That Milk Snake Story


  • © 2009

    Dimensions (in inches): 7 x 6 x .36

    Materials: HM papers, gouache, laser transfer, mica, thread, snakeskin

    • Collection of: University of Louisville Fine Arts Library, Louisville, Kentucky


A single sheet structure of eight 2-sided panels (including covers). Made with translucent, crackly 'skin' paper made by Cave Paper. Snake images hand painted with guache accompanied by laser transferred text on both sides. The covers are of heavy weight 'bark' paper; the front cover has a round window cut-out with some snakeskin sandwiched between 2 circles of mica.

The impetus for this book came when I was browsing a collection of early 20th century folklore and discovered one referencing a species of King Snake known as the Milk Snake. These large (up to 7 feet long), colorful snakes are beautiful, with gray or tan background colors broken with bands of red and black. Their coloration, similar to the venomous Coral Snake, and size make them seem far more dangerous than they are. A perfect candidate for folklore. The story goes that a farmer's milk cow suddenly went dry. She was seen going to the far end of the pasture each day. One day the farmer followed her and saw her low invitingly, whereupon a milk snake would creep out of the grass and milk her.

To present this story I chose a crackly, translucent paper, along with the single-sheet structure that Scott McCarney calls a 'snake book.'

The oviparous milksnake whose clutches average ten starts with three, or four or even twenty more in humus or under rot eight weeks later the precocial young need precious little more (brightly born they dull with maturity) even the largest of milk snakes could no more milk a cow than could a bird That Milk Snake Story In the pine barrens I caught a large snake black-and-white serpent immune to the bite of any The sight started a line of snake stories. A cow that suddenly went dry watched, she would go to the far pasture low invitingly A snake would creep out of the grass milk her. When the snake was killed quarts of milk gushed out. The cow pined away and died. A sad story; true as most.

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