ReCover: ELLA ENCHANTED – Block Print

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One of my favorite books growing up was Ella Enchanted. I read this book so much that the spine bent. I will still take an afternoon to breeze through it, smiling the whole time.

The copy of the book I have is the movie cover. It’s not my favorite. Love Anne Hathaway, didn’t care for the adaptation. For years I’ve wanted to upgrade to a new cover. One I wouldn’t mind having on  my shelf.

So I had the idea… what if I made a new cover? And here’s the process of that! (Video process is at the bottom of the page!)

Major supplies: linoleum block, brayer, baren, carving tools, water-soluble ink, printmaking paper, glue stick

Steps:

trace coverTrace Book on Block First things first, I had to cut the linoleum block to the size of the cover. Easy enough: place book on block, trace, cut!

sketch overTransfer Sketch I did my practice sketches, then chose the one I liked the best. I decided on this one because one of my favorite aspects of Ella is her love of languages.

Title Stencil Since a block print is opposite what you put down, there was no way I was going to try to freehand the title. I messed around with a few different ways to format the lettering. The one I chose, I cut out, placed backwards on block, and traced.

carving1Carving! I paid special attention to the direction of my carving tool. The swirls were circular and had a lot of movement. For the background, I kept them all up and down. This is because I know the background will still get ink no matter what, so that would look good in the final product.

  • I realized in the end, I didn’t give myself a lot of room for error when I carved too much before I inked. Normally I’m good about that, but I guess I was too excited for this project to adhere to that rule (measure twice, cut once!)!

Inking Always a fun time. I have a sheet of plastic I place the ink on that I move around with the brayer. The first inked block never holds enough ink, so a few goes at it need to happen before all’s done.

  • inkingA few notes on my mishaps inking this time around. I didn’t clean the block before inking, and that caused a lot of little white speckles until I figured out what the problem was.
  • Also, I was doing this outside, and the ink got really runny, which caused the ink to slosh around on the final product. So it’s not as sharp as it could be.

barenBaren The circular tool I use is a baren, but you can use a wooden spoon for this part, too. I always start circular movements in the middle of a piece before moving outwards.

Ink and Repeat until I got the best one! This took a lot longer than normal due to the problems I listen above.

paper traceBook Cover Template I traced around the entire book as though it lay flat on the paper. Then I cut around that, with 2 inches around each edge. Where the corners were, I cut those out to the tips so the flaps could be folded over later. Hopefully the picture helps illustrate that! If you can’t see it, the video is a good demonstration of it, or I’ll make a template available rather than just a picture.

foldingCover Book I used plain old glue stick for this part. Folding the top and bottom flaps first, I made sure they were secure and no extra paper was in the fold. I folded over the book’s edge flap after that. This was a lot of moving the book around and making sure the folds were creased nicely.

cut and foldPlace Print Self-explanatory. I almost put it on the wrong side, though! So really have to watch out for that!

Details As I looked at the cover, I wondered what it was missing. The entire back of the book was blank, so I googled some quotes and found a very fitting one! After that, I added the title and author to the spine, and the author’s name to the front cover.

And that’s my ReCover of my Ella Enchanted book!! Thank you for reading so far. If you have any questions about my process, or even just your favorite book, please comment below!

cover done

Make sure you watch the video of the process, too! It was good fun trying to edit all that footage.

You Are What You Read: A Natural History of Dragons by Marie Brennan

I’d been mulling over the next book to do for the “You Are What You Read” series–how could I top The Scarlet Pimpernel? Some stories don’t have very distinct clothing or objects to them. After a recent conversation with a friend about the new book to Lady Trent’s memoirs, though, I remembered that The Natural History of Dragons exists!

Would I want to be a dragon scientist? Why yes, I would like to be a dragon scientist! So drawing myself as Isabella was set into motion.

Isabella’s world is set in a Victorian-inspired time, so first order of business was to create a Victorian reference board on Pinterest. I have no idea why I hadn’t made a Victorian Board before this. It seems like it’d be a staple to any reference-geek. I located some websites and blogposts on clothing color, too, since black and white photos don’t tell that information.

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During my color studies of the dress, I became conflicted. Isabella wasn’t rich, but she had a comfortable living. Drab browns, or fancy purples?

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The scribbles are the studies. Do you see the three studies? Purples, and two different browns.

Fancy purples won out! I thought it was classy, and waaay more interesting than the browns. I wish I actually owned the book so I could fact check what Isabella wore.

Since I’m keeping the series in the same style, I used my thinnest fine liner–Sakura Pigma Micron 005, and flat layers of ink for the Copic markers for the outfit. The hair has layers of color, and so does the skin. In the end, I used several purples to create darker shadows, and unite the piece. Process video here:

What book do you find yourself in? Please write them below!!

Thank you so much for reading and watching! I’m really happy with how the piece ended up. Maybe one day I’ll sew this outfit together. Have a wonderful day! Hugs!

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Fin!

Nostalgia: Song of the Sparrow by Lisa Ann Sandell

When I was younger, reading poetry was not my first choice in picking up a book. Listening to poetry: fine. Reading by my lonesome: confusion!~ When I bought Song of the Sparrow at a Scholastic book fair, I had no idea it was a poem. The cover was pretty. And it dealt with Elaine from King Arthur. Best. Things. Ever!

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Song of the Sparrow was my first introduction to epic poetry. As I read it, all I thought was that the author wrote different. Even with my lack of knowledge of the medium I was reading, I zoomed through the book, and immediately read it again.

Protagonist Elaine, of the poem Lady of Shallot, lives in the encampment of Arthur with her father and brothers. She mingles with the soldiers as though she’s one of them, having grown up under all their wings. Her skills in healing, taught to her by Arthur’s older sister Morgan, help the outpost a lot.

True to her legend, she is in love with Lancelot–in this version, a young man who befriended her when she first arrived for refuge in the camp, and listened to every childish request to play even when he was busy. She’s only 16 in this retelling, also.

When Arthur’s father is poisoned and Arthur becomes the leader, the camp is divided. Because of his youth, many leave. This event snowballs into others, including an alliance formed on the arranged marriage of one Gwynivere.

All puzzle pieces start coming together, and the story goes on!

What stuck out in this Arthurian tale? The friendships! Everyone is in friendship, and it’s so genuine and loving. Over the story, Elaine grows into friendship with the cat-eyed Tristan. A friend her age who was disowned by his father and is cursed to love someone he shouldn’t love. They terrorize Gwynivere when she arrives. Her childhood friendship in Lancelot evolves into a childish crush, though it is wrought with heartbreak. Gentle Arthur always listens to her counsel. Even when Elaine and Gwynivere start off on the wrong foot, overcoming their adversaries blossoms their friendship.

If you’re into retold Arthurian Legends, pick up this book!

What is your favorite redone Arthurian Legend? I’ve love to hear your recommendations!

Nostalgia: The Immortals quartet by Tamora Pierce

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Cropped from an Image on the Wiki

Many of the books and movies I’ve come to categorize as ‘my favorites’ all can be credited to chance. The Immortals quartet by Tamora Pierce is one of those great random finds.

There became a time that the bookmobile no longer had enough variety for 11-year-old me. A girl can only check out the volumes of The Boxcar Children and Garfield so many times before she needs something new. Luckily, the library system had recently gone digital, and readers could place books on hold from a plethora of libraries in the southeast corner of Wisconsin to come to your location.

Typing in “fantasy” and “young adult” bombarded me with many new reading adventures. At that age, I also added “animal” to thin out the search. I’d click on whatever book cover I liked and read the description to see if it was worth having sent to the bookmobile.

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Daine!

What was to come up but The Immortals quartet? I accidentally put Wolf Speaker on hold first (wolves, duh!), realized it was the second book to four, and had to wait another week for the first book to come in so I could start to read.

Daine was the perfect heroine to introduce me to young adult fantasy. Brown hair and loved animals, just like me! The fact that her magic revolved around animals was my dream (I wanted to be a veterinarian for forever). I was also about her age in the first book, 12, when I first started reading her story. This was the perfect concoction to pull me into all of Tamora Pierce’s works.

(I am ashamed to admit, but I called her “Diane” in my head forever until I was a part of an anthology community on DA and figured out is was Daine, not Diane. Am I kicked out of the club??)

In high school, I found a greater connection to Keladry from The Protector of the Small, but The Immortals quartet will always hold a place in my heart–maybe one day I’ll purchase different covers than the photoed one’s I ended up buying because I needed to own the series.

What was the series that introduced you to Tamora Pierce’s books? I’d love to know!

Manga I Would Buy: A Delicious Relationship by Makimura Satoru

 

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As an avid reader of manga scans, I click through the fan-translated manga pretty quick. Many times, I don’t recall the name of the manga once I click on a new page. Or the characters’ names. Or the plot.

Other times, though, there is a series that captures my attention that I keep going back to.

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Momoe-chan

A Delicious Relationship by Makimura Satoru presents Fujiwara Momoe’s journey from incompetence to brilliance as a chef. Naive and unworldly Momoe must push forward into her newfound cooking dreams or get married per her relatives’ expectations.

 

 

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Miki-san

The story doesn’t shy away from the male-dominated dynamics of the chef world when a woman tries to enter. The reader even gets a two-point perspective on different ways women may act to get into the professional cooking world. Momoe loves being a woman, even if it sets her at a disadvantage in the eyes of her colleagues–stereotyped as not as smart or capable to be a chef, while a female rival, Miki, acts like a man to blend in and gain attention and respect. These two women are going towards the same goal, but rub each other the wrong way in their individual paths to professional chef. Their differences, though, help them each grow into their dreams more completely.

 

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Kanako-san

Opposite Momoe’s rival in the kitchen is her rival in love.  Kanako is a beautiful and smart woman who naturally moves into a relationship with Momoe’s teacher, Oda-san. Their relationship progresses through most of the series while Momoe takes on different challenges at another restaurant (in an attempt to stay on her dream because her heart couldn’t stand being near Oda and Kanako, poor girl). Even with her looks and her smarts, though, Kanako is not left with perfection. She struggles with insecurities inside herself that affect her relationships.

The theme of romantic love is soft and natural throughout the story, not being the focus. Always the story revolves around the challenges Momoe faces inside and outside herself.

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Epic Chiyo-baa-chan

This post cannot go on without acknowledging the incomparable Chiyo-baa. This granny is the curator of many successful men who were under her cooking tutelage after her husband died. She has spunk, a sharp tongue, and doesn’t miss a grain of rice. Her observation of other people is always spot on, though she is proven wrong on Momoe’s account. Anything she says is acted upon immediately. All her students are struck with fear upon any time she comes into their restaurant. This amazing woman is a glue to the characters in many ways–bringing other people in to challenge her students and being a rock for Momoe to return to.

 

Some harder themes that show up in the story are depression (one of Momoe’s most intriguing arcs), other mental illnesses, suicide, and familial deaths. These are handled with truth, without illusion. In a shorter story, these themes couldn’t have been tackled with such respect and humanity.

The story is wonderfully long and allows for the pacing of the growth of the characters to be natural. Including the love arcs. Every chapter is entertaining and includes food. Food food food! The reader learns along with Momoe the ins and outs of a restaurant and feels the love she has for the entire process. By the end of the series, the reader feels like they know all about restaurants, just like Momoe-chan.

Now if only a publisher would pick this up in America! It’s an older series, from 1993, and has never been printed in English. I love this series, though, and would totally buy it if it was ever produced here!!

 

 

 

You Are What You Read: The Scarlet Pimpernel

With the internet pointing out that the first masked hero was written by a woman, I needed to pick up that book and read it.

The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Emma Orzcy wasn’t an easy book to get into. The first chapter was okay, and the next few chapters were like trudging through molasses. Once the main heroine, Marguerite, took the point of view, I couldn’t put the book down.

What’s not to love about a woman described as “magnificent presence and regal figure”? Marguerite’s charisma fills every room she enters and hit you in the face. She is constantly asserting her intellect and strength while she is under pressure by Chauvelin to find and turn over the Scarlet Pimpernel to the French authorities.

Percy… Percy Percy Percy. The attraction he and Marguerite have towards each other is heartbreaking and fills me with glee. My favorite quote, one I hope have a Storiarts scarf, deals with their attraction:

[Marguerite] knew in a moment that for the past few months she had been mistaken: that this man who stood here before her, cold as a statue, when her musical voice struck upon his ear, loved her, as he had loved her a year ago: that his passion might have been dormant, but that it was there, as strong, as intense, as overwhelming, as when first her lips met his in one long, maddening kiss… Suddenly it seemed to her that the only happiness life could ever hold for her again would be in feeling that man’s kiss once more upon her lips. (126)

Sigh.~

The book is a great read, but I’ll be honest–the movie is better. The movie (with a young Ian McKellen), helps the story flow by making the events linear rather than comments about the past. Anthony Andrews is amazing flipping between the disguises of Percy Blakeney. The first time I saw it, my idea of who Percy was changed into a clearer idea. Jane Seymour as Marguerite is gorgeous and smart–embellishing an already wonderful character. Nothing is added to the movie that isn’t some way in the book. It’s a great book-to-movie adaptation. 10/10 would recommend.

What book are you reading right now? Is there any book you can see yourself in? Comment below!!