Q&A with Tooth Fairy Box Author/Illustrator Elizabeth Evans
Today we’re talking to Elizabeth Evans, the author and illustrator of our just-released Tooth Fairy Box, a boxed set of envelopes, notepads and a “tooth log”—everything the modern tooth fairy needs. Elizabeth is the creative engine behind Wildhorse Press, a letterpress studio known for their fun, punchy cards and other paper goods.
Could you tell us a little bit about your background in illustration?
I’ve loved drawing since I was a kid, one of my favorite things to do as a child was to raid the office supply room at my dad’s office for different colored pens and papers and then spend hours drawing with them. Before getting into printmaking, I worked as a color specialist in the apparel industry and studied graphic design and both of these areas have influenced my illustration.
How did you learn to letterpress?
I started taking relief printing classes at a community arts center and they had lots of letterpress equipment in their printing department. I was curious about and drawn to the presses so I took a class and learned the basics, but the majority of my learning began after I rescued a rusted Chandler and Price from a barn, cleaned it up, and started printing daily.
What do you like about working in that form?
I like the tactile, handmade quality of letterpress work. I like physically working with the press, getting to know the quirks of a hundred-year-old machine and the adjustments to make to get the results I want—problem solving.
How does it influence your work?
Letterpress has completely changed the aesthetic of my illustration. I approach everything I draw as if it were a relief print with big blocks of color. It was such a great medium for me to learn on my artistic journey because it allows me to put my love of color to the forefront of my work. I’ve recently moved and had to sell my presses, so my studio is back to basics—linoleum cutting and pen and paper, but the influence of letterpress is present in all of my work.
Let’s talk Tooth Fairy Box. How did you come up with the idea?
I was shopping with my mom in a Celtic store which had a children’s room full of little fairies hanging from a tree. It was during a time when I was brainstorming ideas for my letterpress collection and my mom suggested I create something from the tooth fairy, which I thought was an excellent idea. So I went back to my studio and started sketching envelope ideas until the design was just right and now that single envelope has grown into such a fun correspondence and keepsake set!
Every family has its own rituals for when kids lose their baby teeth. What was your family’s ritual?
It was pretty simple and traditional in my house. I used to leave the tooth under my pillow in a plastic baggie and the next morning the tooth was replaced with a quarter.
Have people told you any of their own interesting rituals since you created the Tooth Fairy Box?
I was fascinated to find out that in some Spanish and French-speaking countries there’s a tradition of a Tooth Mouse instead. I was in Spain while Tooth Fairy Box was in development and this is where I first learned of “El Ratón de Los Dientes.” I thought my Spanish friends were pulling my leg—I had become so immersed in the Tooth Fairy project that the mental image of a rat really made me giggle.
I’ve heard that children in Eastern countries throw their lost teeth in the air and make a wish. And that South African children leave their teeth in their slippers instead of under their pillow.
What’s the going rate for a lost tooth these days?
I was shocked to learn $3.70…guess it’s been a really long time since I was visited by the tooth fairy!
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