Category: Blog

A Tale of Two Burnishers

Of all the tools I use to create plasticine artwork my favourite is an old Letraset burnisher that has been around since my art college days. It’s spoon shaped metal tip, originally made for transferring rub-on lettering, is just the thing for adding texture and smoothing tiny details in clay.  Over the years it has been nibbled to a nub of it’s former self, and I never let it out of the studio for fear of losing it.

Recently, a mysterious brown paper package arrived in the mail. To my surprise and delight it contained a twin of my burnisher –  in perfect condition. My dear OCAD friend Dawn had found it when organizing her studio. Having seen my beaten up burnisher in a post, she and graciously sent me hers. Hooray! I’m set up for a few more decades. Thanks Dawn!

Tools of the trade and vintage burninshers

Tools of the trade and vintage burninshers

Bears in the Library!

You can see the original artwork of these teddy bears from Sing a Song of Bedtime at the exhibit Three Bears and Beyond: Children’s Books About Bears, on display at the Osborne Collection in the beautiful Lillian Smith Branch of the Toronto Public Library. The show runs from July 11, 2016 – September 3, 2016.  Of course, there’s always something to see at the Osborne, where you can get up close to fabulous original artwork and materials from children’s books past and present.

Teddy Bear

“Don’t go in there!”

It was the perfect early summer morning.  At the start of the path into one of my favourite little forests in the city, I met two people coming out.

“Don’t go in there!” the man said.

“Why not?” I feared the worst.

“You’ll fall in love!” he laughed. He was right. The light through the new leaves, the bird songs and the smell of the earth and growing things all made me feel as if I had stepped into enchanted fairytale forest.

Taking time out to walk in nature is something I try to do every day. There is always something interesting to see. It clears my mind of all the busy details and interruptions. More often than not, while I’m focused on the surroundings,  ideas and solutions pop into my head.

Opening a new book can be like stepping into the woods. Something about entering another world sharpens the senses and makes us more open to new patterns of thinking.

So, I suggest: DO go into the woods, and Do open a book. It’s worth the risk of falling in love!




An Art Gallery and an interview at wonderful Wilkinson School

I had a great time meeting with readers at the Wilkinson School Library. An added treat was a visit to the Room 2 Art Gallery, where kindergarten students displayed their sketches and finished plasticine artwork. Gorgeous! Then it was a dash back to the library for an interview with a student for the Wilkinson Podcast. Eshal was well prepared and it was a pleasure to chat with her. You can listen to the podcast here. Photos thanks to the Wilkinson School Library, Room 2 photo thanks to Ms. Bartkin and Ms. Truong.

Visit to Wilkinson School

Visit to Wilkinson School

A bird in the library

It has been a busy spring! I have been visiting schools in and around Toronto. Each school was unique, but what they all had in common was a bustling library with a passionate librarian at the centre. The libraries have been filled with Forest of Reading displays, projects, art galleries, green screen stations, technology of all sorts being explored, clubs, readers, readers, readers and more. The formula is simple: School library + Librarian=enthusiastic, curious and engaged learners. The library ceiling at Dr. Eric Jackman features this cheery little bird taking flight. I think it perfectly illustrates the spirit of freedom and possibility that is found in a school library. And the fun!


Barbara Reid – the bio!

I’m thrilled to be included in the new Canadian Biographies series by Pebble Plus, a division of Capstone Press. The series for young readers features simple text and full-colour photos that describe the lives of inspiring Canadians. Others in the series include Robert Munsch, Hayley Wickenheiser, Chris Hadfield, Patrick Chan, Christine Sinclair and Terry Fox. You never know where plasticine may take you…

Group of Seven at Northlea School

I recently had the pleasure of visiting grade seven and eight classes at Northlea Elementary and Middle School where art students are studying the Group of Seven painters of the Canadian landscape. Students will be re-creating paintings using plasticine. Plasticine shares many of the qualities of oil paint, and the style and subject matter of the Group of Seven are a great fit with this medium. Here are just a few of the first finished pieces. I think you will agree, these young artists have done an amazing job of capturing the colour, form and movement of the originals. I think the Group would be impressed!

Wonderful Wild Things at the Library!

In December, the Lillian Smith and Toronto Reference branches of the Toronto Public Library welcomed enthusiastic young readers and artists to plasticine workshops in celebration of the 50th birthday of Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are. After reading the book and sharing a few plasticine tips, I watched dozens of wonderful Wild Things take shape.  Here are just a few samples. Like snow flakes, no two Wild Things are alike. Imagine the Rumpus!

Wild thing Slide group

Illustration comes to life!

I had a wonderful day visiting with readers at Kingsway College School last week. An added treat was the view from the library. I looked out at recess to see all the kids out on the snowy field and it looked just like a page from my book Perfect Snow. As the character Scott would say: Excellent!

KingswaySnowYard  PerfectSnowclip