Working as a visiting artist in Upstate New York requires good snow tires. Since where I live is centrally located int he middle of nowhere, I generally drive about an hour no matter where I am heading. If we’re expecting sleet and ice I stay home. With snow, I drive slowly and pray.  Yesterday, the temperature was generously below freezing so I was confident that the snow would not turn to ice, and I headed out for a day in with students.

It was worth the trip. I helped about 60 fifth graders in three different classes make journals.

One of the students, James, said that this was an awesome project. He felt that the hardest part of the project was folding the papers . This didn’t surprise me. I’ve noticed that by the fifth grade most students have accepted the fact that papers don’t fold in half evenly. High on my agenda is to take the time to offer explicit instructions on how to successfully outwit the uncooperative nature of paper. To really get students on board with this I bring in bone folders for them to use. Students seem to genuinely appreciate learning how to fold paper well.

The teacher that invited me to come to these classes had this to say: “Paula’s workshops with all of the 5th grade classes were fantastic today. All of the students were very excited about the journals they created, and I’m sure it will motivate even our most reluctant writers.”

We made the covers of the books according to the directions below. The wallpaper covers were made from samples that were cut down to 17″ x 11 1/2″.   I’ve also have B&W directions for the Pocketed Book Cover.

Directions for Pocketed Book Cover by Paula Krieg

One of the students, Emily, seemed concerned that there might not be enough pages for the content. My impression is that she had big plans for this book. To accommodate the most prolific writers I left behind materials to create a few more books, as well as the suggestion to considering just attaching in a second set of folded pages into the cover, next to (not into) the original set of pages.

Close up of journals made by fifth grades

We attached the pages, five sheets of folded paper, with the modified pamphlet stitch (using 2mm satin rattail cord), hence the notches at the head and tail of the spine. The pages are the size of regular copy paper. The  school’s (absolutely amazing and fabulous) reading specialist ran these papers through the copy machine so that lines are printed on the papers.  After the pages were attached to the covers I gave students 2 sheets of cover weight paper which were cut to fit into the pockets of the book cover. The students slipped these heavy papers into the pockets then glued the upper corners to the book cover: this gives the book a bit more of a sturdy, weighty feel and keeps the wallpaper covers from looking dog-eared.

snow on my car

I didn’t take many photos. I wanted to leave before much more snow fell. In the picture above, the white mound on the left, that’s my car.

Pamphlet covers  made from salvaged wallpaper sample books have captured my attention.

Beads if Wallpaper-Boiund books

Up until recently I have not been a fan of using wallpaper sample books as part of anything that I do with bookmaking. The fact is that no matter what you do with wallpaper it still always looks like wallpaper, a quality which I found unappealing.

Book made using Wallpaper sample

An elementary schoolt teacher named Kelly changed my point of view. This is an excerpt of a letter she sent, last year, to Kassandra, Kelly’s arts-in-ed liason.

“When Paula was here at our school last year, I asked her if she knew how to make books with wallpaper covers. I was interested in learning how to do this because I wanted the 5th graders to use what they learn about immigration to write a journal from the viewpoint of an immigrant coming to America in the late 1880’s – early 1990’s. I thought the wallpaper journals would be great for this project because you can make them look old-fashioned.

Paula figured out how to make them and then showed me. This year, I did this project students, and the journals came out great. The kids choose the paper they wanted for their covers from old wallpaper sample books. The kids have been very inspired by these to do some of the best writing I have ever seen from some of them.’

Pocketed Wallpaper-bound book

I was humbled by Kelly’s successful experience of making books using wallpaper samples. The students loved browsing through the samples and picking out the patterns for themselves. The books looked great, too: sturdy and varied. It seems that most wallpapers are made out of a material that does not tear easily, and is thick enough to hold its shape well.

Books made using Wallpaper Samples

Since using outdated wallpaper samples is form of recycyling, this is certainly a politically correct activity.

Blue book with Rowan's Chain stitch variation

The variations are endless….

Wallpaper-bound book

…and there always seem to be little bits of extra scraps around to place in unexpected places.

In two weeks I will get to work with several fifth grade classes, making books with wallpaper covers. Since I will be working with dozens of students in a limited time, the binding method will be different than the books pictures here (ie more friendly for elementary students). I will post pictures and directions when we’re finished.

In the meantime, if you have something against wallpaper as a book arts material, my suggestion is: get over it.

Grama's-Wallpaper Book

This one reminds me of the walls in my Grandmother’s bathroom.

Art and Recycling

November 18, 2010

recycling sign for dirty Linens

A couple of weeks ago my dear friend Nancy, an avid recycler, sent me an email labeled “Favor” which included these words:

“Before next Saturday’s Compost Workshop (Nov 13) we need nine 8-1/2 x 11 signs, which I will have laminated so we can re-use them at future events. ”

recycling Sign for Compostable Food Scraps 8 1/2 x 11

I had no idea what a compost workshop was, but I make it habit to say yes to Nancy, as everything that has come through her to me has been a gift.

Recycling Sign for Glass Bottles, 8 1/2 x 11 drawing by Paula Beardell Krieg

I had to ask her for some clarification. At the top of her list was “Dirty Linens.”  I had never heard of anyone recycling dirty linens.  She explained that the signs were for a dinner event which supplied diners with washable napkins. Okay. I like drawing draping cloth.

I decided to print the text and drawings on an off-white stock.  Also, I decided that I would hand color some small areas on the papers.  It wasn’t until after I was completely attached to these parameters that I realized that Nancy wanted to make numerous copies of the signs.  Since color printing is a whole other budget consideration, I made a second set of pages that are just black and white, meant for reproduction….and, for anyone who so desires, for coloring.   So, here’s  recycle signage in black and white, for anyone who is interested.

Recycling sign for Cans

I still offered Nancy the set that is slightly colored, to use as she wishes.

Her next note was as follows: “Success…..copies made and laminated.. Very pricey….but the product is good.
Huge thanks to you.”

Next came a forward from an organizer of the workshop:

“With over 100 people we generated virtually no waste for disposal (at the incinerator). Last Sat. Melissa and I picked up close to 50 regular plates (free, which Melissa washed) at the Kingsbury Reuse Center, Aaron borrowed silverware from his church, and some of you brought extra mugs for others to use.

Nancy made a great contribution by designing the Zero Waste sorting system and getting signage made for future community events”

Since I did not sign the drawings, I suppose that they were viewed as clip art?  Nancy, in her “reply all” response gave me credit:  ” Paula Krieg illustrated the zer0-waste signs, and I really think much of the success goes to having clear pictures for people.   ”

Now,  here’s the last sign for the recycling line.  I particulary enjoy this one.

recycling signage by Paula Krieg

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