Recently I had the good fortune to be invited by my friend, Marie, to spend a long weekend on Little Cranberry Island, way out in the North Atlantic off Mt. Desert Island. In the small village of Islesford live approximately 70 year-round residents, amongst them the children’s book illustrator, Ashley Bryan. He is a most gracious man who let us wander around his home for several hours looking at the marvelous children’s museum that is his house, and asking him questions about his work. Marie spent her childhood summers on the island and says that Ashley is exactly the same now as he was thirty years ago. He’s never too busy to welcome everyone who shows up, and these days, a great many people find their way to his door. From Memorial Day to the end of October, he can be found painting in his garden every day. In the evenings, he works on his stained glass projects or his puppets. The puppets are fantastically unique, each made from rags, scraps, bones, feathers, and driftwood, much of which he picks up on his beach walks. His puppets accompany him when he tells stories at schools and libraries.
The stained glass is made from sea glass, also picked up on the beach, and paper mache, using simple techniques that Ashley has developed and taught, through his 60 plus years on the island, to hundreds of island children.
Below is a picture of me with Ashley as he explains how he makes his amazing stained glass art.
I will never forget my visit to this extraordinary artist and teacher. It was a most treasured experience, made even more so by the knowledge that it has been shared by many others.
Ashley Bryan, Artist and Illustrator