You can't help but want to step into artist Hilary Pfeifer's universe. It's a place where discarded wood becomes colorful creatures, a sense of humor comes in handy, and the truest level of handmade creativity abounds.
And now Pfeifer has expanded upon that world with the publishing of her first book, Elephabet. This alphabet book for kids and adults features Pfeifer's signature elephant sculptures she makes under the name Bunny with a Toolbelt, each one accompanied by a unique portmanteau.
"It's a word that means putting two words together to make one," explains Pfeifer. The book title itself combines the words "elephant" and "alphabet" to create "Elephabet."
So how did this native Oregonian artist end up in publishing?
"My mom is a collector of alphabet books and I've always loved words. My dad and I used to play word games and I know that's where this all started."
Flip through the pages of Elephabet and you'll find classic Hilary Pfeifer personality. Each letter is illustrated by a collection of elephants, carefully crafted to illustrate their specific portmanteau. The letter "N," for example, features the Neapolitant (Neapolitan + elephant).
Making hundreds of unique elephants to be photographed may seem like a hard way to illustrate a book, but given Pfeifer's commitment to the handmade, it all makes perfect sense.
"I grew up in a family that really valued craft… and what I love about this book is that everything you see in it is a little piece of sculpture." In other words, a handful of people can own a one-of-a-kind character from Elephabet in addition to owning the book.
"It's nice to know that things just don't live in a virtual world," says Pfeifer.
And when it comes to Hilary Pfeifer's world, we can only imagine where she'll go next.
Where to Find Elephabet, by Hilary Pfeifer
- Crafty Wonderland Super Colossal Holiday Sale, December 10-11, 11am-6pm, Oregon Convention Center, Hall C, Portland
- Visit Hilary Pfeifer's Bunny with a Toolbelt website to see the elephants in a special animation.