Wednesday, December 25, 2013

A heartwarming way to share my book

A couple of nights ago I read my book to a group of children living at Transition House, a shelter and resources for the homeless.  The entrance has beautiful stained glass doors, immediately welcoming and familiar!

The questions and comments during story time were priceless. My favorite comment, however, came from a boy who, after I told them my family was in the book, looked at the page where my husband gets a new guitar and said excitedly, “Your husband met SANTA?!” After I read the story, I met each one and put their name in a book for them to keep. The 25 books were donated by a very generous coworker of my husband’s.  Thank you Andrew!!

What I love to now imagine is them going to bed with their books and believing in the magic of Santa.  I hope all of you have a magical Christmas, too!!

Transition House is dedicated to the solution of family homelessness in the Santa Barbara community.  Capable and motivated families with children are offered respectful, non-sectarian residential services and the life skills needed to alleviate their poverty, and to restore self-sufficiency and dignity.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

A Goodreads Review

On my dear friend's piano (my son painted
the Santa when he was five)
Just wanted to share this review I received on Goodreads this week.  I had a book giveaway and one of the recipients posted this review:
This new 2013 edition is illustrated with talented Christine Brallier’s absolutely stunning stained glass mosaics. The accomplished artwork gives the familiar Christmas poem a warm and antique look. I know nothing about making stained glass mosaics, so was delightfully surprised to discover that this medium can portray movement so convincingly (unlike the frozen-stiff figures so often seen on church windows.) The pages are full of details that invite the reader to linger, such as the patterns on Santa’s hood and on the reindeer blankets, the long white strips of glass that make up Santa’s beard and the reindeers’ manes, and the stripes in the cat’s tail. 

The cats are a particular delight, especially the grey and white cat modeled on the artist’s cat Raymi. For a story-within-a-story, follow this feline through the pages of the poem for the cat’s perspective on the Christmas Eve happenings. Note her realistic poses and behavior: curled up on her owner’s bed and completely oblivious to the mouse sleeping in the living room wreath; peering out the window to check on the clatter on the lawn; diving to hide under an armchair as Santa appears in the fireplace; peeking out curiously from under the chair; cautiously considering Santa’s outstretched hand; batting the side of Santa’s chair as Santa strums the guitar; clawing Santa’s beard; and finally curled up again on the bed, purring and kneading and dreaming about those perfect cat toys Santa just delivered. There are also other wonderful cats shown in the framed photos on the wall of the house. 

On the shelves at Chaucer's Bookstore
Recommended for children of all ages including pre-readers, for art lovers, for cat lovers, and for just about everyone else except Grinch and Scrooge. I’m sure our copy will become a treasured family Christmas book, brought out every year along with the holiday decorations. 
Thank you so much, Alexandra!

My book is available here.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Book Review!

Hooray!  My first book review, how wonderful.  Much gratitude to Tasha Saecker at the blog, Waking Brain Cells, where she reviews books for children and teens.  Head over there to read her review of my book and if you're a fan of children's books, there's plenty to explore there!  Her review of my book is here.

About Tasha from her blog:  My name is Tasha Saecker, and I am the Assistant Director of the Appleton Public Library in Appleton, WI. I started my library career over 20 years ago as a children’s librarian, and continue to be connected to books for children and young adults.
I hope in Waking Brain Cells, you find a warm, friendly place where books for children and teens are celebrated.

Thanks, Tasha!!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Priority Shipping Now Available

Want to get your copy of my book delivered by Christmas?  Priority shipping now available on my web site.  Order soon, Christmas is nearly here!

My book is available here.  Happy Holidays!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Goleta Family School Holiday Marketplace

Last night I signed and sold my book at the Goleta Family School Holiday Marketplace.  I had a table in one of the two classrooms next to these wonderful self portraits (love the one with the fangs!)

Not only did I sell a lot of books, but I did some holiday shopping of my own and came home with many hand made ornaments and magnets made by children (my favorite kind of art!!)

I felt right at home the moment I walked up and saw this mosaic-covered boulder.  :)

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

GVAA Holiday Show

Another fun event, the annual Goleta Valley Art Association's holiday show, Picassos for Peanuts, was this week where the GVAA members exhibit and sell their art at the Goleta Library.  It is an opportunity to purchase beautiful art for under $300, making it the perfect place for holiday shoppers!  There were also notecards, silk screened cloths, handmade jewelry, and in my case, my book

I haven't exhibited much with GVAA over the past four years since I've been working on the book, so it was really fun to be able to show the other members what I had been creating all that time.  Plus, the cat mosaic I was exhibiting sold, yay me (though I will miss that particular one, a pink version of my cat, Raymi).

How can viewing art, chatting with interesting people, and snacking on peppermint bark not be a good time?! 

If you missed the opening reception, you can still purchase the art until January 4, 2014, when it will be taken down.  I even got to put up another mosaic in place of pink Raymi if you want another opportunity to buy one of my mosaics for under $300!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Mosaic Exhibition and Book Signing at Granada Books

Thank you everyone who came to see my art and book at Granada Books last week!  I enjoyed seeing many friends and family as well as meeting new people enthusiastic about my art.  I read the book to a group of children (and adults!) and it was really fun to see their reaction to the story.  My mosaics will be on exhibit for the rest of December, so please stop by to see them.  Granada Books is located at 1224 State Street in Santa Barbara, CA.  Thanks, Granada Books, for hosting me! 

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Featured in Santa Barbara News-Press

Family Portrait
Artist illustrates "The Night Before Christmas" with mosaics featuring her loved ones

December 8, 2013 12:22 AM

Christine Brallier wanted to create a children's book unlike any other.
So she worked painstakingly for four and a half years creating 15 mosaics, made mostly of stained glass pieces, to illustrate Clement C. Moore's "The Night Before Christmas" (Brownian Bee Press, $16.99). What's more, she put her family in her first children's book — and had Santa play the guitar!

The Goleta artist added a modern touch to the 1823 poem with images of husband Greg Brallier, their son, Jack, and their cat, Raymi, a domestic short-hair mix, along with their own decorations and ornaments.

"TheNight Before Christmas" was released recently and is being sold on State Street at Granada Books, where the mosaics are on the walls (but not for sale) through December in Mrs. Brallier's first major solo art show. Her books also are at Chaucer's Books, as well as Curious Cup in Carpinteria.

She will also sell and sign copies during the Winter Sing and Marketplace, 4:30 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday at Goleta Family School in Goleta, where some of the proceeds will go to the school's PTA.

All but one of the mosaics are 15-by-24-inch, and they appear at two-thirds of their actual size in the book.

"I always wanted to do a children's book before I was doing mosaics, but my painting skills were not that great, so I never felt confident enough to do one," the 45-year-old self-taught artist told the News-Press at her home. But she felt inspired when creating a mosaic of a mouse and a skunk, and people said that would make a great children's book.

"I had never seen a children's book done with mosaics before, and I thought that would be really cool. So I was writing down ideas, thinking about it, nothing was coming," said the Bellflower native, who wasn't interested in a tale about the mouse and skunk. "On Christmas Eve, we were reading the story ('The Night Before Christmas'), as we always do, and I was thinking about how cool it would be to do it with my family in it and make it more personal."

"I tried not to look at other 'Night Before Christmas' books as much as possible because I didn't want to be influenced by them and didn't want to feel like I was copying any elements," Mrs. Brallier said. "I did want to look at other Santas (on the Internet) and make sure mine was unique."

Instead of the traditional American version, Mrs. Brallier went with a more classic European look: robe and hood instead of suit and cap.

"It's not what I grew up with. Anything that's different from what I'm used to is interesting to me."

Having never seen Santa play a guitar, the artist thought it would be another way to make her version unique.

In another scene, Santa gives her husband, a guitarist for the longtime Santa Barbara band Tearaways, an electric guitar for the verse, "He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf."

"My husband wanted a guitar like that," Mrs. Brallier said. "I thought it would be fun to give it to him in the book because I couldn't afford it in real life." She laughed.

Their son, who's now 15, is shown as a young boy sleeping for "all snug in their bed."

"He said, 'How come I'm not in it more? My dad's in a bunch of pictures; I'm only in one,'" Mrs. Brallier said with a grin. "I said, 'Well, I'm only in one.'" The mosaic of her is based on a photo her husband shot while she slept, Raymi the cat lying on top of her.

Throughout the book, Raymi watches Santa in the house and eventually warms up to him. (When Santa comes down the chimney, the surprised cat leaps behind a chair!)

Photos on the Internet inspired Mrs. Brallier's depiction of reindeer. She saw how their tongues stick out to the side as they run. So she had a reindeer do that as it flew in her book.

"I was going for something realistic, but at the same time, a more stylized look: playful, colorful, whimsical," Mrs. Brallier said about the entire book.

The illustrations, she added, reflect herself: "Happy, joyful, fun, playful, silly, colorful. I love life. I see the world like a kid in a way."

Since childhood, Mrs. Brallier loved to draw, paint and play the piano. She decided to work with kids in art or music therapy. After graduating in 1986 from JohnMarshall High School in Los Angeles, she worked in preschools in Los Angeles and attended Los Angeles City College. In 1989, she moved to Santa Barbara, which she preferred over smoggy L.A., and went to Santa Barbara City College. She earned a bachelor's degree in psychology in 1994 at Antioch UniversitySanta Barbara and a master's in the same field there in 1996. She married Mr. Brallier in 1998 and worked as a masseuse.

Mrs. Brallier said her desire to help kids was fulfilled by becoming a mother, but she still wanted to create art. She said she struggled with her painting and drawing skills, but found a do-it-yourself mosaic kit in 2005 at the Michaels craft store near her home. "I made this box, and I was totally hooked. The process was so fun and meditative. I get to go into my own world."

She joined the Goleta Valley Arts Association and participated in its group shows at the Goleta Branch Library and the Cabrillo Pavilion Arts Center on Cabrillo Boulevard.

To learn more about mosaics, she traveled around the U.S. for conferences of the Societyof American Mosaic Artists. In Lexington, Ky., she was the lead artist for the society's project in that city and created a large mosaic of a nest and birds for The Nest — Center for Women, Children & Families .

Mrs. Brallier dedicated "The Night Before Christmas" to her husband, son, cat, and her mother, Robin Nichols, a Los Angeles resident who recently died from pancreatic cancer at age 67. "She was a big animal lover and loved the book, especially the cat."

For her next project, Mrs. Brallier has received approval to create a mosaic of trees and plants that her mother loved for a chapel at newly renovated Goleta ValleyCottage Hospital. She's waiting for fundraising to be completed.

The News-Press met with Mrs. Brallier again after the mosaics went up at Granada Books, where co-owner Sharon Hoshida, 66, said the art immediately made customers interested in the new interpretation of a classic.

Mrs. Brallier couldn't stop smiling as she stood surrounded by her mosaics. "This is the first time I've seen them all up. It's exciting! More people can see them."

Mom would be proud.


Christine Brallier will sell and sign copies of "The Night Before Christmas" (Brownian Bee Press, $16.99), the 1823 Clement C. Moore poem that she illustrated with her mosaics, during the Winter Sing and Marketplace from 4:30 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday at Goleta Family School, 711 Ribera Drive, Goleta. Part of the proceeds will go to the school's PTA.

Her book also is being sold at Granada Books, 1224 State St., where her mosaics are displayed; Chaucer's Books, 3321 State St., 682-6787; and Curious Cup, 929 Linden Ave., Carpinteria, 220-6608.

"The Night Before Christmas" is available here.

Photo of reindeer by Mehosh Dziadzio
All the rest of the photos by Thomas Kelsey, News-Press
*Links added by me :)

Thursday, December 5, 2013

My Mosaic Exhibit Starts Tonight!

Tonight is the opening reception for my exhibition of the stained glass mosaics featured in my children's book, The Night Before Christmas.  I'm so excited!!  A lot has happened with the book since its debut and lots more to come.  Read all about it in my special edition newsletter that I just sent out.  Click here.

The mosaics will be on exhibit for the month of December at Granada Books, 1224 State Street, Santa Barbara, CA.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Local Newspaper Doing Feature Story!

I was just interviewed and had my picture taken at Granada Books with my art for an upcoming Santa Barbara News Press article. I will see about posting it here when it comes out, or at least a link.  For all you locals, check out this Sunday's paper in the Life section.  It's gonna be big!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Mosaic Art Exhibit for Book Illustrations This Week!

Three and a half hours later, two exhausted and hungry art-hanger-uppers have finished hanging my fifteen mosaics for my art exhibit, book signing, and book reading, this coming Thursday. Can't wait! Thanks Sharon!!

Opening Reception:
When: Thurs, Dec. 5, 2013, 5:30-7:30 p.m.
Where: Granada Books, 1224 State St., Santa Barbara, CA 93101
Who: Me!!

If you can't make it to the reception, the mosaics will be on exhibit for the month of December so come on by and check them out!!

Friday, November 29, 2013

Excellent Book Signing!

Had a great time at my book signing at Chaucer's Bookstore in Santa Barbara last weekend.  Many friends came out to see me (thanks!!) and I met lots of really nice people!  Here's me with my first customer.  :)

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Book Signing Chaucer's Bookstore

Book signing coming up this weekend at Chaucer's Bookstore in Santa Barbara, CA, Sunday, Nov. 24 at 2 p.m.  I will have this mosaic with me to see (and touch!) in person!  The address is 3321 State Street.  Come on by!!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

More Details About My Book

I just sent out my newsletter with lots of images and information about my book.  If you haven't subscribed, you can read it HERE!

To sign up for my newsletter, click HERE.

Raymi in mosaic
Mosaic inspired by this photo of sweetie Raymi

Book Signing A Success!

Very fun, lots of people, music, kids enjoying the mosaic, signing, signing, signing books. I had a great time!

Friday, October 25, 2013

My First Book Signing is Here!

I will be signing copies of my newly released children’s book, The Night Before Christmas, on Friday, November 1, 5-8 p.m. at Curious Cup Bookstore, 5285 Carpinteria Ave., Carpinteria, CA.  I spent more than four years creating the 15 mosaics featured in the classic story written by Clement C. Moore.  The mosaics were made by hand cutting thousands of pieces of stained glass and fitting them together to create the illustrations.  If you are local, or are in town visiting, please come by and see me!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

The first orders go out in the mail!!

(Plus a bazillion postcards) Thank you to those who ordered!! I hope you enjoy it. xo

My book is available at

Friday, October 18, 2013

Hooray, my book is now available!!

It is the classic, The Night Before Christmas, written by Clement C. Moore and illustrated by me with stained glass mosaics.  It has been a four and a half year journey and I’m so excited I can finally share it with you!!  It is filled with personal touches, including my family, our cat, items in our home, and a dedication to my mother who recently passed away, that I was able to add right before the book went to the printers, so it is a true work of love for me.

The book can currently be purchased on my web site, and eventually on Amazon.  It was published by Brownian Bee Press, so if you’d like to also buy Barb Keith’s books at the same time, go over to her web site where she is selling my book as well as her two wonderful children’s books illustrated with her stained glass mosaics!
I hope you like my book, let me know!

Friday, October 11, 2013

My Books Have Arrived!

 My books arrived in Long Beach almost a month ago but were stuck in customs awhile and then there were some delivery issues.  But finally, the day has arrived!  Very exciting when the truck pulled up!!

So then I had to get creative about where to put 60 boxes of 3,000 books.  I just rearranged my husband's studio a bit (very nice of him to accommodate me).  What?  He can still work there!

As for when the book will be available to purchase, I am working on that and will post an update as soon as possible.  Here's a little peek!

Friday, September 20, 2013

Guess what I'm doing today!

If you'd like to receive a postcard announcing my children's book, please message me with your mailing address.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Postcards announcing my book have been ordered!

They look mighty spiffy, if I do say so myself.  If you'd like to receive one, message me your address. I'm happy to send outside the U.S., too!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

A contest - Win one of my children's books!

I am running a fun contest and the winner will receive one of my books that is coming out in just a few weeks.  I used many, many millefiori in my book (the tiny glass flowers, stars, etc. - you can see their use in my previous posts).  How many did I use in the entire book? Hint, there are 15 mosaics, 14 of them are 15x24” and one of them is 15x12”. The number includes the front and back covers and all pages in between.  Whoever gets closest to the actual number without going over (you only get one guess), wins my book!  The contest ends when my book arrives, ETA Sept. 20.  Winner will be notified by email.  You can enter by following this link to Facebook with all of the contest details:

If you'd rather not go through the Facebook app where you have to submit your email address, post your guess in the comments section below.  Please share my contest with your friends and good luck!!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Advance copies of my book have arrived!

Oh, the excitement of opening the box!!  And what a cool feeling to hold a book in my hand.  I made that!

The book looks great and the pages are nice and thick, really good quality.  The cover is AMAZING, I love it!  I will share that with you later, but for now, here is a glimpse at a bit of the book.  The final printing and shipping overseas should be three to four weeks, so I expect the book to be available sometime next month, woo hoo!  Stay tuned :)

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

August Newsletter Now Available

Drawing by me and my mom 1976
I just sent out my August Newsletter with updates on my children's book as well as a tribute to my mother who recently passed away. If you aren't yet subscribed and would like to be, follow this link to sign up:

Friday, June 28, 2013

Four years ago....

Four years ago this month, I started working on my children's book, and it is now less than a week away from going to the printers!  Just some last minute changes to the book design and it is off next Tuesday.  It looks so beautiful, I can't wait!

I wanted to get the book to the photographer and printers as soon as possible, so I put aside the finishing details to the mosaics while I worked on the book design with Barb.  Now that I'm done with that, I've gone back to finishing the edges with thinset and painting the backs.  Here I am putting thinset on the last mosaic.  Boy, did that feel good to finish!!

Now I'm working on painting the backs, signing them and sealing them.  Should be finished with all that this weekend.  The printing could take 6-8 weeks, maybe more, but once I get a date from them, I'll let you know!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Still working on book design

Here's a detail of the page next to the copyright page at the front of the book.  Should be only a couple more weeks until the book goes to print!  Barb is doing an awesome job putting it all together.  I'm very lucky to have her on my side!!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Book design in progress

I've spent the last week or so researching and getting ideas for the layout and design of the book.  I've also been writing (and re-writing!) the wording for my bio, the copyright page, and the dedication page.  I've been scouring the web for the perfect font for the cover.  Here is one I like a lot:

I've been sending everything to Barb and she's been creating the layout and design.  She sends me back what she's done and it's been really exciting seeing it all come together!


Thursday, June 6, 2013

Professional photos done for book!

I'm getting more and more excited about the book being done, now that the mosaics have been photographed!  What a beautiful job my photographer, Mehosh Dziadzio, did!  And he was a joy to work with, for any locals looking for a photographer.  :)  Here is a detail of one of them.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

15th and final book mosaic is grouted!

Here's part of it.  It is the only time I make an appearance in the book.  Raymi, of course, is the star.  :)

I'm now in graphic art mode - thinking about the cover, the end pages, the fonts, etc.  I won't be doing this part, Barb Keith will, but I'm starting to get an idea of how I'd like it to look.  The mosaics will be photographed tomorrow and as soon as they're ready, I'll send them to Barb.  I'm hoping the book goes to print in about a month!

Monday, June 3, 2013

14th mosaic of children's book grouted

I'm really happy with how these are turning out!  Will post the last one soon...

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Finishing little details

I had added all of the art to the walls last, so waited until the glue dried before I grouted those areas.  Here's one of them.
I have finished grouting the final two mosaics for my book!  I will post them soon.  Right now I am putting grout on the edges (6 of 15 done).  I have an appointment with the photographer next Wednesday!

Friday, May 31, 2013

13th mosaic grouted for children's book

 Here's a couple of details from the 13th mosaic for my book.  I mentioned before I have put many things in the book to personalize it to my family.  All of the above are Christmas decorations we have collected over the years.  The penguin is a stuffed penguin given to my son, who has always loved penguins.  The snowman my son made in 4th grade.  And the cat is an ornament my mother gave to me after my childhood cat, Spotty, died.