Tuesday 20 November 2012

The Treasure Box

One of the advantages I've noticed of being an illustrator, is that just when life gets a little bit tedious, a parcel arrives in the mail. They don't always contain anything particularly exciting, but every so often a package arrives with an advanced copy of a new book.

A few weeks ago, a nicely wrapped parcel was delivered to my house. I found it propped up on the commode that stands on the front porch. (I haven't quite worked out where one puts a commode nowadays). And the parcel contained The Treasure Box, a story written by Margaret Wild that I spent the first half of this year working on.

It wasn't the easiest book I've worked on, mostly because I decided to create each illustration in layers, cut out and stuck one upon the other like a paper diorama. This meant the illustrations had to be lit and photographed rather than scanned. There were many technical learning curves, much stress and numerous breakdowns. But the final result is rather lovely, thanks to those who helped with the photography, digital editing and design.

Here are some of my favourite images from the book:

The Treasure Box, published by Viking is due out in February 2013. For more information about the book click here.


  1. It looks fabulous! I just was introduced to your work today when I got The Runaway Hug out of the library... I fell in love with your pictures and had to come and search out what else you've done.

    My little guy is only 10 months, so I've got years of picture books ahead, and look forward to seeing more of your work!

    1. Hi Carolyn,

      Thanks for your comment and I'm thrilled you've discovered my work! The Runaway Hug is pretty lovely, isn't it. I'd like to do more books like this and am hoping Nick Bland will one day write another lovely story for me.

      Have a fabulous time sharing books with your son - it's always been my favourite time shared with my daughter and I love revisiting books as she gets older. And then of course they start to read for themselves which is truly spectacular to witness.

      Thanks again,

  2. Oh Freya, I am in love with this new technique. So much emotion is captured in the images and the soft shadowing of the layers adds such depth and perspective. I'd love to do a post on my blog when it is released. So please keep me in mind if you're doing a blog tour. Congratulations!

    1. Hello Angela!

      Very slow replying as usual...

      Thank you so much for your lovely comments - you're so very reassuring. I have a feeling you might be my guardian angel.

      I'm not sure I'll leap into another book using the same technique. It was fraught with far too many challenges. It took so long to actually do the work and then there was the complication of photographing it. But the technique does work well for the story I think.

      What is a blog tour?


    2. Aah, I'm even slower at replying...

      A blog tour is a virtual book tour on a variety of blogs over one or two weeks. It creates a buzz about a book when it's first released and also means there are lots of reviews and interviews for anyone internet searching for the book (or you) to read. I've just done an interview with Heath McKenzie about his latest release, authored by Alison Reynolds, 'The Littlest Bushranger'. The post is up on my blog here: http://angelasunde.blogspot.com.au/2013/06/the-littlest-bushranger-blog-tour.html
      I love to interview illustrators. Alison is also offering prizes during the tour to anyone who leaves a comment on any of the blogs. So I'm getting loads of comments on my post from people who wouldn't normally know of my blog. One of the prizes is an opportunity to jump the slush pile straight onto an editor's desk. (Everyone wants to win that one).

      I adored The Treasure Box. I finally read it when I was down in Adelaide on my May Gibbs fellowship. Dyan also gave me a copy of The Terrible Suitcase when I visited Omnibus for a cuppa. Now I feel like I'm the president of the Freya Blackwood fan club, ha ha.


  3. Hi Freya,
    I just found your work and this blog and I am in love with your illustrations and style! The combination of antic technic and very modern characters work amazingly together, and make me want to look at them and know more about them. It's a pity your books didn't travel to Israel yet, I hope one day good publisher will translate and publish them here.
    As a starting illustrator (I work now on my 3d book) you gave me lots of inspiration! Thank you so much!
    I will definitely order some of your books from Amazon, I have a small collection of most beautiful illustrated books :-)
    Please, please, tell me more about your technique, what colors, papers, pencils do you use? do you scan yourself? do you use digital coloring as well? do you make lots of sketches before? do you use photo reference for body positions and face impressions? do you illustrate only books?
    I have so many questions......sorry :-)
    Thanks again for giving me so much inspiration and joy

  4. Hi I"m from Canada and loved this beautiful picture book. In the front it is stated that the backgrounds for the illustrations are pages taken from Sonya Hartnett's book the Silver Donkey and another book, Once and Then by Morris Gleitzman. Any particular reason for using the pages from these two books?

  5. Dear Freya, my year four class and I have been studying the visual devices you used in The Treasure Box. Thank you for such wonderful illustrations.
    The children have commented on the dull, muted tones conveying depression and in contrast to the hope and joy held in the red book, door and boat. They noted the white outlines around Peter and saw that as helping us focus on the main character as well as showing a glimmer of light around him. They loved the use of text collage throughout the pictures and made leaves from newsprint, wrote significant words from the text on the leaves and used them to decorate our peace symbol tree. We noted the similarities between Peter's home and the new destination of the book as well as the new library having so many red, hope filled books. I could not have asked for a better text to study in such detail with my 10 year olds. Thank you for sharing your talent with us. Bambi Cunningham, year 4 teacher, St Patrick's School, Griffith NSW.

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