke my sense of wonder as much as the Christmas tree that stood in our hall each Christmas. I hasten to stress that the tree was far from being an artistic masterpiece; it was more of a ramshackle assemblage of every child’s rather wonkily-made ornaments; clumps of tinsel; bags of chocolate pennies (these disappeared extremely fast); erratically arranged angel hair; rather garish lights; and a papier-maché star that was usually lopsided. Still, to my young eyes it was an object of deep wonder.

This time last year, I was present-hunting in Exmouth Market, London, when I came across an enchanting selection of hand-woven cotton toys. When I noticed that they had been produced by a company called Barefoot Ceylon, I was even more intrigued. I bought two of the animals as Christmas gifts for Nancy and her husband Marty.

This weekend, Twelfth Night has come and gone and I have taken down my Christmas decorations (no-one in my part of the world leaves their decorations up beyond Twelfth Night–it is considered bad luck to do so). Whenever I carry out this ritual, I take a careful second look at all of my Christmas cards, just in case there is a talented illustrator I can have in my sights for a future Barefoot Books project.