Road Guide

A book and board game for the happy wanderer



This book began its journey as a 25.5" x 40" sheet of Arches Text Wove paper. I painted red and blue acrylic lines on it with two sponge brushes then sliced off an end to use as a practice sheet. I then folded the rest in quarters both ways and cut it to make it into this meander book format. To give it a theme I wrote a poem titled Road Book Rules and sent it with my embryonic book to my friend, Heather Mallett.


Heather made some clever little signposts with signs that she downloaded from the internet, put them in an envelope with the book and sent it on to Nancy Ellis.


Nancy wrote the song Happy Wanderer in pencil on one road and added a green and yellow forest in gouache before passing it to Judy Bainbridge.


Judy added outlines of human and dog footprints and the text of Dr.Seuss's Foot Book running through the book and sent it back to me.


Nancy's forest dissolved under a wet brush becoming a yellow-green background for the whole book. Then I added yellow and white roads with undiluted Tri-Art acrylic ink then added some pastel shavings, really liked the effect and added more until the whole book was covered with pastel. Multiple layers of SpectraFix, a casein-based fixative account for its slightly sour milky smell.


With the helpful critique of my husband, Neill, I reworked the text of my poem, changed the title then lettered it with a mixture of W & N Permanent White gouache and Pro White.


Before I could go any further I took a box construction workshop from Sarah Bryant at Wells Book Arts Summer Institute. This book claimed the partitioned box with the hinged lid. I covered the box with bark cloth that I had purchased in Uganda, found a leather scrap that worked for a handle and added a button from Sarah's grandmother's button box for the closure. The Summer Institute provided some book cloth to compliment the bark cloth.


For the illustrations I was inspired by two paintings that we had bought at the Craft Museum in Delhi in 1992 from two Warli artists, Ghaku Vithal Karu and Bhapya Lakhma Tumadha, working in the courtyard. They depicted village life using white stick figures. One painting had a background of dark brown paint and the other used the traditional dung.


I still needed to find a use for Heather's signs and all the partitions.  First the signs were reprinted with vector images with archival ink. Then I made a game board to fill the space under the book. That made two sections for tokens — a Magic Hat beer cap that says "It's Definitely Possible" found one morning at Wells, a ball of coloured string from my friend Jean Christianson, a green tree snail shell from my birth country, New Guinea, a blank accordion folded book from my defunct marbling business in Kenya, a porcelain crab from a box of Red Rose tea and a Chinese-made compass found in a basket in our living room.


An eBay search turned up wonderful marbled green dice at Then there was room for eight watercolours pans, a brush and 50 sheets of Arches cold pressed watercolor paper. That left two spaces for stones to build inukshuks.


I am very grateful to all those named and unnamed who have helped this book and game along their journey so far. I hope that my fellow travelers find as much joy in them as I have had in their creation. Elizabeth McKee, December 2013


The little purple bags were added to make sure things stayed in place during shipping.



Size in inches:      H                 W                 D

Box (closed)              12.25                 9                     2

Book (closed)             8                       6.25               .5

Game (closed)           8                       6                     1

Game (open)           34.25                14.5



Box:  Book board, Ugandan bark cloth (see youtube link),                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            


leather, book cloth, ribbon, silk (bags), cotton thread


Book: Arches text wove paper, acrylic paint, pastel, gouache, Copic marker, pencil, book cloth


Game: Arches text wove paper coated with konnyaku, bark cloth, acrylic paint, Copic marker

Board Game Rules


Game board, 4 dice, 6 tokens (1 blank book, 1 compass, 1 green tree snail shell, 1 ball of  coloured string, a porcelain crab  and 1 bottle cap), 50 sheets of Arches cold press 140lb watercolour paper, 8 watercolour pans, 1 brush, 11 road signs, assorted rocks.



To have fun, travel well and live long.

An unhappy player should feel free to move his or her token back home and leave the game.



Place the game board in the center of the table.

Put the road signs in the slots beside the blank blue boxes. There are only 10 slots so one signpost has to be left out. This can be any sign but I would highly recommend that you never leave out the Hiking Area sign.



Each player should choose one token and place it near the Home box.

If there are more than 6 players additional tokens must be found. Be resourceful.

To determine who goes first each player rolls one die. The person with the highest number is the first to play.

The others follow going counterclockwise.



Players may roll 1–4 dice to determine the number of spaces they will progress.

Players may move either right or left from home base.

Players landing on red boxes get to pause on their journey.

Players landing on a blue boxes must follow the directions of the signpost or of the writing on the box.



The player who has the best time wins.

The last player left after all the others have gone, as in life, may or may not be the winner.

TIP: Be strategic about how many dice you roll when approaching the Cemetery box.



Old people crossing: Slow down. Move ahead only half of the number shown

on the dice.

Children crossing: Slow down. Move ahead only half of the number shown

on the dice.

Speed bump: Slow down. Move ahead only half of the number shown on the dice.

Falling rocks: Speed up. Move ahead twice the number shown on the dice.

Stop sign: Lose one turn.

Picnic area: Stop for a picnic. Lose one turn.

Coffee ahead sign: Stop for a break. Lose one turn.

Hiking area: Leave the path and hike overland to any other box.

U-turn: Go in the opposite direction on your next turn.

Exclamation sign: Emergency. Return home.

Camping area: Go camping. Lose one turn.



Join the circus: Do a circus trick.

Add signposts: Build an Inukshuk. Do not move your token until you have completed this task. The other players continue their journeys while you build.

(Inukshuk, the singular of inuksuit, means in the likeness of a human in the Inuit language. They are monuments made of unworked stones that are used by the Inuit for communication and survival.)

Go barefoot: Take off your shoes.

Make up a story: Tell it.

Paint a picture: Paint a picture. Do not move your token until you have painted your masterpiece. The other players continue their journeys while you paint.

Laugh: Tell a joke.

Sing: Sing a song.

Home: Stop for a visit. Lose one turn.

Cemetery : Exit the game.

Players who fall off the edges can climb back on either of the two nearest edges and continue forward or backward.

Bark Cloth