March 19, 2012
I was working with first graders today when something unexpected happened.
I have visited this school for many years, helping first graders to make lovely books, which they fill with their own original poems. (I’ve written about this project in detail at
http://bookzoompa.wordpress.com/2010/03/17/books-for-poetry-by-first-graders/), and here’s a sample of the the completed project made by first graders in 2010.
Today, when I walked into the class they were finishing up going over math problems that had been copied on to half sheets of paper. When they were done the teacher asked them to put away the papers, and we got to work.
My agenda was to guide the students through making an origami pamphlet out of a 19″ x 23″ sheet of paper, followed by making a book cover with pockets. What was unexpected is that they finished this all in 48 minutes, which left us with an extra 12 minutes. This rarely happens. I was about to hand to class back over to the regular classroom teacher when I remembered those math sheets.
We had just made the origami pamphlet out of large papers, and I had gone over the directions slowly and explicitly, so I thought that these first graders would enjoy making tiny little books using the very same methods of folding as they did in the bigger books.
They were stars. They remembered the steps and made their new little books in about a minute. Then they got to work.
Now, remember, these are first graders whose writing skills are just beginning to emerge, but, for the most part, the fact that their writing skills were limited didn’t bother them in the least.. I was lucky enough to hear an exchange of thoughts between two students: one child immediately got to work writing about rainbows and ribbons. The girl next to her bewailed that she didn’t know what to do. The prolific child told her classmate to just write words, but the girl said she didn’t know any words. Undaunted the rainbow girl advised her friend that she should just make up words. This turned out to be a satisfying suggestion, and the formerly clueless child got right to work.
It’s been my experience that if children are given little blank books they start writing.
Today I saw this happen again. As soon as the class finished constructing their books there was hardly another word spoken in the room as they all wrote, drew and imagined.
March 4, 2012
I recently had a hankering to locally source (scavenge) some materials to use to make a book.
I have a bit of a collection of materials from a couple of fine local businesses. One is Blind Buck Interiors, a drapery and upholstery business, which has provided me with a many wallpaper and fabric sample books. Another is the Battenkill Creamery, a dairy which has a dedicated herd from which they process their own milk right on the farm. The milk can be bought in returnable glass bottles topped with a substantial plastic cap, which is not returnable. I have lots of caps.
I took some milk caps and sewed them on to some upholstery samples.
I started this project mostly because I had been admiring some circles that my daughter had been coloring in. She had made a graphically lovely pages of colored in circles, and I wanted to do some colorful circles too. I had some leftover scraps of watercolor washes lying around, so I punched out some circles and glued them to the caps.
I sewed in just a few signatures, using a simple butterfly stitch that I picked up from one of Keith Smith’s books. I used round shoe laces instead of thread, as the proportions seemed right and they were handy. One thing I like about making books is being able to use anything I feel like using to assemble a book.
This little book stands alone in how it stands alone. It already has a new home, but while it was still here every time I saw it I felt happy. It just looks so silly and lovely.
January 27, 2012
Last Sunday morning I was trying out different ways of folding 11″ x 17″ paper to make a folded book cover. When the structure that I’ve drawn out in the document above appeared in my hands I was so excited that I kept making one right after the other, and, thus began my Off To South Africa day of bookmaking.
When I wrote the post about sending off the V-Pockets books that I had made I wondered if anyone would notice and ask about the folding method. I wondered if anyone would ask how to make it, and how long it would take for that inquiry, if ever, to come.
After posting it took me three hours to get back to the computer to look over the post. Bronwyn, who is literally half the world away from me, had already noticed and asked. I was so pleased that I immediately got to work on some sketches and sent them out to her. Here’s an excerpt of her response, which might be helpful to people who work with A3 rather than 11″ x 17″:
“….those instructions – they work perfectly!! I…. got an A3 piece of paper (which is 29.7cm x 42cm) …. and cut it to 22cm x 34 cm – not the same size as yours, but the same proportional dimensions. I’ve ended up with an 11cm square, so you probably end up with an 5 1/2 inch square.”
So, there you have it, the metric measurements! Roughly, a proportion to keep in mind is that the starting paper proportions should be 1:1.5, so if your paper is 10 units wide, is should be about 15 units long.
Thank yous to Bronwyn and to the others who asked for instructions on this structure. I hope you enjoy making books (or folders) with these directions.
January 13, 2012
Creating a binding for single sheets of notebook paper elevates groups of papers into something more precious. I’ve recently written some posts on my current favorite way of binding loose papers. The printable hand-out above goes into detail with the steps of using a pipe-cleaner binding to make a handsome folder. When I made this with Indian Lake students we used colored papers for the covers; when the students I worked with in Saratoga Springs made it, we used black covers. Either way, they looked great.
Click on the image on the left for a black & white version of the above hand-out.
The students have been filling these folder with their collections of pictures and facts. Good, solid, serious stuff. Personally, I have been enjoying just decorating them.