Teen Librarian Toolbox
Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

MakerSpace: Unconventional Printing

makerspaceLook, we all know that I am obsessed with photo apps and pictures of my kids. But it’s not just for me, it’s for the teens – I swear. One of my favorite teen programs I have ever done – and I have repeated it several times – is a program called Renovate Your Room. The concept is simple: teens love to decorate their rooms and I love to decorate my house, so we make stuff to decorate. It’s a fun way to get teens creating and while they do this they are engaging in self expression, creativity and more.

As I move more into a MakerSpace model with an emphasis on STEAM programming, I have added more tech to the process, but the end product is still the same: creating original artwork by teens to decorate their space. I would love to be able to create images and cut them into glass or vinyl or even wood, but that kind of equipment isn’t in my future. But I have found a variety of ways to print my images onto things other then paper to take my creations up to the next level.

The first step of the process is to get teens hands on tech to create images. You can do this using a desktop, a laptop, a tablet or a smart phone. You can use a variety of apps and programs, which I frequently review because I am in fact obsessed. To be completely honest, depending on what I am trying to create, I will often use a variety of apps. Very seldom do I produce something in just one app or program because most of the times they do different things. That’s part of the learning process, figuring out what creates what effect and deciding the best tools to use to create the final product you envision. Sometimes trial and error is involved and that’s okay.

Then, after you create your image, you have to find a way to make art out of it. The most basic thing to do of course is to print it off and frame it. But I have been exploring ways that you can take your creation to the next level with some unconventional printing.

Printing Onto Burlap

unconventionalprinting3Just by chance I stumbled across these burlap sheets that you can feed through your printer. They have a more standard burlap brown color and I bought a white burlap sheet. They came in a set of 3 sheets for under $3.00, which was a pretty reasonable price. I will say that for me, they came out crooked every. single. time. But that’s where you are forced to get innovative. I trimmed the edges to straighten my printed piece out and then fixed it with matting, Washi Tape and more.

It worked pretty well. The only thing I will say is that it works better with shapes and words as opposed to pictures with more finite detail, like faces. I think it would look amazing with silhouettes.

 

Transfer Paper, part 1

unconventionalprinting4The other day I was helping some teens on the teen areas as they set up and tried to print images on transfer paper. This was my introduction to the process and I am totally hooked. So I bought a pack of transfer paper and it comes in a pack of about 10 sheets for $10.00, basically a dollar a sheet.

I then made everyone a t-shirt. And I do mean everyone. For Thing 2’s shirt here to the left, I made my image using the Fused App. She is obsessed with The Flash and is always showing us how she runs fast like him so I incorporated that into my design. After creating my image I downloaded it and added the text using PowerPoint. I used PowerPoint because that is the program that I have on my laptop, any graphics program will do.

To make your image transfer successfully you MUST FLIP IT INTO A MIRROR IMAGE. This is incredibly important if your final creation has words or numbers. If you do not flip your image, it will come out backwards on your final project. No bueno.

Transfer Paper, part 2

unconventionalprinting2A great number of my previous Renovate Your Room projects involved Mod Podging pictures onto canvas. It works, I’m not dissing the process. BUT YOU CAN GET A BETTER FINAL RESULT if you use photo transfer paper.

In order to successfully use the transfer paper to get your image onto a canvas, you should remove the staples from the canvas and put the canvas on a flat surface so that you can get good leverage to iron your photo transfer on. Getting good leverage it very important to the transfer process. After your photo transfer is complete, you can use staple gun to staple the canvas back onto the frame.

Again, if you have words or text you’ll want to flip and do the mirror image thing. I made the canvas above using a combination of 2 apps: Aviary and Hipstamtic. I used the Eiffel Tower sticker in Aviary to create the base image and the Shangai filter in Hipstamatic to make the cloudy pastel effect. I adore this filter.

I did go ahead and Mod Podge over my final image to kind of seal everything in. I also went ahead and painted the edges to kind of blend everything together. In future planning I would size my final image so that the edges folded over the frame edges to give it that gallery frame effect.

Print Your Insta

unconventionalprinting1After finally setting up a wireless printer in my house – to practice MakerSpace stuff – I learned a very hard lesson: If you print your Instagram photos directly from your smart phone photo album they are automatically resized to 4×6 in size. This is not the effect I am going for. But do not fear, if you want the small square sized pictures – there is an app for that! Print Your Insta is a theoretically free app (more on this in a moment) that you can use to print your Instagram pics at home in a 3.5 by 3.5 size. I said theoretically free because you do have to pay for the $1.99 upgrade if you want to remove the watermark off of your photo. I do so I paid the small fee.

I have printed a large number of my Instagram pictures now and they are all over my house and I am in love. I bought a larger frame – I believe it was 16×20 – at a thrift store and made a collage of my prints which now lines my hallway. We have also created our own magnetic frames using duct tape, magnets and clear contact paper to create pics for the fridge. That process is outlined here.

Clear Vinyl Sticker Paper

This is a thing I have not yet tried, but it is right up my alley! You can buy clear vinyl sticker paper and use it to make stickers to label jars, boxes, etc. You could also make personalized candles, cups and more. There is a tutorial here, here and here.

Have fun finding creative ways to take your MakerSpace dabbling up a notch by engaging in some unconventional printing. You don’t necessarily have to buy fancy laser engravers to achieve some MakerSpace type of creations, you just need to engage in some unconventional printing and teach teens how to take that and apply it creatively to the every day objects of their lives. My library doesn’t have the space or budget for laser printers and wood engravers at this point, but we can definitely by some different types of printing mediums and help teens learn to create their digital images and then use some more traditional crafting processes to make their own creations.

And my house is looking great as I experiment and explore at home to take this information back to my teens!

App Review & Blended Pic Tutorial: Fused (with an assist from the Silhouette app)

Monday my co-blogger Heather Booth sent me a text that said,” you might really like this app called Fused.” She had no idea what she was starting as I quickly became obsessed, for the MakerSpace and my teens of course! Using the app I was able to create these images:

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The “Love You” overlay in this picture is from Aviary.

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I used a silhouette of Thing 2 and blended it with a great pic of her.

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I used a silhouette of The Teen doing The Dumplin’ Pose with a picture of crowns to create this ode to Dumplin’.

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A picture of stairs overlaid with a silhouette that comes stock with the Fused app.

This pic was further enhanced using an effect in Space Effects and adding Text in Aviary. It took 4 apps to make this picture. I'm probably doing it wrong.

This pic was further enhanced using an effect in Space Effects and adding text in Aviary. It took 4 apps to make this picture. I’m probably doing it wrong.

Now I have been seeing images like this online for years and coveted knowing how to make them. And I’m not going to lie, there was a bit of a learning curve. Here’s how it works, you select a background image and a foreground image and the Fused app blends the two images together. It sounds simple, but there are a few key tricks that improve your outcome.

Tricks and Tips To Keep in Mind

1. It is helpful, though not necessary depending on what you hope to create, if your background image is a black and white silhouette. I found an app called Silhouette to help create this image, more on this in a minute.

2. A big key to your success if having 2 images that are both well taken photographs and that line up well together. For example, I tried to combine a baby silhouette picture of my girls with a current picture of them to show how they have grown and it was hard finding two pictures that lined up well so there faces weren’t being obscured in weird ways. Like, in one attempt you could only see Thing 2’s chin, which didn’t create a very successful end product.

3. Having a nature picture or just a cool colored photo works well, too. Try taking a picture of a neon sign, a sunset, or clouds. These images blend well with others and you don’t have to worry as much about the ways the pictures line up. This image uses a picture of the moon a friend of mine took (used with permission) and a silhouette provided in the Fused app.

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A silhouette of Thing 2 blended with a picture of the cloudy sky that I took.

First Step: Create Your Background Silhouette Using the Silhouette App

As I mentioned, I used an app called Silhouette to create the background silhouette for blending purposes. Here you need to start with a picture that has a stark contrast to begin with. If you can, pose yourself or your subject in front of a white or a dark wall and take your photo in black and white. Here’s my initial photo that I used:

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I then used the Silhouette app to make it into the black and white silhouette I needed for the Fused app:

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A picture with a darker background and a lighter focal point, say a person, will create a white or negative space silhouette.

Darker background with a lighter focal point=white (negative space) silhouette

Darker background with a lighter focal point = white (negative space) silhouette

A picture with a lighter background and a darker focal point will create a black silhouette.

A lighter background with a darker focal point=a black silhouette

A lighter background with a darker focal point = a darker silhouette

Either one works, they just work differently as the Fused app will color in the white space – the negative space – with your other photo. Of course black and white are relative terms, I should probably say negative and positive space The Mr. would say, because you can use an RGB slide bar to colorize your silhouette.

Left: A silhouette of Thing 2 colorized blue Right: Same silhouette blended with a pic of the sky after being spiffed up with the Space Effects app

Left: A silhouette of Thing 2 colorized blue
Right: Same silhouette blended with a pic of the sky after being spiffed up with the Space Effects app

There is also an Invert option that can be used to toggle between a colored or a white silhouette:

The same silhouette from directly above using the Invert option.

The same silhouette from directly above using the Invert option.

It is also helpful to have as little in the background as possible to create your silhouette. Ideally, you would pose your subject in front of a blank wall in a contrasting color.

The above silhouette examples were made using this initial picture, taken at night and lightened. It would have worked better without the dark edges near the top of the frame.

The above silhouette examples were made using this initial picture, taken at night and lightened. It would have worked better without the dark edges near the top of the frame.

And as I mentioned, you do not have to use a black and white silhouette, I just found that Fused app worked better if I did. Insructables has some more information on how to create a photo silhouette. Digital photography school also has some information about photographing silhouettes.

Don’t want to use an app? Here’s a tutorial for creating a silhouette using iPiccy.com

Second Step: Using the Fused App

After saving this to my camera roll, I uploaded it as my background picture in Fused. As my foreground I used this picture:

fused1

The Fused app gives you several blending options and you just kind of play around with them to find an option that you like best. Within each option it also has a slide bar which allows you to increase the contrast and blend. I used the “screen” option with the two pictures above to create this:

fused4

Please note, Fused does not actually have an add text option. I added the text using the Aviary app that I reviewed last week.

I love and highly recommend both of these apps. It takes a little bit of time and trial and error, and some attention to details, to get a good end product; however, as I learned more what worked and what didn’t it became easier to use. The key is having good pictures to start with and it probably won’t surprise you to know that I have tons of those to experiment with.

If you want to get highly sophisticated and have access to Photoshop, here’s a tutorial for creating the same types of effects using that program.

And here is a free online program you can use to create a double exposure effect.

I made this really quickly with the free online double exposure program.

I made this really quickly with the free online double exposure program.

About Fused

BlendPic and InstantBlend are apps similar to Fused that you can also try. I was not able to use InstandBlend as successfully as I was Fused and I have not tried BlendPic. All of them have additional in app purchases. I paid for the upgrade for the Fused app after deciding I really liked it to remove the watermark from my images. In future upgrades of the app I hope that they consider better undo options.

About Silhouette

It’s free and does cool things so no harm, no foul.

Fused also can be used to make videos, but I have no idea how to do that part yet.

Now I’m sure there will be someone out there who will tell me there is a much easier way to do this. :)

TPiB: How to Make a Photo Meme

memes7 The Teen, The Bestie, some neighborhood kids and I spent the weekend perfecting our Meme process so that I could add a new station to my Maker Mondays. Our goal was to combine using technology with something artistic to create a great STEAM project that allowed teens to learn some new skills, explore some photography basics, and have a chance at self-expression. After creating our memes we then used this TPiB to turn our Memes into Magnetic Duct Tape Locker Frames.

The Urban Dictionary defines a Meme as “1 : an idea, belief or belief system, or pattern of behavior that spreads throughout a culture either vertically by cultural inheritance (as by parents to children) or horizontally by cultural acquisition (as by peers, information media, and entertainment media) ” (Source) So what the teens were trying to do was create their own meme ideas that may or may not of course go viral. But that really wasn’t the point, the point was to learn the creation process.

Step 1: Take Your Picture

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We used smart phones and a variety of apps for this activity, though tablets or even a digital camera and a laptop with some photo editing software would do. Here we talked about composition, lighting and basic layout. The A Beautiful Mess blog has some great photography tutorials. For the purposes of our activity we took a regular picture using the basic camera so that we would have a natural image that we could try various ways of manipulating to see what we liked best. That way, if we ended up going a step too far we had a clean image to start over with.

We also talked about how you could create a basic image and make it artistic. With the right lighting and quote, even a park bench can make for an amazing picture.

Also, this is a really great time to talk about copyright. We made sure that all images were created by us in order to avoid any copyright issues. We discussed why it was important that the original image be created by you and how you couldn’t just download other images from the web or Instagram.

Step 2: Manipulate Your Image

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We then ran our images through a variety of apps to see what we could do. We played around with filters, borders, overlays, vignettes, contrast and more.

Some of the apps we used included:

  • Be Funky: our hands down favorite for filters and adding text all in one
  • Photo Candy: great for overlays and warping images
  • Diptic: creates multiple panel creations
  • PhotoShake: creates grid photos, which proved very popular
  • A Beautiful Mess: has some fun whimsical elements

Some of the apps we tried and were less enthusiastic about include Candy Cam, Font Killer, Space Effects and Insta Blend. These apps either proved too limited in what they could do or were so complicated we couldn’t figure out how to use them well. Please note, some of these apps cost a fee.

Step 3: Add Your Text

meme3

Part of the fun was in creating text to go with our images. We used things like:

  • Reading or book related themes (see Fall Into Reading above)
  • Our favorite book, tv and movie quotes
  • And we made a lot – and I do mean A LOT – of Doctor Who themed ones.

To create the Doctor Who themed ones I took a picture of some canvas art made by The Mr:

meme1

And then we ran them through the Be Funky app and added text:

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They look amazing printed out!

You can easily add text in many of the apps above, like the Be Funky app, which is the app we used to make the Doctor Who pics above. But if you don’t mind multiple steps and the app you are using doesn’t have a font you like you can always use the Over app to add text to a picture. This is my favorite app for adding text.

Step 4: Share Your Photo/Meme

Because we created our Photos/Memes on a smart phone, they were really easy for the teens to just upload and share on their social media. Some of the things you can do with your photos/memes include:

For my Maker Mondays (which I hope to turn into a MakerSpace soon), my ideal would be to have at least one iPad with all the above apps loaded so that teens can come in and play around with the images on their own as well as in programs. We would of course provide some directions and examples, but I think it would be a great way to get teens hands on tech while encouraging them to explore creative design and engage in self expression.

For more on Makerspaces and reviews of some of the apps mentioned above, go here.

You can see a gallery of some of our photo memes here.

TPiB: DIY Instagram Magnetic Duct Tape Frames

instagram2 I am, as I believe we have discussed, obsessed with Instgram. Not so much the app as a social media tool, in fact my Instagram account is private in part because I take so many pictures and I figure everyone would be annoyed if they actually followed me. I like the filters and the light effects and the cute little square sizes.

Also, you should know that I use Instagram completely wrong. I take my picture using the regular smart phone camera and then I run it through Instagram so I can enlarge areas that I want, create the lighting that I want, etc. Sometimes I will run a picture through Instagram multiple times to see which effects I like best.

Last week I did something stunning and I actually printed some off. Then we went and bought frames. The frames run anywhere from $3 to $15. This, I thought, is something we can definitely do as a MakerSpace activity. So The Teen and I spent the weekend figuring it out. The black and white frame is our inspiration and the look we were trying to emulate.

First, a note about printing out Instagram pictures:

You can, of course, download your Instagram pics to your regular computer and use some type of a program to print them off. If you have your printer set up correctly, you can also print wirelessly using airprint. HOWEVER, if you print an Instagram picture directly from your photos folder on your smartphone it will stretch out and print 4×6. This is not the desired effect that you want. You can not print wirelessly directly from the Instagram app. BUT you can download an app called Print Your Insta and it will print your Instagram photo in the small square format. The app is technically free, but you have to buy the 99 cent upgrade to remove the watermark. This app will print your Instagram print directly from your Instagram account at a 3.5 by 3.5 size.

Materials and Supplies

instagram4 We started with the model of the picture frame that we had purchased. It’s a great size and magnetic on the back so it fits perfectly in school lockers. To recreate this size and look we used the following:

One piece of photo matte board. We recommend 4.5 by 4.5 or 5 by 5 in size.

Clear contact paper. If you have access to it, those clear dry erase sheets that we used to use for overhead projectors also works. You will cut it the same size as your photo matte board.

Duct tape of choice.

Magnets. We used a roll of magnets because it was the cheapest and I don’t really recommend these magnets. Buy stronger individual magnets because the roll of magnet tape was hard to get to stay flat and it wasn’t as strong as other magnets.

The normal items like paper cutters and scissors come in handy as well.

The DIY Process

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Cut your photo out. You want to leave a small white edge along the border for taping it down. This white edge also provides a great guide for duct taping to help keep your edges straight, bonus.

In order to help the photo stay on the photo matte we used a small piece of acid free scrapbooking tape. We then taped the photo into the center of the matte board.

With our photo in place, we used our duct tape to cover the edges to create a cool border. Because we are perfectionists, we also completely covered the back. You don’t need to do this, it wastes tape to be perfectly honest, but we liked how it created a cleaner, cohesive look.

Apply your magnets to the back.

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Voila – you have a fun Maker project. We made a ton for The Teen to give to all of her friends to put in their lockers as we perfected the process. My fridge is also now covered in them. Since we bought the items in bulk, as we create more framed pictures the cost goes down. More importantly, we got to have fun together while making unique, one of kind items to preserve precious memories and decorate our home.

For more fun program ideas, including more ideas of what to do with your Instagram pictures, check out our Teen Programs in a Box.

Tech Talk 2015: Index to TLT Posts on Technology, Social Media and More

Technology is a HUGE part of what we do everyday.  Whether we are helping our teens use technology, using technology to connect with our teens, or trying to put together teen programs – there is no escaping it, and no escaping how often it changes.  Since we write about it, I thought we would make it easy for you to find it all in one place – HERE!  After all, geek is the new black.

Using Apps in Your Marketing
Giffer App Review (making GIFs with Legos)
Social Media 101
Relational Reading Revolution: Using social media to connecting readers with authors
The Beginners Guide to the Hashtag
Harness the Power of the Hashtag 
A Scientific Guide to the Best Times to Tweet, FB, Blog, etc. 
The Science of Social Timing 
Executing Your Social Media Marketing Strategy
6 Steps to Creating a Social Media Marketing Plan
Examples of People Using Social MediaWell:

You can view the slides of the presentation that I did with JenBigHeart, Jenny Martin and Naomi Bates at TLA 2015 on Radical RA, which includes social media, at Tinyurl.com/Radical-RA

Online Tools

Tech Review: Online Creation Tools Piktochart and Canva

Take 5: Comic Book/Strip Creation Tools

Facebook

Ongoing changing in policies are causing some users to defect, less popular now, teens are defecting, can now use Hashtags

Instagram
Tumblr
5 Things You Can Do with Tumblr :Craft Tutorials: Example, TardisCostume ; 2.Booklists: Example, 10 Things I Learned About Surviving the Apocalypse from YA Books; 3.New Books: Share the  covers ;4.Program Pics ; 5.Book Quotes

Twitter

YouTube
A BookTube Crash Course by AbbyRoseReads
TPIB: When Books Inspire Art (Using Apps to Create Book/Library Related Art)
The Relational Reading Revolution Revisited: Using social media to connect teens w/authors and get them invested in the reading community
Little Bits, Makey Makey, Raspberry Pi and More!

Technology and MakerSpaces

Creating and Using an iPad Technology Lab as Part of a Library Teen Makerspace

Take 5: 5 Tools for Movie Making in Your MakerSpace

Resources

Make

Robot Test Kitchen

www.slashgear.com – tech news
www.buzzfeed.com – great example of content; find content to share
www.mashable.com – fave info resource
www.hypable.com – sharable content
www.ypulse.com – news about teens & millenials
www.socialmediatoday.com – all about social media

Webinars

https://www.scribd.com/embeds/184293860/content?start_page=1&view_mode=scroll&access_key=key-1xvdtlg0g9lqpqmp41zg&show_recommendations=true

https://www.scribd.com/embeds/201441563/content?start_page=1&view_mode=scroll&access_key=key-2985p557m789s5payarx&show_recommendations=true

https://www.scribd.com/embeds/224133986/content?start_page=1&view_mode=scroll&access_key=key-MegAVhyOMCTGgMCpozy5&show_recommendations=true

https://www.scribd.com/embeds/234865862/content?start_page=1&view_mode=scroll&access_key=key-QkxGLSMWvCjoLZQ6GOLw&show_recommendations=true

https://www.scribd.com/embeds/244749503/content?start_page=1&view_mode=scroll&access_key=key-1wGDDKaCytZF9iOa7tQE&show_recommendations=true

STEM and STEAM Programming for Teens in Libraries (an Infopeople webinar)

Full STEAM Ahead with Tween and Teen Programming (a Florida Libraries webinar)