Wednesday, May 21, 2014

We Are Making A Library!

We are are opening a Little Free Library!

This is the secret project I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, something I have been dreaming on, plotting and planning about for months. I can't believe it's almost time for our grand opening!

Do you have a Little Free Library in your neighborhood? They're darling and smart, a terrific idea begun in 2009, by Todd Bol. He's in Hudson, Wisconsin. I love Wisconsin.

Little Free Library has a good website, with a blog, and their history is really inspiring. I love that they achieved their goal to build 2,510 Little Free Libraries—as many as Andrew Carnegie—and keep going, in just two years! Since 2010 they have registered nearly 15,000 libraries, and they're growing!

As soon as I learned about them, I was smitten with the idea of them... I love the idea of encouraging literacy and building community, of sharing resources. Immediately I began learning all I could, even collecting ideas and more inspiration on a Pinterest Board.

I may, just may, be a teeny bit of a packrat collector! I actually had a small wood cabinet I picked up at the thrift store last year. I thought it would be a good piece for storing things in the barn, and I brought it home to spruce up some day. Once the Library scheme was firmly rooted in my brain I saw that little cabinet in a whole new light, and I told everyone here in the Bird House about my vision. I was so sure it could be done, but only with everyone helping.

So. I removed the hardware, and scrubbed the cabinet.

I took all all those blue paint samples we were testing for the house, and poured them into a yogurt tub, so I could paint the cabinet.

Maria came to help with the painting.

And while we painted, Alex cut framing and boards for a roof.

Next, I asked William if he could please cut out the wood sections of the paneled door.

Then I sanded the cut-outs.

Max cut aluminum plated so we could use them as mounting brackets. The Little Free Library will be set on it's post this Sunday!

Geoff decided to reinforce the floor of the cabinet. It's solid, now!

By now, it was Mother's Day, and besides a beach walk, all I asked for my day was to see more progress on our Library, and I got just that.

This part of the re-model really impressed me. Geoff cut this trim with a bevel so it could hold the glass pane.

Not just a good idea, but pretty, and well done, too. Geoff really made my vision even more special. Everyone did.

Maria and I have been collecting books, and we have all kinds of ideas about seasonal themes, and we hope to include Maker Club events as part of our library experience. By Sunday, I need to paint some signs, design and print book labels, make some lemonade for our neighbors and friends, and get ready to celebrate!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Make Paper Flowers

They're big, bodacious, decorative, pollen-free, and fun to make... paper napkin flowers!

It's been almost four years since I learned how to make these napkin flowers. I had so much fun making them that that Maria and I invited friends over to make more flowers. We shared them with neighbors for their garden party, and we hung them all over our house. And then we stored away all those extra napkins we had leftover, and almost forgot all about paper flowers, until now.

Now, Maria wants to learn how to make this fun craft for herself. She's older, and more patient, which is helpful when learning new techniques. She thinks this could be a great activity to bring to Maker Faire, and she wants to teach visitors to the Faire how they can make paper napkin flowers, too! With a little more practice, and the guidance of her club mentors, she will be making bouquets of flowers in no time!

Our napkins came from Ikea. They are large, dinner napkins. I think we should get smaller, cocktail napkins to bring for Maker Faire.

Maria is lining up four napkins.

We open up four napkins and stack them.

For fancy stamens in the flower center, I cut a napkin into fourths, then fringe cut one fourth, and laid it on the four full size napkins.

Now comes the folding. Grabbing all the layers, fan, or accordion fold the napkins.

It will be a little trickier if you have smaller pieces, like this green fringe cut napkin in the center, but once you have the napkins folded, cinch the middle, and fasten it with yarn or string, or even a twist tie.

Next, you will want to trim the edges, so that the flower petals will come out scalloped, and curved. An arc will give the petals soft and rounded edges. If you cut points then your petals could look something like a sunflower's, like in the first image.

Sharp scissors are a necessity for cleanly cutting through all those paper layers safely. Watch your fingers! This was a part that got a bit frustrating for Maria, until I realized that her scissors were small and probably a bit dull. Dull scissors are not as safe as sharp scissors, because dull scissors may slide and skip as you force them to cut. Sharp scissors, used respectfully, work well, and don't cause you to use excessive effort to get the job done effectively, easily.

Here we see a flower bud. It's been folded, cinched and tied, and the petals are trimmed.

Now for the blooming! Carefully pull the napkin layers toward center.
These Ikea napkins are sturdy, but they can tear, so be patient, gradually lifting each petal and sculpting the flower into a pleasing form.

With garden roses to inspire us, Maria is helping her flower bloom, by gently pulling the napkin petals toward the center, so the bloom will be full and bodacious.

Here is the blue flower, with those green, fringed stamen. I think I will snip those a bit and get them to perk-up a bit.

There are all sorts of flowers in nature. I think these napkin flowers are especially effective as peonies, roses, zinnias, dahlias, lotuses, and ranunculi.

In her hair, Maria has a flower for a hat! We simply pushed a hair comb through the yarn that tied the flower in the center, then put it in Maria's hair. It makes quite a statement!

Get your supplies ready, call over some friends, and you will have a bouquet, too! When our friends started making flowers with us, we discovered even more possibilities and floral varieties. We've shared the basics, but this is a craft to make all your own!


Thursday, April 3, 2014

Throwback Thursday to Maker Faire 2013

This is a Throwback Thursday post, Maker style!

And these are some Makers!
Alex, Max, Maria, Geoff, Natalie, Suki, James, William, Amanda, and Cameron~ Maker Faire, Bay Area 2013.

{Last year's visit to the Faire was epic, but something of a wipeout... we lost the brakes on our behemoth, in the middle of L.A.... this turned into a 15 hour mess... I will spare you the details. We came >< this close to turning back, but through sheer will, and passion for Maker Faire, we stayed the course. The long, exhausting, obstacle strewn course! I think I drained all my batteries, not just from the drive up, but from the insane levels of high pitched fun we had the rest of the time, too! Today, a small glimpse of a big adventure... one I hope inspires you to join us at the Faire, The Greatest Show and Tell on Earth! }

Delayed, and devising our plan a b c d... plan M, Brave Sir Robin reminds us to always have an emergency strategy. Never give up. Never surrender!

We got the RV serviced and safety overhauled, and ten hours later, with mere minutes to spare, Geoff dropped me at the gates just in time to collect our badges, and registration packets! We made it! And the relief and joy I felt were indescribable. I cried. It's true.

And for this, it was all worthwhile. I kid you not, the synchronized bass fish and lobsters, singing and clapping, to Rock Lobster, this alone, made all of our efforts pay off, and I felt like I could go home happy.

These four guys from Houston Texas, with their Sashimi Tabernacle Choir, have created my all time favorite art car, ever, ever, ever. Until I can ride in the Nekobus, Sashimi Tabernacle Choir will reign supreme in art cardom greatness.



Lobsters and bass... riveting performers, absolutely riveting!

First thing in the morning, we were just hearing them tune-up, and I was already totally smitten. "What can be more annoying than a singing fish? Try 250 of them bolted to a Volvo, singing opera."

Okay. Before we go forward, a few background points:

1. This is the Maker Faire, Bay Area.

2. We go and demonstrate the accomplishments of our Young Makers, and mentors, Love & Rockets, Art & Engineering.

3. We have been going to the Faire since 2010, and we were so smitten we organized a Young Makers Club, and determined to return with as many friends and makers as we could rally.

4. 2011 was great. Seriously. Really great.

5. 2012 was our Maker Prom, and it was seriously really great, too!

6. And last year Love & Rockets Young Makers Club was featured in the Make Blog!

7. It would be my pleasure to write at great length about everything. I could do that, except laundry etc. Also, I don't want to scare you/wear you out/overuse the word "awesome." I'll share a bit, and I hope that if anything captures your imagination, or raises a question, you will leave a comment, ask your question... I will be happy to tell you more, or just confirm that you really should get to a Maker Faire in your area!

Maria and James making sandstone beads with bamboo tools. Awesome.

You can buy things at the Faire, but there are many, many things to see, ride, do, make, and enjoy that are free with admission.

Makers are generous, and awesome. Robin is generous, and awesome.

This is a tire swing. It's making music, and lighting up, with Maria's movement on the swing.

In the tire swing is an iPhone.

Think-Love-Create is awesome.

Max, Alex and James, playing. I have never heard the statement "Don't touch that," at Maker Faire.

Maker Faire is a celebration for all the senses, for everyone. It is awesome.

Max and Maria sharing their Maker Faire projects. Maria taught wool needle felting, expanding on her wool demonstration from 2012. Max shared his methods for making foam weapons.

They taught, shared, exchanged, and engaged for four hours, and drew big, enthusiastic crowds.

Tots, Suki, and Alex. New visitors, every year. It is awesome.


This young maker enjoyed learning how to needle felt so much that she made a thank you gift for Maria.

Young makers, and experienced makers, all makers have a place at Maker Faire.

Everyone can learn something at Maker Faire.

Maria's turn to learn something new. Something MakeyMakey, from SparkFun.

Grant says Awesome!

Maria is making circuits, and the creative vibe is magnetic.

Cameron and Amanda, more awesomeness.

You can learn how to make cheeses at Maker Faire.

You can enjoy an awesome East Bay Urban Agricultural Alliance moment at Maker Faire.

The year before, he had one wooden arm and hand, and this year he has two awesome, wooden arms!

The Faire gets busy, but we always meet people that are happy to slow down, talk, and listen. Makers engage with each other, they share their ideas and their time.

Makers share their awesome hats.

We fell in love with the tiny homes Ward Hensill builds.

We think this over hang would look good on the side of our barn.

William and James, hanging out with a Bodega Portable Building.

Awesome biking power for music on the Pedal Powered Stage.

Awesome bike.

Every awesome mode of transportation... futuristic, artistic, real and imagined.

There is no end to all there is to see and do, to inspire, at the Maker Faire.

Anyone feeling nostalgic?

This year, Kits By Kids is working on a hovercraft. Reminds me of the hovercraft Alex designed and made. We met this Young Makers Club, Kits By Kids, at our first visit to the Faire.

A homemade sub. That's awesome. Scary, but awesome.

Also, awesome.


If you want to bounce in, out of the sun, you are welcome to enjoy the the Breast Stop.


We like to think, make, tinker, play, explore, and we like to see new things, learn new ideas, and bring people together to enjoy the same.

Maria, Sean, and the l.e.d's!

At the end of the day, we descend, en masse, at an area restaurant, where Robin and Shawn bedecked all the waitstaff, and us, with awesome light emitting diode creations!

Perfect ending to an awesome day.

Is it any wonder we look forward to going back?

We hope you can visit a Maker Faire, soon.