18.2.11

A secret revealed




At last I can let out my breath; I have finally received my advance copies of the most exciting job I have ever worked on. And work it certainly was. Blog followers who've had the patience to stick around this quiet place might remember that I spent the first half of last year working on *stuff* which
rendered me an exhausted hermit. And here is the first fruit.




Yes. My needle felt toys now have their own little world, 'Puddletown Tales', published by
Templar UK. It has been over two years in the making; one year of waiting to hear if the books were going ahead, six months of creating them and then a long, slow wait for the first copies to arrive this week. Regular readers may recognise the mouse on the front, a bit altered from the original.



Dear Andy has looked after me for nearly twenty years. We aren't married, but we have stuck to each other like glue and he has been there for me all the time, solid as a tall oak tree. It hasn't always been easy, especially during the ten years when it seemed as if I would never get a break. Without his support, this book may not have happened. So this first *all me* book is dedicated to him. There is also a beautiful introduction composed by Hannah Wilson the editor.




Friends will know I adore silhouettes. They aren't terribly commercial, but Janie the designer (who shares my love) squeezed one in as the Puddletown logo - naturally, a goose. Although this first book has no geese in, long time readers will know that I have a 'thing' about needle felt geese and they star in the
next title.




The first spread is flat. Every penny counts in book production and we had to choose between having the multi-layered cover (expensive) or five pop up spreads. So one pop-up scene was sacrificed to pay for the simply gorgeously produced cover.



Quite often I unconsciously drew on familiar home surroundings to create Mrs Mouse's little home.




The actual book design was put together by my friend and designer Janie. All the artworks were done as spots or separate layers and the needle felt characters photographed in-house at Templar by William Steele. I did enjoy making the cupcakes!




Thankfully in these days of Photoshop and digital magic, single items can be manipulated and reproduced, saving a lot of work.




I was allowed to more or less indulge myself to my heart's content, which (as my fellow professional illustrators will know) is quite a rare and wonderful thing. The cake which Kitty Blue is pulling is just one example.




And of course, there had to be toadstools of some kind, illustrated and needle felted. ( am a very
keen mushroom spotter and sometime gatherer).




There are a few little 'in-jokes' in the final spread.




For instance, this little picture of trees by moonlight...






...is *rather* similar to one we have hanging on a beam in our own tiny cottage.




It's a photo of a mixed media/textile illustration I made an awfully long time ago at college in 1993.





On this side you can see a grandfather clock which has a tiny wooden mouse on one side, referencing one of my favourite furniture makers,
Robert 'Mouseman' Thompson.




And to end with (you will be relieved to hear) a cheeky nod to my own Red Flannel Elephant Designs logo, which anyone who has bought my cards or toys will recognise.





Thirty one years ago, a sad, angry and very alone twelve year old orphan stood under a favourite tree. Her parents had died, one after the other, in the space of a few months - her mother had passed away at Christmas. Now she was off to a strange new foster home - God help her, she didn't know then that it was to be as unkind as it was.

She stood under that tree, looked at the sky and whispered 'I will become an artist for you Dad and a writer for you Mum'. She swallowed the many tears that she couldn't bring herself to shed and walked off to her new - and very uncertain - future. Well Mum, Dad - it took three decades, but I finally got there. For you. With cupcakes.

107 comments:

Rosie said...

My warmest congratulations. You so deserve it. A truely heart-rending post.

joanna said...

Beautiful. You are amazing! Looking forward to seeing you, and your gorgeous books, very soon. xxx

Donna said...

Oh Gretel. I am crying as I write this. What a wonderful book you have created you clever, clever girl!!!!! I am just so proud of you. I know that you hinted to me some 18 months ago about a secret which may or may not be happening when you sat in my kitchen and so I delighted to see that here it is.

You are fabulous honey and I for one will be putting my order in. This book is a must have and next time I see you I will be asking you to sign it. Woo hoo and well done you xxx

p.s Well done to your lovely man too, for being there and supporting you through this x

Wipso said...

Huge congratulations. It's simply beautiful.
A x

tlawwife said...

Gretel,

I am so excited for you and for all of the children who will get so much pleasure out of this book. Looking at the pictures makes me want to turn the pages. I can't wait until it is available in America because for sure my home will have one to share with the grandchildren.

Congratulations on you persistance, and ability to hold on to your dream and work until it has come true. I am so proud of you and Andy for as you have said this was not done alone.

God Bless You
Carol

Terri said...

What a beautiful creation! Many congratulations Gretel on your long-awaited and well-deserved break. You truly are an inspiration to artists and writers everywhere. I hope you'll be celebrating with cupcakes all round!

Heidi said...

This is such fantastic news. Congratulations! The quality and detail is fantastic. I love the layered cover. It makes me want to flip it open. To think of all those days, busy felting, and here it is in another form. You are an inspiration.

jfidz said...

Big, big congratulations Gretel - thoroughly well-deserved.

Fibrespace said...

congratulations, how exciting, I'm sure it's all the sweeter from having to wait so long. It's wonderful to see all your hard work has paid off.

Sarah said...

Well I'm glad to know I'm not the only one moved to tears (mind you I cry at the drop of a hat!), congratulations Gretel - you deserve this so much and the book is stunningly beautiful. I can't wait to see it in person.

rachel said...

At last! It's been quite a wait, but what a splendid ending. I'm moved and thrilled for you, and wish your beautiful book every success. Well done, you!

Lorna said...

Hot Damn! Well done,Gretel.

Gerry Snape said...

I feel very proud to know you and have seen how hard and long you have worked towards this. Wonderful...I know some girls who will probably be getting them ordered on Amazon soon!

Gerry Snape said...

Oh and don't forget that I have an original by your lovely man!

Anji* said...

Wow! Congratulations, your book looks perfectly lovely Gretel. Really something to be proud of. And such a moving story about your journey, it brought a tear to my eyes too.

I've just signed up on amazon to be notified when it's available. My daughter will love it!

Cathy said...

What a wonderful achievement Gretel. Congratulations. Your feltwork is adorable. My brother's partner Lesley has just written a book about a rag rug maker friend and it is being published by Schiffer this year. She has had to make so many alterations and at times has felt like tearing her hair out. Writing and getting a book published is no easy matter. I hope yours is mega successful. Very sad to hear of your hardships in early life but it has obviously made you the person you are today.

Sweet Pea said...

Yay! Congratulations! I am so happy for you - all your hard work has paid off and the book looks so sweet and wonderful :)

Jessie said...

Gretel, many congratulations on all your hard work and your talent! I'm so happy for you and I've got to tell you, you made me cry with the last paragraph of this post. A wonderful creation and well deserved success. I hope you celebrate in style! :) xx

The Pea Pod said...

Congratulations! That's an amazing achievement, here's to the next 5 books and the movie too! ;) xx

liZZie said...

Oh Gretel it is a wonderful book, and so much work no wonder you were tired out. It's marvelous that editorial didn't stop you doing this the way you wanted, they know perfection when they see it. I hope that this means you & Andy are getting nearer and nearer to making some other dreams come true now. Wish I could get to give you a massive hug & share in celebrations ♥

Helen said...

I am so happy for you. It's so nice to see peoples dreams finally come true. Is it going to be available in the US?

Kitty said...

Congratulations! What a lovely, lovely thing to have created; the products of your imagination are so spellbinding!

Claire said...

Oh Gretel, finally the BIG reveal........... WONDERFUL, congratulations, it's very exciting and so nice to share it with you.

All that time and effort has finally paid off. The book looks fantastic, I looooove Mrs Mouse and her cupcakes, they both look yummy.
I love all the little details and the 'in jokes'. Those purple toadstools looked wicked.

That little 12 year old girl has fulfilled her wish, made her dream come true, can it get any better?

Hope you and your cake eating man had some cupcakes to celebrate this event.

Claire :}

Emm@ said...

Just lovely. Lovely, lovely. Congrats!

Threadspider said...

Wow-what a fantastic book and a wonderful achievement Gretel. I hope you sell millions and write many more. Congratulations.

Me Sweet said...

I've been marking your site, coming back and forth for many months, waiting to find out the surprise. Congratulations on a wonderful and well-deserved project! I'm hoping that it will reach the states so I can spread your name far and wide..into all of the wee little children's homes so they can learn that creativity and wonderful storytelling, is still alive and well.
Warmly,
Christy in Florida

Menopausal musing said...

YOU. DID. IT! I am sitting smiling here. Wishing you unlimited success! :O)))))!

Chichi Parish said...

Bloody marvelous, Gretel. Absolutely wonderful news. What a cracking touchy feely book. I adore your elegant blue cat-what a lovely necklace she is wearing, she's terribly well dressed. No combats! xx

ellen said...

Dear Gretel,
I am so very happy for you. What an accomplishment. I hope that I can get the book soon here in the states.
I am wiping up some tears here reading all of this post.
Congratulations.

Iwanna said...

It is amazing! It's -by far- the best artistic work I've seen recently! I think it's because it cames from your heart! Congratulation and hope to see more in the future!

Rima said...

This made me so happy! I am so so pleased that your world is in pages! Wow, good on Templar! I shall be buying it! A thousand bravos and love and cheers for you both! X Rima

PS - I had a "Mrs Mouse" as a little'un too :) She had a floral dress and nightcap to match!

Mary Beth said...

This is such exciting news and I'm so happy for you! Congratulations and here's to many, many more books in your future. I can't wait to see what comes next:)

cluckingabout said...

Hi, your book is absolutly Beautiful .Well done !
l have been visiting you for some time and l am so pleased for you. l certainly will be buying your book.l love the mice and cakes..
with all bestwishes

Bee said...

This is so, so beautiful -- and your own story is so touching.

There are writers, and there are artists, but rarely are both combined (so skillfully!) in one person. Can't wait to order my copy . . .

Most heartfelt congratulations to you. xx

Chrissie said...

Uplifting and moving story - well-deserved success to you and,of course, Andy. Heartfelt congratulations!

Mike Woodcock said...

Wow! So totally made-up for you! What an enchanting place Puddletown looks. Many congratulations on a fine achievement.

pip said...

You are an artist and a writer... and I'll order your book as soon as it becomes available! Congratulations x

acornmoon said...

I am so very happy for you Gretel, you have created something very very special, from the heart. I think this will be the tip of the iceberg for you.

Your needlefelted creatures have such character and together with your illustration you have created your own special world. Well done you !!!

Karen said...

Congratulations Gretel! What a wonderful book! :) So pleased for you. May this be the first of many more.
xx

Sue said...

Huge congratulations. I shall be ordering for my granddaughter. Enjoy every minute. X

janet said...

Dear Gretel,
You have no idea how big a smile is on my face right now :->

PERFECT...that is the only word I can think of..the cover, illustrations and stunning figures....just perfect!

Your story of dedication, hard work and strength, brings tears to my eyes. I have so much admiration and respect for you...you will never know.

Bask in the glow of accomplishment and success...it is well deserved.

proud to call you a friend,
Janet xox

PS...dear Andy...thanks for being there for our girl...you ROCK!

Sue said...

PS Just got back from seeing 'True Grit', as I read your post I thought about it and you and thought you might like it - a 14 year old girl with attitude avenges the death of her father in a harsh cruel world. Great film although I'm not usually into Westerns... X

gillianleesmith said...

oh gretel I am a sentimental soppy old soul but I am in tears reading this - really, the biggest congratulations to you on this huge endeavour - I am so over the moon for you. Your mum and dad would be so incredibly proud of you. The book looks absolutely wonderful and I for one shll be ordering a copy! x

BumbleVee said...

well done you !!...... I'm brimming too.... knowing how tough it must have been after being dealt a hand like that. Shit sure does happen some days....and I'm just so darn happy you were able to hang in there and finally overcome all of it.... and now to manage this! Way to go Gretel! How proud I am to know you.... and how proud your Mum and Dad would be of their little girl.

This is so exciting!

Soozcat said...

Hurray! CM and I are thrilled for you. I can't help but think your parents would be so pleased with this success (and just as convinced as I am that you will have many more in future).

Many hugs to you and Andy. Off to see about pre-ordering a particular book.

Over the Garden Wall said...

Congratulations Gretel. You have added another realm to the world of children's literature, as distinctive as Mabel Lucie Atwell
or Hugh Lofting.

Frances said...

Oh Gretel, on this night lit by a very bright full moon, I am so delighted to read you post.

Wow. Wow. And ... one more wow!

Bet this book of yours is going to delight many children, and also please the eyes and sensitivities of many adults.

Amazone UK is great...I am gonna have to see about how to get Amazon USA to get me one of these books.

It's late night here for me now, but I know that in the clear light of day I am going to start my book buying research

Bravo, dear Gretel. And best wishes to Andy! xo

Frances Tyrrell said...

Congratulations Gretel! How wonderful to have the beautiful all-PG books at last, the realization of a dream and a promise. And thank you for the virtual tour, I have been clicking on every picture for a closer view to see your illustrator's touches! A book to treasure and keep.

Tonia said...

I don't very often have to sniff and blink to clear my vision after a blog post. Biggest of big congratulations: a really wonderful book, I'm sure they'd both be very proud of you.

Shelley Noble said...

Looks amazing. Beautiful work!

Caroline B said...

Congratulations Gretel, it looks terrific. You must be feeling so proud - if only you could travel back in time and tell the 12 year old you that her dream would come true. I think that is one book that will find it's way into my collection!

Sarah Wimperis said...

Bloody he'll GP, you made me cry! So very happy for you, the book looks fantastic, the felting splendid, picturing wonderful, well done, well done and hurrah for the solid trees and rocks of partners that help us through! Xxx

Rowan said...

How wonderful and exciting to have published your own book! It must have been a long hard road to get to this point - but how satisfying to have the finished product in your hands and such a long held ambition fulfilled.

Jane said...

Fabulous news, well done all. I've gone to reserve my copy already, it'll be just right for my niece.

Crafty Green Poet said...

how exciting to see your book published! It looks wonderful and your felt figures are so cute!

Magpie Magic said...

Wow! I am so pleased for you Gretel and the book is wonderful. It's beautiful and I love the combination of your felted toys and painted illustrations. I always knew you'd get there. Congratulations. Have a big bottle of cyber elderflower wine (seems more fitting than champagne) on me and, of course, a lovely cup cake. Well done! xo

Jill said...

I am choked - well done, well done. What a heart warming achievement; congragulations. Here's to the launch of of Mrs Mouse's Cupcakes and the memory of your Mum and Dad.
Jill x

Angela Cater, Illustrator said...

What a beautiful blog post and many congratulations on your book, it's a wonderful idea.

Twiglet said...

A wonderful post carrying such fantastic news! Well done you Gretel! You must be so relieved that after such adversity you have succeeded in your aims! The book looks lovely and I hope it will be a top seller - you deserve it! x Jo

Puddock said...

Gretel - this is wonderful. The book is gorgeous, and all those needle-felted bits and bobs are dreamy.

I knew you had had troubles in your past but didn't realise it was so bad. What an inspiration you are to us all! Your Mum and Dad would be so proud of you :)

Charlotte said...

Congratulations to you; it is beautiful and wonderful beyond words.

Deb said...

lovely as always Gretel. very nice to see you doing you so well! dx

d. moll, l.ac. said...

Be beyond wonderful, actually I've tried to read the post a couple times but just started crying. Simply divine all of it. Long live Puddletown!!!!! (clink)

averilpam said...

Your words at the end brought me to tears. Your creations are just stunning and the book looks fabulous, I'm trying to think who I can buy it for! Congratulations xx

Judy Grupp Studio said...

You are living proof that dreams do come true! Enjoy the success - and thanks for the inspiration!

Cathy Holtom said...

Congratulations, I love how you have merged your different talents in the book. The cupcakes are so sweet!

beckasharpe said...

Stunning work, congratulations! I wish you every success with them. It shows dreams and hard work really do pay off. The cupcakes are just amazing! (as is all your work...) :D
Becka

tea and cake said...

With tears in my eyes, I congratulate you on your life's work coming to fruition. xx

Pearl said...

Oh my goodness I just couldn't be happier for you. Your talent is finally being appreciated by all.
This is just a darling book. You bet I will pre-order my copy.
Hugs and kisses to you and a big congratulations.

French Knots said...

Congratulations! How exciting it must be to see it in the flesh, your characters are wonderful, full of life and personality. It's sure to sell well!

tut-tut said...

well, I just want to add my congrats to you. I am honored to have an ornament you've created and the ladybug (-bird) . . . it's all up from here on

CrazyJaneDesigns said...

congratulation!! I'm soooo pleased for you. and I live just down the road from Puddletown!! I never knew it had such famous creatures living there :)

Ellen-Mary said...

I am so happy for you! It must feel wonderful to hold that book in your hands. Congratulations!

Domestic Goddesque said...

That is such a beautiful book. I can't tell you how special I think it is.

Grumpy Old Woman said...

OMG - this is so wonderful......
*snivel* - congratulations xxxx
§{:O])=

Isabelle said...

A wonderful looking book! So rewarding when hard work pays off in the end :-)
I love the name of the tales, as it happens I used to live very close to a place called Puddletown and went through it on my way to school.
Isabelle x

D A Nelson said...

Lovely, well done you!

Dawn

gretchen said...

Heart "felt" congratulations on a sweet dream come true- no one deserves it more than you! Such happy news!

Vikki said...

Gretel! Many many congratulations on the book, it looks sumptous & I am so pleased that all your hard work is now available in book shaped form. Brilliant stuff, well done you!

Vikki x & Witchcat x

Vintage to Victorian at Dairy House Antiques said...

Congratulations Gretel

I came to this post via Donna's FB mention and am thrilled to have found it. I'll be ordering as a keeper until my granddaughter's old enough. I'll be able to enjoy it myself in the meantime.

You must be so thrilled to have achieved your lifetime's ambition and my heart goes out to you. I shall be a firm follower of your blog from now on.

Congratulations!
Sue

frayedattheedge said...

Many, many congratulations - I started crying when I got to the end. Your parents would be so proud to see how you have turned out. Andy sounds like Malcolm - always there when needed!!

Flávia Leitão said...

Congratulations!
The book is absolutely beautiful!
The combination of techniques works very well!

Bumpkin Bears said...

gosh, I remember visiting you here sometime back and always admiring your illustrations. Now I feel a lump in my throat as I read your last passage. I too lost my Mum and would one day love to be able to illustrate and write a book to show her. I am sure that your parents are smiling down and very very very proud of their little girl! your book is STUNNING, how fabulous to combine your needle felting - CONGRATULATIONS! Hugs, Catherine x

Laurel said...

Oh, congratulations, Gretel. Your story is so touching and the book is just lovely (and I can only begin to imagine all the hard work that went into it). I am thrilled for you and can't wait to see where you will go from here.

Suze said...

Sometimes the right things happen to the right people...sometimes it takes awhile and comes after much hardship...it's wonderful your right thing happened, because you're certainly the right people!
Congratulations, Gretel...hardwork...yes...satisfying...no doubt...and to be able to share it with a special love...simply wonderful!

Marianne said...

Gretel, love,
You rock!! What a wonderful, wonderful book...and such beautiful toys and pictures. Well done. And such a lovely memorial to your parents, and especially to Andy.

Bless
Marianne

Becky W. said...

Wow, and many many congratulations on a beautiful piece of art and for achieving your ambitions! I can't quite find the right words so I'll settle for sending you my heartiest congratulations again! And to your lovely Andy too. He must be so proud of you.

Catherine Hayward said...

Wonderful! Congratulations for finally realizing the dream. The book looks great - utterly 'you' and different to everything else that's out there. You must be so proud. :)

cristina said...

Hi, I am an Italian fan of your blog. I love your cottage and often drean of living in your beautiful village. Today I have read of your success. I am happy for your achievement. A great moment you have certainly deserved. Who knows, maybe one day we could swap homes for a holiday. Ciao e congratulazioni
Cristina

Karren said...

Wonderful, wonderful, we're all so very happy for you, and proud to be a small part of your life, by watching and cheering you on. Well done!

Malka Michaela said...

Dear Gretel, I have stumbled upon your blog quite by coincidence and am so happy i did. Your post moved me to tears and I was gasping at every adorable picture of your lil' felt friends. How imaginative, how creative, how much work and love has been put in! I am very passionate about my art, new to blogging and a busy mom at the moment , but I dream to be where you are at right now some day. You are a tremendous inspiration! Thank you. I am looking forward to see more of your work and purchase your book in the near future.

Yarrow said...

Oh Gretel, I couldn't be happier for you and have tears in my eyes :D
You are a wonderful inspiration and have achieved so much. A massive and heartfelt congratulations to you.xxx

Kim said...

All that work!
I do hope we can get it in the US...wouldn't my little granddaughter just love this book!
How beautiful......you did an amazing job.

I wish you every success with the book and future books too.

Happy sewing

LiBBy said...

This is incredibly fantastically wonderful Gretel !!! Im enamored! Will be ordering myself a copy!

Sue said...

Wow.......what a brill book! Completely individual and fresh yet gorgeous-looking! Clever old you! XX

June said...

Hi Gretel,
I have been catching up with blogs I haven't visited for some time, and I found this wonderful news on yours. Congratulations on your beautiful book. I feel so happy for you.

Graceful Moments said...

I have been following your blog for many years now, enjoying your art and the snip its of your life in "nowhere." This post made my heart sing with joy and my eyes leak as I pictured that 12 year old girl making her promise! Bravo Gretel! Your book is simply wonderful and I can't wait to purchase one for my grandchildren!
So happy that your project was a huge success!

samuel said...

Gretel I am so happy that your special world is making its way into the larger world. The two have needed to meet for a very long time. can't wait to get my hands on a copy.

natural attrill said...

Well done Gretel!
Penny.
xx

Gwen Buchanan said...

Altogether Fabulous!!!

Congratulations on your perseverance and determination, and imagination and talent and... everything it took to come to this point..

Stephanie Roth Sisson said...

completely perfect. It reminds me of a quote I love from Martha Graham:


"There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and will be lost. "

You've created something so unique, instantly recognizable as yours and so very beautiful- you've really gotten to a place of mastery. Well done!

Jocko says so too.

Doda said...

What an amazing story you have. Beautiful. I hope your new book is a wonderful success. I shall have to get my hands on a copy for my little girl. Your work is amazing!

Deborah said...

Just beautiful, exquisite, delicate. These physical expressions of your flights of imagination take us into a new world, Gretel :-) May the books sell well, and may many, many children enjoy the stories and characters you have created here.

I'm dead chuffed I am still young enough to enjoy them!

Debs said...

Gretel,
I am so happy for you, this is such fantastic news.
Congratulations! Hugs x

rachel said...

I have just discovered your blog and I am so in love with your work - smitten! Congratulations on this beautiful book. I can't wait to see it in person. I look forward to perusing your past posts, and of course, your etsy store, too! :-) Brava!

Boxoftrix said...

What a beautiful book well done!and a lovely post written from your heart x

Snappy Di said...

Lovely... simply lovely. The book, the characters. My granddaughters would love this.

Di
Congratulations!