Jenny’s Top 5 Elephant Picture Books  

We’ve just added an elephant to our parade of Ex Libris designs, so obviously we had to start pulling out our favourite elephant-based picture books.

There are a lot out there, but these are Jenny’s favourites:

 Have you seen Elephant? – David Barrow

Do you ever feel like there’s an elephant in the room? This is wonderfully simple and beautifully illustrated. Kids will love spotting Elephant and it totally captures how bad kids are at looking for things (mine at least), and reinforces the small-person belief that you can hide in plain sight if you put a towel on your head.



The Story of Babar - Jean De Brunhoff

This book is wrong on so many levels in its old-fashioned outlook but is still utterly enchanting. I have a very old hardback copy -  I loved it as a child and my kids seem equally taken with it. 


Get Out of My Bath– Britta Teckentrup

When other creatures keep getting in Ellie’s bath, she asks the reader for help getting them out. The shouting and book-waggling that ensues makes this a raucous bedtime read, but it’s loved by all the kids I’ve read it to.



Five Minutes Peace – Jill Murphy

Elephants and baths just go together and feature in this classic too. We follow Mrs Large as she desperately tries to get some time away from her kids. It will ring big bells with any parent. The expressions are so brilliantly drawn I’m sure even the smallest child will recognise that look of despair on Mrs Large’s face which is probably why they find it so funny too. The rest of the Large Family series is worth a read too – brilliantly observed comedy about family life.


Tusk Tusk – David McKee

You might expect David McKee’s most famous elephant, Elmer, to be on this list. He isn’t for the simple reason that despite wonderful artwork, I don’t think the Elmer books are very good. David McKee however, is a masterful picture book maker, and in Tusk Tusk he confronts the difficult subject of otherness and tolerance via conflicting black and white elephants. It’s silly, but so is prejudice. And this is a very serious book with wonderful artwork.


A potted history of Bookplates and a 21st century bookplate commission

We spend much of our time at Bloomfield & Rolfe creating ex libris bookplates so we thought it would be interesting to provide a bit of historical background to the art of the ex libris – with some notable examples from the great and the good.

Bookplates date back to the 15th century when they would have marked ownership of precious illuminated prayer books. As books were the preserve of the ruling classes, they were usually heraldic or armorial, and this trend continued until the mid-nineteenth century. 


 Samuel Pepys
The 17th century diarist’s ex libris, engraved by Robert White after a portrait by Sir Godfrey Kneller, is a portrait which was originally used as a frontispiece for Memoirs of the Navy published in 1690 – the equivalent of an author photo on the inside cover in modern terms - but was used in his private collection of books too. A bookplate showing the owner’s likeness was by no means the norm, but it would certainly make you think twice about pilfering one of his volumes… those eyes are saying ‘put it back’.

 During the Victorian era, with book-ownership widening, bookplates were suddenly in demand by those without a coat of arms (imagine the headache of not having a coat of arms!). The fully pictorial bookplate was born, and began to reflect the owner’s interests and personal history. 

Jack London
The author’s most famous works, The Call of the Wild and White Fang, are set in the Canadian Yukon, so it is no surprise that his striking bookplate features a wolf and some snow shoes. Again, the ferocious stare seems to act as a warning and I wouldn’t steal a book with this in!

Bookplate from PBD4370_395x520.jpg

Rudyard Kipling
Designed by Kipling’s father, John Lockwood Kipling this fine bookplate captures the colonial and oriental themes of his son’s literature, life and interests. Rudyard can be seen riding and reading on the elephant with two servants, very much reinforcing his status. 


Albert Einstein
Designed by Erich Buttner in 1917 this is probably my favourite Ex Libris of a notable person because it so brilliantly captures Einstein’s awe of the universe and the energy and forces which drive it.

At Bloomfield & Rolfe we draw on this history whenever we design a bookplate. To make our products affordable we design directly onto a computer with a digital tablet rather than carving or etching, but by creating highly detailed rubber stamps we hope to preserve some of the tactile wonderfulness of these examples.


 For a recent commission we were asked to use a family coat-of-arms to create an up-to-date pictorial bookplate. The customer liked the idea of putting the wolf in a library reading a book, and we added touches like the axe leaning against the armchair, and the stars between the books to refer back to the original symbols. 

If you want to commission something similar email us with any imagery and/or ideas and we’ll get back to you with quote -

We can also, of course, create Bespoke Bookplates, Name and Monogram stamps based on personal history and interests.

Or we have over 70 ready-made designs which can be personalised with a name.


With a new range of Ex Libris stamps celebrating exploration, I thought it would be good to share some of my favourite travel books, with something for all ages.


Imperium– Ryzard Kapuscinski

Ryzard Kapuscinski is my favourite travel writer, possibly my favourite writer full stop. He manages to be both politically insightful and poetic at the same time. I also have an inexplicable fascination with Russia and the Soviet Union and so Imperium, which was written as the Soviet block was crumbling and visits every corner of the vast territory, combines both. A Polish journalist, he provides a different perspective here on the Soviet Union, and in his many other writings, particularly about Africa.  I have reread this one a couple of times, and it is more pertinent now in time of Putin than ever, and still exquisite to read as a work of literature.


Around the World in Eighty Days – John Burningham

This book is simply my dream assignment – being commissioned to replicate Philleas Fogg’s famous journey around the world and document it through drawings (any commissioning editors reading, I’ll gladly replicate this!). Any fan of Burningham’s illustrations will delight in this book – images take the lead with brief notes on each destination like a travel diary. Published in 1972 there is a distinct hangover of the Empire feel to it, but it makes it no less charming or interesting and is perfect way for anyone of any age to spend an afternoon globetrotting and becoming absorbed in Burningham’s journey. It’s out of print, but well worth seeking out.


The Songlines– Bruce Chatwin

Bruce Chatwin is another favourite writer and I could have picked any of his travel books. In The Songlines he attempts to grasp the totally alien culture of the Australian Aborigines (touching on other nomadic cultures too). Peppered with literary references from around the world on the nature of travel and the need for it, this probably isn’t a light or easy book, but I found it quite profound.



Going to Extremes– Nick Middleton

Middleton sets out to find the coldest, hottest, driest and wettest inhabited places on earth and meet the people who live there. The results are evocative of landscape and climate and often very very funny. I still chuckle every time I think of his Siberian swimming adventures (and why NOT to wear swimming trunks). 



My Granny Went to Market– Stella Blackstone and Christopher Corr

If there is a granny in your life who is always on holiday in some far-flung destination, this will strike a chord. The vibrant illustrations by Christopher Corr set off Stella Blackstone’s counting rhyme to perfection, as we follow Granny around the globe on her shopping expedition. Both my children loved this book as toddlers and it sparks real interest in real places (and the souvenirs you can get there – very important for any child!).



This is the World– M. Sasek

A compendium of his famous series of books for children. Despite being out of date (many destinations dating back to the 1950s – although corrections have been added) my 6 year old daughter and my husband are equally entranced by this huge book and it’s mid-century illustrations. A proper coffee table tome, highly recommended and would make a fantastic gift.




Lots– Marc Martin

A new oversize gift book about world destinations seems to pop up for children every week. Marc Martin’s Lots rises to the top of the pile for it’s stunning illustrations, quirky facts and non-Eurocentric selection of destinations.  Closer to the recollections of a real traveller than a tourism leaflet, it's a treat.



Terra Incognita: Travels in Antarctica– Sara Wheeler

Antarctica is another of my obsessions – and I’m not sure if this book created or compounded my fascination. Wheeler (on another dream assignment) spends 7 months on the frozen continent recounting the history of its exploration, her awe of the vast landscape, alongside the village-like community of scientists who live there. Beautiful writing based on an intense experience which leaves you feeling like you’ve been there and met the people - travel writing at its best.

The Botanical Collection - from sketchbook to rubber stamp

We're often asked where we get our inspiration, so here's a little insight into our new Botanical Collection which originated in the greenhouses of Kew Gardens. I spent a fabulous day there back in July gathering ideas about shapes and form.

Here I am looking slightly gormless (but really I'm just deep in concentration).


As you can see from my sketchbook pages I recordered a lot of colour. This is partly to the benefit of my other illustration projects, but also, the act of looking that is necessary for a long colour drawing really imprints the shapes I'm looking at on my memory. Once I was back in the studio I barely need to look back at my sketchbooks to get ideas for making personalised rubber stamp designs....

... although the sketches do crop up when it came to taking photographs of the sample stamps.

You can see the whole Botanical Collection and order your own personalised stamps by clicking here.

Jenny has been doing a drawing a day since 1st September 2014. You can see them all at or follow @jennybloomfield

Help! My child loves dinosaurs! - Some of the Best Dinosaur Picture Books

My 3 year old son loves dinosaurs - REALLY loves them. It was his obsession that inspired our new Personalised Dinosaur Ex Libris stamp.

It is rare bedtime that he will let us read him any story that doesn't feature a dino in some guise. For that reason that I have been searching high and low for some great picture books about dinosaurs - not really for his sake, but because reading the same one over and over again was driving us mad. I'm sharing them here as an act of mercy for any other families who are similarly afflicted.

The Wonderful Egg by Dahlov Ipcar
(Flying Eye)

A sumptuous book from a picture book master. Flying Eye have lovingly recreated this edition by labouriously recreating the original colour separations used to print back in the 1960s, and this attention to detail really pays off in the print quality and colours. These details will please the design-savvy parent and the simple story, introducing all kinds of dinosaurs big and small will delight little ones. The 'science' might be a bit dated and pedants may protest, but I think it's a lovely way to introduce the concept of evolution.

If the Dinosaurs Came Back by Bernard Most (Houghton Mifflin)

A great hit with my son, this book imagines how dinosaurs would help us in the modern world if they came back. A refreshing change from the usual emphasis on roaring and scaring people, and pleasingly whimsical in places.

Dinosaurs, Dinosaurs by Byron Barton (HarperFestival)

Perfect for little ones with bright naive artwork, this introduces different dinosaur characteristics with text that is easy and quick to read at bedtime. My son loves the 'white poos' at the beginning (a triceratops laying eggs).

Gnash, Gnaw, Dinosaur by Tony Mitton & Lynne Chapman (Kingfisher)

A book of dino poems with a real WOW factor when it comes to the fold out pages, creating BIG dinosaurs, generating lots of 'Ooooh's. This one seems to be out of print, but is definitely worth seeking out.



Pop-Up Dinosaur abc by Robert Crowther (Candlewick Press)

I have fond memories of Crowther's animal abc book from my childhood so was thrilled to find this dinosaur version. The pop-ups and design are simple but effective, and the abc format means you're introduced to some less common dinosaurs.

Dino (a pet unlike any other) by Diego Vaisberg (Templar Publishing)

Print-enthusiast parents will definitely want to get their hands on Dino, with it's spectacular Risograph artwork. (Speaking as a picturebook geek this has one of my favourite page-turns ever).  The story about the problem of having a pet dinosaur is sure to please young ones too.  From googling I can see that this title started out as a risographed zine and am glad to say the energy has transferred to conventional book - LOVE IT!
(For those who don't know, a Risograph is like a cross between a photocopy and a screen print).


What the Dinosaurs did Last Night by Refe & Susan Tuma (Little, Brown Young Readers, US)

From skimming (the excessively long and self indulgent introduction) this book was born out of two parents messing around with toy dinosaurs so that every morning their children discovered new mischief around their home. The photos are very amusing, as are the captions (which young children won't get at all, but good for the grown ups). We tend to just look at the pictures and talk about them.
Whenever this one is chosen I briefly flirt with having a go at doing this myself with our toy dinosaurs... then realise how much time and effort that would take and revert to sitting on the sofa in a post-bedtime exhausted haze.

Encyclopedia Prehistorica: Dinosaurs by Robert Sabuda & Matthew Reinhart

I include this one with the caveat that it is not for small children - unless under very strict supervision. But I had to include it because it is the most spectacular pop-up book you can imagine, with multiple pop-ups per spread (35 in total) and packed with information. It's now out of print, unsurprising as I have no idea how such a piece of complex paper engineering was ever made for under £25. You can get functioning second hand copies for about £35 and I think this still represents excellent value.







We get a lot of requests for something like our Bespoke Bookplates  (or Bespoke Wedding Stamps), but smaller. And so we're really pleased with our new Bespoke Monogram Stamps which, just like their bigger counterparts, are designed from scratch for each recipient, incorporating a range of imagery that reflects a person's (or couple's) life and interests.

The sample above (JHB) was done by Jenny for herself. It incorporates and Autumnal tree (favourite season and generally a big fan of trees); a fox (born in Leicester); an owl (lives in Leeds); two owlets (two children) and a pencil (illustrator!). 

Measuring about 4x5cm these stamps are incredibly versatile. They make a thoughtful and useful gift and can be used to mark ownership of books or papers; make your own stationery, create seals for envelopes; or to accessorise your wedding day.

When you place an order for a stamp the order form has several prompts including places, animals, trees and flowers, profession(s), hobbies and interests. We won't necessarily include everything, but if anything is essential you can indicate when you order. Natural imagery works particularly well with these stamps.

Below is a sample we did for Nic & Will.
Listeners to BBC Radio 4's The Archers will know that they live in rural Borsetshire (countryside) where Will is a gamekeeper (pheasants); they got married at new year (winter wedding) and have a daughter called Poppy (!). I've also included 'cake' because Ambridge is a place of the WI, Fetes and the Flower and Produce show.

Stamps are £52.50 each and come gift boxed with a black ink pad. An explanatory card is also included. Allow 2-3 weeks for dispatch, although we try and process them as fast as possible.

Case Study: Vickie & Rob's Wedding - 'building a life together'

Vickie & Rob approached us last year to design their wedding invitiation. They weren't really sure what they wanted at first, but knew they wanted an invite with a black line drawing, a style that they both liked.


After talking for a while on the phone, the idea of 'building a life together' emerged as important, and, taking on board Vickie's passion for baking, I came up with a tiered wedding cake design, which incorporated important places (the church they were to get married in, their reception venue, and Edinburgh where they have set up home); Peonies - a favourite flower; Vickie's beautiful engagement ring; barrels to signify Rob's love of whiskey and craft ale;  trees to represent Kew Gardens; all topped off with a pair of 'matroyska' dolls, to represent that they met studying Central and Eastern European History.

The invite was letterpress printed on Gmund Cotton 300gsm with a lovely deep impression. They used  bright fuschia envelopes and we digitally printed a bright RSVP card too.

In addition we had the pleasure of designing lots of extras for their big day, taking elements from the original invitation. This included an eight-page Order of Service,  Menus (which doubled as place names), a table plan, and, my favourite item, a 'guest book' poster with room for the guests to add their names/messages on pink stickers.

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If you'd like to commission something for your wedding, whether just a simple rubber stamp, or a whole set of stuff for your big day, contact us by email on


Jenny's Picture Book Review: 'Black & White' by Dahlov Ipcar

I recently discovered Dahlov Ipcar's books, when Flying Eye Press republished a selection of them, including 'Black & White'. Dating from 1963 the artwork has a real retro charm, and the story, about a black and a white dog who live next to each other in friendship was apparently inspired by the civil rights movement. Most of all though, this is a great book to read and share with kids with plenty to look at and learn.

The story centres on the dogs' adventures, and their dreams, introducing a miriad of black and white animals along the way as they venture into the dark jungle and the bright Arctic.

While Ipcar's style is bold and decorative and very appealing to children, the animals are accurately portrayed. The illustrations are very printerly with a limited colour pallette, and were made using a 4-colour process, which the staff at Flying Eye had to painstakingly recreate as the originals were lost. This might sound like boring technical information but the difference from modern digital full colour printing is obvious and intrinsic to this beautiful book.


Importantly, this book is great to read aloud to young children, with a pleasing rhyme scheme. In addition to all the animals to point out, there are spreads covered in butterflies, birds and fish which my daughter always likes to count, and we always have to pick our favourite.

I love the final page and it's pleasing closing lines, perfect for the moments before sleep:

'And each told the other his dream
Of the arctic storm and the jungle stream
And of all the animals black and white,
White as snow, black as night'

I must also mention the endpapers which are just GORGEOUS.

Amazingly, Ipcar, at the age of 98, is still working from her house in Maine. If you'd like to find out more this article from 2014 provides a good potrait.

Visit Flying Eye here. They currently publish four Ipcar titles - and lot of other highly desirable picture books.

DIY Wedding Projects using new Calligraphy Stamps

We love our new Calligraphy Collection which includes everything you need for a wedding – Address Stamp, Wedding stamp, Initials and even a Hashtag stamp to keep all your guests on the same social media page.

Each design starts with traditional dip-pen and ink, before being turned into a rubber stamp – we don't use fonts, everything is handwritten to order!

While we think the flowing script looks fabulous on it's own, the text can also form the basis of some creative contemporary DIY projects. Here are some of our favourite ideas:


Weddings don't have to mean pastels and florals. Channel your inner raver and go day-glo with flourenscent paper, inks, envelopes and labels.


You don't have to be Picasso. Some simple floral shapes laid down underneath your text add real pop to cards (just make sure the paint is dry before you stamp). This is a great way of quickly making a set of invites which are all unique.


This is easy-peasy and we think really effective. Use spray paint, or alternatively we discovered 'Blo-Pens' which are meant as a child's toy but do the job cheaply and fume-free.


Don't restrict yourself to white paper. Here we mimicked a chalkboard by stamping with white VersaMagic chalk ink on Colorplan Racing Green card.

(We added some WOW with a simple watercolour wash on the envelope – just spodge on wait to dry for some beautifully random results.)


Think outside the box a bit and don't restrict yourself to 'wedding' supplies. The geometric grid of bog standard graph paper looks fab with calligraphic flourishes; or bring utilitarian office labels into the limelight.


It doesn't have to be serious, or grown up – crack open the googly eyes and have fun!



World Book Day 2016 - New Ex Libris stamps inspired by Great Literature

World Book Day - on Thursday 3rd March this year - celebrates the joy and value of books and reading. You couldn't really get more Bloomfield & Rolfe than that! So, to celebrate we've come up with some smashing new Ex Libris designs, inspired by great literature...

Clockwise from top left: 'Whale' stamp (inspired by Moby Dick); 'Train' stamp (The Railway Children); 'The Owl & The Pussycat' (the nonsense rhyme by Edward Lear); 'Wuthering Heights' stamp (Wuthering Heights).

All stamps are priced at £25 and can be personalised with a name of your choice. Perfect for stamping ownership on your own favourite books. 

You can read about World Book Day and events and activities here

Wondering where the lovely background images come from in the photos above? 

Every child in the UK get's a £1 book token this Thursday. Any of these books would be a great addition to their library.

Clockwise from top left: 'A River' by Marc Martin; 'Oi! Get off our train' by John Burningham; 'We're going on a Bear Hunt' by Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury; 'The Storm Whale' by Benji Davies.

Jenny's Picture Book Review: 'The Paper Dolls' by Julia Donaldson, illustrated by Rebecca Cobb

I'll admit that I wasn't at all sure about this one from the behemoth that is Julia Donaldson, but it's really grown on me and my four year old daughter loves it.

It's also one of those great books that can inspire an activity on a rainy winter afternoon, so would recommend it as one to take out of the library.




The little girl makes paper dolls and has some great adventures with them. Rebecca Cobb's illustrations deftly transform the everyday items in her home to rich imaginative landscapes – where the tiger slipper becomes a real tiger and the crocodile oven glove tries to crunch the paper characters. Her innocent use of line perfectly matches the story of a little girl's creativity.

There is a great refrain throughout which my daughter always joins in with – 'You can't catch us, oh no no no! We're holding hands and we won't let go...'

Then comes a boy with a pair of scissors, and you expect the dolls to escape again, but they don't. This is where I wasn't sure at first – it seemed very harsh, brutal even.

The paper dolls then fly into the little girls memory. I thought this was a bit twee - but actually, it's quite a good lesson about loss, and about the power of memory, and without sounding too deep 'the impermanence of things'.

The story ends with the little girl growing into a mother herself, and making paper dolls with her own daughter. And so the dolls live on.

I'm not sure how this would play with a boy, but it's a great jumping off point for creativity for mum and daughter. We made these dolls on rainy day last year and, although battered, they're still proudly on her bedroom wall (despite her baby brother doing his best to destroy them like in the book!).

Case Study: BLING! Deco inspired wedding suite with a B&R twist.

Robi and Daniel came to us with a gold foiled Art Deco design they'd seen elsewhere on the web. They liked it, but also liked the idea of creating something personal to them. Working with the Art Deco theme, the distictive square shape of Robi's engagement ring, and peacocks we got down to work designing their hand-drawn invite.

When they asked us to include their beloved 'baby', Juanita, it caused us to pause, but we think, with the addition of a smart bow tie, she fits in rather well with the design and their request for black tie attire.

The couple wanted some 'bling' on their invitations and by foil blocking the design on heavyweight 700gsm Colorplan Imperial Blue card, we think the results are rather spectacular!

To complement the invitiation we designed and digitally printed RSVPs and cards with additional information, and made an initials and 'Juanita' stamp for personalising envelopes and all those other wedding extras.

As the wedding day drew closer, we helped to provide finishing touches for their wedding reception with menus and hand-made table numbers.

The table numbers had hand-applied gold leaf on the front, and movie quotations on the back and look rather stunning en masse - ripe to be framed after the big day.

If you're interested in commissioning Bloomfield & Rolfe to create your wedding stationery, or for any other occasion, just get in touch at and we'll be happy to help.

Case Study: Cats and Street Food

A sneaky peek of a recent wedding commission.

Mary and Paul's shared interests were pinned down to street food, festivals and their cats! Their wedding would be informal with no 'girlie stuff'. So we came up with a vintage food van - and I'm glad to say Mary didn't veto the hanging baskets! Archie and Stella take pride of place and the 'GMW' on the number plate is an in joke  for their friends.

The main invite was letterpress printed in dark grey, with the pink/yellow/blue fairy lights applied by hand to create a pop of colour. We used Artoz 1001 lined envelopes from Bureau Direct.

In addition we created an RSVP card and an additional information card (both digitally printed, a personalised address stamp, and also a stamp featuring the van, to be used to personalise place names and other details on their big day.

If you'd like to commission us to create something for your big day - girlie or not - we'd love to help. Email us at

An Ex Libris Rubber Stamp for everyone - Celebrity Special!

Did you know we now have 40 different designs in our Ex Libris book stamp range? Well, in a moment of idle silliness we thought we'd match up some well know figures with their perfect Ex Libris design. (It's possible I was watching Saturday night TV at the time... as you'll see).

And don't forget, if you can't find what you're looking for, we'll happily design something specific for you - just get in touch  at

If you'd like to order any of the designs just click on the image and it will take you to our online shop.

First up, it's queen of Strictly Come Dancing - Darcey Bussell. Wasn't a MASSIVE feat of creativity to match her up with our 'Ballet' Ex Libris stamp, but sometimes the most obvious presents are the best! This design is based on Degas' ballet dancers and is perfect for the tiniest dancer or a prima ballerina.

Moving on through the Saturday night schedules here's The Doctor. With all his love of gadgetry the Robot Ex Libris stamp ticks all the boxes. We think this little fellow shows the Doctor's friendly side. 

Now, it's Sunday night and we're looking for someone with a touch of traditional sophistication and Victorian leanings, to pair with our Filigree Ex Libris stamp.... hmmm....... Lady Grantham of Downton Abbey of course. Surely even she wouldnt' turn her nose up at this?

Ok, my 3 year old had taken over the telly. That's OK though, because this we think this Fairytale Castle Ex Libris stamp would be perfect for Princess Anna of Arendell. (I'm asserting my authority by chosing Anna over Elsa as she's clearly the best).

Right, back to the real world! We couldn't help noticing the resemblence between Jeremy Corbyn and Mr Fox. This is easy peasy!

Keeping it intellectual, we thought this straight-down-the-line, says-it-how-it-is Library Ex Libris would play well with the BEARD. 

How will you use yours? Get creative with a Personalised Christmas Jumper!

Having your own personalised stamp means making things unique and having lots of fun in the process.

We love making our own cards and decorations and the months leading up to Christmas are, of course, the peak season for  DIY card making creativity.

This year we’ve been having fun already with our new ‘Christmas Jumper’ design...“So much potential..!” as Bloomfield put it.

Order yours, which can be personalised with names of up to 25 characters, and start your Christmas crafting early...

Design your own Christmas Jumper Christmas cards - get the kids involved with colour pencils and paints...see who can create the craziest jumper!

One size fits all...try drawing a cartoon of the kids wearing the jumper. Don’t be daunted, keep it simple! People love the personal touch, even stick men are acceptable...

Bloomfield and Rolfe Christmas Jumper stamp

Use the stamp to make tags and decorations...think about witty ways to use the stamp. Do show us how you got on via twitter and instagram!  #BRxmasfun