Winterset artist uses her skills to create a children’s book

Christine Hilbert knows children books.

With a son entering preschool and another two-year-old son at home, she reads a lot of children’s book and knows what she likes. When her and her oldest son would sit outside their Winterset home and gaze at the stars, she got an idea for a story.

Plus as an artist, she knew could illustrate the whole thing.

She just needed some sort of inspiration.

She would—unfortunately—get that inspiration in the Fall of 2016.

“My brother in law passed away last year,” Hilbert explained. “So a lot of the inspiration came from trying to figure out how to explain loss in a way to a small child and make it attainable. So it has a positive twist I guess you could say.”

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Everything falls into place

After graduating from Iowa State University Hilbert spent three years at the Savannah College of Art and Design. After moving back to Des Moines in 2009 she started making jewelry and selling it at local craft shows.

“I just slowly built my business that way,” Hilbert said. “The jewelry side of what I do has sustained me for many years. And I’ve always painted. So for a long time I was trying to figure out a way to bridge these two components.”

So Hilbert started doing a series called Heirloom Anthology, which is drawings or watercolors combined with heirloom collections. She photographs it and takes those collections into a piece of jewelry.

Then last Fall she got the idea to write a children’s book.

“Everything I do is kind of chaotic but is kind of cohesive,” Hilbert says.

The story behind Echo of the Star came from personal experience Hilbert said. And her four-year-old son helped.

“A star that when the morning comes, goes away and its animal friends are sad to see it leave,” Hilbert said.

Hilbert wrote and illustrated the book. She says she didn’t want the book to be, “Super death specific.”

“Whether your parents are getting divorced, moving away, going home at the end of daycare, it’s for a little kid to have that idea that a memory can carry on,” Hilbert says.

And writing the book has helped Hilbert cope.

“I feel very humbled by people who find something emotional in it that they can relate to,” Hilbert said. “You just want to connect with people as a creative person.”