A Few Questions About Rocks

by | May 25, 2024 | Behind the Scenes

One of our new books is Rocks: What Are They Doing? by Christine Sajecki and Michael Mäke. It’s beautiful, funny and affectionate. It’s a full-color children’s book. The rocks are hand-painted, the letters are hand-cut.

You can watch the printer’s preview of the book:

It’s so good!

Christine is well known for her encaustic paintings. Here’s a recent one:

humans on nature, under and above water | Christine Sajecki 2024 (encaustic on birch)

and here’s Mike doing something hot in the studio:

I asked Christine and Mike a couple questions:

Why make a children’s book about rocks?

MIKE: When Sajecki came up with the idea for this book, I was so excited. Rocks know so much—they’ve seen civilizations rise and fall. Some rocks are incredibly boring, but even that is fun to find out.

CHRISTINE: Also, rocks are great cheap fun, bountiful, readily available to much of the world, and full of overlooked personality. When my son was a toddler, he could spend hours with a pile of rocks—seeing how far we could throw them, listening to them as they made impact against other objects, putting them through the hole in the top of a traffic cone, getting them wet and watching how they change. Kids are such cheap dates. Our aim was to encourage folks to take advantage of all the free whimsy in nature, all over the world.

MIKE: Rocks have hobbies and heartaches and secret jokes and dreams that they are happy to share. 

How does this book derive from your work as artists, and how does it inform your work?

MIKE: I think mostly the collaborative nature of it. I love the surprise and voodoo in merging brains, and with Sajecki it is by far the most fun.

CHRISTINE: My regular studio practice involves being alone for many days and nights with large heavy paintings, blowtorches, and blades, muttering and grunting, pulling sludge out of my subconscious and turning it to color and form. This is quite nearly the opposite, Mike and I rolling ideas back and forth until they make us laugh out loud. And then the ability to share and distribute the art far and wide, especially putting it in the hands of children, that’s a very special feeling.  

How much of your book takes place within the covers, and how much happens off the page?

CHRISTINE: Our greatest hope would be for 99% to happen outside the book, in the imagination and out in the world. The beauty of kids books in particular is that there are usually at least two people reading it together, one big and one small, so the experience is all about connection.

MIKE: How wonderful it would be to go far beyond the pages: maybe with a play about rocks, scored by a toddler jazz band—or a miniature rock pine box derby. I hope kids and their companions get excited and go have an adventure with a few new rock friends. 

CHRISTINE: We welcome the out-loud readers to riff and add their commentary to the experience. The book is just the beginning!

The authors in Mike’s homemade concrete playground, The Underwater Aviary, Seattle 2021