March Hedge a gram

Happy March!

     This is Jan Brett, and this is my March hedge a gram...the time I take every month to let you know what I'm doing as an author -- illustrator.
     When I finished THE 3 LITTLE DASSIES last month, I felt like I had a huge open landscape to begin creating my new book. Realistically though, there are a lot of aspects to my work that aren't actually working on my book. I am being interviewed by newspapers from the towns I will go to on my book tour in March. I'll be gone three weeks on our big bus. When I'm not signing at book stores, I'll be working on a mural for THE EASTER EGG, that we will put up on the web. I'm looking forward to traveling to towns I've never been to before and speaking to children about being creative. Although it will be hard to stop working on my new book, a little space may be helpful. I can work on some of the ideas I have. My book, HOME FOR CHRISTMAS is about a troll family. At home, I'm working on the dummy or cartoon version of the story. I can do sketches of funny troll clothes, and the kind of house they will live in. In April, I will be traveling to Sweden to do more research, and it's good if I have a checklist of things to look for, so my images will be authentic. I am leaving room in my mind for lots of changes, additions, and edits, because it's wonderful when the story one is working on takes on a life of its own. It's like having a roadmap, but not sticking to the exact route. At the end of my story, Rollo the troll escapes the deep snow drifts at the top of the mountain. He falls into the snow when the animal he is riding loses its antlers. Then, he toboggans down the mountain on an antler, which becomes a giant sled.
      I like to draw reindeer, and it would work better plot wise if there was a herd, but reindeer have somewhat thin and spindly antlers, perhaps too thin to make a sled. Now moose, which also live in Sweden, have a perfect antler Rollo could sled on, but they're somewhat solitary creatures and the female does not have antlers. You can be sure I'll be finding out a lot about moose and reindeer on my trip in order to decide which animal Rollo will be were riding.
     In the meantime I'm getting excited about Easter and I'm decorating eggs. I have a giant ostrich egg I brought back from Africa that I've been coloring with gel pens. I will have to put a clear coat of protective shine on top. Also, my pullets (young chickens, females under one year old) are just beginning to lay eggs. Their first eggs are very small, and they are Bantam chickens which lay small eggs in the first place. That makes a very dainty egg to color. The gel pens are great because I do not like to work in acrylic paint. I can't seem to get the results I want. If I have time I'd like to try drawing on my eggs with a wax drawing tool. Melted wax is put on the egg with a stylus that lets you apply a very thin line. Then you dip the eggs in a dye bath. No dye will adhere to where the wax is. When you melt the wax a beautiful design appears like magic. You can see one of these eggs, call Pysinki in THE EASTER EGG. Until now I've just bought eggs that expert artists have created.
     I may also try making some eggs and chick cookies. I think eggs are fascinating. They have been a symbol of springtime for thousands of years. Of all the eggs in the world, my favorites are wild bird and shorebird eggs that have squiggles, dots, and swirls over beautiful background color like light brown, reddish bay or green.
     March is a transitional month and I certainly feel like I'm between many different worlds artistically and in my life. The thing I like about being an artist, is that it's always the common thread that goes through my life, and that is very comforting.
     Happy creating and have fun getting ready for Easter.

Your friend,

Jan Brett