End of class reflections

We made it to the end! It was so awesome to see the presentations yesterday, and I can’t wait to see the rest tomorrow. Everyone had such cool projects!

I kept to the crafty side of Making for my projects, but seeing what everyone has made and blogged about, I’m inspired to keep exploring all things Making – from Arduinos to e-textiles to crafts I’ve never tried before (like spinning wool and quilting), and even wine making. Sticking with my projects and actually finishing them has motivated me to keep going and to try other new projects. I’d love to find some kind of beginner’s class for adults (seems like there are a few for teens and kids, but I haven’t found any yet for adults) where I can learn to do something I have no experience in (like circuits, Arduinos, soldering, e-textiles) – so if you hear about something, let me know!

I’d also like to hear from you about your projects. Would you say your projects would be a good start for beginners? If not, is there another project you would recommend starting with? I think as long as you don’t mind glitter everywhere, my projects could work for beginners who want something slightly practical (they provide some light) and crafty.


Chevron Wall Hanging

Black Paint
Painter’s Tape
Adhesive spray
Mod Podge
Lite Brite light pegs
Poster board that is larger than the canvas
Plastic report covers with slide lock that holds papers together (see picture below)
LED Light Strip (the package I got contained two light strips)
3M Command Strips

Hot glue gun
Paint brush or sponge applicator

Step 1:
Paint your canvas black. Let dry.

Step 2:
Cut your poster board to the size of the canvas. With the extra poster board, cut to the length of the canvas. You will use this to create a stencil for the chevron stripes. Draw lines every 2 inches horizontally and every three inches vertically. Use your ruler to draw diagonal lines to create the chevron pattern. Cut out the pattern.


Stencil with lines marked off to guide where to cut.


Close-up of lines drawn on stencil.


Finished stencil with chevron pattern cut out.

Step 3:
Use the stencil as a guide and mark off stripes with painter’s tape. I did two rows of tape for each stripe, so they ended up to be about 2 inches wide. Each stripe is approximately 2 inches apart. I also used painter’s tape to tape off the sides of the canvas, so there wouldn’t be any glitter on the sides.


Canvas with chevron strips marked off.

Step 4:
You may want to do all glitter-related parts of this project outside, so glitter doesn’t get everywhere, as it is wont to do. Spray your canvas with the adhesive spray. Pour the glitter on top. Let dry.


Glitter-covered canvas.

Step 5:
Shake off the excess glitter and peel off the painter’s tape. Apply the Mod Podge to the glitter stripes with a sponge applicator. I applied two coats. This will help keep the glitter in place.


After taking off the painter’s tape.

Step 6:
Using the hammer and nail, make small holes in the black stripes for the Lite Brite lights. Space them apart as you would like. Push the Lite Brite light pegs into the holes. They stayed in for me very well – I did not have to glue them in.


First row completed. Nail holes in the rest of the black stripes.

Step 7:
Stick the LED lights onto the poster board. The strips I got had adhesive on the backs already. Be careful about how you place the lights, so they stay within the canvas frame in the back.


LED light stripes on the back of the poster board.

Step 8:
Remove the side locks from the report covers. I just used scissors to cut them off of the plastic. Use the hot glue gun to attach the side locks to the back of the canvas. This will help keep the poster board in place.


Report covers.


Slide locks after being cut off of the report covers.


Back of the canvas after applying the slide locks.


Close-up of slide lock on back of canvas.


Poster board held in place with slide locks.

Step 9:
Finishing touches: In order to keep the poster board flush against the back of the canvas, I used sticky tack to hold it in place. My LED light strips came with an on/off switch on the cord. To keep the switch accessible, I used the Command Strips to keep it on the side of the canvas. I also used Command Strips to hang it on the wall. Since the side locks holding the poster board in place stuck out a little, I stuck the Command Stripes on top of them.


Back of canvas after command strips were applied.

Lessons Learned:

My original plan for this project was to have colored stripes instead of glitter with the chevron pattern. I marked off one-inch stripes, and painted them in shifts by marking off stripes with painter’s tape so I could only do a few at a time. After painting a set of stripes, letting it dry, using the painter’s tape to mark off the next set of stripes, etc., finally finishing and adding the black paint, I realized I didn’t like the way it looked. I could have just kept going with the way it was, but I wanted to have an end product that I liked and would be proud of, so I painted the entire canvas black, and rethought my original plan.

It took me awhile to figure out how best to mark off the chevron stripes. After working with it through trial and error, I finally figured out the best way to mark off my stripes.  Without being prepared for failure, something like this may have caused me to give up in the past.

My last lesson learned with this project was keeping the glitter in place. I thought I would be safe if I applied extra coats of adhesive spray to the canvas after I applied the glitter. That did not work. I came up with the idea of using Mod Podge to keep the glitter in place at the very end, so by the time I applied it, some glitter had already come off. In my instructions, I advised using the Mod Podge right away, so that any future creators of this project won’t have that problem.

Egg Carton Night Light

6 egg cartons
Solar-powered garden light
Clear cup (Make sure the cup will fit over or on top of your solar light base)
Tissue paper
Lite Brite light pegs (I used clear)

Hot glue gun
Paint brush
Thumb tack

Step 1:
Cut off the tops and sides of the egg cartons, so all you have is the cups part.


Separating the egg cartons.

Step 2:
Paint the egg cartons your desired color. I used two coats of paint. Paint both the top and bottom of the containers.


Be generous with the paint – you will probably use more than you think.


To paint the outsides, I put a dot of paint on each egg cup, as well as additional paint in the middle.


Since we won’t see the very bottom, you don’t have to paint those parts.

Step 3:
Cut all of the cups apart, so you just have individual cups. Trim them down so each side is the same size. Note: By the time you are finished will all of the cutting (Steps 3 & 4), your thumb will probably be irritated by the scissors. You may wish to cover the part of your thumb that touches the scissor handle with a band aid to keep irritation to a minimum.


Individual cups after being separated, before trimming.


Egg cups after trimming sides to be even – before rounding the edges.

Step 4:
Cut lines down the four sides of each cup, so you have four petals. Round the tops of each petal.


After rounding the edges.

Step 5:
Use hot glue to stick two cups together to make one flower. Do this for all of your cups. Let dry. Note: Put the hot glue around the sides of the outside cup – not in the middle, or you will have to push through dried glue to stick in your light pegs. I ended up with one flower with glue in the middle and had to give up on that one, because it was too hard to get the light peg into the flower.

Step 6:
Use a thumb tack to poke holes in the bottom of each flower. Poke the Lite Brite light pegs into the thumb tack holes. Make sure the pegs go all the way through, so the light can shine through.

Step 7:
Use the hot glue gun to attach the completed flowers to your cup. I made 36 flowers out of the 6 egg cartons. Once I finished covering the surface of the cup, I had 4 left over. Depending on how you fit your flowers together, you may not have exactly 4 left over.


Image of cup before starting to glue on the flowers.


After covering the cup with flowers. There were some open spots where the flowers didn’t fit together right.

Step 8:
If you wish, use tissue paper to cover any spots not covered by the flowers. I cut small squares of tissue paper, wrapped the squares around a pen, put a dot of hot glue on the end (where the end of the pen was), then used the pen to push the tissue paper into the empty spaces. I then trimmed the tissue paper, so it was approximately the same size as the flowers.


After using tissue paper to cover the open spots.

Step 9:
Charge your solar light base. When you are ready to use the night light, flip the base upside down (with the solar cell facing down), and the light will turn on. Put the decorated cup over the base.


Finished night light.

Finished night light.

Lessons Learned:

When I first envisioned how I would do this project, instead of using a cup to attach all the flowers to, I was going to use a yarn bowl (example). With a little bit of struggle, I did get the yarn bowl completed, however, once it was complete and I attempted to attach the flowers to the bowl, it collapsed, because it wasn’t strong enough to hold up even one flower, let alone 30+. It was difficult to scrap that plan, because I had spent a bit of time and frustration on making the bowl, and was so proud when I finally got it, only to have it not work. However, in the end I think the cup actually worked better than the yarn bowl would have anyway.

Done! (for now)

My projects are finished! – at least until I decide to make upgrades on them. See below for images of my two projects. Since they both involved light, I took the pictures in the dark – they didn’t come out great because I used my phone, but hopefully they will look better in person.

Chevron Wall Hanging

IMG_0116 IMG_0117

Egg Carton Night Light

IMG_0118 IMG_0119


Stay tuned for step-by-step instructions on how to create each of these projects!

I thought this was a kid’s project, or Why is this so hard?

I started making my yarn bowl today. Since I got the instructions from a Crafts for Kids site (http://www.pbs.org/parents/crafts-for-kids/diy-yarn-bowls/), I thought it would fairly easy. It was not. Instead of a bowl, I used a balloon, so maybe that was my downfall. The balloon was extremely slippery, so it was hard to get the yarn to stick to it. Once I thought I finally got the hang of it and was winding the yarn around, the yarn that was already on the balloon started falling off, so the part I was winding was sticking fine, but then other parts were hanging off. So, I unwound it all and wound it back up, and everything was fine, paused to put glue on more yarn, and pieces started falling off. This happened four more times – unwind everything, rewind everything, pause to get more yarn, yarn falls off, unwind everything, etc. Finally I had enough yarn to finish, so I unwound the whole thing, rewound the whole thing, and now it’s drying. Here’s hoping it’s still in one piece tomorrow.


On a slightly more positive note, I painted the black stripes on my light hanging over the weekend. I taped off stripes, then painted everything black, so when I peeled off the tape, the stripes would be colorful:

Right before adding the black paint.

Right before adding the black paint.

After spending many hours over the weekend taping off stripes for the colors, painting about 8 lines at a time, waiting for it to try, taping off the next set of stripes, etc., then a couple hours figuring out how to do the chevron stripes, painting it black, and peeling off the tape for the big reveal…I decided I didn’t like it. So I painted the whole canvas black, and redid the stripes in glitter instead. Doesn’t it look much better now?


ETA: I can’t figure out why the glitter picture isn’t showing up in the post. You should be able to click the link to see the image.

What I did last weekend.

I spent some time working on my projects over the past weekend and made some good progress. Here are some pictures of what I got accomplished:

I turned 6 egg cartons into 72 painted individual cups:

I painted stripes onto my future wall hanging using painter’s tape to separate the colors:

Wall Hanging

Things I learned:

  • you really have to push painter’s tape down in order for it to work, otherwise the paint will bleed through
  • white paint can decently cover up paint that bleed through the lines
  • if you are going to be cutting apart multiple egg cartons it might be worth it to wear a band-aid or glove to protect your thumb from blisters

Things I have left to do:

  • Use the painter’s tape to create a chevron pattern on my wall hanging, then paint over the canvas with black tape, so when I peel off the tape, the colored stripes will be part of the chevron stripes
  • Poke holes through the canvas to stick the (colored) Lite Brite pegs through
  • Put the LED light strip onto the back of the canvas
  • Create a yarn bowl with a balloon
  • Attach the egg carton cups together two at a time with a hot glue gun to create flowers
  • Poke holes through the completed flowers to stick the (white) Lite Brite pegs through
  • Attach the flowers with the Lite Brite pegs to the yarn bowl

It’s probably hard to picture based on my descriptions, but I will have step-by-step instructions for each project when I’m done.


Learning about Maker spaces at ALA.

I’m finally getting to writing a blog post about ALA. While I was at the ALA conference, I had the opportunity to attend one of the sessions on Maker spaces, called “Teaching teens how to fail”. The session focused on a Maker space, called Maker Jawn, in the Free Library of Philadelphia (jawn is Philadelphia slang – find out more here). Maker Jawn is an initiative to start Maker spaces in libraries across Philadelphia.

The session started with a quiz on circuits and then we did a hands-on activity with an LED light and battery. We then discussed the differences in the hands-on activity versus the quiz. I think everyone preferred the hands-on activity, giving reasons such as: with the activity, if you get it wrong the first time, you have a chance to do it over, and you know right away whether you got it right or wrong (if the light worked or not).

The session also went into how we need to change our relationship with failure. We seem to be afraid of failure, especially because in many schools, students aren’t graded on their ability to fix mistakes, but rather to get it right in the first place. However, we need to start teaching failure and how to deal with and fix it, as “fear of failure does not prepare you for a 21st century job market”. How many job interviews have you been on where they asked you to give an example of how you failed and then overcame that failure? Failure is a natural part of life; what’s more important is how you push through and resolve the issue.

Other interesting things from the session:

  • It’s important to acknowledge success. Instead of a Maker Faire, Maker Jawn had a Maker celebration, where instead of each Maker showing off one project, they put on demonstrations of the skills they had learned.
  • You have to eat your own dog food – basically, if you suggest a project, you have to participate in that project
  • Using icebreakers to encourage communication in groups. Camp games are often good for these types of icebreakers.

I’m so glad I was able to make it out to the ALA conference, and I really enjoyed this session. I’m excited to see the different types of Maker spaces that pop up in libraries as a result of the Maker movement.