Owl Know How – Creating The Whole Book!

by Jenny Butler
Wednesday 4th April 2012

Today we get a peek behind the scenes as Cat and Isobel bring the entire book together! It’s amazing to see just how much time and effort goes into making Own Know How! Tonight is the official launch of Owl Know How and you are all invited celebrate – 6.00pm – 8.00pm at No Vacancy Project Space – Tenancy 32 at Federation Square, Melbourne.  If you can, do drop in and meet Cat and Isobel and the team from Thames & Hudson –  fun! – Jenny x

A collection of charming Cornelia’s and creating the Owl Know How storyboard

October 28th marked the first day of Owl Know How pre-production. We began with making a storyboard. This was familiar territory for Isobel. Fitting the story into 32 pages was tricky but a good exercise for simplifying the narrative even further.

We also refined the characters at this point. Two different versions of Cornelia had to be made to be used in the different scenes of the book.

When the storyboard was done we went through and wrote a list of every set and prop we could see in the storyboard and set about making them: buildings, fences, trees, interiors, furniture, ornaments and tiny little tools.

Armed with textas, a pair of scissors and a pot of glue each, we attacked recycled boxes, empty industrial cotton spools, cardboard tubes and piles of felt. We sourced our boxes from alleyways and backstreets and quickly became cardboard connoisseurs!

Creating the fluffy cloud set and perfecting the lighting

We turned the studio into a sort of cloud town with stuffing floating tumbleweed-style about the room and felt scraps littering the floor like fuzzy confetti for the duration of the shoot.

Isobel had a lighting lesson from a professional studio photographer, Jon Billington, before they began taking photographs. He taught us about making the most of our minimal equipment and we enhanced our two lights with carefully positioned polystyrene reflectors and mirrors to get everything to look right.

Tin and Ed hard at work and a draw full of owls!

Once the photographs were all ready we handed them over to Tin and Ed, the graphic designers who share Isobel’s studio. Tin and Ed laid out all the photographs with the story text arranged on the pages, moving things up a little, down a little, until we were all happy with it.

During this process an editor, Nan McNab, was helping us to refine the text in the story. There were many versions of the text on each page before we settled on the final arrangement.

At last, just before Christmas, it was all ready to go to the printers.

Isobel and Cat x

by Jenny Butler
Wednesday 4th April 2012


  • little bird big chip 5 years ago

    I am totally in awe of all the hard work these two amazing ladies have done for their craft. So inspiring to see people follow their hearts and produce such gorgeous works. The road for artists can be ‘the sticky wicket’ so to speak, it consumes your everything and lets face it, the $$$ they are hard to come by. That is why i love hearing stories like these, it gives me the inspiration to push on! Congratulations ladies. x
    (and who wouldn’t want a draw of owls…)

  • Fiona 5 years ago

    This is so fascinating and makes me really appreciate all the fine detail and work that brings together such a gorgeous story! I <3 felt and owls :)

  • Brydie 5 years ago

    I love seeing all the details of how Cat Rabbit and Knowles created this amazing body of work. I love the tiny newspaper! This is all crafting heaven, with lots of patience and consideration for details. Loving these posts!

  • handmaderomance 5 years ago

    a studio of heavenly delights and talented hands. i love the peeks into the minds and works of these two cleverly crafty talents. loving this weeks guest blog. cant wait to get in to see their exhibition too!! x

  • margie 5 years ago

    Great to see the almost total DIY nature of this book. Very holistic! xo

  • bec 5 years ago

    Fantastic! My kids (and I!) would adore this book xx

  • Jo 5 years ago

    so adorable, great images w the blog too – thanks!

  • Heidi 5 years ago

    look at that teeny newspaper!! loving this guest blog!

  • elissa c 5 years ago

    Wish I was in Melbourne! This book looks awesome.

  • claudia 5 years ago

    This is absolutely gorgeous!

  • Katy Dee 5 years ago

    This book and all the hard and gorgeous work is incredible. It is a crafting genuis… I love all the creatures and the fact that everything is handmade. It is so cute, the book looks amazing and I will be sure to get a copy! Also, it looks like they had ALOT of fun making and doing what they love which at the end of the is very important! xx

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