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In Maya’s Blanket/La Manta de Maya, written by Monica Brown and illustrated by David Diaz, Maya takes an old blanket that her abuela sewed for her and turns it into many different things. Her blanket turns into a dress, then a skirt, then a rebozo, a scarf, a headband and even a bookmark! Maya teaches us that something old can be turned into a new and beautiful something else.
In this season of crazed holiday shopping, sometimes it can seem like nothing’s worth having unless it is brand new. But creating DIY projects–either for yourself or as gifts–can often be more meaningful, and it is also much more Earth-friendly!
DIY means “do it yourself.” This means you’re making, building, or repairing something without professional help. People who DIY are known as “DIYers.”
Here are some great DIY projects you can do with items from around your house:
Library staff see a diverse crowd of students after classes end each school day. There are over-worked students looking for a place to unwind or cram in homework before after-school activities and jobs. There are also wandering bands of restless teens who don't seem to have anything in particular to do but make all the noises that weren't allowed during the day. We don't want to contribute to students' stress by piling on more work, but do want to provide them with a productive outlet for all that pent up energy.
Free-form DIY projects can provide an experience that many teens need. Happily, an afterschool craft program can also be pulled off with no advance preparation, simply by putting out a bucket of craft supplies and a pile of leftover paper with no instructions but to do with them whatever they want. With some prep-work (such as buying a few basic supplies for the DIY school supply program pictured in this blog post) a simple theme can take shape.
Whether you choose the no-prep or just-a-little-prep route, these very loosely-structured programs provide teens a break from classwork and assignments, an opportunity to express their creativity & think flexibly, and also build social & communication skills. It's key is to let the teens decide how they want to use the supplies you provide. No lesson is necessary; instead they are allowed to learn by making.
The furniture arrangement and placement of materials in your space can have a positive effect on how the teens interact with each other. Is there a large table (or small tables that can be moved together) where you can dump all the supplies? Can you arrange the chairs so that the teens sit together? Hopefully necessary interactions (passing the scissors, divvying the duct tape) will blossom into larger conversations. Coming together as an informal group can be especially beneficial for new students, students who haven't found a comfortable niche, and students going through a period of social upheaval.
The colorful pictures you take during these programs are also great marketing tools. Share them online through your website and social media. Include them in monthly reports. They highlight the teens doing things, and demonstrate how the library serves as a cultural public space.
There are a lot places to look online for crafty ideas should you need them: pinterest, instructables, craftsy, and snapguide are just a few. You can also consult the teens themselves: ask them what skills they'd like to learn if they had the time, what materials they'd like to test out if they had access, and what themes might interest them. Create a straw poll online or in your space (or both), or simply ask the teens in person.
August 2nd - also known as International Friendship Day- is almost here. (I know, summer is going by WAY too fast).
In honor of International Friendship Day, break out your half of your friendship heart necklace and take some time to remind others how much they mean to you. If you’re unable to make plans to enjoy each other’s company, a simple gesture, such as a card or hand-written letter, will certainly make them feel loved.
Better yet, say it with a book! Reading books about friendship gives you an opportunity to talk about the characteristics of a good friend, and seeing others from diverse backgrounds sharing and being kind to each other positively affects how children will interact and treat others.
Here are 8 books that celebrate friendship and some fun activities to make International Friendship Day a memorable one.
One of the simplest and most appreciated gestures is to make someone a card to let them know you’re thinking of them. Receiving anything heartfelt in the mail is a rare and welcomed occurrence these days.
Veronicahas a degree from Mount Saint Mary College and joined LEE & LOW in the fall of 2014. She has a background in education and holds a New York State childhood education (1-6) and students with disabilities (1-6) certification. When she’s not wandering around New York City, you can find her hiking with her dog Milo in her hometown in the Hudson Valley, NY.
Pinterest has become a teacher’s go-to source for all sorts of curation inspiration. If you’re like me, you can browse and pin for hours without even once questioning when you’ll have time to DIY your heart out or eat everything pinned to your food inspiration board.
So, since June is right around the corner we thought we’d help you get a head start thinking about and planning some fun end-of-the-year tokens of appreciation. Whether you’re a teacher, student, or parent, Pinterest has an overwhelming amount of DIY-inspired gifts to celebrate the end of the school year and kick-off the start of the summer.
Teachers: 8 gift roundups (& no apples in sight!)
101 Easy & Creative Teacher Gift Ideas from The Dating Divas. An impressive list of over 100 teacher gift ideas broken down by category: the first day of school, appreciation gift ideas, end-of-the-year ideas, and even 2 bonus gift ideas for the bus driver.
Teacher Gift Ideas in Mason Jars from Mason Jar Crafts Love. If I had to describe Pinterest in two words it might just be mason jar. But dare to challenge their all-inclusive, miscellaneous nature and you’ll surely be disappointed.
28 Pun-Tastic Teacher Gifts from BuzzFeed. A laugh-out-loud collection of “punny” printables and DIY ideas for your “uh-mason” teacher or “berry sweet” students.
DIY Treat Bag Tags-Teacher Appreciation from The Busy Budgeting Mama. You can never go wrong with an edible gift, particularly those made with sugar. Here are 5 printable tags to say thanks in a sweet way.
FREE Teacher Appreciation Cards from The Chickabug Blog. Overwhelmed by Pinterest’s crafting skills? Are you a self-aware last-minute gifter? Or maybe you just have a sarcastic sense of humor? Look no further. This list of printable teacher gift card holders is here to save the day.
The Archives:These blogs are a treasure trove of teacherappreciation gift ideas, many more than can be covered in
thisroundup. Here, you’ll find teacher gifts for any and every occasion throughout the school year.
Teacher Appreciation Ideas from Skip to My Lou. 10 whole pages worth of ideas to thank a teacher. Need I say more? This is one you’ll want to bookmark for later.
Teacher Appreciation/School from Eighteen 25. Printables, printables, printables! This blog is chock-full of cheesy tags & quick DIY gift ideas for teachers that are practical, yummy, and great keepsakes.
Teacher Appreciation Gifts from The Happy Scraps. Teacher gifts for any occasion, these DIY ideas are quick and as simple as possible without breaking the bank.
Students: 8 ways to settle those testing nerves and end the year on a high note with your students.
End of the Year Gifts! from Lessons With Laughter. Your students’ futures are bright! But with cool sunglasses to wear, a survival kit bucket for life by their side, and having had you as a teacher they’re sure to be headed in the right direction.
Smartie Pants from The Muddy Princess. These are the best kinds of “smartie pants.” All you need is some cardstock, brads, glue, and Smarties!
Candy Gram Ideas from Happy Home Fairy. Candy grams are always sweet motivation for either starting or ending the school year.
Graduation Gift Idea Printable Seed Packets from Pre K-Pages. Just as you helped them plant seeds of knowledge, encourage students to keep growing their minds with this gift. Not only perfect end-of-the-year gifts for students and teachers, Forget Me Not seedlings make memorable graduation gifts.
Finally, if you’re a fan of Pinterest then we want to connect! Follow Lee & Low Books on Pinterest here.
Veronicahas a degree from Mount Saint Mary College and joined LEE & LOW in the fall of 2014. She has a background in education and holds a New York State childhood education (1-6) and students with disabilities (1-6) certification. When she’s not wandering around New York City, you can find her hiking with her dog Milo in her hometown in the Hudson Valley, NY.
Here's another of my passions folks. Zines. I am a fully fledged zine maker. A zinester, to use the technical term. What is it about making zines I love? Well, it is the whole process. But the main main thing is that it is DIY publishing which means you only answer to yourself. You write, draw, play, create whatever it is that you want to. Totally and utterly authentic. Nobody else has any say, influence or sway over what you want to produce. What can be better than that? Well, making money out of it would be nice. But, that's never the starting point. You'd be sorely disappointed if it was. They are a labour of love. No, the starting point is 'I'm going to make this because I want/need to'.
It does, however, mean that sometimes we have to flog our creations. So, here's a bundle of my five current zines. Each has a run of 1000. No more no less. And, I've put a SALE on. Normally $50 but I've knocked 20% off so until the end of the week they're just $40.
This is the perfect inspiration kit for anyone who loves drawing or just loves to look at drawings.
A collection of some of the drawings from my travel themed Moleskine sketchbook. Limited stock.
How To Draw Like a Loon
Created with nothing but a four colour ballpoint. This zine is all about drawing and handwriting. Filled with lots of exercise for you to try. Including how to make a zine! Very limited stock.
An Idle Daydream
A zine that reviews my favourite (and not so favourite) pens. Also includes some of my favourite blog images from the last eight years.
How to Draw Like a Barmpot
Another tutorial zine. This one focuses on drawing with your imaginations. Includes lots of little exercises to get your imagination working.
The Daily Tamp
A tiny cut-out-and-make newspaper full of stories, film reviews, classified ads and all the usual features of a big full sized newspaper but just tiny.
If you'd like to purchase, or read more about this zine bundle you can do so HERE. You will be supporting an artist to create more publications that you won't find on the supermarket shelves.
A little while back I was asked why my book was more expensive in my shop as opposed to on Amazon. It is a good question. It is a fair question. I tried to answer it in an illustration. How else?
It is an issue that faces all of us that run a small business. There's no way of competing with the big guys, no way at all, there is no point in trying. But we do have an advantage over them and that is the service we give.
I am not making big bucks off my book, hell, I forgot to even mention, in this illustration, that I have to buy my book off my publisher in the first place - as well as the currency conversion and bank charges that that entails too. That's before the, above, process even begins. No, I'm just scraping by. Always just scraping by.
But when you do buy from a small business or independent seller/artist you are also supporting them in creating their work. Thank you for that. I really don't mind where people buy my book from. It is an honour that they do buy it at all.
I'm glad I was asked this question. It's an important one and it gave me the chance to try and answer it. Quite coincidentally, I was chatting with my publisher, whilst I was in the middle of this drawing, about the price issue when he said "in French we say 'le pot de terre contre le pot de fer'. It's a kind of David and Goliath" and that's how this drawing got the title.
While my color mood project is officially over, I haven’t stopped keeping an eye for effective uses of color and geometry in illustration and design. Because I happen to be a musician, I’ve also started creating gig posters for my band’s shows. The gig poster is an interesting format–you have to draw attention quickly and effectively, which typically means that it needs a striking illustration or eye-catching typography.
Dan Stiles is a cornerstone of the gig poster world, and has continued to surpass its limits with his incredible command of color and use of interacting shapes. He’s a Portland-based designer and illustrator with an award-winning track record, and has worked with clients such as Death Cab For Cutie, Feist, Nike, Birch Fabrics, MTV, and Wired Magazine.
Dan, originally from Ann Arbor, Michigan, got his footing in Portland during his college years. He gravitated towards design by falling into the role of rock-poster-maker at the University of Oregon. Interestingly enough, he got his start as a pen-and-ink artist rather than a digital pixel-pusher (which he expounds on in his interview with WeMake). As a punk DIY-er, he originally was avoidant of graphic design. It’s a relief to know that there were others who resisted digital illustration at first aside from me!
From there, he fell in love with the design process as well as the silkscreen process, which is often a principal element in many gig posters. His minimalist aesthetic and focus on the integrity of shape only lends itself to his chosen medium. As a gig poster designer, he often has complete creative control over the concept and execution of his designs.
Since those early days, Dan has branched out to advertising, branding/identity, surface design, packaging, and even creates his own books and merchandise. He’s worked with Birch Fabrics on their Marine Too and Mod Squad lines (the former of which was borne out of his design for an A.C. Newman poster). Dan cites his success as being dependent on his abundance of completed work.
“I look at it like the sorcerer’s apprentice. I’m Mickey Mouse, and every project I complete is another broomstick out in the world doing work for me. The more quality work I release, the wider my reach.” -Dan, from his interview with Birch Fabrics.
As a child, there was nothing quite so thrilling as running downstairs on the first day of Summer Reading Club to find the children’s department transformed into a medieval castle, the snowy Arctic, or even outer space. As an adult, I find myself on the other side of the desk and responsible for orchestrating this transformation. As summer approaches, you may find yourself in a similar position. While I am not exactly Martha Stewart, I am a Martha who knows a thing or two about decorating a department for Summer Reading Club and I have a few strategies for making this project a little easier.
Divide and Conquer
Rather than thinking of your space as one big box, separate that box into different compartments. How do you want each compartment to work with your club’s theme? Are there any particular structural or physical considerations that will help or hinder your decorations? For example, we turned our fiction section into the Forest of Fiction because it had a pillar that was perfect for dressing up like a tree.
Our big tree in the Forest of Fiction
You can make your sections as simple or as complex as you want, depending on your space and resources. I usually assign a different subtheme or idea to each of my sections. For “Have Book, Will Travel,” each section was a different travel destination, such as the Picture Book Jungle, Computer Cove, and the Audiobook Arctic, among others.
To DIY or Not to DIY?
Handcrafted decorations are a double-edged sword. In many cases, I’ve been able to save money and stretch my budget using a cheaper DIY option from Pinterest. However, saving money can come at the expense of time spent laboring over a glue gun. Even relatively simple projects—like our paper bag trees from last year—can require a lot of planning, coordination, and help from other staff members. Before you commit to additional supplies or staff time, make sure you have a good understanding of what the project requires. Do a trial run if possible, and don’t be afraid to make modifications to expedite the process.
When you’re taking down decorations at the conclusion of the club, you may think, “When on earth am I going to use these inflatable monkeys again?” The answer may surprise you. Some of the supplies we bought last year will be making another appearance this year, which gave me a little more room in the budget. If you have the storage space, try to hang on to any reusable supplies for a future program. Your future self will thank you.
Repeat: It’s All Worth It
One of my favorite reactions to our decorations came from a little girl who asked if the penguins that had been in our audiobook section would be flying back for Winter Reading Club. I like to think about this story whenever things start getting hectic on the decoration front. Would it be easier to slap a poster on the wall and call it a day? Sure—you wouldn’t need a glue gun or a ladder, either. Does it transform your space in the same way? Not by a long shot.
Our guest blogger today is Martha Cordeniz O’Hara. Martha is a Children’s Services Associate at the Glencoe Public Library in Glencoe, Illinois. When she is not at the Glencoe Public Library, you can sometimes find her working at the Lake Bluff Public Library or attending class through the LEEP Program at the University of Illinois. She lives in Highland Park with her husband and two opinionated cats. You can follow her on Twitter at @marthacohara, especially if you are interested in pictures of the aforementioned cats.
Please note that as a guest post, the views expressed here do not represent the official position of ALA or ALSC.
If you’d like to write a guest post for the ALSC Blog, please contact Mary Voors, ALSC Blog manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This month-long series of blog posts will explain author websites and offer tips and writing strategies for an effective author website. It alternates between a day of technical information and a day of writing content. By the end of the month, you should have a basic author website up and functioning. The Table of Contents lists the topics, but individual posts will not go live until the date listed. The Author Website Resource Page offers links to tools, services, software and more.
Should You Add a Blog to Your Author Site?
We’ve talked so far about doing an Author Website through WordPress. Now that you’ve built the thing, you need to decide if you will add a blog or not.
No, I don’t want a blog
First, let me quickly says that you do NOT have to have a blog. It’s just an option.
Blogging requires a commitment to writing that can be a strain on writing projects, family time and other time commitments. I’m not worried–really, I’m not–about whether or not you can find enough to write about. That’s the easy part. Time is the hard thing to find. If you commit to writing a blog the most important rule is this: be consistent in posting. You can NOT post just once or twice a month. Instead, just update your website. Or post on Facebook, Twitter or a social network. Don’t waste your time and your readers time by starting something you can’t keep up with.
Embrace uncertainty. On the other hand, when I started blogging six years ago, it was with uncertainty. Would I like blogging? Would I draw in any readers? Would I find topics to write about? And so on. I made a commitment to TRY. And here we are. You can do the same.
OK, I’ll try a blog!
Great! You will find an audience beyond your usual boundaries.
You will find topics that fascinate you and you want to delve into deeply. You will have a platform for doing that.
You will find the blog a task-master that you both love and hate.
You will find your audience to be an amazing group of people.
And when your first book/next book comes out, you’ll find people cheering for you. (Here’s my latest novel. Thanks for caring!)
You don’t blog to sell books. You blog to make friends.
What will you write about?
As I look around the blogosphere, I find bloggers using different strategies for content.
Up-to-date news. One strategy for blogging is to keep your ears to the ground and as soon as you hear something, you blog about it in depth. Did Facebook just update it’s home page? Provide the killer tutorial on it before anyone else. As I am writing this, I got an email that Barnes & Noble’s Nook Press is going international. If I cared about the hottest publishing news, I would jump on this!
Names. I once read about a small-town newspaper publisher who saturated the market with a single strategy: publish as many names as possible. When a baseball team played, the newspaper listed the name of every single team member. And the managers. And the coaches. Of course, people bought the newspaper to see their name in print. Cynthia Leitich Smith’s Cynsations blog uses this strategy by listing everyone’s good news, interviews with almost everyone in children’s literature and generally spreading the love.
Teaching. This blog, Fiction Notes, is about observing my own struggles and the struggles of my friends and colleagues and writing about how to solve problems. In a word, I teach. (My friend says that I can’t NOT teach; she’s right.)
Diary. Some people live a transparent life online and don’t mind the glass walls. If that’s for you, you’ll find many who’ll take the trip with you.
Thoughtful or thought-provoking analysis. Maybe you only want to post once a week, but you want it to be a longer, more thoughtful piece. That would be great. Don’t think you must post daily. But be consistent. On Thursday, I look forward to reading Kristine Kathryn Rusch‘s thoughtful posts about the publishing industry. I don’t have to agree with everything she says to look forward to the posts, because they always make me think. For example, a thoughtful person could write an interesting post about the Children’s Book Council 7th Annual Children’s Choice Book Awards. One of the awards is for the Author of the Year; the five nominees are always based on best-seller lists. The controversy this year is that Rush Limbaugh’s book, Rush Revere and the First Patriots: Time-Travel Adventures With Exceptional Americans, is a best-seller, which put him on the list for Author of the Year. A thoughtful or thought-provoking blogger could write about this in depth. Lots of issues to delve into there! (Should children’s book awards be based on best-seller lists? How easy is it to manipulate best selling lists? If we reject the bestseller list as a starting point for awards, where SHOULD we start?) This isn’t something I would do on my blog; I avoid the controversial. But if you’re up for it. . .
Topics for which you have a passion. Maybe you don’t want to blog about books, publishing, or other authors. One author friend is interested in true stories of ghosts. Since she writes mysteries, it sounds like a great topic for a blog! She could interview people who have seen a ghost, joke about ghostbusters, include photos of ghosts (NOT!) and so on. What’s your passion? Bulldogs? Kidnapped kids and how they survive? Whatever your passion, it’s fine–no, it’s GREAT–for an author blog to take off on a tangent. You’ll find readers beyond your books and that’s not such a bad thing.
Photos, video or audio. Maybe you are a cartoonist and can provide a humorous 3-panel cartoon daily. Maybe your hobby is photoshopping dog portraits. Great. Just post one picture a day. Or post one a week and explain how you photoshopped it. Use YouTube and pull the videos into your blog. Or do a podcast. There may be platforms that are better for each of these areas (For video, you need a YouTube Channel.), but they can also feed into a blog.
Your Ideas. You may have another strategy for writing a blog. Please share it!
Notice: These strategies are about giving an audience something interesting to read. Entertain. Inform. Persuade. Provoke. It’s not about you. It’s about your readers. What type of content can you write about that others would want to read on a consistent basis?
It’s time. Decide. Will you try a blog or just stick with your author website?
I’d been planning to do something for our front door since our old wreath was so decrepit, but I hadn’t gotten around to it. I’d never considered using live greenery since the only ones I’d ever seen looked like they’d take a master’s degree in wreath artistry and a few months to create. Hello, Martha Stewart!
But the blog post made me see how pretty a quick, natural wreath could be, and I realized we had plenty of greenery in the back yard. I bought a form at Michael’s (about $4) and clipped various bushes: magnolia, Yaupon holly, rosemary, and wax myrtle.
Sadly, the regular floral wire was out at Michael’s, so I bought this stuff that’s kind of like a never-ending green twist tie. It’s not so bad. And I basically twist-tied the greenery on in a haphazard, overlapping circle. It took me about half an hour. The best part was not having to follow any directions.
Personally, I’m kind of smitten with its exuberant cowlicks. I would totally do this again. What about you? Have you made a wreath of your own?
In other news, with this being the last day of school for the year, I’m winding down my latest draft of my young adult novel and am readying it to send to a reader/ writer/ friend. Scary and exciting at the same time.
Hopefully I’ll be around a little bit over the break, but if not, Happy Holidays to you!
and p.s. We’ve been watching this hilarious show called Lilyhammer. It’s about an American mafioso-turned-informant who chooses Norway as his relocation destination. All kinds of funny cross-cultural issues come up. It stars Steven Van Zandt, of Sopranos and E-Street Band fame. You can find it on Netflix.
Encyclopedia Pictura is the creative association of Isaiah Saxon, Sean Hellfritsch and Daren Rabinovitch that has been producing striking, playful work since its inception. One of their early shorts, “Grow,” shows off the power of a simple, clever idea executed well:
The team has produced several music videos including work for Björk and Grizzly Bear. Here are a few stills from Grizzly Bear’s “Knife” video, which features their multimedia, practical/digital effects combination approach to direction:
There is a load of interesting behind the scenes footage and photos also on their website, such as this video:
Their claim of working in “film, art, game design, community building, and agriculture” is not a bit of bombast. From their about page:
From 2008-2011, EP led an effort to build a unique hillside neighborhood and farm called Trout Gulch. They lived and worked there along with 15 others. In 2012, they co-founded DIY in San Francisco, with Vimeo co-founder Zach Klein and OmniCorp Detroit co-founder Andrew Sliwinski. Saxon also volunteers as Media Advisor to Open Source Ecology.
They are passionate about gardening, farming, construction, villages, augmented reality, science visualization, social ecology, technological empowerment, adventure, and country living.
DIY is both a feature film in development as well as more recently a new and growing online community that encourages young people to become “Makers” and share their work, gaining confidence in their creativity and earning digital badges for their profile as they go. DIY meets kids where they already are, on connected devices, and encourages their natural creativity while learning real-world, off and online skills. The DIY “anthem”:
The Do It Yourself/Maker attitude is perhaps the most valuable thing that is being nourished as young people challenge themselves to new experiences inspired by the site.
When a person grows up understanding that they can create and mold the media and environment around them, they don’t have to resign to an existence of passively consuming at the corporate trough. An individual’s confidence in their own creativity is an essential survival skill for the future.
The Lee & Low office is closed today because of the storm, and our thoughts are with everyone affected by Sandy and the rain, wind, and flooding that she brought with her.
Drummer Boy of John John illustrator Frané Lessac has shared instructions on how to make masks for Halloween and Carnival, but they work just as well as a Hurricane craft for those still cooped up and looking for something to do, as most things can be found around the house or replaced easily with household items.
Enjoy, and stay safe and dry!
Materials: Crayons or colored pencils Scissors
12” elastic cord glue
colorful bits and bobs (beads, feathers, glitter)
1. Print off the mask or follow the simple outline and draw your own:
2. Cut almond shapes out for the eyes. You can ask an adult to help.
3. Poke 2 tiny holes on either side of the mask ½” from the sides.
4. Tie a knot on one end of the elastic and thread though. Then thread through the other side and knot.
5. Color the mask with bright crayons or pencils. (For inspiration, look at the Carnival masks in The Drummer Boy of John John)
6. Glue on the colorful bits and bobs.
7. Let dry.
8. Jump up and paaaarrrttiee !!!
It's a bit like a busman's holiday being a writer. I mean, how many other professions actually continue to do their job after hours, just for fun?
I don't know about you, but I seem to spend my days in front of the computer - or writing - or reading, it's how I earn a crust. So when it's time to put my feet up, or have a day off, what do I usually find myself doing? Yep, you've got it – sitting in front of the computer - or writing - or reading!
I mean, does a painter and decorator dash home after a day of painting and decorating to splash more paint on his walls? I don't think so! Or does a motor mechanic swop work boots for slippers and then slide under the chassis of his car? Probably not – and certainly not by choice!
So how come writers get so absorbed in the whole world of writing and books that it takes over our lives. (Unless it's just me and I really need to get out more!)
It is nice though when you do find time to do something completely different like going out into the countryside on a warm sunny day and relaxing with a friend over a refreshing drink. Trying not, of course to chat about books and writing.
Then there's visiting the grandchildren – that's always a lovely thing to do. Oh! But what's their favourite pastime? You've got it – reading. So it's either Sam aged 2 perched on my lap while I read to him or Megan and Brennan aged 7 and 5 respectively reading to me. And what's the routine before bedtime – yup! They get a bedtime story each.
Me and my tribe - not reading!
I enjoy trying to keep fit and visit the gym whenever I can or just go for walks. But even before I set out I'm deciding what to think about during my walk or gym session. Exercising, I've found is the perfect opportunity to think up new plots or solve difficulties in something I'm working on. It's sometimes a bit annoying if you find you've arrived back home and you're only halfway through a particular chunk of dialogue though.
Bedtime is my reading for relaxation time, and two great books that I've just read one after the other were Stephen King's Under the Dome and 23.11.63 – which is based around Kennedy's assassination.
This project looks simple, but it has taken me many months to complete. Okay, I have to admit, over a year, but I wasn’t working on it that whole time. I haven’t sewn much for myself in the last few years, mostly for my kids and our home. Part of that has been not wanting to spend so much time on something that might not fit me in the end. So when I heard about Cal Patch‘s book, Design-It-Yourself Clothes, I fantasized about making something to fit me perfectly.
I really like this book. The instructions are clear and written with a sense of humor. The projects are just the right speed for me——beyond beginner but simple enough not to be intimidating. But my favorite thing is that the book leaves lots of room for experimentation. So I like to flip through often and just dream about what I might create. For me, dreaming is more than half the fun.
That said, my first project doesn’t involve a lot of experimentation, besides the pattern drafting itself. It’s the first project in the book, with very little deviation besides the added waistband.
I crossed off a lot of firsts with this skirt. Besides my first self-drafted pattern, I also made my first muslin (trial run of the pattern in a cheap fabric), sewed my first invisible zipper, and used my first French seam. I now realize flat-felled seams would be better here, but oh well.
I’m not completely crazy about the skirt. There are a lot of flaws you can’t necessarily see here, and although the fabric is lovely and soft, I’m not sure what to wear it with. Just having made it feels like a big accomplishment, though.
Since I had plenty of fabric left over, I offered to make a skirt for my daughter, too (just a simple gathered rectangle). If you know me well, you know I’m really not a matchy-matchy type. Our bridesmaids didn’t even match. But my Little Miss loves matching, so she was totally hip to it, especially when I offered to add a floral strip at the bottom.
I love her styling choices here. She’s a bold little fashionista. I feel a mother-daughter matching day coming on. Oh, the things we do for our kids!
The hard part is more deciding what pictures you want to see as a screensaver every day, a task that ended up taking me all afternoon. I first got caught up thumbing through the free downloads on the Kindle Wallpapers Tumblr, which is fascinating on its own.
Then I decided to add a few of my own pictures, so I found a half dozen of my favorites, converted them to black and white, and shrunk them down to 600 x 800.
When I posted on Facebook about what I was doing, someone lamented that she’d recently left her Kindle on a plane, which made me flash back to something I read several years ago. I can’t find a reference to it right now (little help?), but I remember reading about a guy who took pictures of himself and text on signs about how to return the camera if someone found it. He then kept those picture at the beginning of his camera’s memory card in case someone ever found the camera and looked through the photos.
I’ve always thought that was brilliant, so I figured I’d try it with my Kindle. I took a picture, added some text, and then loaded it as a screensaver.
Granted, it’s unlikely that this particular image will be displaying if I lose my Kindle, but my hope is that whoever finds it will be interested enough in the screensaver that is showing to scroll through them. I know it’s a long shot, but it was also something fun to do.
Which then got me thinking about libraries. Are there any libraries customizing the screensavers on their Kindles? As a librarian, I came across some free, library-related screensavers, so I put a few of them on my own device. If you, too, want some library-themed screensavers, here are the ones I’ve found so far:
I wanted some topiary's I found at a home decor store but they were $149.00 each...ouch, considering I needed two. So me being me I went on the hunt and I ran across these canisters for $5.00 each, on sale!! Then I found these metal thing-a-ma-bobs at Hobby Lobby for $10.00 each. So I was up to $15.00 each which was awesome because I still needed the ivy. I found some super cheap at Michael's because they were on clearance.
my canister and metal thingy...
I used Epoxy to attach them together...
then I ran the ivy around and around and ta-da!...my two topiary's for $21.00 each!
Over at Illustration Friday, artist Rama Hughes writes about a found art project he does with his students called Beautiful Trash:
At the beginning of the school year, I invited my students to contribute to my Collection of Beautiful Trash. I promised to use it for an end of the year surprise. Over the course of the year, they got really excited about the quality of their trash. As soon as the school year ended, I browsed through the detritus, selected the most compelling items, and bound the beautiful trash into these three volumes.
If you use watercolours or gouache, and Matt over at the Comic Tools blog offers up a handy tip. He shows how using a sponge, some watercolour paper, and a plastic container, you can build a cheap do-it-yourself stay-wet palette.
As per usual I’ve returned from holiday travelling with a lot of cool links to share and the admission that I’m behind on my blog reading — and this is me who is never behind, this is all deeply distressing to me — and I bet you are too. Anyhow, some things I’ve enjoyed reading over the past few days. I’m putting a Computers in Libraries column to bed today and it’s talking about widgets. I like talking about widgets.
Portsmouth (NH) public library is having a documentary showing of DIY Nation + artist get together this weekend which looks like fun and a nifty type of program to boot. Plus I sort of stupidly like that they can link right to the book in their catalog. It’s 2009, how many of us can do that yet?
One line update/coda to the Des Moines photography situation from the DMPL marketing manager “At this month’s meeting, our board voted to remove the requirement that permission be granted for photos to be taken in our library.” Woo!
Curious to know what’s going to happen at the Hayward (CA) libraries when they go to a Netflix model for lending [pay up front, then no overdue fees]. Looking forward to seeing the crunched numbers at the end of this.
In another neat model, ArchivesNext reports on the Amsterdam City Archives’ “you ask we scan” approach to digitization. There are some linked slideshows and further data. Interesting model.
Behind the boom of new technology and the digital e-book revolution, there is a lingering panicky mantra among longtime book lovers that goes, But what about my pretty hardcovers?? And although I’m excited about the possibilities that the future holds, I’m right there with them – it makes me instinctively sick to think of a world where ITunes replaces bookstores and children grow up staring at screens. Those who agree will argue that there is something wonderfully tactile about the physical book: the cover design, flipping the pages, and oh, that smell… some things are just irreplacable.
But now that more and more readers are in favor of Kindles and IPads over stuffed bookshelves, what’s to become of the precious physical books? Well, these designers have found some pretty creative ways to celebrate the spirit of the book as an object – by finding a different use for it.
1. The Shelf
What better way to display books than on a shelf of MORE books? Like the designers of this inventive shelf, I totally feel the pangs of abandonment when I see books thrown out instead of “repurposed” in some way. Plus, this feeds right into my instinct to hoard books… long after I’ve read or have space for them.
2. The Laptop Case
Technology and traditional materials finally go hand-in-hand with these leather laptop cases, appropriately named the BookBook. For only $80-100, you can swath your MacBook Pro in a hand-crafted faux hardback book. So not only do you seem really intelligent to that cutie in the coffee shop, but no one has to know that you’re researching your paper on Google instead of at the library. Go you.
3. The Camera
Pinhole cameras were always a fun experimental diversion in high school photo class, but these made of books, by Erin Paysse at Engrained Works, take the process to a whole new level beyond the average coffee can. The pinholes even take and advance a roll of 35 mm film, just like a real camera… but so much classier! I just can’t get over how gorgeous these are.
But I want to give special attention to the video, in which Bakshi answers a question at 2008’s ComicCon about being an independent creator in the shadow of big studios.
It’s a great pep talk, and while he’s specifically talking about animated films, his advice is relevant to any type of independent creator. Look at the webcomics professionals who are striving in spite of the newspaper syndicates, or the graphic novelists funding themselves through Kickstarter.
Bakshi’s attitude: you have the ability and resources to make and distribute your own things, so why aren’t you doing it?
And to those bemoaning the crumbling of the studio/syndicate/publishing industry? “It’s not crumbling; you’re crumbling.”
Proving Bakshi’s wisdom, Machine of Death — the self-published illustrated short story anthology edited by webcomics’ Ryan North and David Malki — recently reached #1 on Amazon, surpassing the sales of both Glenn Beck and John Grisham. These are creators who beat the system by ignoring the system.