Teen Librarian Toolbox
Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

MakerSpace: Screenprinting Program Recap

Regular readers know that I have been on a roller coaster journey trying  to learn how to do screen printing in order to host a program at the Teen MakerSpace at my library, The Public Library of Mount Vernon and Knox County (OH). There were tragic fails, epic highs, emotional angsty, and some down right sweating as the program came closer and I still wasn’t sure how to set up the first portion of the program (more on that in a minute).

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I am happy to report that we hosted our program on Monday night and it was a success! 99% of the teens walked out with a successfully screen printed t-shirt. As always, I had printed out instructions that the teens could take home and a sample of books that they could check out from the library to help them further explore screen printing. We did screen printing on paper and t-shirts. There was one shirt, our first, that we had to try and fill in some, but otherwise it went really, really well.

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So here’ what I did.

First, I set up the room into three main stations:

1) Designing your stencil

2) Making your screen

3) Doing the actual screen printing

DESIGNING YOUR STENCIL

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To design our stencils, I brought out a couple of laptops and our Silhouette Cameo cutting machine. We used cardstock as our medium to cut into stencils and this worked really well. With a little bit of instructions, our teens were able to sit down and make their designs. I was worried about how the teens would do with the design process because the Silhouette has its own design software, but it’s not too different in the details from things like Microsoft Powerpoint, which most of our teens have used some in school. Some teens needed a little more one on one than others, but everyone did walk away from this station with a design of their own making and choosing cut into a stencil.

“Details Make Fails”

At one point, I was explaining how simpler designers were better and a teen came up with the phrasing “Details Make Fails”. This became kind of our motto in the design phase. The more details you try to add, the more likely you are to have a failed project, especially as a newbie.

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Cutting a finished stencil down to size to fit on our screens

Using multiple laptops to one Silhouette Cameo cutter meant we could have more than one teen designing at once and we could just move the USB from latptop to laptop to do the actual cutting. I believe you can have 1 Silhouette set up on up to 5 devices.

MAKING YOUR SCREEN

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To make our screens, we used a temporary spray adhesive purchased in the sewing section of a craft store to adhere the design to a piece of pre-cut mesh curtain. We pre-cut all of our materials to size and were able to get 25 pieces of screen from one $5.00 mesh curtain purchased at the local Wal-Mart. We had 8×8 embroidery hoops so we cut our screens to a 10×10 size. Each embroidery hoop cost $1.50 and the screens average out to $0.20 s0 each screen is roughly $1.70 (I’m going to round up to $2.00 because I like to make my math simpler).

We have 3 Teen MakerSpace staff so each staff member helped at a station.

DOING THE ACTUAL SCREEN PRINTING

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Before working on a shirt, we had each teen practice on a piece of card stock paper. If they were satisfied with the result, they would then screen print their shirts. Although we had squeegees available, which is the traditional way you screen print, most of the teens preferred to use a foam paint brush to help prevent bleeding under the stencil.

RUNNING THE PROGRAM

Because I knew that we would have to allow teens time to design their stencils, I ran the program for a full 5 hours. As each teen came in, I gave them a brief run down of how traditional screen printing worked and how we were modifying that process so that they could do it at home if they wanted to. I then introduced them to the Silhouette Cameo cutter, explaining that if they didn’t have access to that type of technology at home they could still make their own stencils. That was our goal: to teach teens how they could take a Teen MakerSpace project and do the entire process at home without a lot of fancy tools and not a lot of money.

All in all, it took each teen about 20 minutes to make a t-shirt. We bought t-shirts on sale at a local craft store for $2.50 each. Each screen cost us about $2.00. And a single color of paint and a foam brush costs about $2.00. So each t-shirt cost us about $6.50.

HERE’S ONE T-SHIRT FROM START TO FINISH

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AND HERE’S A GALLERY OF SOME OF OUR SCREEN PRINTING JOURNEY

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Not only did my teens learn how to screen print, but I did as well! This was a fun, successful, and relatively inexpensive program. It had a steep learning curve for me personally, but watching those teens successfully create their own shirts and seeing that joy and pride was 100% worth it.

TPiB MakerSpace: Love Your Pets

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In our Teen MakerSpace, we have kind of drifted into a model where we have themes to unite our making, which teens can choose to participate in or not. Some teens, we have found, need some type of guidance while others do not. So for the month of February, we wanted to do something that tied into Valentine’s Day but didn’t necessarily emphasize romantic love. Love Your Pets was our February celebration of the love that we have for our pets or favorite animals and it was the unifying theme for all of our making that month in the Teen MakerSpace.

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Now it does happen that the two Teen MakerSpace Assistants and I have pets, dogs to be specific. And of course many of our teens know this because they hear us talk about them. So we included them in our promotional materials. Charm is our family dog, he is a long haired dapple coat Dachsund. He is also, for the record, a great cuddler.

We then set up a variety of stations around The MakerSpace with examples of how they can use those stations to make pet themed items

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Stamps, Stickers, Buttons and More!

We bought a variety of pet themed stamps and stickers which could be used to make a variety of pet crafts, including a wood painted signs, buttons, banners and more.

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DIY Pet Toys

We had a variety of discarded t-shirts which could be braided to make hand-made pet toys.

33 Dog Toys You Can Make From Things Around the House – BarkPost

44 Really Cool Homemade DIY Dog Toys Your Dog Will Love

25 Frugally Fun DIY Dog Toys To Pamper Your Pooch – DIY & Crafts

Perler Beads

Perler beads can be used to make a pet portrait.

DIY Pet Tags

And we bought an etching tool and dog tags for our Silhouette Cameo to make hand-made dog tags. We could even teach you how to make a paracord pet collar to hang that hand-made tag off of.

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A note about etching on the Silhouette Cameo: it took us several attempts to find out what settings to use to get a good etching. There is a tutorial here that is helpful: https://www.silhouetteschoolblog.com/2014/10/engraving-with-silhouette-7-tips-to.html. My biggest tip is that you will want to set up your settings to make as many passes as possible.

In all honesty, I have done a version of this program before with different DIY crafts and as a one-time event. Doing it as a theme in the Teen MakerSpace proved to be a tad bit more ideal in that teens could come and go and work at their own pace instead of trying to finish a variety of crafts in 1 to 2 hours. But it is a great program whatever scenario you choose to set it up as.

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.

#MakerSpace: 1 Year Later

We have spent the last year at The Public Library of Mount Vernon and Knox County (OH) turning our Teen Space into a Teen MakerSpace. Today on School Library Journal I’m sharing with you 11 things we have learned 1 year later.

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The Beginning of Our Journey

Here is the original article in School Library Journal, which includes some of the decisions we made and why, our project timelines and more.

The Middle

Here is a look at many of the activities we have done in our Teen MakerSpace, including outreach. Some of the challenges we have faced, including printing. You can also click on the MakerSpace tag below to find more MakerSpace posts.

1 Year Later

What I’ve learned, what we’ve changed, and more.

 

Building Our Portable Photo Booth – Outreach at The Public Library of Mount Vernon and Knox County, Day 2

photobooth12Yesterday I shared with you that this week was all about outreach and introduced you to our basic format. Today, I’m going to share with you how we created our portable outreach photo booth.

Our primary outreach event is called First Fridays, which is a downtown festival with food trucks, an outdoor concert, and an opportunity for local businesses to promote themselves with booths. On average, we have noted that we talk to anywhere between 200 and 400 people in the space of 3 hours. We had a module where we made buttons, and it turns out they are very popular but making 300 buttons in 3 hours can be exhausting. And after 3 First Fridays, we wanted to kind of spice it up and show a different side of the Teen MakerSpace. So we decided to make a portable photo booth. This turned out to be a fun and popular decision.

We needed a photo booth that was easy to transport and set up/take down. After a lot of research, we used this as our model. We only made on slight change in that we have to different sizes of cross bars so that we can have a smaller or wider photo booth depending on the size of the space we are in. Also, we have both a green screen and a black background. We just bought cheap sheets at the local store and these work fine.

photobooth1Supplies needed:

PVC Plastic Pieces/Pipes

(These can purchased at Lowe’s or some other home repair store)

2 pieces of PVC elbows (for your top connectors)

4 pieces of PVC “T” connectors (2 for your middle cross bar, 2 for your feet)

10 pieces of PVC cut to 3 feet (2 for your back cross bars, 4 for your height, and 4 for your feet)

2 pieces of PVC cut to 5 feet (if you wish to have a larger width photo booth)

Please note: all your pieces of PVC pipe should be the same. We used 3/4 of an inch in diameter. In this picture shown we have used the smaller PVC pipe for our crossbars.

Additional Supplies

  • A black flat sheet (technically you can use any color that you would like)
  • A Kelly Green flat sheet (if you want to use your photo booth as a green screen)
  • Alligator clips (to hold your cloth in place)
  • Various sizes of binder clips
  • Some type of banner
  • Photo booth props (tomorrow we will talk about making your own)

Our total cost was about $50.00, including one sheet.

Setting Up the Photo Booth

Once you have all your pieces cut to the correct size, setting up is easy. As I mentioned, we have to sizes of cross bars so our width can be either 3 feet across, which fits one person, or 5 feet across, which accommodated groups pretty well. We have used it both as a green screen and as a basic backdrop. You will need at least 2 staff to set up and take down the portable photo booth. I also recommend making step-by-step photo instructions.

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After you set up your frame, you’ll need 2 people to drape your sheet over the frame. Especially if you are using it as a green screen, you want to pull your sheet as tight as possible. Wrinkles can cause lighting issues which can cause the green screen to not be properly replaced with your software. Good lighting is really important when using a green screen as well.

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We used both binder clips and alligator clips to pull the material tightly in the back and keep it in place.

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We made a banner so that people knew who we were using triangles, string and giant letter stickers. We eventually made gears to decorate our banner, which is not shown here.

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Signage is very important – as is creating a hashtag. People were invited to take their own pictures and staff used their devices to take pictures as well using the library’s account. All pictures were tagged with the hashtag so that patron’s could go find them online. In addition, we had a slip of paper that we handed to each person telling them about the library, about the hashtag, and inviting them to come into the Teen MakerSpace where we could show them how to print their picture and make it into a button or use some of our photo apps to add text and filters.

Tips and Tricks

The night we first used our portable photo booth turned out to be a really windy night. We had to have staff sit on each side of the photo booth with their foot on the bottom bar to keep it stable. We are talking getting a bar of rebarb to slide through the bottom to help with this in the future. We also discussed sand bags, though we are hesitant to add more bulky, heavy items to our set up. Just know that if you are outdoors wind can be an issue and you may need a stabilizing agent.

For the larger size booth – 5 feet across – we cut the PVC pipe to 5 feet. This means that we had these longer pieces to carry. We are talking about cutting them in half and adding another connector so that all the PVC poles are shorter and we can fit them into a larger gym bag. The jury is still out on this.

Final Verdict

I love the portable photo booth! Everyone had a really great time and it was very easy to set up and take down. And to be honest, it was easier on staff then making 300 buttons in 3 hours.

Here are some of the pictures we took . . .

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Tomorrow, I will share with you how we made our own photo booth props, what worked . . . and what didn’t.

Teen MakerSpace Outreach at The Public Library of Mount Vernon and Knox County, Day 1 – Getting Organized

outreachtableAt The Public Library of Mount Vernon and Knox County, we have been working really hard to do outreach for our new Teen MakerSpace. This week, I thought I would share with you what our outreach looks like.

We have now put together 2 separate outreach packets, and I am working on a third. What this means is we have created and organized 3 standard outreach modules that are ready to go so we can easily grab one that best fits the situation and just go.

Our 3 modules include:

A Button Making Station

A Photo Booth Station

A Teen Coloring Station

Every day this week I will talk to you about what those modules look like and how we created the various pieces and parts.

Getting Organized

makerspacemanualIn addition to me, there are 2 part-time Teen MakerSpace Assistants. And we are really lucky because our Assistant Director is really invested and she has come to every one of our outreach events to date. And we have now built up a pretty loyal core group of teens who love to come and help out as well. So in terms of staffing, we have anywhere from 2 to 4 people helping out.

The directions for each outreach module can be found in the Teen MakerSpace Staff Manual, my pride and joy. I’m not kidding, I have been known to loving caress that manual. It is my career pride and joy. That’s not weird, right?

 

checklist1 Because each outreach module has a standard checklist, any of our staff can grab the sheet and go. I don’t have to be present for each outreach event, though to date I have been.

We have several standard items that go to each outreach event, which are outlined in the checklist. They include:

A black table cloth

Teen MakerSpace logo table runners

Flyers and brochures

Table, chairs, trash bags, etc.

After that, each outreach module is spelled out more specifically depending on what the activity is. Because this is a Teen MakerSpace outreach, we always want to make sure our teens are DOING/MAKING SOMETHING. But it also has to be fairly quick, light and easy to carry in, set up and tear down, and fairly inexpensive. Yes, coming up with activities can be challenging.

When we have found an activity that we found to be successful, we then finish the checklist for the activity. Each activity must include the following:

  • Detailed instructions with photos
  • Signage (this signage is kept in the manual so it also can just be grab and go)
  • And a very detailed list of supplies needed

Buttons, Buttons and More Buttons

I have talked beforebuttons18 about our first station, which is a button making station. We do either finger print or chalkboard buttons. Please note: don’t do chalkboard buttons in extreme heat, the chalk markers run and it’s not pretty.

Because we have found buttons to be so popular with our teens, when we don’t do a button themed outreach event, we have designed – with our teens and with artwork created by teens in the Teen MakerSpace – a variety of buttons which we have for the teens to pick up and wear. The masters for these are also in the beloved Teen MakerSpace Manual so they can easily be copies and made into buttons before the event. We also usually have a bag on hand for the grab and go.

 

backpackWe also ordered Teen MakerSpace canvas backpacks which we hand out and it is so cool to see teens wearing them around town and into the library. We ordered the table runners and backpacks from TotallyPromotional.com and have been very happy with the end product. We like having visuals that the teens can take with them and the best part is that they then do the advertising for us.

Tomorrow, I will tell you about our Photo Booth outreach module.

 

MakerSpace: Stop Motion Animation 101

Later today I am presenting a webinar on Stop Motion Animation for Florida Library Webinars. Here are my slides. I have been doing stop motion animation with my teens for about 3 or 4 years now (and at two different library jobs). It has proven so popular that we included a stop motion animation station in the Teen MakerSpace that we created at The Public Library of Mount Vernon and Knox County (Ohio). I use a couple of movies created by our teens there as examples in this presentation. I am in awe of how creatively they think.

Some additional notes:

1. If you use an iPad or a smart phone, you’ll want a stabilizing agent as well. You can buy a tripod. For an iPad, you can use a wire book holder that you use for display.

2. We upload our videos/movies to a YouTube account. This makes it easy for us to share them and for the teens to find them so they can share them with their friends/family.

3. You can download the Stop Motion Animation challenge cards here: https://www.scribd.com/doc/313555018/Stop-Motion-Challenge-Cards

4. There are 16 Storyboard Templates to Download for Free here: http://www.sampletemplates.com/business-templates/free-storyboard-templates.html

5. The Scribd slideshow can show up kind of wonky depending on your screen dimensions. You can view and download it here: https://www.scribd.com/doc/313555719/Stop-Motion-Animation-101-Webinar