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Teen Librarian Toolbox
Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

MakerSpace: Mod-A-Tee Making Hot Glue Stencils and Spray Painting T-shirts

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This summer is the “Summer of Shirts” in the Teen MakerSpace at The Public Library of Mount Vernon and Knox County (OH). Every Monday we are teaching our teens a different way that we can make or modify t-shirts. So far we have done Sharpie Tie-Dye, puffy paint, and low-tech screen printing. Last Monday we taught our teens how to create t-shirts using hot glue guns and spray paint and it turned out quite spectacularly, if I’m being honest.

The basic premise: You will make a negative stencil using a hot glue gun and then spray paint over it so that when it is removed you will have a fantastic (and original!) t-shirt design.

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Supplies Needed:

  • T-shirts or tote bags (plain)
  • Hot glue gun with plenty of glue sticks
  • Parchment paper
  • Fabric spray paint (you can buy fabric spray paint or make your own using these instructions: Make Your Own Fabric Spray Paint | My Crazy Blessed Life!)
  • A piece of cardboard to put in between the two layers of your t-shirt
  • Something to keep your work space safe, like a plastic table cloth
Tulip Fabric Spray Paint

Tulip Fabric Spray Paint

Not Needed but Helpful

  • A computer with a printer
  • Sharpies and other embellishments

Making Your Shirts

Step 1: Creating Your Hot Glue Stencil Pieces

First you want to create a design on a piece of paper to be the template for your stencil. You can freehand this if you have the skill, or simply print something off on a piece of paper using your computer. Simple text and graphics work best. For example, silhouettes and big block letters are ideal.

After you have your design on paper, lay a piece of parchment paper over top of it. You will then trace it using the hot glue gun to create your hot glue pieces. Allow them to dry fully before you peel them off the parchment paper. Patience will be an important part of this process throughout as there is a lot of no really, let things fully dry before going on to the next step.

Making the hot glue stencil pieces

Making the hot glue stencil pieces

Step 2: Setting Up for Painting

You will then want to start setting up your shirt for painting. Be sure and put your piece of cardboard in between the two layers of your shirt and to cover your work space with your plastic table cloth to help with any over spray. You’ll also want to spray outside (on grass is recommended) or in a well ventilated space like a garage with an open door.

Getting ready to paint

Getting ready to paint

Gently peel your hot glue pieces off of the parchment paper and position them onto your shirt. When you spray paint the shirt, the hot glue pieces will prevent the paint from getting on the space it is covering.

Hot glue stencil pieces in place

Hot glue stencil pieces in place

Step 3: Painting

You will want to carefully spray paint your t-shirt. If you let colors dry in between coats you can overlay colors and create amazing effects. The trick is to apply gentle pressure, light coats, and to be patient.

Putting on your first coats of paint

Putting on your first coats of paint

After you finish painting your t-shirt, it will look something like this:

A t-shirt with the hot glue stencils in place

A painted t-shirt with the hot glue stencils in place

Above is a cat themed t-shirt made by one of our teens. You can see the places that are covered by the hot glue stencil pieces. She made a template using a silhouette image, printed it, made her hot glue stencil pieces and painted in multiple layers. You then want to make sure and let your paint FULLY DRY. If you try and remove your hot glue stencil pieces you may smudge the surrounding paint. Again, patience is called for. It’s a theme.

The completed cat t-shirt

The completed cat t-shirt

Step 4: Finishing Touches

After your t-shirt is fully dry, you can add embellishments if you like. We found that t-shirts made with text on them kind of popped better if you outlined the text using a Sharpie marker, for example. Or you could use puffy paint to add some dimensionality.

A finished t-shirt

A finished t-shirt

Our Gallery

Stencils can be re-used. The stencil used to make the t-shirt above was also used to make the tote bag below.

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I’m a Maker tote bag

One of our teens cut the neckline out of a t-shirt to make a different type of design and we painted the neck cut-out to make it into a bib for one of the TMS Assistant’s baby. I love this bib so much.

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Final Thoughts

All in all we had about 20 teens participated and they really enjoyed the activity and made some great t-shirts. To do a complete t-shirt from beginning to end took as little as an hour. The fabric spray paint was moderately expensive and didn’t go as far as we thought it would. In fact, we ran out half way through our night and I ran to the store to get more. We did this as a drop-in activity over a six hour period and this really worked well as we could provide more one-on-one instructions.

MakerSpace: DIY Fidget Spinners in Three Ways

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This past week we spent some time setting up a DIY Fidget Spinner station at the Teen MakerSpace at The Public Library of Mount Vernon and Knox County (OH). There are no shortage of DIY Fidget Spinner tutorials out there and we tried several and landed on the following three for our DIY Fidget Spinner station.

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Cardboard Fidget Spinners (No Bearings)

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The basic premise for our fidget spinner was found at the Red Ted Art blog and corresponded nicely with our new MakeDo Cardboard Creations station. You can find the basic tutorial here: http://www.redtedart.com/make-fidget-spinner-diy/. The no bearing center uses a toothpick, hot glue and cardboard as the spinning mechanism which we used for both our cardboard and origami fidget spinners.

To see a short video of our cardboard fidget spinner, click here: https://www.instagram.com/p/BVSxb6CnWHP/?taken-by=makerspaceplmvkc

It was pretty easy to do and works fairly well. I thought I would be creative and add bottle caps from our bottle cap crafts station to enhance my fidget spinner and I do not recommend this as it makes the fidget a little to big to fit nicely between your fingers and hand. On a second attempt we used scrapbook paper and the epoxy circle stickers from the bottle cap crafts and this worked much better. You can also just use pennies.
fidget5Supplies Needed:
  • Cardboard
  • Box cutter
  • Toothpicks
  • Hot glue
  • Pennies
  • Embellishments (if desired)

Very low cost, quick and easy, effective

Origami Fidget Spinner (No Bearings)

Using the same premise as above, we also made an origami fidget spinner. You can find a variety of origami ninja star tutorials online and turn your origami ninja star into a fidget spinner. We used a toothpick and beads to make our own bearing to create the spinning mechanism.

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To see a short video of our origami fidget spinner, click here: https://www.instagram.com/p/BVSxMkWHJ4Q/?taken-by=makerspaceplmvkc

Supplies Needed:

  • Origami paper
  • Toothpicks
  • Hot glue
  • Embellishments (if desired)

Very low cost, quick and easy, effective

3D Pen Fidget Spinner (with Bearings)

We also bought some bearings off of Amazon and used them in combination with our 3D pens to make fidget spinners. Our first attempt looked like a traditional fidget spinner and used 4 ball bearings. It spins really well and we are very happy with the outcome.

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With our second attempt we wanted to see if we could make our ball bearings go farther so we used one for the center to make our spinning mechanism and replaced the exterior ball bearings with pennies. By doing this, we can make more fidget spinners with the bearings we have on hand. This worked basically the same.

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To create our 3d pen fidget spinner we made circles around all four of our objects first and then we joined them together.

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Supplies Needed:

  • 3D pen and filament
  • Ball bearing
  • Pennies

Higher cost because you need a 3D pen, filament, and the bearings, a little more challenging and time consuming, effective

In setting up a station with various types of fidget spinners for teens to try they get to really engage in comparing and contrasting and problem solving. We’ve already made a variety of various fidget spinners and find it to be a lot of fun. I highly recommend this activity.

MakerSpace: MakeDo Cardboard Construction Kits

makedo8 I learned about MakeDo Cardboard Construction Kits while at TLA Annual earlier this year. We bought several kits for our Teen MakerSpace and a fun new station was born.

A basic kit comes with a safety saw, a whole punch, several screws, and some hinges. Everything works great except for the safety saw. The safety saw is kind of useless, so we replaced it with box cutters.

TMS Assistant Desiree was the first to use the MakeDo kit, and she made an amazing Ferris Wheel that spins. The teens enjoyed brainstorming and problems solving with her as they tried to find a way to attach various pieces and make the wheel spin smoothly. It was a moment where we saw making happen in full effect and it was glorious. The Ferris Wheel is made using MakeDo, cardboard, straws, styrofoam cups, wire and a pencil.

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TMS Assistant Morgan made the knight helmet that you see above modeled by one of our regular teens. It is made entirely out of MakeDo pieces and cardboard boxes. The plume is the label off of a box torn off. This is a great example of what you can make using nothing but cardboard and MakeDo.

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There is no limit to what you can do with the MakeDo kit. We are also working on adding our LittleBits to make moving pieces and our LEDs to making light up pieces. And as a library, we have no shortage of cardboard boxes that can be used for material. In fact, this is a great Earth Day/Earth friendly station.

I will say that the pieces are designed to be re-usable, so you can dismantle a project and use the screws and fasteners to make new projects. But I think we’ll have a hard time taking these two amazing projects apart to make new ones. But we will, for the teens. Eventually.

I highly recommend the MakeDo kits for your makerspace.

TPiB: Soldering with teens: just like hot glue, but metal

tpibBefore I did it, soldering seemed like some kind of Super Advanced Tech Stuff that was way out of my league for teen programming. The only soldering I’d done was using a wide tipped soldering iron in stained glass work which, a friend observed, was more like using a bulldozer than the garden trowel required in soldering printed circuit boards. I’m here to tell you, folks: if you can use a hot glue gun, you can use a soldering iron.

Supplies

Soldering does require a good number of supplies. The startup costs are moderate, but easier to swallow when you keep in mind that most of the supplies can be purchased once and used multiple times. I started with this Elenco Learn To Solder kit which includes nearly everything you need and can be found for less than $12. This includes the project and a soldering iron. Additional items that you’ll need to pick up:

a kitchen sponge or high quality paper towels that can be dampened

a “helping hand” or “third hand” (optional)

non-slip shelf liners   that can be used as anti-static placemat style workspaces

a box fan if your meeting room has less than awesome ventilation

Preparation

Like with all programs, you want to be prepared. Take an afternoon and work on the project yourself. Watch some YouTube videos to see the techniques that other people use. Read some tutorials. Ask a friend to lend a hand if you know anyone who is into HAM radio or electronics or uses soldering in their work. You can do this.

When the day of the event comes, I suggest setting up each participant’s workstation before hand. There’s something about walking into the room to see tidy individual workspaces that immediately sets the tone for the group and says it’s not a free for all. It’s a focused class.

Troubleshooting

Some of the projects are going to work. Some are not. When they don’t, encourage the teen to look at all of the contacts and see if any solder is shorting out a connection. Check the direction of the pieces — are any inserted backwards? Make sure that they assembled the kit right side up… not upside down like I did the first time! Troubleshooting is part of the process and as valuable a lesson to work through as the soldering itself is. Not everything works the first time, and that’s ok.

Safety

Yes, it seems scary to give teens hot metal pointy sticks. But if you can imagine the group using a hot glue gun to attach seed beads, you can give them soldering irons. Make it clear how to be safe: the tips always need to rest in their holders when they’re not in use. Always watch where the iron is and be conscious of the cords (I attach a multi-outlet strip to the table with duct tape so that there aren’t cords trailing off of the table.) Unplug the iron and let it cool before you move it. Have a first aid kit at the ready just in case someone does get burned. If you are soldering with a large group in a room without good ventilation, setting up a fan to circulate air will make for a more comfortable experience.

Projects

I’ve used several different kits, and in addition to the above linked learn to solder kit, I really liked Adafruit’s Game Of Life kit. This is great for beginners because there are multiples of most of the pieces and you get a lot of practice at the actual soldering without needing to know a whole lot about the different components. Plus, you can connect them together, it flashes cool lights and there’s no obnoxious alarm!

Beyond kits, there are lots of small projects that you can tackle from basic circuits to light up corsages.

MakerSpace Mondays: Making Wonder Woman Bracers/Cuffs

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This weekend the Wonder Woman movie is finally here! And June 3rd, Saturday, has been declared Wonder Woman day in libraries: DC Celebrates Wonder Woman Day with Massive Global Event. We will be celebrating on Saturday at The Public Library of Mount Vernon and Knox County (OH) by making Wonder Woman cuffs/bracers.

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Supplies needed:

  • Used/empty duct tape rolls or poster mailing tubes
  • Duct tape
  • Box cutter
  • Washi tape

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I must admit that this activity necessitates a little bit of planning. It turns out that empty duct tape rolls are in fact the best way to make this activity. They are the perfect width and are thick enough to make good, sturdy cuffs (or bracers as my teens tell me they are called in Wonder Woman speak). You can also cut down an old poster mailing tube. We discovered this because we have a duct tape station in our Teen MakerSpace and the teens kept throwing away the cardboard tubes and we thought, surely there is something we can make with those. And there is! I will also note that there are tutorials out there for making duct tape cuff bracelets without the tubes. See, for example: Duct Tape Cuff: 4 Steps.

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Step 1: Turning your duct tape roll into a cuff

You’ll want to use your box knife to cut a small piece out of your empty duct tape roll so you can slip it onto your wrist. Also, the empty rolls are slightly big for most wrists, so you have to cut them down to size. It takes only 2 cuts and then you can remove a one inch section. This is your opening to fit the cuff easily onto your wrist. For smaller wrists, you can cut a slightly larger piece out.

Step 2: Decorate your cuff using duct and washi tape

They don’t have to be Wonder Woman themed, but Wonder Woman themed is kind of awesome. But you can use any colors of tape and just make amazing wearable jewelry.

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Maker Spaces and Books: It’s Not Either Or, It’s Both And

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The other day a fellow librarian asked me if I had read a book yet and when I responded no, she replied, “oh that’s right, you’re all about making now, you don’t really do books anymore.” It has taken me a couple of days to process this information and to form a real response. The truth is, libraries have always been about more than books, and I as a teen services librarian have always been about more than books. It’s not an either or proposition, it’s both and.

I am about making.

I am about books.

These are not mutually exclusive statements.

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Before I had a Teen MakerSpace, I regularly did library programming for tweens and teens. It was an expected part of my job. I still do that programming, I just do it differently. I do it on a more continual basis. I have assistants (that part is pretty glorious actually). But the truth of it is, it’s still just programming. Every moment I spend in the Teen MakerSpace is comparable to every moment I previously spent doing a teen program.

I have also worked really hard to make sure and emphasize books in our Teen MakerSpace. Every station that we have, every activity that we do, must have a couple of books in the Teen MakerSpace Collection that supports it. We try to remember to pull these books out and put them on display right there near the station or activity. We use them. We encourage our teens to use them. Our Teen MakerSpace Collection goes hand in hand with everything we do in our Teen MakerSpace.

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But we don’t just promote nonfiction in our Teen MakerSpace, we promote our Teen Fiction collection as well. We put up displays, we promote our collection, we have “what staff are reading” walls, etc. We do RA, we talk about books with our teens, even while we are making. We have done displays on books that relate to making in any possible way, including Sci Fi, books about movies, books with teens who make films, books with teen hackers and coders, books with gamers, and more. There are a lot of ways you can pull books from your teen fiction collection into the space and cross promote both making and teen reading.

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The truth is, libraries are always evolving. Books have and will continue to be the core of what librarians do, what I do. But it has and never will be the only thing that librarians do, what I do.

I am about making.

I am about books.

And they both work together for the good of teens in the public library.

5 Ways to Incorporate Books into a MakerSpace

1. Buy nonfiction that corresponds to every station or activity that you do in your MakerSpace

Have a 3D printer? There are books for that. Coding, electronics, robotics, Legos and more. We have books on every topic. If you can do it in our teen makerspace, you can read a book about it.

2. Promote “making” related teen fiction in your makerspace

There are good YA books that feature teens as coders, hackers, gamers, film makers, music makers and more. In addition, almost any sci fi or survival book features technology or survival skills that can be related back to making. Think creatively and cross promote.

3. Put up a “What’s New” display in your makerspace

We have two actually. One is a wall in the Teen MakerSpace that just features book covers that we have printed out and put up. The other has the physical books so that they can be easily grabbed.

4. Put up a what staff is reading display

We use the same printed book cover on the wall format to keep up a what staff is reading display. All three Teen Services staff members share what books they are currently reading with any teen that comes into the space.

5. Talk to teens while making about books

I love to talk about books. And the glorious thing about making is that it’s pretty easy to have a casual conversation with a teen while you are doing it. So ask your teens, hey what have you been reading? What’s your favorite book?

Maker Mondays: How do you make those cool graphics for social media?

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Branding. It’s a thing we talk a lot about in all walks of life, including libraries. And branding is more important than ever with our prolific use of social media. When you share something on social media, you want an image to share with your post that is easily recognizable, immediately associated with your brand, and points directly back to you when it is shared by others on social media. Even better if you create regular content that is predictable, expected and communicates to your patrons who and what you are. So consider having regular features like New Title Tuesdays, for example, with well developed images to market that content. And consider adding your logo and website url onto each image.

Popular websites like Epic Reads are already doing this and doing it well. They have regular features that are comfortable and familiar to their readers, and that is a powerful tool.

But how do you create the images? Today I am going to share with you two separate tools that work well for this: Canva and Word Swag.

Canva

I have previously talked about Canva at length so I’m just going to touch on it here briefly. Canva is a free online tool that you can use to create all types of images, including social media images. You set up an account for free and you can upload your own pictures or use their library of free images. If you want to spring for the bonus features, there is additional content you can tap into for a free. I have, however, successfully used Canva for multiple projects and never had to pay any additional money. I sincerely recommend Canva, in under five minutes I might add. Previous posts on Canva:

Tech Review: Online Creation Tools Piktochart and Canva

MakerSpace: Postcard Party

These social media images were created using Canva:

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Canva has both an online portal and a mobile app. At first I hated the mobile app version, but I am getting better at it. I still prefer the online portal.

Word Swag

Word Swag is an app that you can purchase and download to your mobile device to make quick images to share. Word Swag is a bit pricey for an app at $4.99, especially given what it does, but it is quick and easy to use with effective results. It is available for both iOS and Android. You can start with a provided image or access an image from your camera roll. You can then crop it, add text, and quickly save your photo. It’s fast and easy, but man do I hate the filters that it has.

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These images were created using Word Swag.

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Some thoughts about Word Swag:

I find Word Swag to be particularly good for making book quote art to share on social media

After you put in your text, you can select your font style and roll the dice to find the best fit and look for your background image. Seeing what the roll of the dice produces can be fun.

In addition to being able to insert your own text, it does have a feature where you can select a category and it offers a few choice quotes in that category for you to use. If you have a picture you have taken but not a great text, it can be fun to see what comes up.

You can only add one text block unless you save, reload your image, and start the process all over again. So if you want to have a heading text at top and your website url at the bottom, the process is much more complicated.

As I mentioned, the filters in this app are basically awful. This is, after all, an app that focuses on words more than images.

It’s easy to use, fast, and can all be done while on the go right there on your phone.

A Final Analysis

After buying Word Swag and using both tools to create square shaped social media images to share, I found that I kept using Canva more than Word Swag, mostly because Canva just offers a lot more options. I like the filters on Canva more (though Instagram is still my favorite quick app for filters and the blur feature). I like that you can add images to your image, like a silhouette. And I like that you can add multiple lines of text in multiple locations. So in terms of functionality, Canva definitely beats out Word Swag. But if you want quick, easy, and portable, either one works. And for the novice, Word Swag may be easier to use.

Word Swag gets the edge for quick and easy, Canva gets the edge for higher functionality.

Take 5: MakerSpace Tools I Learned About at TLA 2017

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I recently had the pleasure of attending – and speaking – at the annual Texas Library Association conference. Today I am going to share with you 5 Makerspace tools I learned about.

MakeDo Cardboard Construction Kit

makedo makedo2Make Do are cardboard construction pieces that work as nuts and bolts for cardboard. This means that you can save all those boxes that your books come in and allow teens to re-purpose them in the makerspace. These kits seem really multi-functional and affordable, I’m definitely getting some of these ASAP.

Finch Robot

The Finch Robot is a plug and play robot. There is no building involved, it’s ready to start coding out of the box. It can be used with a variety of languages, including Scratch, Python, Java and more. It looks like a jellyfish or an alien out of some sci fi movie. You can find more information at www.finchrobot.com.

The Hummingbird Kit

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If you want to promote creative building as well as programming, the Hummingbird might be the kit for you. It contains all of the guts of a robot – sensors, LED lights, motors and a brain – and you need to put a face on it. No soldering or electronics is really required. An example they had at the booth was a dragon robot made out of a jewelry box as its base and moved using the Hummingbird Kit. I’m not going to lie, it was pretty awesome. You can find more information at www.hummingbirdkit.com.

The Adjustable Height White Board Table

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My AD is pretty used to me going to a conference and texting her pictures of all the things I want for my Teen MakerSpace. This item was so cool I called. It’s a white board table that can flip so it becomes a whiteboard wall. Did I mention it has adjustable height? It’s pricey, but I covet this table for its functionality and adaptability.

Task Cards

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We have made task cards for all of our big Teen MakerSpace stations. Although we want our space to be open and inspire creativity, we have found that some of our teens really want a task or a challenge to help them get started. In fact, we now have a daily Lego challenge as well as all of our regular stations. I visited a booth called Maker Maven that sold task cards, which I think are a great investment. In fact, they sell pre-make Maker Kits that you can just unbox and start using around themes like engineering, virtual reality, science, 3D arts and crafts and robotics. The kits range in price from $299.00 (the Innovator Kit) to $1,499 (the Ultimate Maker Kit). You can find more information about this at www.makermaven.net.

If you have or use any of these tools, let me know what you think in the comments.

MakerSpace: 5 Low or No Tech Activities for a Teen MakerSpace

makerspacelogo1When I first began transforming my teen space into a Teen MakerSpace, I was adamant that the space had to be tech, tech, tech heavy. All tech, all the time. I pushed back hard against suggestions that I should do things like have gel pens or paint. Part of my concern was legitimate, cost and clean up. Having consumable materials increases your cost right out of the gate. But there are a lot of consumables in tech making as well; see, for example, the 3D pen. You constantly have to replace the filament.

The clean up concern is legitimate as well. We work hard to try and keep our surfaces and floors protected, but there have been accidents. Tables and counters are easier to protect than floors, we simply cover them with cutting mats and it works pretty well.

I have slowly changed my idea of what a makerspace can and should be, in part because of my teens. It turns out, they like to do a lot of traditional arts and crafts just as much as they like to do coding, robotics and electronics. And many of our teens don’t have access to the tools necessary to learn these traditional types of arts and crafts anymore than they have access to the tech to learn coding and electronics. So we – so I – have expanded my idea of what a makerspace is. If it involves making something, I will consider it for the space. So today I am sharing with you 5 of their favorite more traditional arts and crafts activities that we do in our Teen MakerSpace at The Public Library of Mount Vernon and Knox County (OH).

Sculpey Clay

Desiree making jewelry out of Sculpey clay beads

Desiree making jewelry out of Sculpey clay beads

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Making things out of clay has turned out to be really popular for us. We have a toaster oven in the space that we use to bake the clay. They make anything from figures to jewelry using the clay. Desiree, one of our TMS assistants, has become quite good at clay art.

Teen Coloring

We have a dedicated teen coloring station with blank cartoon and graphic novel strips that teens can create, but we also just print off coloring sheets. We provide colored pencils, markers, and gel pens. I really pushed back against gel pens in the beginning because they are so expensive but found a great set at a reasonable price and we keep them locked up when the room isn’t staffed. It’s a relaxing activity and it’s pretty easy from a staff perspective, and the teens love it.

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Although many of our teens do use our supplies, we have a small handful of teens that come regularly and bring their own supplies and art books. They will also often draw pictures for us. A couple of times they have drawn pictures of us, which is an incredible honor.

Shrinky Dinks

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A bracelet made out of Shrinky Dink charms

A bracelet made out of Shrinky Dink charms

Who knew this childhood favorite would once again be so popular? We buy plain Shrinky Dink sheets at the local craft store and the teens are welcome to create anything they would like. They often trace and color their favorite manga characters. But you can also use Shrinky Dinks to do things like create jewelry.

Lego

today5 today6 Lego can be very tech savvy. For example, you can use Legos to create a Rube Goldberg machine. Legos can also be combined with tech like LittleBits or Raspberry Pi to make remote control vehicles or small robots. But sometimes, the teens just like to build with them. In fact, we now host a daily Lego challenge. We put up a sign with a small pile of Legos and ask teens to do things like build a car, make an animal, or even create a campfire scene. We get a lot of our daily challenges out of this book.

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Painting

today7I suppose in some ways this is just an extension of the coloring/drawing type of activities, but I have to go on the record as saying that I pushed back hard against buying pain and paint brushes. For one, we really do try and limit the amount of money we spend on consumables because you have to replace them a lot. But the truth is, it’s not as high of a cost as I thought it might be. You can buy a value pack of acrylic paint at Michael’s for $8.00. And a value pack of brushes for around $5.00. We don’t provide high quality materials by any means, but they get the job done. The teens not only paint on paper, but they will bring in t-shirts to paint, they paint their cell phone cases to personalize them, and more.

So here’s my takeaway.

1) The idea of a makerspace is always evolving.

2) Don’t be afraid of more traditional arts and crafts.

MakerSpace Madness: Out of the 1, Many – Transforming Art in Multiple Ways

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I spent yesterday casually demonstrating to the teens in the Teen MakerSpace how one project can turn into many, many projects. Making isn’t just about making, it’s about re-making and transforming. It’s about thinking outside of the box. It’s about pushing the limits of what you know and learning new things. So yesterday we explored how far we can take one project.

To begin, I was exploring making my own templates. The first template I made was freehand, and it was . . . okay. I then downloaded a pre-made template of the police box which I altered slightly because it turns out that cutting out a template is tedious. Not going to lie, it was not my favorite thing. The key to a good (and easy to cut out) template is to have big spaces and not a lot of lines, straight lines are definitely better. The police box is an easy template to create from scratch because it’s just squares, long rectangles and a triangle for the top light. It doesn’t hurt that I and my girls are huge Doctor Who fans.

I then used my template and a word template (“dream”) that we already had in the space to make a painting. Note: when making your own templates, words are hard. The easiest way to make a word template is to print your word out from a computer, though you’ll want to be careful about fonts.

For someone who is not a painter, I thought my original art piece turned out okay.

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Next, I took a picture of my painting. I like to start with a picture that I have taken so that I don’t have to worry about copyright. I then use a variety of apps to transform my painting into ways that I can’t do freehand because I’m not really an artist. Apps are just my friend.

For example, here I used the Fused app to combine my painting with a galaxy looking background.

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You can then use almost any app, including Instagram, to try out different filters until you find a look that you like. Some of my favorites include Enlight, Hipstamatic, and BeFunky.

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I then used Instagmag to make a photo collage. There are other photo collage apps that you can use including Diptic and PhotoShake, I just happen to be a fan of Instamag’s graphics.

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I then saved and printed my photo – after making it the proper size – to turn it into a button.

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There are other things I can do with this as well:

Print my remixed photo onto transfer paper and make it into a t-shirt or tote bag.

Print my remixed photo and put it onto canvas to make wall art.

Re-size my photo to make original postcards.

The thing is, when you create one type of art, even something like a traditional painting, that doesn’t mean it has to stay in that same shape, form or even color.

And that’s the journey of one piece of art.

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