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In the Collection: Lois Ehlert

By January 26, 2018May 13th, 2021The Kerlan Blog


 Lois Ehlert, Artist, Designer, Curator


Lois Ehlert Covers

A double-page spread of a lifetime collage of covers from Scraps: A Colorful Life (Beach Lane,2014)

Visiting Lois Ehlert to Pick Up Her Stuff

Last summer, Lois Ehlert ((Ā-lêrt) donated the original art, signed first editions, the manuscripts, research notes, and process art of all of her work to date.

 Lois Ehlert’s  apartment is a magical place. It is a well-lived-in, finely curated exhibit of folk art.

Every sightline holds a charming vision of color line and balance created from



Clay and Stone


And Beads


Beaded Birds And a Beaded Crocodile


 When Ehlert begins working on a book she begins with the dummy, a handmade mock-up model of the book. The dummy helps Lois figure out what typing choose, how the words should be on the page, the rhythm of the page-turns.

The Process of Making a Picture Book.

This is a first edition of Hands, (Harcourt Children’s Books (September 15, 1997)


The hand-made dummy.

Note the title lettered on clear plastic sheeting.

This note is taped into the inside front cover of the dummy.

This information of how the art was made. The note did not make it to the final book

Revision of a page in the dummy. I believe the post-it note is editor Allyn Johnston with word from “copy-editing” that “I’ve got” is correct use of language.

Finished Page in the Published Book

It is in the Kerlan Collection scope to hold all available editions in all available languages. This is the same page in Korean.

This is the Korean edition cover. Note that it is different from the die-cut glove of the first U.S. edition.

This is the United States reprint from 2004.

“Lois Ehlert’s Hands: Growing Up to Be an Artist (1997) returns with slightly reworked trimmings, but keeps the same die-cut pages-in the shapes of scissors, seed packets and more-as well as a ‘paint box’ that opens. PW said of the original, ‘Ehlert works visual magic in showing how an artist’s creativity flows through the hands.’ (Publisher’s Weekly Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.)

The Packing and Moving and Loading and Driving and UnLoading

Anne Kingsbury, arts administrator and artist, and Karl Gartung, arts administrator and poet, the founders of the  Woodland Pattern Book Center  at the nonprofit book and arts center in Milwaukee hosted and helped the Von Drasek’s pack Lois Ehlert work for safe shipment and transport to the Andersen Library. (Full disclosure- I didn’t do much of anything except stay out of their way, beg stories from Lois, and ohh and ahh over her and others’ art work.)

Stacks of first editions to be boxed

Each magazine file is the research, sketches and dummy for one title.

Master Packers, Karl Gartung and Paul Von Drasek


Anne and Karl brought treats

While the Master Packers exhibited great utilitarian macho, Anne and I visited with Lois discussing her art collection and travels.


It may not look it but each of these art boxes is really, really heavy and had to be carried one at a time out to the elevator.

Each box contained the original art from one of Lois Ehlert’s titles. More than sixteen pieces of art for the Kerlan Collection.

The Packing of the Van

Passage of Time


Mr. Von Drasek heroically drove the rental van from Milwaukee to Minneapolis. We could not help singing “Truck Load of Art”

Arriving in Minneapolis and begging department assistant and writer Jeremiah Moriarty to work on Sunday to unload the van.

Safely inside Andersen Library ready to process

Waiting for Wings waiting to be processed in the Elmer L. Andersen Library



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