Animal Alphabet Traveling Twisters

Children's book by visual artist, Leisa Rich. Animal alphabet made of 26 hand made dioramas and matching type in tongue twister format. Machine embroidered, hand painted characters travel and live in a variety of places and have interesting experiences no matter where they are. Rich holds MFA, BFA and B of Education degrees, is in many prestigious art collections, books, mags, tv, podcasts, has been featured in 13 books, and won many awards.


Would you like to hear a story? One about how this book came about? Scroll down and I will tell you the evolution of Animal Alphabet Traveling Twisters!!!!

My version of Mary Poppins...What delightful things are in that suitcase?! Photo by Polly Nance ©2015

It's a diorama! That is how the character pages of Animal Alphabet Traveling Twisters were made! Photo by Polly Nance ©2015

It's a diorama! That is how the character pages of Animal Alphabet Traveling Twisters were made! Photo by Polly Nance ©2015

Leisa Rich at her sewing machine- did you know that most of the elements in this book were "drawn" using thread and a sewing machine?!

Leisa Rich at her sewing machine- did you know that most of the elements in this book were "drawn" using thread and a sewing machine?!

Leisa Rich 

Animal Alphabet Traveling Twisters was influenced by two different, important events in my life. I was deaf as a child, and regained hearing in my left ear only after a long time in the hospital. I had to have speech therapy for a number of years and tongue twisters were often used in helping me with my pronunciation. In 2010 the birth of my first grandchild, a grandson, was a momentous occasion and of course, I began making things for him.

My background being in creating art with fibers, I made a whimsical quilt that featured silly characters and three dimensional, tactile elements he could touch and feel. I used thread on a sewing machine to create them and other touchy-feely, tactile elements as embellishments.

That turned out so well I began thinking about what I could make next. I started doing a book for him. What began as a personal gift has turned into six years spent on this project! As I have been teaching children art for 40 years it was important that the book not only be cute, but educational, too. I decided on an alphabet book, and then added the tongue twister elements to it. As I fleshed out the idea, I was also thinking about all of my travels and how my life has been enriched by many moves to new places, and by the many amazing friends I have made along the way. We may move away from our place of birth or we may travel, but that doesn't mean we can't be happy everywhere we go. Every place I have lived has been a new and exciting experience of growth and learning and meeting new people! The book evolved then as an alphabet book, with tongue twisters, about animals who moved around or traveled and had interesting experiences no matter where they were!

The evolution of the book also took on an unexpected, even more personal importance as it developed; my grandson has some speech challenges, and is himself now in speech therapy. It seems rather serendipitous that it is a tongue twister book, based on my own challenges as a child and the speech therapy I had to have. I made him his own copy and sent it to him. I know it delights him that GiGi, as he knows me, made a book especially for him! And, with a new granddaughter coming in September, 2015, more projects might have to come to fruition! 

Using a sewing machine and thread I have free hand “sketched” the vinyl characters in this book, embellishing them further with assorted fabrics and acrylic paint. The characters are doing a variety of activities, though not necessarily in the places they originated from. The settings are actual dioramas I made from new and recycled materials and found objects, which I set up and had professionally photographed. Each letter of the alphabet is represented by an animal or bird and is accompanied by a silly tongue twister that describes them in their unique habitat. The type pages pull from elements in the character pages for instance, Georgie Gecko golfs, so his tongue twister type page is made of golf tees I pushed into the grass in my backyard and photographed. My yard guys came while I was doing so and I don't think anyone has ever looked at me more quizzically! 

Georgie type

I have been a professional artist and art educator to all ages for 40 years. I have taught in universities, private and public schools, arts centers and was Director and lead educator for the after school art program for children 3-13 at The Galloway School in Atlanta until end of 2013. I now run classes in my art studio, travel to teach teens and adults at arts centers and am very involved in my professional art career. I have MFA, BFA and B of Education in Art degrees. My art work is published in numerous books, magazines, on line, and in televised interviews such as PBS' "inContext". I have written reviews and articles and created videos about art for art organizations, magazines and zines. I have art works in the permanent collections of Emory Healthcare, The Kamm Foundation, The Dallas Museum of Art, The University of Texas, and the University of North Texas and in many private collections in the U.S. and Canada. 

I make conceptual 2D, sculptures and installations using plastics, thread, fabrics, mixed media and detritus as my primary materials. I also utilize the techniques of 3D printing as well as free motion stitching -- otherwise known as machine embroidery, a way of "painting" and building texture with sewing thread -- as my favored technical methods. This is the technique I used in Animal Alphabet Traveling Twisters.

CONTACT LEISA at her email:

If you would like to see Leisa's art, check it out at

Contact Michael West for great photography!