Located in the Upper East Side of New York City, The Spence School is an institution known for offering rigorous liberal arts study for girls and young women from Kindergarten to Grade 12. Molding these individuals for over a century – 125 years to be exact – the faculty wanted to commemorate the longevity of the school in a personal and memorable way. To express the rich history, the faculty decided to use their student’s creativity to tell the tale of how The Spence School became what it is today in the form of a book created by the students.
Ms. Handelsman, the Assistant Head of Lower School, wrote the story of Clara Spence, the founder of this prestigious academy for girls and young women. After doing so, she collaborated with the art teachers of the lower school who in turn, created a lesson plan around the illustration of the story for the entire 3rd grade. Each panel of the story was created by a team of three girls and in an adorable explanation, the girls were able to tell us how their beautiful artwork was incorporated into the book:
“We thought about how clothing, hairstyles and all of New York City were different back in Clara Spence’s time. Their clothing was more formal. We researched and looked at pictures of clothing and buildings. We even looked at real photos of Clara Spence and her family. Women didn’t have the same rights we have today. We sketched thumbnail drawings and then rough drafts of how each page of the book would look.
We painted paper as backgrounds and collaged our ideas on top. Because this is a true story, we had to pay careful attention to collaging accurate people, clothing and buildings. We tried to make it as realistic as possible. So you won’t find a rainbow-flying unicorn in any of our pages!
When Ms. Handelsman told us we would be illustrating a book, we had to think about the pictures, but we also had to plan space for the words. During the whole process, we had to make sure we left a good amount of space for the text. So when we were making the backdrops and the characters we had to think about where the words would go. Some things like the main characters were really important, but other things, like book shelves or lamps, might not be necessary. We chose to keep the most important details that helped to make the story clear.”
The illustrations and designs for the book were then sent to us at Sandy Alexander for printing; but we couldn’t just stop at that. Because of their enthusiasm about their soon to be published book, Sandy Alexander welcomed the girls to our Clifton location so they could see the printing of their creation. Hosted by Larry Westlake, one of the most knowledgeable members of the Sandy family, the entire 3rd Grade class joined us for a morning of fun and learning:
“On Thursday we went to the Sandy Alexander in New Jersey to see our book being printed. There were a lot of machines working fast to print the pages of our book. We were surprised by how fast the machines worked. They print three thousand copies of the same page in one hour! The ink was really smelly. We learned a lot about printing- like the main colors of printing are magenta (which is red), cyan (which is blue), yellow and black. It was really amazing seeing our book being printed!”
After a morning of learning and laughs, the girls left Sandy Alexander with a new wealth of knowledge about the printing industry. It was all smiles as they walked out clutching the proofs of the cover art and leaving all the employees determined to print the finest book possible for them.