A number of years ago, my husband Bruce, gave me a 1952 edition of The New Funk and Wagnalls Encyclopedia Vol.1 (A-Ames) that he found on one of his book hunting expeditions.

It sat around my studio waiting for me to find it inspiring.  Just the one single volume, 5 ½ x 8 ½ “, with old but not particularly charming black and white photos, published by a company called Unicorn Publishers, Inc. New York.

One morning, during a lull between jobs, I was bemoaning my inability to get started on doing some artwork just for myself. The A-Ames finally caught my attention.  It was unattractive enough that tearing out pages wouldn’t have been all that difficult for me and according to Bruce, the one volume wasn’t worth selling either.

I decided I would give myself a challenge to pick a word or a name from this volume and illustrate it giving myself a quick deadline to complete it.  It turned out to be a great exercise and I was happy with the results.

I began to do one every day or two….some more successful than others.  Entries like:

Alien and Sedition Acts, Alcoforado, Marianna (1640-1723), Airmail, Alectryomancy, Adams, Algae, American Literature.

At one point, I had thought I might even do a blog of just those images.

I also thought of turning them into my own book of Vol.1 (A-Ames) one day. I have done close to 30 of these now.

Here’s a few of them:


American Emily


I didn’t think that they were what art directors were looking for though so I never actively promoted them that way.  Some of the pieces were included in a few art exhibits but like my early sketchbook pieces they had that too “fine artsy” “not commercial enough” quality to them.

If you happen to be an art director reading  and seeing this, I’d love to hear from you!

I will post more of these from time to time….