Time for me to fill you in on my collaboration with my artist friend, Betsy Zacsek, who illustrated the lovely Women Inventor’s Placemat!
Here’s what happened, about a year ago, my daughter was having breakfast, using one of our many educational placemats. She looked at me sadly and asked, “why is there only one woman inventor on this placemat?”
I told her not to worry, that there were lots more women inventors than that and I even had a book about them, that we could get it after breakfast and read it. That didn’t seem to cheer her up much so I said, “Would you like it if we made our own placemat, with all women inventors?”
She said, “Could it be laminated?”
“Of course!” I said. “We’ll take it to the parent-teacher supply store and get it laminated.” At that, her face lit up!
We never did make that cut-and-paste version of the placemat, but in chatting with Betsy about it, we realized that more kids would love to have a placemat like this and she offered to do the illustrations.
Next came choosing the inventors, researching them, finding public domain images, or writing to the person for permission to draw them.
For each person on the placemat, there’s a blog post and is or will be an episode of the podcast about them. (Did I mention the podcast? Yes, there’s a show!) Betsy does the lovely watercolor paintings and I do the blog writing and co-host the podcast.
There were challenges along the way! There were people whose images we couldn’t get permission to use. There were people for whom there are no photographs or paintings. But we still wanted to talk about them, and their inventions, and why we don’t know what they looked like. Those stories were addressed on the back of the placemat, here:
We worked through our challenges and Betsy drew and drew and at last, we had 9 water color paintings of super-cool inventors for the front of the placemat, plus the back. Here’s a picture of the front.
This is not a low-cost placemat you might pick up at the grocery store, the kind that if you spill a glass of water, or leave it in the sink, it might be ruined. We’ve done that. It’s also not the cheaply printed kind, where if you clean it too hard, the pictures come off. That’s happened to us too!
This is quite possibly the best lamination available! These are printed and laminated in the U.S. and they’re thick, about as thick as a gift card. We’ve had one on our kitchen table for months and it looks as great as it did the day we got it!
Using 3M Command Strips, you can hang it on your wall as a poster!
We’re super proud of this placemat and it’s available for sale on the website for our new business, which is called Being Bold, and it’s also available at Women and Children First! bookstore in Chicago!
And we’re working hard to place it in more stores, wholesale inquiries are welcome!
You can see and buy the placemat here: