Friday, March 11, 2016

OK, I'm back.

I'll chalk it up to a combination of laziness and busy-ness, but It's been over a year since I last wrote a post, so I'm getting back into the swing of things with a round-up of the whirlwind of activities from 2015:

Firstly, I was happy to have Miranda Paul (from Green bay, WI), the author of my sixth illustrated children's book, and Isatou Ceesay (from the Gambia, West Africa), the real-life hero of the book One Plastic Bag: Isatou Cesay and the Recycling Women of the Gambia, visit Albany during their book tour!

Let me start off by saying how special it is for me to be able to meet the author of one of my books. That rarely happens! (It is often assumed that children's books happen with the author and illustrator working side-by-side, but that is not so- I as the illustrator work alone, like a hermit, in my apartment after I'm hired by the book publisher to illustrate a book) It's not until I've finished the illustrations that I even reach out to the author, if they have not contacted me yet.

And to be able to meet the subject of a book I've done is even more rare! Isatou Ceesay is the first for me! I felt like I knew her from my research and illustrations, but shaking the hand of the lady herself was amazing.

We started off Miranda and Isatou's week in Albany with an Art for All event at the Albany Institute of History and Art, just a few blocks from my home.

Isatou with fans and their recycled art creations

Isatou brought a HUGE bag of recycled items made by the women in her village in N'Jau, Gambia.
They make recycled plastic bag coin purses (like in the book!), mini soccer balls, keychains and jewelry.

We used colorful plastic and paper bags.. 
... to make beautiful collages!


Next on the One Plastic Bag Albany tour was story-time at Fiamma's Enchanted Cafe in Altamont.

What good listeners!

We had the opportunity to do a book signing at my favorite local bookstore, the Little Book House of Stuyvesant Plaza. I used to go there during the summers as a little kid! 

Miranda Paul, Isatou Ceesay and myself, standing in front of the mini house that kids (and limber enough grown-ups) can sit inside of to read!

Isatou demonstrated how she can cut one plastic bag into one very long strip! In the book, she and her friends teach themselves how to crochet with these longs strips of plastic, which they use as thread to make recycled plastic bag purses.

If you're curious about the process, check out this YouTube video of Isatou doing her demonstration: 

(I had to watch this like five times to figure out how to do it myself)

Next came a school-wide assembly at Tamarac Elementary School, in Brunswick/Brittonkill, 

Presentations and workshops at Brown School in Schenectady, 

and at Wildwood School in Schenectady. Students created loads of recycled art projects, and they even wrote a song about One Plastic Bag: Isatou Ceesay and the Recycling Women of the Gambia!

Collaged "Welcome to Wildwood" sign.

Still lifes with recycled plastic bottles and paper flowers.

A collaborative classroom art piece with a chicken wire screen and plastic bag strips.

What a great way to end Isatou and Miranda's visit! 

Book store staff recommendation!

For more information and upcoming events featuring the book One Plastic Bag: Isatou Ceesay and the Recycling Women of the Gambia, check out

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