Behind the Box is a monthly series in which we dive into the previous month’s box and I share my thoughts on process and design of select items, theme etc. I hope these will serve as an inspiring look behind the scenes!
Welcome back to the monthly “Behind the Box” series! Today, let’s take a look at the ‘Animal Companions’ themed box from April 2019. I’m a cat-mom myself and loved putting together these theme ideas : ) Also, yesterday was my cat Leia’s 9th birthday. Happy birthday to my fur-babe kitty love! In the April box, I managed to fit in a variety of animals – including foxes, a dragon, large cat, bull, bird, unicorns, horse, dog, and a bear!
You might recognize this author’s name from a previous Unicorn Crate featured title. Jessica Leake’s Beyond a Darkened Shore was featured in the April 2018 Northern Myths box. While Through the White Wood stands on it’s own, there are a few characters from Beyond a Darkened Shore that make an appearance and I just love that! You can check out the goodreads page here, if you’d like.
Beyond a Darkened Shore is a snowy, Russian fairy tale inspired story with components of elemental magic. The main character is a sort of “ice bender” if you want to use Avatar speak, and grapples with learning to control her powers and to trust herself and others. There is also an unexpected love story and some plot twists that I think you will love. There is an eagle companion that I won’t say too much about, because spoilers, but that is where I got the idea for the animal companions theme. I’ll be posting a Q & A with Jessica Leake on this blog soon, so stay tuned!
I immediately thought of the artwork by A Woodland Fairy Tale when I formed the idea for an Animal Companions theme because most of Jessie’s work consists of faeries and their animal friends. I reached out to her and told her my idea for a throw pillow cover and asked if she could make a violet/blue faery with her foxes and some mushrooms. I could not be more pleased with how this turned out. It is probably in my personal top 5 favorite items I’ve ever include in Unicorn Crate yet! I will treasure it a very long time. Artist spotlight post coming soon!
Another one of my favorite items of all time was included in this box also! The wooden bookmark with Shadowfax from The Lord of the Rings series. My mom is a pet portrait artist who specializes in horses. She’s also a fan of LOTR and is a horse woman, so when I asked if she could draw Shadowfax for this project she was very excited. She referenced photos of the real horse who played Shadowfax in the blockbuster films, and I think it turned out beautiful overlaid on the hard maple sheet of wood.
The Fawkes the Phoenix notepad was a fun little project. Inspired by Harry Potter of course! I hope this can be a useful item. I know I already have one in my bag, at my desk, and in the kitchen! Must have a notepad everywhere. There are still many of these in the goodies shop by the way (the printer overproduced), please help me clear out my storage shelf!
Collaborating with artists is my favorite part of putting these crates together, if you hadn’t noticed. For the Zelie and Nailah art print I had the pleasure of working with Thimsy Whimsy, who I just interviewed in last week’s Artist Spotlight post. Definitely go check it out! Children of Blood and Bone is one of the only books I know of in which there is a giant cat companion (besides the YA fantasy I am writing) and really loved it. Nailah is a Lionaire and Zelie uses her as transportation but also sort of as a protective animal. A battle cat! I love the colors and detail that went into this work of art.
It occurred to me that I’d never done a square button pin and I wanted to fit in something canine-related. Toto is one of the most iconic canines I think, and I happened to find this fun square artwork by Michelle Paccione that fit perfectly. Toto is just so comforting … like home 🙂
The hanging bookmark holders were an item long in the making. I selected the print, edited the colors, and sent the artwork to the bookmark holder maker and she did a lovely job. Unfortunately, this vendor sent the entire bulk order to the wrong address (I’d given her the correct one) and would not pay for the extra shipping I had to fork out when I dropped everything to rush them to the post office to get them to the right place on time for you guys. I never heard from her again, which was disappointing. People seem to love these though, which is good at least.
Last but definitely not least, was a second book. In this case a beautiful graphic novel / comic book. It is so rare I can include a second book of any kind due to budget constraints and weight limits (this box did end up going over the weight limit, actually). Norroway is authored and illustrated by two sisters, Kit and Cat Seaton and it is inspired by an old Scottish fairy tale.
I am thrilled Norroway made it into the box, though originally I had been planning to include a different book and last minute Penguin Random House reneged on the sale and said they they’re redoing all the covers and didn’t want to sell the original covers. It was The Shadow of the Dark Crystal if you’re curious. And I highly recommend you check it out. There is a strange little animal companion named Neech that I think you’ll love.
Oh! Also, new boxes rolled out in April. they are very similar, but I made a slight shift in making the logo all one-color (so I could continue to afford printing these boxes at all! Cardboard / box printing prices are rising. I quite like how they turned out. And if you’re missing the rainbow herd of unicorns (the blessing) you can find it as a bookmark here. 😉
There are just a few April boxes left over if you missed this and want one! Questions or comments about this box? Let’s talk in the comments below! Wishing you and all your animal companions a wonderful long weekend 🙂