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Teen Librarian Toolbox
Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

MakerSpace: How to Design a Button

Button, button, who makes the button? I do! Teens do! But how? Yesterday I shared some basics on button making, today let’s talk about designing your buttons.

For the purpose of this discussion a button insert will refer to your final circle image cut to size that is placed in between the two button parts – the shell and the pin back – which will ultimately become your button. It’s the graphic piece that you create to make a button.

Start Here: MakerSpace: Button Making is All the Rage (The Complete Button Making Index)

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What Programs Do You Use to Design a Button?

We’re going to start here with the final step. I know that sounds weird, but your ultimate goal is to create and print a properly sized button insert – the graphic piece – that will make your image pop. The final step is sizing and printing that button insert. We’ll start there.

In the final steps, I recommend using a program like Microsoft Publisher to finish your button design. This allows you to create your button true to size and then print it out. For example, if you are making a 2.25 button you can use the Insert Shape feature, choose a circle, and size it to 2.25. You can use the fill feature to fill the button with your circle OR you can use it as an outline and overlay it on your image to make sure what you want to appear does in fact appear in the middle of the button.

insershapeResizing Photos for Button Makers

After you have made a design that you are happy with and appropriately sized them, you can then “group” all the parts and copy and paste them to make rows of button inserts. For example, here are some SRC buttons I designed to give to kids who participated in our 2015 summer reading program. This is what the printed out sheet of paper will look like. You then just cut your button inserts out and go through the button making steps.

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Buttons for our 2015 Super Readers!

Buttons for our 2015 Super Readers!

Why Publisher? You need a publishing program that handles graphics well and prints true to size. For example, if you create a circle image in PowerPoint, even though on screen it is sized the correct size, it doesn’t print out true to size because a PowerPoint slide is not the same size as a sheet of paper. It’s a computer focused program as opposed to a print focused program. Publisher is designed to create and print materials so it works really well for printing button inserts.

In a pinch, you can create your image in another program and copy and paste it into Word at the correct size, but it’s a few more steps. I only recently got Microsoft Publisher on my personal laptop and used Word for quite some time. It’s perfectly functional, though more complicated then I liked.

You Don’t, However, Have to Begin with Publisher to Design Your Button

So let’s go back to the beginning – designing your button insert.

Let’s be honest, if you are using Publisher to size and print your buttons, you can in fact use them to design your entire button if you so choose. But it is not the only tool I use and there are many other tools that offer other features that you may wish to explore.

Although I recommend ending and printing with Publisher, you don’t have to begin there. I most often don’t. For example, I might fall in love with a picture I have taken on Instagram so that becomes my starting point. I might design something online in Canva and then transfer it into publisher for sizing and printing. I also use a lot of photo apps that have different filters, texts, and features to enhance a photo. I just create my image and then download it to my computer and insert it into Publisher for sizing and printing. Yes, some buttons take a lot of steps. But the design process is part of what I enjoy.

More photos manipulated with photo apps and turned into buttons. Washi tape makes up the borders on some of these buttons.

More photos manipulated with photo apps and turned into buttons. Washi tape makes up the borders on some of these buttons.

Some of my favorite design programs/apps include:

See also: How Did You Do That? Photo Apps Version and Generate Marketing Creativity with iPhone Apps

Some Design Tips to Keep in Mind

All the basic rules of graphic design basically apply:

In addition, remember that here you are designing in a circle. This can present some unique challenges, especially since a lot of traditional design we do is in the square format. Try to focus your image in the center of the circle. Make sure that any important parts – including text – aren’t being cut off.

Made from an Instagram pic. Had to layer images to prevent text from being cut off.

Made from an Instagram pic. Had to layer images to prevent text from being cut off.

The most important tip: Make sure and leave a little edge around all of your design so it doesn’t accidentally get cut off when you make the actual button. Words and important image pieces should not go all the way to the edge of your circle. You can have a background color that fills the complete image, but leave a little bit of space around the edges especially when you include any text.

There are Some Online Tools and Tutorials

How To Design a Button in Photoshop [4/13/2009] – YouTube

Button Designer Make Button Artwork Online

Create Buttons | Button Design | Custom Buttons | Pin Buttons

Button Designer Make Button Artwork Online

Free Button Maker Software – American Button Machines

MakePins.com: Make Custom Pins and Buttons That You Design

I have used exactly none of these. You really can design them yourselves quickly and easily as you become more proficient at using whatever software/apps you choose and just learn what does and doesn’t work.

At the End of the Day, Not all Buttons Needs to Be Computer Generated at All!

A table full of scrap button materials

A table full of scrap button materials

Put out a tub of scrapbook paper, discarded magazines and gns/manga, stickers, Sharpies, gel pens and more! Buttons can be mixed media collages or hand drawn. Fingerprint art buttons are some of our favorite buttons to be honest.

Hand drawn Sharpie art turned into buttons

Hand drawn Sharpie art turned into buttons

Coloring pages buttons

Coloring pages buttons

You can pre-cut a bunch of plain circles and put them out with a box of markers and let teens design.

Fingerprint Art Buttons for Shark Week

Fingerprint Art Buttons for Shark Week

You can pre-cut a bunch of pre-sized circles out of blank paper and put them out with a box of markers or gel pens and teens will still design pretty cool buttons.

Sharpies + Stick Figure Art

Sharpies + Stick Figure Art

Stick Figure Art Buttons!

Stick Figure Art Buttons!

To Recap: How to Design a Button Ranked from Easiest to Hardest Method

1. Cut out a plain circle and hand draw a design

2. Use paper scraps to create a design

3. Download an image and size it in Publisher (be aware of copyright)

4. Create a design from scratch in Publisher

5. Create a design in another resource, download it, and resize it in Publisher

Have fun designing!

MakerSpace: The #ButtonFun Gallery

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Earlier today I shared with you a summary post about button making in makerspaces. Using the hashtag #ButtonFun, I and some Twitter followers have been sharing our favorite button making tips and a gallery of our creations. Here’s a roundup.

 

The #ButtonFun Gallery//

  1. Words typed in paper. Edges inked by brushing on an ink pad. Beautiful #buttonfun https://t.co/EXZJdTcxmE

    Words typed in paper. Edges inked by brushing on an ink pad. Beautiful #buttonfun pic.twitter.com/EXZJdTcxmE
  2. This teen turned a 21 Pilots lyric into a button using a typewriter #Buttonfun https://t.co/6oBZBaLxyw

    This teen turned a 21 Pilots lyric into a button using a typewriter #Buttonfun pic.twitter.com/6oBZBaLxyw
  3. Hands down my fave button. Pic of my scrabble board taken with smart phone #Buttonfun https://t.co/ZfQaoq6qcu

    Hands down my fave button. Pic of my scrabble board taken with smart phone #Buttonfun pic.twitter.com/ZfQaoq6qcu
  4. Very Meta: We made a button of this button loving teen wearing all of his buttons #Buttonfun https://t.co/Vop8VzXWNI

    Very Meta: We made a button of this button loving teen wearing all of his buttons #Buttonfun pic.twitter.com/Vop8VzXWNI

 

MakerSpace: Button Making is All the Rage (The Complete Button Making Index)

One of our most popular stations in our Teen MakerSpace at The Public Library of Mount Vernon and Knox County (OH) has been button making. We enjoy making buttons so much that a couple of staff members have purchased their own button making machines for personal use at home (hello, yes I’m one of the guilty ones). So we decided to end our Summer Reading Challenge with a week of button making challenges. I get asked a lot of questions about buttons here at TLT, so let me try and answer them all for you here in one convenient post. Consider this the ultimate button making resource! If you have questions that you don’t see answered here, please leave a comment and I will respond.

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What kind of machine do you use?

At home and in our Teen MakerSpace, we use button making machines from American Button Machines. We have both the 2.25 and the 1.25 sizes. We’ve also made mirrors and keychains with packages we have purchased with them. Our machines in the Teen MakerSpace have held up to daily use for over a year and a half and they are still going strong. They are easy to use, durable, and quick. I can not emphasize how popular and fun this simple making tool can be.

Our button making challenge station

Our button making challenge station

What about training and instructions?

In order to help make sure our button makers stay in good working condition, we made our own button machine instructions. We also made instructions on how to resize images in order to make button: General Resizing Photos for Button Maker Instructions

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Once a teen is trained to use the laptop to make their images and use the machine to make their buttons, they are very successful in creating a variety of buttons on their own. After some initial training, 100% of teens will be capable of coming in and using the machines without any assistance.

Do you charge for your buttons?

We do not currently charge our teens to make a button. We do, however, limit our teens to 2 buttons a day. Each year for our Summer Reading Challenge we also give 100 button pieces as one of our prize options and this has proven to be popular. If we were to charge, we would probably charge around a quarter per button as this is roughly what the costs of supplies averages out to per button.

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What size button is the most popular?

Right now, it seems like the 1.25 size is the most popular. For example, if you go into Hot Topic, they always have bins full of buttons that you can buy in this size. The small buttons can pack a powerful visual impact.

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So what size button do you recommend?

This is not a straightforward question. The true answer is, it depends on what you want to accomplish.

For more artistic buttons or buttons with quotes and slogans, the 2.25 size is better.

For buttons with icons or small but powerful visual images, the 1.25 size is better.

I spy a teen guy with a ton of buttons

I spy a teen guy with a ton of buttons

What do you use to design your buttons?

To be honest, I am all over the place on this one. The simplest and most direct tool to use is a publishing program like Microsoft Publisher. It allows you to design, save and print your buttons true to size in one easy place. I have also, however, designed buttons on my phone using apps or used something like Canva and then imported the image into Publisher. Designing images on my phone allows me to engage when I am away from my computer but have access to my phone and get bored or simply am multitasking.

And now a word about Instagram and social media sized graphics. An Instagram picture seems like a great place to start when designing a button image – and it truly can be – but I recommend caution when beginning with a square image to translate into a round image. You’ll want to make sure the focus of your image is in the center or else it won’t translate well. The exception is if you overlay the square image over a background as this prevents the corners from being cut off. Let’s discuss.

For example, this is an image I created using a variety of apps while sitting on an airplane. I thought it would make an excellent button but the words get cut off because it goes to close to the edges if you try and convert it into a circle.

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So I overlaid the image over a plain image of clouds and it does, in fact, make an excellent button. So Instagram pics can translate well into button images with a little creative design and problem solving.

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You can print and make these buttons here: She Persisited 125 Buttons

How do you inspire teens to create buttons?

To help get our teens thinking creatively and past the idea that they can just print off an image from the Internet and make it into a button (and this is always a great time to talk copyright with your teens), we have put together a variety of button making challenges. You can find those challenge cards here: Button Challenge Card Examples  Button Making Challenge Cards

We always try to have a gallery of examples around to inspire our teen makers.

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Additional Button Making Posts at TLT

TPiB: The Books of Our Heart Button

MakerSpace: Thumbprint Art Buttons

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

MakerSpace: Button Maker Challenges

Things I Learned Visiting the Cincinnati MakerSpace: Fun with Buttons (the beginning of my obsession)

Want to share some of your favorite buttons with me? I would love to see them. Tweet them at me at @tlt16 with the tag #buttonfun. Also, I would love to hear what some of your favorite button challenges might be or answer any questions you might have. Just leave a comment and I’ll get back to you.

MakerSpace: Making Fingerprint Pokemon Go Buttons

pokemonbuttons2Pokemon Go is big – you’ve probably heard. So my library is like many libraries and we are trying to plan a Pokemon Go program for our patrons while the program is still hot. Yes, I know Pokemon has been popular for 20 years now, but this is a new level of popularity and we want to tap into the zeitgeist in a timely manner.

We’re in the brainstorm stages, but one thing I know for sure we want to do is continue to use one of our most popular Teen MakerSpace stations – our button makers – to get teens creating. So I spent a part of last week researching Pokemon related button making ideas. And then it hit me, our fingerprint buttons are already so popular, so why not try making Fingerprint Pokemon Buttons.

Which is how I stumbled down the rabbit hole of Pokemon characters. I know Pikachu and a few of the characters I have caught playing Pokemon Go, but my knowledge of Pokemon is definitely lacking. So I had to research and find characters from Pokemon that might be easier to translate in the fine art form of fingerprint art.

Pikachu, it turns out, is actually kind of the easiest. In fact, I have perfected my fingerprint Pikachu and plan on putting that on my next resume.

Scan0026

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Not Just a Button, a Pokebutton

pokeball

I particularly wanted to play around with the idea of the Pokemon being in the Pokeball, but having the red portion of the Pokeball didn’t really work. Making the black bars creates the illusion of the Pokeball, but I had to make them shorter in order to provide space for the fingerprint Pokemon. The Pokeball template ended up looking like this:

pokeballtemplate1Although we definitely want to encourage our fingerprint button makers to be creative and make whatever they want, we have found that many participants want examples that they can follow. So I made a page of examples: Pokeball ExamplesPokeball Examples-page-001

Pokeball Examples 002

Some of my fingerprint Pokemon examples were a little, um, less than successful. It’s okay, you can laugh.

Scan0030 Scan0032

My finished template page ended up looking like this:

pokeballtemplatesIt’s just one of the many activities that we will do for our Pokemon Go program, but it was a fun one to put together. And you have to admit, teen librarians have some of the most interesting resumes out there.

MakerSpace: Button Maker Challenges

At The Public Library of Mount Vernon and Knox County (OH), we have found that one of the most popular activities among our teens in our Teen MakerSpace is making buttons. We run into a lot of our teens around town that look like this:

Buttons, buttons every where!

Buttons, buttons every where!

I spy a teen guy with a ton of buttons

I spy a teen guy with a ton of buttons

But we started to notice that teens were just coming in, printing of a couple of pictures (and engaging in some serious copyright infringement while doing so), and leaving. We really wanted to find a way to encourage teens to get more creative in their button making. So we took the idea of challenge cards and created a variety of button making challenges.

Our button making challenge station

Our button making challenge station

A lot of our challenges are based on ideas we found in some of the books we have right there in our Maker Collection. We scoured through our collection and our resources to come up with creative and fun challenges. And we asked the teens in the Teen MakerSpace for their ideas as well.

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Books inspire button making

We then created Button Making Challenge cards and put them out for our teens to look at and get inspired by.

Button Making Challenge Cards

Button Making Challenge Cards

We have been excited to see a lot more scenes that look like this in our Teen MakerSpace:

Teens in the Teen MakerSpace

Teens in the Teen MakerSpace

So here is a look at some of our challenges and what our teens have created in response to them.

Sharpie Art Buttons

I am obsessed with Sharpies. So discovering there were books about Sharpie art was a gift. We do a variety of simple Sharpie art activities. One of the simplest is to invite teens to color with Sharpies and turn their artwork into buttons.

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The Teen hard at work on some Sharpie art buttons

Sharpie art buttons!

Sharpie art buttons!

Typography Books + Sharpie Art Books=Button Awesomesauce Magic!

Typography Books + Sharpie Art Books = Button Awesomesauce Magic!

Stick Figure Art Buttons

Using a couple of the stick figure art books we have found, teens love to turn their stick figure art into buttons.

Sharpies + Stick Figure Art

Sharpies + Stick Figure Art

Stick Figure Art Buttons!

Stick Figure Art Buttons!

Finger Print Art Buttons

I have already talked some about our obsession with fingerprint art buttons. You can read more about it here. It’s a lot of fun and makes the cutest buttons.

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A teen makes a finger print elephant

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Fingerprint Art Buttons!

More finger print art buttons

More finger print art buttons

Chalkboard Buttons

We discovered that there is chalkboard paper, which can be used to make buttons. Instead of using regular chalk, our teens use chalk markers in combination with art books The Art of Chalk and The Complete Book of Chalk Lettering to create original chalk masterpieces which they then make into buttons.

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The TMNTs in Chalkboard Art form

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Chalkboard art buttons

Sidewalk chalk poetry and a camera

Sidewalk chalk poetry and a camera

Map Art Buttons

Using some of the ideas in the Map Art Lab book (pictured below), we made a variety of map art buttons.

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Map Art Buttons

Map art button

Map art button

The Map Art Lab book is also the source of The Books of Your Heart Button. For more information, see this post.

The Books of Our Heart Button

The Books of Our Heart Button

Coloring Pages Buttons

We have a variety of coloring pages in our Teen MakerSpace and encourage the teens to color and then cut out a portion of their page to make their buttons. It asks them to look with a creative eye about editing an already laid out design and only use a portion of it.

Coloring pages buttons

Coloring page buttons

Fill in the Blank Buttons

It’s like Mad Libs, but in button form. The teens can create a quote – like a funny story or a question – and leave a blank. Then when they meet people in the street they can ask them to fill in the blank.

Digital Media Lab Buttons

We wanted to create some button challenges that invited teens to use our iPad lab to do some digital media creation and photo manipulation. There are a variety of apps that will let you use filters, add artwork, and add text to your pictures to create great photos. In addition, we have a green screen so we wanted to get our teens using that as well. When they create the picture they like, they can then size them and print them out and turn them into buttons.

Made with a Scrabble board and an iPad with photo manipulating apps

Made with a Scrabble board and an iPad with photo manipulating apps

Some of the digital media lab challenges include:

Turn your favorite book quote into a button.
Star in a book cover for your fave book using a picture you take and photo apps.
Turn your photo into a mini comic book or graphic novel.
Turn your photo into a meme.

Green screen photos make for fun buttons

Green screen photos make for fun buttons

The Teen dressed as a Weeping Angel. Hipstamtic filters.

The Teen dressed as a Weeping Angel. Hipstamtic filters.

More photos manipulated with photo apps and turned into buttons. Washi tape makes up the borders on some of these buttons.

More photos manipulated with photo apps and turned into buttons. Washi tape makes up the borders on some of these buttons.

Teens love to turn their personal photos into buttons.

He made a button of himself wearing all his buttons that says, "I Like Buttons". It's very meta.

He made a button of himself wearing all his buttons that says, “I Like Buttons”. It’s very meta.

By creating a variety of challenges, we have found ways to get teens creating original artwork that they then turn into buttons. It has been fun to see what our teens create, and we have found ways to get teens to stay and talk a bit instead of just printing off a quick picture. I feel like our challenges are helping teens learn a little bit more about themselves, the creative process, and art in general. It has also challenged us to look more deeply at the books in our collection and find creative ways to incorporate art into the Teen MakerSpace.

 

Challenge Cards: buttonchallengefirstpage buttonchallengesecondpage

Scenes from a Teen MakerSpace Open House

Yesterday in celebration of The National Week of Making, we officially introduced our Teen MakerSpace at The Public Library of Mount Vernon and Knox County (OH) to our community by hosting an open house. Our Teen MakerSpace is normally only open to teens ages 12 through 18, but we wanted to let the public know what we are doing with (and for) their teens, so we spent the day making with our community.

The Set Up

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We spent the better part of the last 2 weeks getting prepared. I designed and ordered cool TMS (Teem MakerSpace) backpacks to hand out. We made logos to put on water bottles. We made lists and checked them twice. We bought supplies. We made signage. We organized. We recruited. We stressed. And then we celebrated.

The Welcome Table

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Teens could enter to win a Maker Kit and we handed out our backpacks.

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A teen volunteers at the TMS Open House welcome table

The backpacks proved to be incredibly popular

The backpacks proved to be incredibly popular

The Activities

Because our Teen MakerSpace is small, we held our event on two floors. Some activities were upstairs in the TMS, but many were downstairs in the large meeting rooms to accommodate a greater number of people.

For every activity we do, we made sure to have a variety of books available on the various topics for our guests. In addition, we made sure and included some higher tech making with more arts and crafts, in part to accommodate the large number of anticipated guests without totally destroying our yearly budget, but also because we have learned through the course of the last six months of being open that our teens like to do arts and crafts just as much as they like to get their hands on technology.

String Art

We just discovered string art. Actually, it came about because my assistant director had a HUGE amount of craft string in her basement that she handed to me and I have never been good at making friendship bracelets so I needed a way to use these. Seriously, I have always found friendship bracelets hard to make.

Supplies: Foam core board, straight or push pins, templates, string.

Note: We found it easier to glue the pins in place using a hot glue gun.

Glue your pins and place and just string it up. It’s time consuming, but everyone was happy with their completed projects.

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A butterfly made by The Teen

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A string art heart in process

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She was very excited by her completed project. Also note how she filled in the background to make a complete art project.

Lego Fun

The best part of all our Lego fun was the Rube Goldberg machine that we created with the help of a Klutz Lego Chain Reactions kit.

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A teen tinkers with Lego

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Another teen tinkers with Lego

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The amazing Lego contraption made with the Klutz Lego Chain Reaction kit

And here’s our Lego Chain Reaction in action.

Shrinky Dink Jewelry

I was surprised by how many teens asked, “What are Shrinky Dinks?” Honestly, introducing them to Shrinky Dinks was the greatest community service we could provide.

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This necklace was designed in honor of a video game. The charm apparently represents the character in the game’s soul. Bonus points if you know the game.

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Another fine necklace. Teens really liked to spell out their names in Shrinky Dink charms.

Post It Note Art

I am obsessed with Sharpie’s. Even more so since we got this cool Sharpie art book in our Maker Collection (more on this soon). So we thought a simple activity to do would be to create a Sharpie Post It Note Gallery. This turned out to be both incredibly fun and extremely popular.

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The Post It Note Art Gallery

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I asked someone to draw me a Tardis. I got two!

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The Post It Note Art Gallery with filters

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Teen drawing Post It Note Art

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More Post It Note art

3D Pens

Our 3D pens have proven to be very popular. In fact, they go so much use that we keep breaking them, which is not awesome. But here are our pens in action.

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A 3D creation in process

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More 3D artwork in process

Coloring Stations

You may have heard, but teen and adult coloring is all the rage. My co-worker hosts a monthly teen and adult coloring night and they get around 40 people at each event, so it was a no brainer for me to include a coloring station.

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The coloring station: We made bookmarks with templates we found in the book Words to Live By (Dawn Nicole Warnaar)

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A completed bookmark

Final Thoughts

It was a lot of work, but completely worth it. Our event was open from Noon until 7 PM and we were exhausted at the end. BUT it was so much fun and we enjoyed seeing all the cool creations.

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We are still loving our fingerprint art buttons!

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A teen creating something with duct tape

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Rainbow Loom and Post It Note art in action

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Exploring the Teen MakerSpace

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From the outside looking in to the Teen MakerSpace

TPiB: The Books of Our Heart Button

mapart3A few weeks ago I was talking with another librarian friend of mine when she started to ask me about a book. She stopped and said, “Oh yeah, you’re all about making now, you don’t really do books anymore.”

This caused me to pause. Of course I am still all about books.

But it’s true, I am also about making.

I have always been about books. I have also always been about making, I just used to call it programming.

And I am always looking for ways to get teens thinking about books in our Teen MakerSpace at The Public Library of Mount Vernon and Knox County (OH), which is how we came up with the “Books of Our Heart Button”.

As you may have heard me say, button making has proven to be incredibly popular for us. We have teens that come in every day simply to make buttons. So we are constantly looking for new button making challenges. I also just did a new big order of “maker” books for our Teen MakerSpace, which I try to always look through when they arrive for any great ideas.

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Map Art Lab is a part of the Art Lab series from Quarto Books. We have every title in this series in our Teen MakerSpace and this is our most recent addition. Thumbing through the book I stumbled across this page . . .

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And my MakerSpace assistant and I thought it would make a great button. In fact, we figured we could make the heart out of thumbprints given the popularity of our recent thumbprint buttons and have the teens add their favorite books instead of their favorite streets.

Supplies:

  • Button maker (we use American Button Machines)
  • Button making supplies: shell, pin back, mylar sheet
  • Plain paper (we used white, but any color would do)
  • A heart shaped stencil that will fit within your button size (we made ours)
  • Masking tape
  • Ink pads
  • 2.25 circle hole punch (we use these to cut out our circles)
  • Fine tip Sharpie

Process

1. Cut your circle using the circle hole punch.

2. Tear slim strips of masking tape which you will use to make a negative space on your paper. The masking tape will create the negative line spaces where you will write in the names of your favorite books, so be thinking about how many lines you will need and how you want them to look.

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3. Using your heart stencil and marker, trace the heart onto your circle.

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4. Fill in your heart using your ink pad and your thumbprint.

mapart45. Slowly and carefully remove your masking tape to reveal your negative line space. I went ahead and completed the heart outline with the marker.

6. Where your negative line spaces are, write the names of your favorite books.

7. Decorate as you wish and then make into your button following your button maker instructions.

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I love my button so much I also made one with my husband and kids’ names. But more importantly, I was excited to find another way that I could combine books with making to keep our teens thinking about books while having fun making in our Teen MakerSpace.