A Christmas Project

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When I was a little girl, I had a puzzle that I absolutely loved.  It was made of little cubes with illustrations for 6 different fairy tales.  It was actually pretty easy to "solve" and once you had one picture put together, you just had to know how to flip the blocks just right to get the other pictures to line up correctly.  I think that playing with it was really good for my ability to understand spatial relationships.





















Sadly, that toy went the way of most toys long ago and is gone.  I haven't been able to find another one since.  But recently, I ordered some tiny hardwod cubes from DickBlick and downloaded some of my favorite illustrations from SurLaLune and printed them out on pieces of Strathmore Satinboard.  I thought of buying some digital sticker paper, but decided that might be too messy and complicated to cut up and apply neatly.  I figured the satinboard would take a nice, smooth image, modge podge onto the blocks pretty well and hold up to use for a while.  I also would have liked slightly larger blocks - maybe 1" square instead of 3/4" but this is O.K.  Maxx has pretty good fine motor comtrol and can benefit from practice.

(This image is from Edmund Dulac's illustrations for The Little Mermaid.  I know she's kinda sexy.  Don't you know that's what Fairy Tales are all about?)

I cropped my illustrations square (which sadly eliminated some of my absolute favorites) did some basic math and printed them out so that they would fit on a six block square.  For the first illustration, I used my slidey paper cutter to do the cutting,  very precisely, and glued the little pieces on with Sobo glue.  (I love Sobo glue.  It works for anything, dries clear and cleans up well as long as you get to it before it dries.)

Now - before you stat thinking that I do this sort of thing all the time, you need to know that this is a much fussier project than those I usually undertake.  Gluing tiny squares onto tiny cubes is not my idea of fun.  I encountered some trouble with the prints themselves after my fingers got sticky with glue.  The picture actually pulls off the paper if it gets stuck to something tacky.  This is frustrating.


I coated the first illustration with liquitex gloss gel medium to protect it from further image loss as I apply the rest of the illustrations because I know that finger stickiness will be involved.   I am experimenting with applying the gloss medium to the illustrations before cutting and gluing to see if that has a better result.

I'm not really happy with the streaks in the gloss medium but that is what I have at home and I do not want to use any of those spray glosses.  Our family has enough respritory issues going on right now and its too darn cold and wet to do that sort of thing outside.  If I had been working on this in the summer - I'd probably have coated each illustration with spray on diamond glaze or something before gluing.


I will also make a little book with the illustrations in it so that Maxx will be able to see what each picture should look like finished.  The booklet and finished puzzle will fit quite nicely in this old Harry & David box I've been saving for a couple of years.  I knew it would come in handy!

He is quite interested in puzzles right now and is getting very good at them.  He is also finally getting interested in faiy tales and stories I can tell him without a book.   We had a lot of fun retelling Little Red Riding Hood the other day.  Somehow, the wolf grew a few extra heads and arms and ate Gramma, Grampa and Little Red before the Woodsman finally showed up with his axe.  Too many Greek myths, maybe?

The illustrations I chose to use are all quite old - Rackham, Dulac, Parish, Billibin, Folkard - all well within public domain at this point so I am comfortable using them for a family project.   This would also be a nice project using family photos or your own illustrations.  Whenever you use someone else's art for a project, whether you intend to sell the project or not, you should check to make sure that it is not under copyright.  Be careful and be respectful!  If the illustrator is still alive, he or she probably holds a copyright and it is illegal to copy that work, even if you intend the copy for personal use only.  There are fair use exceptions for research and reporting purposes but even then, it is nice to ask.

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