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Maker Faire Detroit comes to town this weekend at The Henry Ford Museum. Come meet hundreds of makers, including MegaBots creators, a thereminist, a gang of lawnmowers, and an artistic accessibility hacker.
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In a place where colors ran wild, there lived a girl who was wilder still. Her name was Swatch, and she was a color tamer. She was small, but she was not afraid.
by Rebecca Dunn
Open Swatch: The Girl Who Loved Color by Julia Denos (public library) and experience a stampede of color. Young Swatch is a collector. Like most kids who are passionate about collecting, they try the best they can to accumulate as much of their desired object as possible. But unlike most kids, Swatch collects colors. She’s a color tamer who enthusiastically plucks, nets, tames, and traps an array of every color she comes across. When she calls out their name “Bravest Green,” “Just Laid Blue,” and “Rumble-Tumble Pink” the colors come to her and she bottles them up to be added to the rainbow of colors already captured.
But one day, instead of calling out the name of “Yellowest Yellow,” a coveted shade, she asks the color instead of calling it to her. “Yellowest yellow…would you like to climb into this jar?” The shade politely declines. Instead of plucking it up nonetheless, Swatch leaves it be, and something spectacular happens.
Swatch: The Girl Who Loved Color is not only visually stunning, but the story stars a strong, courageous female character–we can never ever have enough strong female characters in books for young children–and demonstrates what happens when we let go and allow creativity to flourish.
Color Tamer Face Drawing
Throughout the story, Swatch seems to always have paint on her face (as a true color tamer should!) and since face painting isn’t necessarily the most realistic option for most libraries, adapt this concept into a Swatch-style face drawing sessions with washable markers. Kids will be able to explore coloring on a canvas they’re very familiar with, their own faces!
To start, have mirrors set up so kids can easily see themselves: hand mirrors, cosmetic mirrors–whatever works best for the size and age of your storytime group. A dollar store near you will have a variety of inexpensive options if you don’t already have mirrors on hand. After reading Swatch, prompt children to be their own color tamers and have fun drawing on their very own faces. There will be shock, laughter, and maybe even a bit of apprehension from the audience when you explain their post-storytime project, but it will surely be one they’ll enjoy and remember. Prompt them to draw designs or a favorite animal or whatever seems to spark their interest that day. There is no wrong or right when it comes to color taming.
Keep baby wipes on hand for easy, breezy color removal afterwards if the kids or their caregiver don’t want to leave the library with a rainbow forehead. If you’re nervous about kids drawing on faces, try making this Color Tamer Mask instead. If you do happen to try this out, be sure to have a camera on hand to capture the wide-grinning smiles.
For similar ideas, be sure to check out Read Sing Play’s hilarious baby storytime where she prompts caregivers to draw eyebrows and mustaches on their children’s faces in Eyebrows, Mustaches, Oh My!. For more Swatch specific activities, coloring sheets, an interview with author Julia Denos, and behind the scenes making of the book, hop on over to All The Wonders.
This post was adapted for Library as Incubator Project from a post featured on Sturdy for Common Things in May 2016.
If you’ve been inspired by Rebecca’s projects or have used her storytime plans at your library, we’d love to hear about it! Share your experience in the comments or on social media!
Rebecca Zarazan Dunn is a children’s librarian and a 2013 Library Journal Mover & Shaker. When she’s not having fun at the library or wrangling her own kiddos, she can be found at her blog home, Sturdy for Common Things.
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We love book arts here at the Incubator, including the subtle work of bookbinders, whose art interacts with the content of the book itself. Today, Hannah Brown, an independent bookbinder in the UK, shares her work, her artistic process, and a vision for a lending library of bookbinding tools that is a brilliant take on the library-as-incubator! Enjoy– Erinn
Library as incubator Project (LAIP): Tell us a little bit about yourself and your work.
Hannah Brown (HB): I did a degree in Three-Dimensional Crafts at Brighton University, graduating in 2004 with a first class honours. My degree taught me how to work in a wide range of materials including wood, metal, ceramics and plastics; many of the skills I learnt I still use now in my bookbinding work. It was once I graduated from Brighton University that I took up an evening class in bookbinding and was completely taken by the craft and never looked back!
I was introduced to many other bookbinders after becoming a member of both The Society of Bookbinders and Designer Bookbinders, both UK-based bookbinding societies. Through these societies I continued my bookbinding learning by going to as many courses and classes as I could find. There are so many stages to binding a book and skills to learn you can never know too much!
LAIP: What are you working on right now that you’re excited about?
HB: Designer Bookbinders is one of the foremost societies devoted to the craft of fine bookbinding. Founded over fifty years ago it has helped to establish the reputation of British bookbinding worldwide. Designer Bookbinders currently organises two bookbinding competitions. The first is an annual competition, the aims of which have always been to encourage professionals, amateurs and students to produce originally designed and well bound books, and to give them the opportunity to exhibit their technical and artistic skills. I was very pleased to win The Mansfield Medal for the best book in the competition on three occasions in 2008, 2011, and 2014.
DB also runs an international competition every four years, which is happening this year with the theme, “Myths, Heroes and Legends.” The binder is permitted to choose their own text block based on the theme, which must be bound from scratch to their own design and specifications. At present I am working on my entry for this – the text block I have chosen to work on is a 1909 Hodder and Stoughton publication of The Fables of Aesop. The deadline is the end of September, but I now have a design for the book and have started sewing up the sections, so I am excited about my progression with that over the coming weeks. I have a lot to do, as I’ve set myself the task of creating some three-dimensional pieces to go with the binding!
LAIP: How do you see your work interacting with narrative or story? What does working in books allow you to do that you can’t pull off with other media?
HB: Each of the books I bind has a narrative or story running through them. I rarely work with blank books, so my work directly interacts with the content. Each of the bindings I produce is designed specifically to work with the subject matter of the text block – the design chosen to illustrate the content as effectively as possible.
The great thing about bookbinding is the three-dimensional nature of the craft; it is not just about creating a two-dimensional work on paper. The book as a whole is a three-dimensional object and has to do its job as a book as well as looking attractive. There are so many steps to the binding process and parts of the book on which to express ideas that the scope for the design is huge. There is of course the cover design, but as well as that the endpapers, book edges, box/container, and the headbands all contribute to the final object.
The great thing about bookbinding is the three-dimensional nature of the craft…The book as a whole has to do its job as a book as well as looking attractive.
LAIP: How have libraries informed your creative work? Tell us about the first library you remember playing a part in your artistic development.
HB: The first library that played an integral part in my artistic development was the art library where I did my degree at Brighton University called St Peters House. They had a wonderful art book selection on the top floor that helped inform much of my degree show work. I specifically remember stumbling across a book of origami that I used a lot and I still love doing origami today.
I also worked at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London for seven and a half years as a mount-making technician. Within the V&A is the National Art Library and I was lucky to have been given the opportunity to look at many books for the collections during my time there. My work involves a lot of embroidery work on leather and I was shown a wonderful selection of embroidered books from the collection which was a great inspiration.
LAIP: Can you describe a particular library-incubated project for us? How did that project develop?
HB: The origami book that I stumbled across in Brighton has inspired many projects over the years. I love the fact that origami is a step-by-step process and the illustrations and diagrammatical nature of the book appealed to me – in fact my wedding invitations were origami bi-planes taken from one of the origami templates!
I have on occasion made “complete books” where I have produced the content as well as the binding, one example of which stems from this origami book. I decided to make a book that illustrated the step-by step instructions of how to make an origami butterfly. Each page had a step in the folding process illustrated on it with the mirroring page showing the pattern of the folded lines on the origami square as the process continues.
LAIP: As an artist, what would your ideal library be like? What kinds of stuff would you be able to check out, and what could you do there?
HB: Actually as a maker, specifically a bookbinder, it is necessary to have so many different pieces of kit for all of the different stages! For me, if libraries were able to lend bookbinding-related tools that would be wonderful!
For me as a maker, if libraries were able to lend bookbinding-related tools that would be wonderful!
One specific example of this would be handle-letters for tooling titles onto book covers and boxes. If you can imagine how many fonts and sizes there are out there with each set of brass handle-letters to make up a complete alphabet costing a few hundred pounds, it is just not feasible to have a broad selection of these in my personal collection. So, as a binder you are restricted to using what you already have (which might not quite work with the design aesthetic or the text block), to title the book in some other way or hope a friend might have what you are looking for!
Hannah Brown is a self-employed bookbinder working from her home studio in West London. She makes bespoke fine bookbindings books to commission using a variety of skills including: leather work, embroidery, metalwork and carpentry. She’s passionate about her craft and wants her bindings to be appreciated for their relation to the content of the book inside whilst creating a tactile object to be handled and used. I am continually stimulated by the environment around me and find myself continually thinking ahead to my next binding.
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Today’s feature is another wonderful site-specific exhibition that was on at the Mid-Manhattan Library in NYC recently. Curator and Art Librarian Arezoo Moseni introduces us to artist Winona Barton-Ballentine, followed by an interview between the artist and Alessandro Teoldi, a writer for Paper Journal.
I met Winona Barton-Ballentine a few years ago when she and a group of first year MFA students came to the Art Collection for an orientation session. Afterwards I was informed by Deirdre Donohue, Stephanie Shuman Director of Library, Archives, and Museum Collections at International Center of Photography, that Winona was working on Artists’ books and taught classes on the subject. I occasionally looked at new work that she posted on her website. In 2013, I found out that she had became a mother and was still busy making art. Her work is fascinating on many levels especially when it teeters between densely packed visual information and monochrome abstractions. The sense of space is particularly challenging as the objects appear in a hierarchical order with no reference to perspective, similar to the use of space in Persian miniatures. In preparation for her exhibition Wild Stainless, Winona and I met a number of times and exchanged emails. Despite her parental responsibilities she worked very hard on her exhibition that has attracted and delighted many viewers.
An interview between Alessandro Teoldi (a writer for Paper Journal) and Winona Barton-Ballentine
1. The still life in your series Wild Stainless are complex and elaborate collections of objects and food.
At first sight these objects appear to have been randomly arranged together, but at a closer look the viewer realizes that a very specific and precise process lies behind the surface. Could you talk about the process of taking these photographs? How can you describe us the moment of composition and how important it is to the development of the series?
For the most part I arrange these still lifes (which I consider to also be tableaus) with a primarily intuitive sense of the structural balance, trying to honor all areas of the frame (not giving weight to the top or bottom). In this case I also want to break away from what I’ve learned as a photographer and push my ideas of what should and shouldn’t be done in an image.
I create the scenes before setting up the camera and then shoot up to 100 digital images of that set up, from many different angles. From this edit I look at all of the images in Lightroom, and, while partially squinting, edit them down to the images that have most disorienting sense of space and gravity; the ones that tell just enough about the environment without telling too much. There is no post production retouching or altering, however I do balance the light in the images to accentuate a defiance of gravity (by bringing some parts of the image forward and letting others fall back).
These images rest on their ability to reveal the nature of the objects in them, while at the same time allowing them to step out of their natural state of being. They defy gravity, change purpose, and transform their original use. That’s what gives the images meaning.
2. Your recent images are outside shots of places in upstate New York, where you currently live with your family. How much did the experience of becoming a mom inform your photographs? And when did you decide to move from the studio of your kitchen and living room to the outdoor fields and countryside?
I moved outside because I had to be inside. The things I want to do are usually those that take me away from the things I have to do, even if it was once the reverse. Looking at the images now, I see that I was seeking some solace in those outside images. I didn’t want to make and clean up messes anymore. The ideas of gender roles and family history that I had been flirting with in the earlier still lifes grew heavier, and I didn’t want to makes pictures in my house anymore. I wanted to get outside, to see if I could use the same visual rules and techniques, but in a new place. To see what would happen if I applied the same visual rules to a new environment. Also I had to take my daughter for walks twice a day to get her down for a nap, so really it was a matter of practicality.
3. These images (and the object in them) are the in-progress archive of places you have been to. In this sense is interesting to consider the location they are exhibited in: the Picture Collection of the NYPL. People consult this space to find inspiration and to tell a story through the juxtaposition of images taken from different sources. In a similar way your photographs show your story and your objects but they are also willing to lend those objects to the viewers, who can humbly take them and re-create a new picture. I wonder if the Picture Collection was an inspiration of yours in the creation of the series and what other inspirations you had.
I’ve been a regular visitor to the 3rd floor of the Mid -Manhattan Library, which houses both the Picture Collection and the Art Collection, since 2011 when I was a graduate student at in the Bard College/International Center of Photography’s MFA program. At that time ICP librarian Deirdre Donohue introduced me to Arezoo Moseni, Mid-Manhattan Library’s Senior Art Librarian and Curator, who provided a tour of the collection and how to use NYPL’s catalog and electronic resources as well as a NYPL membership card. Since then I’ve been guilty of taking out more than ten books at a time and renewing them more than three times; books with images of old kitchens, cookbooks, stories about decor, furniture, knitting, and food. Deirdre encouraged us to use the library and I have her to thank for a lot of information I’ve gleaned since then.
The long afternoons, sifting through piles of books, was a large part of the inspiration to make the still lifes in this show. I was very intrigued by visual historical trends in baking and cooking. I studied how the evolution of kitchens and domestic inventions were connected to industrialization, commerce, and war in America; and how this was all linked to gender and the ideas that were marketed to women in the home over the last 100 years.
This whole experience came full circle when Arezoo contacted me shortly after I gave birth to my first child in 2013. The following fall I was a resident in LMCC’s Workspace residency, where I was encouraged (both inwardly and outwardly), despite the time constraints of being a new mother, to make this work.
4. What were the challenges of creating work for a specific public location?
While this work isn’t site specific in the physical sense (like a sculpture or dance performance) it is in the sense that it speaks to and about the information that I gleaned from the books in the library while making the work. The biggest challenge of showing here was selecting the right number of images for the space while still maintaining the story.
5. Were you excited to see your work within the context of a public space such as the NYPL?
The library is the best place I could envision showing these images. Not only did I do much of my visual and literary research here while making the images, but people go there to enrich their minds, as well as to find a bit of respite.
The information is free. There’s no hierarchy to who can come to see these images, and no weight on whether they are bought or sold. They’re simply here to be enjoyed, and to be part of the conversation of ideas. That is the most gratifying thing that my photographs can do.
6. Showing the work in a library put your images in direct conversation with history. In your case I think about the history of feminism and the social transformation of women in American society. How important is for you to have a connection with this kind of history? And what books or text have influenced you?
My favorite history is that which is told tangentially- through things like food, music, art, books, and clothes; artifacts of cultural trends and psychologies. A good photograph is one that tells a history without meaning to, without doing so directly. Through the process of making these photographs I’ve investigated the place American women (of a certain age, social class, and race) hold in the home today. I’ve satiated these interests this through investigative texts such as Adrienne Rich’s Of Woman Born, Secretary Press’s How We Do Both, and Moyra Davey’s collection Mother Reader, as well as through memoirs such as Close to the Knives by David Wojnarowicz which deals with a different form of cultural oppression and expression, and After Birth,
Elisa Albert’s story of raising a new-born in Upstate New York. Other major inspirations were A Fortunate Man by John Berger, Eating History by Andrew Smith, and finally: Species in Spaces by Georges Perec.
7. For this exhibition you were also invited to partake in an Artist Dialog Series conversation with artist and photographer Justine Kurland where you discussed intersecting ideas within your current and past bodies of work. You both simultaneously read texts and showed slides. How did this experience enrich your experience of making photographs for the Art and Pictures Collection?
Justine and I worked closely to bounce ideas off of each other while preparing for the conversation, but the live performance was much more spontaneous than we had planned. I felt really fortunate to experience her working process first hand over the months leading up to the talk. In turn it was extremely helpful to have constant feedback during the editing and brainstorming process. It really helped bring something to life that I had been incubating for a while, and surely gave new life and direction to the images that I’ve made since hanging the show.
Below is an excerpt of the text that I read there. It’s a combination of personal texts written by me about my experiences as a new mother/artist in a new home and landscape, but I clumsily assumed my two year old daughter’s perspective while writing them. This led me to write more stories from her perspective of experiences I perceived her to have. These texts exhibit the fluidity of our voices during the early stages of our mother/child existence, where only a thin barrier separates us.
In 2015 a Polar Vortex covered the northeast of America. It was below zero at night for two months in a row. She strolled me down for my nap until the snow got too deep to stroll, then she walked me in the carrier until the snow got so deep that she couldn’t lift her legs out of the holes her feet made. Hundreds of marvelous snowflakes clustered on our clothes as she walked.
Today we walk together, holding hands, past the old frozen tea party, up over the hill, onto the meadow path. We walk into the squishy, crispy, burned up, mown down, curly-like-Siya’s-hair grass. A few rotting apples cling to the trees, too high to reach and kick into the tangled brush around them, where deer and coyotes trample around, partaking in the abundance.
I’m arranging robin, hop hop, and teddy on the pink and yellow camping chair. music is playing. I’m wearing striped tights and a dark blue shirt. Mo-ma is in the bathroom and mom is typing on her computer. “NO!” I throw mermaid and hop hop. Crying. No!!! I run over to mom crying: “your friends, are they ok?”. Pushing on the keys of her computer, she grabs my hand and starts to tickle me. “Oh, your naughty!!” mom says.
She takes hold of my hands, getting up off the couch, starts to spin me around. We walk over to my chair and look at the pile of friends on the floor. “Friends, are you ok?” I say. I pick them up. Holding them all I try to sit in my mini camping chair. I’m arranging them again and again. “What’s in here, Robin? What’s in the chair?”. I’m kneeling with my hands against the wall. Moma is washing dishes now. “Oh no, Moma is going to get them, get rid of my friends. You’re naughty you’re naughty you’re naughty! Get rid of those guys!”
She has one minute to write today, so she has to write something. She ate lunch and meditated. Maybe she shouldn’t have done those things because I’m waking up from my nap now and that means the time she would have spent writing is quickly coming to and end, and she won’t see it again until tomorrow morning. I am fully awake and crying “I get out” with increasing intensity. I lunge forward against the stroller straps.
She appears with a soft voice: “how was your nap? you didn’t sleep for very long today, huh? Alright sweetheart….”. Unclipping the grey plastic buckle, she lifts me out. My head wobbles from side to side on sleepy muscles as I push some fuzzy fine hair out of my face. In one quick motion she sits down and I lean back against her. I squeeze my eyes shut as she pushes her face against mine.
8. How did the culmination of images and text that came together in this show and talk inspire your work leading to new possibilities for future work?
Since completing this body of work Wild Stainless which merged both still lifes and landscapes, I’ve been making more landscapes in upstate New York. They explore visual, as well as residential, and commercial spaces. I’m also working on a new project which explores, through documentation, ways in which the Catskill Mountain region is revisiting agricultural lands through educational farming, permaculture, and new types of businesses that exist on old land. I’m always scheming up new book projects, and hope all of the ideas noted above will take form in a book of some kind in the not-to-distant future, starting with a book of images from Wild Stainless this fall.
NYPL exhibition page: http://ift.tt/29PrJgZ
NYPL event page: http://ift.tt/29NU1ft
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The latest issue of Make: magazine hits newsstands today — read up on every aspect of virtual reality, from edible VR headsets to out-of-this-world software that's engineering the next era of space exploration.
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by Ian Boucher
Google Cardboard is a quick and cheap technology to implement in a library, and its implications are just as fascinating. We at North Carolina Wesleyan College’s Pearsall Library ushered in 2016 with a Google Cardboard demo space, reinforcing to our students the part they can play in personally assessing the value of a new tool for their academic community through their library.
This nifty technology is a fusion of a cardboard headset and a wide range of apps—many of which are free—which turn a smartphone into a virtual reality device. All a user has to do is choose from an app, which could be a simulator, game, 3D environment, or even immersive story, and slide his or her phone into the headset. Google Cardboard apps follow the user’s line of sight, and many of them use sound. We offer headphones!
After learning about Google Cardboard and demo spaces in the fall of 2015 through an ACRL webinar about library technology, I consulted with library staff to develop the initial shape Google Cardboard could take in our library. To get it up and running, we ordered two headsets in the moderate neighborhood of $16.99 each plus shipping, from a seller that offered a warranty (the headset we ordered has reduced its price as of this writing).
Google Cardboard in our library took the form of a small virtual reality station, brought to the front circulation desk each morning and put away at closing, where our work-study students would assist users. The materials included the headsets, some signs made with PowerPoint and images of the headsets and apps, the policy and procedures including FAQs and free app suggestions (categorized under Exploration, Games, Immersive Stories, and Simulators), a sheet where work-study students could tally use and note technology issues, and optional surveys with the following questions:
In January 2016, Google Cardboard was out on the floor, accompanied by a marketing campaign via social media, campus announcements, and e-mails to faculty and staff. The campaign included the images in this article, as well as this very representative video:
Clips filmed by Aubrey Motley and Melissa Knox. Edited by Ian Boucher.
For it to be effective, this kind of technology requires consistent marketing on the part of library staff, since many users may be unfamiliar with the Google Cardboard concept. Google Cardboard got the most use at our library when it was prominently displayed and showcased face-to-face—and when it rained, it poured. Friends of students using it would frequently be attracted by the commotion, and groups would quickly form. At the end of the semester, I made the station mobile, taking it with me to my reference desk shifts, which always livened things up! Of the 48 students recorded using Google Cardboard in our library during the spring of 2016, 29 filled out the surveys. 27 voted to check headsets out of the library, and nine were interested in using it in their coursework.
For it to be effective, this kind of technology requires consistent marketing on the part of library staff
No experiment is without issues! Some phones were too big, too small, or incompatible, and although students were very responsible, our headsets wore out quickly. Luckily, our seller replaced them free of charge quickly and enthusiastically. It is also important to designate a space where users can experience the apps away from real-life activities, and to encourage users to explore a wide range of apps. Theft was not an issue.
What’s next for Google Cardboard at Pearsall Library? In the fall of 2016, I hope to have a small amount of headsets available for checkout, and I’ve begun researching its academic applications and discussing possibilities with faculty. I am also brainstorming roles for Google Cardboard in library events. Most of all, I am thrilled by how vividly this technology supports the core mission of librarianship, bringing enrichment to its community through connection.
What’s next? What possibilities!
Ian Boucher has a background in television production, film studies, and communication theory, and earned his Master of Library and Information Science at Kent State University to become a librarian to advocate for information literacy. His primary research interests include the roles of motivation in information seeking behavior and the roles of film and superhero comic books in cultural discourse. Continue the conversation with him on Twitter @Ian_Boucher