Tags: art, massachusetts, peabody essex museum, poetry, reading, recycling, writing
As a librarian’s daughter, an avid reader, and an English major, I am always attracted to wordy art projects, and I often find artworks made out of recycled print absolutely beautiful while simultaneously wincing over the fact that one must deface books to create them. After all, books are meant to be read, and what are they when they are no longer readable?
For some artworks like the roses above, one could easily substitute with magazine pages or old maps (about which I feel decidedly less squeamish), and for others newspaper will also work.
However, I have finally lit upon a type of altered book artwork that bothers me less than others, because while it still alters the original intent, the book still gets ‘read’ in a new fashion.
Found Poetry in Altered Book Pages
As with the roses, this is an activity that can be done using other forms of the printed word (newspapers, magazines) and can also be done without altering the original text at all (words captured and written down in a new form from museum object labels, etc.) However, it combines both poetry and the visual arts in a way that is perfect for the programming that we do at PEM for the Massachusetts Poetry Festival. (Guess what’s going in this year’s program?)
How does Illustrated Found Poetry work?
- Pick a piece of text with a decent amount of wording to it.
- Read through it for the sounds of the words and not necessarily the narrative or the original author’s intent.
- Find a theme to the words that inspires you. Use as many or as few as you like: cherry pick a word here, a phrase there, etc.
- The one limit to working on the original sheet is that you cannot rearrange the words to your own liking–the poem flows in the same direction as the original text did.
- Pencil boxes around the words you want.
- Pencil in any illustrations (doodles, sketches, details) that help to give your new poem mood, shape, or further depth.
- Use marker to darken the boxes around your poem and color in the details of your illustration. You may want to use highlighter within the boxes for your poem to help pick it out of the illustration, depending on how much color there already is in your drawing.
- Use black marker to cross out any words left that are not part of your poem or are already obscured by your illustration.
The plan is to have a bunch of genres of books available from which to select pages: sci-fi, mystery, classics, memoirs, maybe even some more technical books. Hopefully this will show people that poetry can be found absolutely anywhere. The 2013 festival will be held May 3-5 in numerous venues around Salem–I’ll be sure to let you know how it goes!
Tags: art, detergent bottles, environment, ideabox, marine life sculptures, ocean, recycling, water
Everybody loves to hate plastic bottles, and yet somehow it’s impossible to be rid of them, even for the most conscientious reusable-bottle carrier. Here are a few incredibly cool artists who have figured out fun ways to repurpose the ever-present plastic bottle, and a few ways you can do the same.
Art from the Ugly
Here are a few artists I admire, who work with plastics and make thought-provoking and beautiful objects from less-than-sightly leftovers.
Miwa Koizumi – Her PET project created stunningly ethereal jellyfish and coral forms out of plastic bottles. While not the most eye-catching of the pieces in Trash Menagerie, they were still among my favorites.
Christine Destrempes - This artist is currently featured for her River of Words project in Ripple Effect, the Art of H2O, but one of her best known pieces is an installation of bottle caps, each representing a person who dies for lack of clean drinking water.
Stuff You Can Do
Cool Project Links
Plastic Bottle Zippered Purse/Box – Upcycle those unredeemable bottles into handy containers. (I’ve always been a fan of Winnie the Pooh’s ‘useful pot to put things in’ theory of birthday presents.)
Wave Bottles — One of my favorites, and you can find lots of suggestions for how to fill them. (I use water with food coloring and baby oil because it’s perfectly clear, but some people recommend vegetable oil as well.) I like adding a layer of glitter to lie on top of the waves, too, and gave people the option of also adding floating beads, or sinking shells, sea glass, and pebbles. When I did this activity with a group at the museum, I went for a purpose-bought set of bottles with sealable leak proof tops instead of recycling, so that I didn’t have to worry about getting the label glue off.
Science Kits — I don’t usually advocate for things one has to buy, and I haven’t actually tried any of these, so I don’t know how well they work, but they sure do look like fun. (I really want to build a tin can robot!)
Plastic Bottle Bracelet Directions
It’s almost spring (or at least I can pretend it is, right?) and one’s thoughts naturally turn to the pleasant days to come when it isn’t imperative to wear three layers of sweaters on a constant basis and can bear to bare one’s wrists. I was simply stunned at the variety of directions for making bracelets out of plastic bottles: these two cuff-style bangles are fabric-covered and felted, while this one (typos and all) recommends giving your bangle some twisted appeal by heating it over a candle. I think anything involving not only exacto blades but heat and needles has the potential for tragedy, but then I gave myself a foot-long scratch with a sewing pin this weekend, so caveat crafter.
My favorites, therefore, are these simple plastic and paper bangles, using two layers of bottle-rings to sandwich a particularly cool artwork, illustration, magazine cutout, or seasonal wrapping paper. These directions recommend using metallic tape, which looks classy, but electrical tape works just as well, comes in a variety of fun colors, and stretches as you wrap it so you actually get very few problematic wrinkles. The version I’ve made also cuts both rings at one spot so that the bangle can adjust to any size wrist: very helpful if you’re starting with a small bottle!
Tags: art, history, holiday, humor, recycling, theater, video/animation
I’ll save my thoughts on the importance of an educator’s being a ham for another day, but for today I’d like to highlight the magic that is live theater, from playing ‘dress-up’ in your backyard to setting King Lear on the Moon (okay, that I’ve never seen, but wouldn’t you like to?). Here’s a collection of fun and fascinating links for you on theater, puppetry, and the Bard:
Make Your Own:
Jim Henson on making Muppets from things you find around the house.
A lesson plan on making shadow puppets in the classroom.
A video tutorial on making joints for shadow puppets (which has proved very useful for Eye Spy art activities this year!)
A historical make-your-own: 19th century children’s paper theaters on exhibit at the Bruce Museum in Greenwich, CT.
Or try a modern equivalent with one of Robert Sabuda’s Peepbox PopUps.
Make You Laugh:
‘Superclogger’ commits random acts of theater from the back of a truck on LA’s crowded freeways.
A Christmas Carol re-envisioned…in Klingon. (You’ll never appreciate Dickens until you’ve read him in the original…)
Call for Submissions: A Steampunk Shakespeare Anthology (Maybe I’ll get that King Lear on the Moon after all…)
On the fifth day of popcorn, these ideas gave me glee: five puppet theaters, four juicy questions, three chugging trains, two coral reefs, and a pop-up folding snow-bedecked tree…
Tags: architecture, outdoors, plants, recycling, spring, weather
It’s warming up, it’s almost school vacation week here in Massachusetts, and as the leaves are starting to unfurl I thought I’d offer up some paper-craft options for fresh-air fun.
That’s an idea whose time has fortunately gone by, but if you’ve got that spring-air fever, may I recommend a fair-weather fort made of newspaper?
Indulge your architectural side and build a geodesic dome out of rolled newspaper struts. (Alternate directions also available here.) This is a great activity in small scale or large — I’ve done it with visitors both ways, and it’s always a big hit. Just typing this makes me want to build one in my backyard. There’s some fun inspirational architecture-via-recyclables here: Amazing Recycled Architecture.
And while you’re into the newspaper-folding mode, and out in the backyard, try out a six-sided kite or these neat biodegradable newspaper seed-starter pots. Or make yourself a useful newspaper basket, perfect for a picnic in your geodesic fort.
Looking for other great recycled-material activities and a way to get out of the house next week? Check out this list of upcoming events for Trash Springs to Life at the Peabody Essex Museum!
Tags: art, light and color, magnets, multicultural, poetry, recycling, writing
If I feel physically as if the top of my head were taken off, I know that is poetry.
Ms. Dickinson was clearly a Brain Popcorn-style poet. (She also reputedly said “The brain is wider than the sky,” a sentiment I quite enjoy.) And so I am happy to say…
There are a lot of very cool things going on in the world for National Poetry Month, and here are a smattering of particularly interesting and/or interdisciplinary approaches:
One Day Poem Pavilion – a very neat project, brought to deserving attention by Paul Orselli over on Exhibitricks. This particular intersection of art and science writes a poem with sunlight and cardboard which changes as the day progresses. Be sure to check out the time lapse video.
You Too Can Haiku — ARTSEDGE does it again! A nice satisfying lesson plan incorporating writing, visual art, and multicultural discussion.
Michelangelo Complains in Rhyme about the Sistine Chapel — Highly amusing, even if one probably loses something in the translation. (And it holds particular shine for me, as I’m going to Italy at the end of next week!) This would be a really fun poem to tie in to a discussion/activity on ekphrasis. If you’re looking for further ideas, I recommend this lesson plan over at ReadWriteThink.
MYO Magnetic Poetry Activity Plan (downloadable pdf) This is the list of materials and directions for a Make Your Own Magnetic Poetry activity that I’ve done several times at The Discovery Museums, and which will also be one of the April drop-ins at the Art & Nature Center here at PEM. It’s entertaining, and though pre-cutting words can be time consuming, it’s very rewarding to watch people sift through the words and exclaim over the ones they find. Small kids through teenagers and adults have fun with this one!
Finally, I would like to applaud this particular random act of poetry in a grocery store. That kind of news just makes my day.
Tags: animals, art, diy, electricity, ideabox, jewelry, magnets, physics, plants, recycling
It’s time for another Ideabox–this time, on CD spindles and the many uses thereof, with a guest appearance by a few spools of thread.
I think CD spindles are a remarkable piece of design: they’re the kind of thing that do what they’re supposed to very well, and then sit there and taunt you, gathering dust because they LOOK like you should be able to do something else with them. If you have a few of these lying around that you’re looking to ‘upcycle’ into something new and useful, here are some ideas to get you started. (Instructables was a really valuable resource in assembling this post. You’ll see what I mean.)
First, a video that gives you four options in what feels like forty seconds, just to get you thinking:
Next, for the folks who can never get too organized:
- The ‘you’re kidding, someone wrote instructions for that?’ Headphone Holder. (Yes, they did. But just because it’s easy and not exactly aesthetically pleasing doesn’t mean it isn’t a valid idea!)
- The ‘I know a techie sort with too much jewelry’ CD Spindle Earring Holder. (I know an artist who could really use this kind of display stand…)
CD Spindles for the Plant and Animal Worlds:
- Flower Planters — this is a particularly cool idea if you’re trying to do a science experiment that allows you to watch the roots of things grow. Visible carrots!
- Mushroom Storage Case — I wasn’t sure whether to put this under ‘plants,’ ‘organization,’ or ‘huh?’ but it’s cute.
- High Speed Silent Hamster Wheel — For the fleet of foot, but not the faint of heart.
For the Electrically Savvy:
- CD Spindle Lamp — Gorgeous, actually. And using an LED or CFL bulb would make it even safer. I’d love to see a version that took up less horizontal footprint though, for the sake of those of us who live in small spaces.
- Water-Powered Tesla Turbine — There are a number of variations to this idea provided by ‘mrfixits’ on Instructables. They’re all fascinating in a ‘how do you come up with these things?’ way. I love the idea of using recycled materials and water power and magnets to talk about generating electricity, though. (And on that note, a similarly cool variation, A Pringles Can Wind Turbine)
Spools get to play too:
- Build a Spool Racer with extra supplemental teacher materials here.
- Spool Racers Expanded! Including the ‘Come Back Can’ directions as well.
- Spool as Pixel –Artworks by Devorah Sperber. This artist is going to be part of the upcoming Art & Nature Center exhibition, Eye Spy, Playing with Perception, opening June 19th.
Tags: games, physics, recycling, sport, video/animation, winter
Downhill skiing is fast. Ice skating’s got those nifty blades. Bobsleds are faster and those runners are longer, and they make that awesome ‘whooshing’ sound. What’s not to love? (Okay, so I was maybe influenced a little a lot by Cool Runnings as a kid. I’m not the only one.)
Bobsleigh Homepage at Olympic.org — full of fun stuff! Current photos and videos from the ongoing games, equipment and history, techniques, etc.
Want to try building a bobsled course at home?
There was a tree at the base of the best side of the house for sledding when I was a kid. A really big pine tree that you didn’t want to hit, if at all possible. So my brother and I, assisted by our parents, got pretty decent at packing up snowbanks so that we would curve around the tree, around the corner of the house, and out into the backyard. It worked enough of the time to be worth it.
However, there are safer, smaller ways to build a bobsled course that don’t involve pine needles down your jacket collar. My favorite is the paper-towel-tube bobsled run. The simplest of indoor Olympic sports, all you need are paper towel tubes (wrapping paper tubes, mailing tubes, toilet paper rolls, you get the picture), marbles or toy cars (I’m more of a marbles fan, myself. Run 4 at a time for a four-man sled!), masking tape, and a whole lot of books, furniture, and boxes to form your ‘hill.’ Cut, tape, and go wild!
(To make ‘curved’ sections, I recommend cutting out triangular pieces from the paper towel rolls [which end up looking like diamonds once you've made the two angled cuts] and bending and taping them together. This takes some practice to get a reasonable variety of angles that aren’t going to make your marbles stick in the turns!)
For other examples, check out some of these snazzy runs for ideas!
Winter Olympics Games for Kids from MakeandTakes.com (for very young children)
A 3 floor marble run and you want more?
For the truly Olympic oriented educator, Kathi Mitchell’s impressive Olympics for Kids round-up page, with lesson plans, interactives, and assorted links galore.
Tags: art, diy, electromagnetic spectrum, ideabox, jewelry, light and color, optical illusions, recycling
Due to the upswing of digitally-downloaded music, mp3 players, et al. there are a lot fewer junk CD’s and spare CD cases lying around these days. This is certainly good for the planet, but not so great for those of us who like making cool projects out of them. Fortunately, computer programs still end up replaced, CD-R’s burn with skips in them and have to be redone, and random CD cases still turn up in the bottom of your desk drawer when you least expect them.
So…what are some fun and funky things to do with these fabulous plastic leftovers?
It is, of course, completely possible to just Google ‘CD crafts’ and find some cute projects, especially for kids–there are a reasonable number of idea-starters at Kaboose, for instance. However, all that sifting takes time, so here are a few others of my favorites so far.
For the seasonally appropriate: Making CD Christmas Ornaments
For the jewelry fan: Example of CDs turned into earrings
For people who like to play with fire: (no seriously, apparently they want you to use a candle to heat the CD in order to bend it!) How to Make a CD into a Cellphone Holster
For the purely silly: CD Air Hockey Rink
For the science-minded: CD’s are obviously cool for the way they split light into its component rainbow colors–this is called a diffraction grating. For an explanation of diffraction grating, how it works, and CD’s in particular, click here. For a really cool build-your-own-spectroscope project, click here.
CD Jewel Cases
For the nature fan: CD Jewel Case birdhouse/greenhouse
Still looking for more ideas? There’s another fun collection on HubPages, here. My favorite idea there is definitely the suncatcher, but see what inspires you!
Stay tuned for the next Ideabox post: cool stuff to do with those CD-R and DVD-R spindles, thread spools, and more!