The letter is dated August 27, 1981. Mr. John Kelly, Curator of the de Grummond Children's Literature Collection, is writing children's author and illustrator Janina Domanska concerning her design for the annual Christmas card. The purpose of the annual Christmas card was to send season's greetings, but it also contained the dates for the upcoming Annual Children's Book Festival.
Mr. Kelly's directions to Ms. Domanska are clear: "The card needs to be limited to two colors, although some of our illustrators (such as Ed Renfro) have used several overlays and screens. I am enclosing copies of the last three Christmas cards. Your card should be the same size so as to fit into our envelope. The inside of the card will read "Our 15th Annual Children's Book Festival Will be March 25-26, 1982."
Mr. Kelly continues: "The Christmas card is sent to our contributors and friends all over the world, approximately 1,500 people."
Ms. Domanska writes back to Mr. Kelly on October 5, 1981: "Enclosed are three Christmas cards -(of the last years)-on Sept 19, 1981. I sent by the insured mail"the project and the color separations for 1981 Christmas card for the Collection"Please, be so kind, and let me know that you received the parcel""
This month's Item of the Month shows "the project" sent to Mr. Kelly. It begins with the original card and concept, which is limited to the two colors requested by Kelly. It is in hues of magenta and green with a pen and ink drawing of a big squirrel (Papa Squirrel?) handing a smaller squirrel (Baby Squirrel?) a squirrel-sized Christmas tree.
The interesting part of this item is the process Domanska used in creating the finished product. The cards were actually printed at the printing center at The University, so she sent the "dummy" of the card along with a color palate and the color separations which told the printer exactly what the artist had in mind. The first color separation, as shown by the key, represents green. Domanska communicated to the printer that the center tree should be green, as is made clear by the darkened tree and the green color code on the acetate sheet.
The second acetate sheet shows a magenta color code, but the printer wrote red on the sheet. In his October 12, 1981, letter to Ms. Domanska, Kelly states: "Your beautiful Christmas card has just come off the press. Here are a few copies. Although the printers had to change a few minor details such as color, we are very pleased with the result. I hope that your [sic] are also!"
The final plate shows the black key, which outlines the squirrels. The finished product was in red, green, and black. It is humorous to note that Kelly considered the changing of the colors as "minor."
Other Christmas cards from the de Grummond Children's Literature contributors can be found here. On this page, search for Christmas card, and you will be able to see other artists' contributions.
For more information about the de Grummond Collection, contact the de Grummond Curator, Ellen Ruffin, at 601.266.6543 or Ellen.Ruffin@usm.edu. To see more Items of the Month, click here.
Text by Ellen Ruffin, Curator of the de Grummond Collection