I went and got myself a ukulele a few weeks back and have been enjoying it tremendously. I was able to play the Happy Birthday song for my youngest on her birthday (which is both incredibly cheesy and incredibly fun). I know about 7 or 8 chords and can play a bunch of different silly songs (I totally rock the Hokey Pokey). The ultimate goal is to be a ukulele playing Storytime librarian, so I am going to keep plugging away until I have the confidence necessary to play to a room full of small, eager faces.
There are few things in life that make me happier than painting. Over the past two weeks, I have been working on prepping a new art journal. I'm taking Alisa Burke's online Art Journaling class (because learning new things is good!) and some of the stuff I already knew but some of it is brand new.
When you have been painting for most of your life (I remember getting my very first watercolor set when I was 5), you feel like you have tried everything there is to try. It is really exciting to learn a new twist on an old technique or (as is common in Alisa Burke classes) to see techniques combined in a way that makes them feel new and fresh again.
The best part about taking a class is that it rearranges all the stuff you know. It's like somebody flipped a switch and now I am able to make new connections and bring together things that I wouldn't have considered before.
If you are even a little bit into making stuff with your hands, I highly recommend checking out Alisa Burke's website ( http://alisaburke.blogspot.com ) and classes.
I have this life rule about learning new things. And the rule goes something like this: DO IT.
So when my friend Jenny offered to teach me how to make lamp work glass beads I said yes. Actually, first I said "that would be cool" and then a few months went by and then I was ready to learn.
So one sunny Friday afternoon, I got to play with fire and molten glass.
Once the beads are made, they go into a kiln to be annealed. Then you have to removed them from the mandrel with a special tool.
At first it was intimidating because that butane torch is both loud and REALLY REALLY hot and I was sure that I was going to make a huge mess.
My first bead was a sloppy lopsided melted lollipop looking thing. I asked Jenny to make another so I could watch her and figure out what I was doing wrong.
My next few beads turned out better. Obviously to be proficient I would need to make more than five beads. I had fun and it was really cool to see the finished product.
For the record, working with fire and molten glass is really satisfying.
Hey guys! I have been working on painting and planning and figuring out this whole work/art/life balance and it has taken me a few weeks, but I think I have got it.
We will see.
I recently purchased a whole mess of new Sharpie markers and needed a way to move them from room to room (as I am a migratory doodler). I did what any of you would do--I went to the art room and looked at what I already had to work with.
I present to you: a washi tape marker caddy.
This morning at 6:30am, I was woken by the sound of my youngest crying. I went into her room and asked what was wrong.
I feel ya, kid. I feel ya.
I graduate from grad school on May 9. I will be a Master of Library and Information Science. The following week, I start a new job. I am thrilled to be done with homework and thrilled to be working in my chosen field. And I am thrilled to have time once again to MAKE STUFF.
For the past few days, I have been cooking and crafting like a fiend. I have missed baking! I have missed leisurely cooking! I have missed creating things with my hands.
I have been doing all kinds of real-life things (see that tab up top that says Bologna2015 ? Take a gander there); including finishing an internship at a great library, being a Girl Scout leader, working, and planning out the summer. And I love to be busy and work with people and make things happen.
But the making of tangible objects recharges me in a way none of that other stuff can.
I miss drawing!
I miss baking!
I miss making jewelry!
But all of that will start again shortly, as will regular blog upkeep.
Grad school has ended! (all hail grad school!)
Until later, lovelies!
Got 15 minutes? Then you have enough time to make lip balm for yourself and 10 friends. It's super easy and makes a great little gift.
You will need:
1 tablespoon of coconut oil
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 tablespoon plus 1 1/2 teaspoons of beeswax pastilles
10 drops sweet orange essential oil
5 drops lavender oil
Measure out your olive oil, coconut oil, and beeswax.
Place into a heatproof container (I like to use a Pyrex measuring cup), and place that container into a pot of water on the stovetop. (You've created a double boiler here! This is to keep your ingredients from scorching when exposed to the heat)
Turn the heat on and bring the water to a simmer. The wax and coconut oil will melt together into a lovely golden liquid.
Remove from heat and stir in the essential oils.
Pour into individual lip balm tubes.
Let cool and label.
Then you can keep them all for yourself or share with your friends.
Hey party people! I have been super busy behind the scenes working on my e portfolio, so the blog got put in the back seat. I have not forgotten you! I am working on a few fun tutorials, so look for those in the next few days. In the meantime, go to the library and get a few books to read. Here are 10 titles that should tide you over!
Mouse, Bird, Snake, Wolf by David Almond, illustrated by Dave McKean, Candlewick, 2014. UK.
This graphic novel takes us to a world, much like ours but for one difference—this world was left unfinished by gods who spend their time feasting and sleeping. In this unfinished world live three children Harry, Sue and Little Ben who one day decide to go wandering and come to rest beneath a tree. Ben declares he can sometimes see things in the empty spaces, and brings forth a mouse. Sue looks into the empty space and brings forth a bird. Harry conjures a snake. But then their imaginations get overly ambitious and they bring something new and dangerous into the world. It’s up to Ben to save Harry and Sue, as the gods are still napping. This tale takes familiar fairytale concepts and breathes a new fresh tale into existence. The illustrations are as twisty and ephemeral as the children’s thoughts. Dave McKean uses pen & ink, colored pencil and digital collage to draw us into this world and peer into the minds of the protagonists.
Sita’s Ramayana by Samhita Arni, Groundwood Books, 2011. India.
This a graphic novel format retelling of the epic Ramayana from the point of view of Sita, Rama’s wife. The illustrations are done in the scroll painting style of Patua—with thick black outlines and vibrant colors, the illustrations are like murals and illuminated manuscripts from centuries past. Told from Sita’s perspective, the mighty battle in Lanka takes on a sorrowful tone as she empathizes with the women who have lost loved ones. The tale subtly highlights the fate of women in a male-driven world. At the back of the book is a section on how the book was created and a historical note about female retellings of the Ramayana.
Beyond the Surface by Nicolas Andre, Nobrow Press, 2014. Great Britain.
This concertina style book is wrapped in a four-panel fold out that, on the interior, has facts about the greatest heights and the deepest depths of the Earth and the intrepid explorers who have traveled there. The concertina itself is printed on both sides. One side takes you up above the surface of the Earth and shows a myriad of ways to explore and enjoy this planet. There are campers, downhill skiers, dragon-kite-flyers, planetary-spy-ers, and mountain climbers. On the flip side, the illustrations take you below the surface into underwater caverns, past dinosaur skeletons, gemstones, bats, cave dwellers, and abandoned mines. The vibrant palette is reminiscent of the 1960’s with lime greens, bright blues and reds jostling for attention. This wordless concertina provides hours of entertainment as you pour over the illustrations and make hypotheses about who the characters are and what they are doing.
Time of Miracles by Anne-Laure Bondoux and Y. Maudet, Delacorte Press, 2010. France.
Told from the perspective of a young refugee, Blaise Fortune, we learn of how he was raised by a woman named Gloria after she rescued him from a burning train as an infant. After the collapse of the Soviet Union the pair travel from the Republic of Georgia across Europe, Gloria tells Blaise that his mother was French and that he is a French citizen. It is Gloria’s goal to get Blaise to France so that he can live a life of freedom. Five years are told in vignettes and as Blaise grows older, so too does Gloria. This novel is a tale of survival, love, and belonging.
The Black Book of Colors by Menea Cottin, Groundwood Books, 2008. Spain.
This is a book about colors, and the way we describe them. The book itself is printed on black glossy paper, with text in white on the lower half of the left page. On the upper half of the left page, the text is repeated in braille. On the right page are embossed black-on-black illustrations. The book is beautiful both in design and feel. What makes this book so great is that unlike most braille adaptations, this book is in picture book format which means that it is for all children not just blind children.
Wild Berries by Julie Flett, Simply Read Books, 2014. Canada.
This charming picture book follows Clarence and Grandma as they go into the woods to pick wild berries. Told in English with Cree words sprinkled throughout the text in red, this gentle tale is a celebration of time spent outdoors with those we love. Julie Flett has created a story that is at once familiar and brand-new. With illustrations on the right and text on the left, the book carefully balances text and images. The illustrations are watercolor and cut paper against a white background. The palette is deep and earthy, composed of green, grey, red and blue. At the back of the book is a pronunciation guide and a recipe for wild blueberry jam.
The Rabbit Problem by Emily Gravett, Simon & Schuster, 2010. Great Britain.
This book is not a book about math (even though it’s based off of Fibonacci’s famous equation). It is a book about rabbits. The text explores how many rabbits can a pair of rabbits create at the end of a month? How many rabbits will there be at the end of a year? And what happens when you have 53 pairs of rabbits in one field? The book is designed like a calendar (complete with a hole for hanging on the wall), and each page turn will bring you to a new month. Gravett’s mixed media illustrations are both humorous and inviting. A few pages have mini books that cover everything from knitting a rabbit sweater to the Carrot Cookbook. As the population increases, the hand-drawn rabbits spill over one another in order to fit on the page until finally they all burst forth in a pop-up at the end of the book.
Before After by Anne-Margot Ramstein and Matthias Aregui, Candlewick, 2014. France.
This hefty wordless book is a visual demonstration of the passage of time. Each page contains a single full-page illustration that extends to the very edges of the page. Most of the stories are a two page set of before-after like the acorn and the oak, but a few are before-after-after like the oak tree through the seasons. The digitally rendered illustrations are vibrant, but appear flat—there is very little shading used to create the illusion of depth. To differentiate foreground from background all of the items on the page have thin outlines, but the outlines are not all black. The size (6”x9”) is ideal for a cozy exploration in a comfy chair.
La Malinche: the Princess Who Helped Cortez Conquer the Aztec Empire by Francisco Serrano, illustrated by Pablo Serrano, Groundwood Books, 2011. Mexico.
A tale of the conquest of Mexico by Cortez, utilizing both historical documents and first-person sources Serrano explains how Cortez, with the aid of La Malinche, was able to travel to the capital city of Tenochtitlan and overthrow Moctezuma. The book doesn’t shy away from the realities of conquest, but the focus is on La Malinche’s role as translator and the symbolic mother of all Mexicans. At the back of the book is a map that shows Cortez’ route, a glossary, a list of sources, and recommended further reading. The book is filled with illustrations reminiscent of early church murals combined with Aztec motifs in a warm, sun-baked palette.
Lost and Found by Shaun Tan, Arthur A. Levine Books, 2011. Australia.
This collection of three shorter Shaun Tan works explores how people (or in one case, rabbits) move through the world. In The Red Tree a girl moves through a bad day, starting with a room full of fallen leaves to being overshadowed by a giant putrid fish to being stuck in a tiny boat surrounded by giant steamboats. But at the last minute hope is restored when she returns home to find something beautiful waiting for her. The illustrations here are in Shaun Tan’s unique style, combining organic with machine to create new and puzzling combinations. The palette is subdued but lush. In The Lost Thing the protagonist tells a tale of the time he was collecting bottle caps and spotted a lost thing on the beach. Again Shaun Tan creates a creature that is part organic and part machine (but full of personality). The protagonist is told by his parents that the lost thing needs to live somewhere else, and goes on a trek to find a place where the thing can fit it. This story is utterly charming, and the illustrations are full of gears and mechanisms to ogle and ponder. The last tale The Rabbits was written by John Marsden and illustrated by Shaun Tan. This story is an examination of imperialism and manifest destiny—if the conquerors had been rabbits instead of people. Gorgeous earthy colors and layers upon layers create the scenery into which the rabbits invade. As the tale moves forward, the illustrations get smaller in size and darker in color. It is a prime example of how text and illustration can work together to create a something greater than the sum of its parts.
This is a book for independent readers; from second grade through adults. There are so many facets of the text that can be used in classroom setting, such as the two-page spread on all of Marcel's animal friends or the one-page illustration on architecture. For readers who are not interested in fiction, this book does a lovely job of bringing non-fiction and fiction together. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes an interesting story, anyone who likes quick facts, and (of course) animal lovers. While it is true that I have a soft spot for elephants, I believe this book will charm you too.
This book is a quick read that offers an opportunity to discuss the life and culture of an American teen. As a piece of historical fiction, the text offers glimpses into living in an urban war zone. In the classroom the text could be used as a springboard to discuss current political global affairs, or the global situation in the the mid 1980's, or as a writing exercise (what would Faten's life be like as a teen in Lebanon today?). It could also be useful to discuss the aspirations of the teen students and how they feel about Faten's choices.
It's no secret that I love my lady friends. They cheer me up when I am down, they are always down for an adventure or an unscheduled drink, and they offer to assault people with porcupines when I'm having a rough day. If 14 year old me could see all the lady friends I have today, she would not believe it. I'm not a girly-girl, so it took a while to find the women who could love me even though I frequently wear the "wrong" shoes and often go places in paint-spattered pants. I might not read Vogue, but I can fix your dryer and bake you a flourless chocolate cake, so I've got that going for me.
Tomorrow is Galentine's Day--brought to us by Amy Poehler and the fabulous writers at Parks & Rec. It's a day to celebrate your awesome lady friends. And brunch. If you didn't get your lady friends anything, don't worry. You can download the images I made and use them to tell your friends how you feel.
Have a great Galentine's Day, everybody!
I also turned them into PDFs if you prefer them that way.
An artist and librarian. Mother, wife, Girl Scout Leader, and entrepreneur. Lover of books, coffee, and really dark chocolate.