Popping with Poetry

If I feel physically as if the top of my head were taken off, I know that is poetry.

~Emily Dickinson

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…

It’s National Poetry Month!  (As good a reason as any to love the fact that it’s April, just as Archaeology Month is  a grand thing to celebrate in October.)

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.

Ideabox: Spools and Spindles

No princesses were injured in the creation of this post.

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.

ideabox spools

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 Spindle Sandwich

Bagelwich Buffer

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)

And finally,

Spools get to play too:

Detail from “After Vermeer 2” 2006, by Devorah Sperber. Click for link to artist’s statement.

IdeaBox: Altoid Tins

ideabox altoids

In a past life, I must surely have been a magpie.  (Oooh, shiny!)  I have always been an irredeemable collector, and in my current job, I have all the excuses I need to keep bits and pieces around for inspiration.  The areas on, around, and under my desk contain feathers, stones, LEGO’s, rubber ducks, silly putty, macaroni flowers, solar powered toy cars, and a whole box of interesting shaped containers, foam pieces, springs, and whatnots.  From these pieces of rubber tubing, marbles, fabric swatches, and more, I get program and exhibit ideas all the time.


And so I bring you the fun and funky ideabox links for today: Five Reuses for Altoid Tins.  Planet Green’s top five include building tiny speakers, a solar gadget charger, a wallet, a survival kit, and a geocaching box (think I might have to try some of those!).  Or, for the more artsy among us, a watercolor traveling kit, and create your own travel candle.  (Though I wonder about the heat–I’d recommend putting it on a plate or coaster before burning!)

Here are a few other (less technical!) idea starters:

– Altoid tins are magnetic!  Turn one into a tiny on-the-road game box with magnetic pieces.  What else might you be able to do with magnets and an Altoids box (or two, or three, or more?)
– Glue a mirror in the lid and keep your kleenex in the bottom.  (Don’t you hate how those little plastic packets let your tissues get all shredded in your pocketbook?)
– Sound shakers and mini-cymbals for the extremely young musician, when you’d rather save your pans. (The round tins are particularly good for this one!)
– Start seeds in the world’s tiniest window-boxes.
– Make a fold-out mini-storybook, photo album, or travel journal with accordion-style pages.