Two Ideas: Books

It was exactly a year ago that I published one of my favorite posts: "Two Ideas". Well, it's a new year and I have two new great ideas. Here are two innovative ideas for used books. I think I am starting a tradition! 

1. Souvenir of Texas

While travelling from Austin to San Antonio I made a stop at Bussey's Flea Market. A giant armadillo smiled at me from the Bussey billboard, promising that the crowds and heat would be worth the stop. Locals and tourists gathered around stalls of beads, leather, hats, scarves, antiques, and junk. It was almost closing time so I felt rushed and only stopped at the most promising tables among the hundreds. I didn't know what I was looking for- some sort of classic souvenir, maybe a coffee mug, a keychain, a toy, or boots. One dollar and 40 minutes later I had found the perfect souvenir. It was a thick mustard yellow book from 1961, " Roadside Flowers of Texas." The book was printed in Austin and is full of colorful illustrations of native wildflowers. What a lucky find! The book is a pretty perfect souvenir on its own, but I had an idea to make it even more special. I stopped at a gas station off of the highway and picked wildflowers to press among the pages in the book. The wildflower season was at it's peak, and in just one stop I was able to pick at least 9 different flowers- purple, yellow, pink, red, and white. I pressed the flowers in-between the illustrated pages to create my perfect souvenir.


2. Summer Sketchbook

While visiting family in St. Louis back in May I made a fun stop at The Book House. The Book House sells unique, used, and rare books (my favorites!). The building is literally a house, so there are many rooms filled from floor to ceiling with stacks and shelves of books. There was so much to look at. In the basement I found a used book called "It's Summer!" The plastic cover was old, stained, and unappealing, but underneath was a cool red font on red cloth, and I immediately knew I had to turn this book into a sketchbook. Back at home I took out the old pages of poetry and folded drawing paper to be sewn together for a new interior. Isn't this the perfect summer sketchbook?


A fun design project that I got to work on recently was the CAPI Afterschool Program brochure. This was CAPI's first brochure and it needed to reflect the programs purpose and values. The brochure needed to include all the necessary information about CAPI for prospective families to learn about the program. Because CAPI has such a fun, creative, playful, and energetic attitude, I thought it was important to do something a little different and out-of-the-box with the brochure design. I set up a photoshoot for the inside spread. I carefully placed a wide assortment of things you would find in the classroom at CAPI- blocks, toys, paper, pencils, playing cards, snacks, art supplies, and game pieces. After perfecting the photo, I uploaded the image to InDesign and added the text. On the back of the brochure I placed a list of items to find inside the photo. This made the brochure interactive for the kids, (who are, of course, the most important part of CAPI.)


Mother's Day Fluxkit

This year my mom went away on vacation for Mother's Day. My mom and dad took a trip to Italy while I watched their house and the dog. I made a Mother's Day gift that was small, waterproof, playful, and meaningful- a "When in Rome Fluxkit." A fluxkit is an art object that is interactive, contained, and open ended. Fluxkits were made in the 1960's as part of the Fluxus movement. Fluxus artrists appreciate simplicity, chance, and humor, and use multi media, found materials, and text in their artwork. In the past I have made "Merry Fluxkits" for a Merry Christmas, and a "Fluxkit for a broken heart" - when my friend's dog passed away. This Mother's Day Fluxkit was made from a plastic cotton swab box and consisted of 2 sets of cards that could be selected, arranged, and matched in a variety of ways. My dad surprised my mom with the gift on Mother's Day (which also happened to be her birthday!) and they had a fun time using the kit in Rome.

Here is my mom with her new friends at a fountain in Rome!


Love in the mail

Last weekend I was stuck inside, hiding from the snow storm, layering on pants and sweaters to stay warm, gazing out the window while eating oatmeal, and working on some homemade Valentines. I may not have had the time or motivation to make my Valentines if it wasn't for the storm. This year I made Valentine's for a few friends who do not live near me and decided to send them in the mail. I made personal and simple valentines with matching envelopes covered in heart patterns. I hope that my Valentine's made my far-away friends feel loved, and maybe made the mailman smile.

Gift for Joe

My boyfriend Joe has been encouraging me for quite a while to create video game inspired art. I did not grow up playing video games and even now my experience and knowledge is embarrasingly limited. I also admit, I do not care for most video game inspired art. I was resistant, but I also liked the challenge. So, using paint chips, a thin black sharpie, and a lot of research from the internet, I came up with a Mario inspired gift for Joe. He was absolutley thrilled, so I guess I did a good job!


Advent Calendars

There are 19 more days until Christmas. Are you keeping track? I've put up my first decoration- a red tinsel wreath on my bedroom door. I've heard my favorite Christmas song play on the radio- Feliz Navidad. I've added peppermint schnapps to my hot tea. I've been making gifts and planning parties. It's beginning to feel a lot like Christmas, and I like it that way.

Yes, I have started early. I made Advent calendars for my aunts, uncles, and cousins that live in Missouri. This is my second year of making these advent calendars as gifts. I'm thinking of making it a tradition. I don't get to see my dad's side of the family for Christmas, so it is nice that we can feel more connected to each other. I also love the idea of receiving a present early- I feel like you can pause to enjoy it more, without the overwhelmingness that comes on Christmas day. I made my advent calendars out of red envelopes, sticker labels. and ribbon. Inside each envelope is a little holiday themed note- a saying, a question, a joke, a fact, etc. I designed each note and I hand-wrote the envelope numbers. 

It looks great hanging on my Aunt Lori's mantle!

Pumpkin Vase

Having limited time around Halloween I was unable to carve a pumpkin this year. I usually take my pumpkin carving very seriously and it can be quite involved. Here are my carvings from the past 2 years:

 This year, My room mate Alison and I opted for a different type of pumpkin craft. We turned a pumpkin into a vase! All we had to do was remove the top, scrape out the inside, and paint the outside. The process was much faster than carving and turned out really well. My boyfriend Joe bought me some beautiful flowers to fill our vase. The pumpkin vase makes a nice centerpiece for fall. 

Painting in the dark

I didn't exactly know what I was getting myself into when I volunteered to help paint the set for my mom's new play. The show, Nottingham: A Tale of True Hearts, requires a huge realistic castle as a backdrop, including a bridge, raised platform, and 4 towers. Not only did I help paint 9 panels in 4 shades of gray, but I was expected to do this while the backstage crew practiced their lighting cues. It is a surreal experience to be painting while the lights above you are continuously changing, sometimes even turning off completely. At least we know that the set will look good in all types of lighting. I think our castle looks very realistic with its worn-in stones and thoughtful shading. We used some experimental techniques to create the effect, including saran wrap, dry brushes, rags, and sponges. Now, on with the show!


Paper clay creatures

I just finished up a 6 week paper mache class with Christine (my supervisor from CAPI). We learned about a few different paper mache methods to give us inspiration and ideas for projects we could do with the kids at afterschool. A new method I learned about is paper clay. Paper clay is a soft white mixture made out of toilet paper! The mixture can be put on to forms to create a porcelain-like look. I created 3 characters using paper clay. I created the figures so that they could sit on my shelf and decorate my room.  I started with forms created out of cardboard, tin foil, and tape. I used the paper clay to cover the forms and then I painted the figures. My first creature I created was a dog, inspired by my dog Oliver. Unlike Oliver, this dog has a long tail, shorter legs, and a lime green body. My other 2 creatures were inspired by Oliver's stuffed toys- a bunny and a monkey. I like to imagine that maybe this is how Oliver would see himself and his toys in his doggy dreams. It is a little silly. 



Chalk + Book

Recently, I gave myself a little project of painting a board book with chalkboard paint. Yes, two of my favorite things combined- chalk and books. I found 12 board books for free at a book recycling event in Salem (I was also able to donate 2 huge boxes of my own books.) The empty book gives countless opportunities for imaginative stories and drawings. I think kids would have a lot of fun playing with this, and probably most of my friends would too. I love the idea of giving this book as a homemade gift, wrapped up with a pack of chalk. Would you like to own your very own chalk board book?

Art on the porch

My favorite thing about my apartment is the porch. It is small, and the only furniture on the porch is a fouton, but it is so pleasant to sit on a nice day or night and observe the folks of Somerville. Being on the 2nd floor, the front porch looks out over Park st. I see the busses go by, the guy with a drum attatched to his bike, the homeless guy looking for cans, the girl who is texting while walking, people walking their dogs... I can see everyone, but no one ever seems to notice me. The porch is what I will miss the most when I move on the 1st of September. In an effort to take full advantage of the porch, and because it was a beautiful morning, I decided to do a little art project. I used some left over "Nature Print Paper" from camp to create solar prints. A  solar print is made by lying objects on to a special type of paper. The sun changes the color of the paper and creates images of the objects. It is easy and magical.

How to create a solar print:

1. Collect diverse objects. You can use almost anything. Think about sizes, transparency, shape, shadow. I used: scissors, buttons, paper clip, coins, key, sun glasses, vases, glass bottle, ribbon, tea bag, and sprinkles. I then went for a walk around the block and collected some plants with distinct leaves and stems. You will also need the solar print paper and a tray of water.

2. Decide how you want to arrange your objects on the paper. When you take the paper out of the package the sun will immediately begin to change the paper, so you must be ready to place the objects quickly. When ready, lay the paper flat- blue side up, and place objects on top. The paper does not have to be in direct sun light. The paper will need 2-6 minutes depending on the power of the sun. At camp, on a picnic bench in the sun, it took 2 minutes. On my covered porch it took 5 or 6. You will see the paper turn from a bright blue to a very very pale blue. 


3. When the paper has turned very light it is finished. Take the objects off the paper and immediately emerge the paper in a tray of water. The paper needs to sit in the water for a minute so that the sun can not continue to develop the image. You will notice the colors reverse- the object impressions will turn from blue to white. After a minute, remove the paper from the water and lay flat to dry. 

4. As the paper dries the color will become slightly darker and deeper. I love the final images because they are bold and graphic. The silhouettes remind me of I Spy photos or Man Ray's Rayographs. You could frame these, make them in to cards, or use as wrapping paper! Here are my finished results: