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Teen Librarian Toolbox
Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

MakerSpace: Making a Photo Booth Prop Holder

Yesterday I completely re-arranged and marketed our Teen MakerSpace. As a librarian, this is indeed my idea of a good time. But one thing that has always bothered me is the way we display our Photo Booth Props. As you may know (if you don’t, hi new readers!), we have a lot of photo booth props. We like to make thematic units as new tie-ins come about. But we’ve never had a good way to display them. In fact, they were laying flat on a shelf like this before yesterday – check out the upper left hand corner:

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Awkward, unattractive, hard to get to and easy to make a mess. In other words, not good at all. So yesterday Teen MakerSpace Assistant Morgan and I had a conversation that went like this:

Morgan: I wish we had a bucket or something to display them in.

Karen: We do, but they still get all wobbly and fall over and stuff.

Morgan: What about using that trashcan over there.

Karen: Oh, gross.

**pause**

Karen: We’re a MakerSpace, let’s make one!

So I went into the office and looked around and we have a stack of empty shoe boxes that we can maybe do something with. And it hit me – WE CAN MAKE A PHOTO BOOTH PROP HOLDER. And we did.

photoboothpropstorage

Here’s what we did:

1. We filled our shoe box with rocks to make it heavy so that it would stand up straight. The rocks were placed in a plastic ziploc bag and duct taped to the bottom of the box. The weight is 100% necessary for balance.

2. We covered our box in duct tape to make it attractive.

3. We used a screw driver to poke holes in the top to place each individual prop stick in. This keeps them all nice and neat. No more flopping over! There was much rejoicing.

Now it sits, sturdily I might add, next to our photo booth. See, we used our making skills to solve a problem and make items more accessible. I’m going to call that a win.

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To learn more about our photo booth or photo booth props, check out these posts:

Making Photo Booth Props

Building Our Portable Photo Booth

TPIB: Turn your Instagram pics into Photobooth bookmarks

Making Text Transfer Chalkboard Speech Bubbles: Outreach at The Public Library of Mount Vernon and Knox County, Day 4

props3Here we are, day 4 discussing outreach and let’s talk about making chalkboard speech bubbles as photo booth props. Full disclosure: I have awful penmanship. I write myself notes and then later, I have no idea what they say. None. So I was worried about how we were going to make our speech bubbles for the photo booth. It turns out that Desiree, one of the Teen MakerSpace Assistants, knows how to do text transfer so we were able to make amazing looking chalkboard speech bubble props.

Text transfer is the process of printing off a text and then transferring it onto another medium. This allows you to not only have good penmanship, but to use fancy fonts.

Supplies

  • A laptop/computer and printer
  • Chalkboard scrapbook paper
  • Chalk markers (not chalk, chalk markers)
  • A sharp pencil
  • A ballpoint pen
  • Dowel rods
  • A hot glue gun

chalkmarkers

Step 1: Preparing Your Speech Bubble

We were able to buy a scrapbooking stack of 12×12 size chalkboard paper. This is the perfect size for a speech bubble. Pre-cut your shape so you know what size text you need to print off. If you would like, you can also use a piece of foam core and use chalkboard spray paint to cover your speech bubble. I have used chalkboard spray paint and find it works well. Either way, you end up with a chalkboard speech bubble as your canvas.

chalkboardpaperStep 2: Printing Your Text

In order to do a text transfer, you are going to begin by printing off your word(s) from a computer. Select your font, and if you are looking for fun fonts you can try several free online font resources like 1001freefonts.com. Just create your word(s) like you would regularly. You can use Microsoft Word or a publishing program. Print off your text the size you want it to appear on your speech bubble, with exact spacing, punctuation, etc. Print it out and you are ready to begin your transfer onto the chalkboard.

Step 3: Preparing for the Transfer

After you have printed your text, cut around it leaving a minimum of an inch on each side of all the letters. You will then turn your piece of paper over and completely shade the back side of your paper with a #2 pencil. Make sure and get that backside nice and dark and fill in every last space. Fill it in good.

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Step 4: Making the Transfer

You will then turn your paper back over so the printed text is on the top. Place it where you want it to be located on your speech bubble and use your ballpoint pen to go around and outline the text. This will transfer the text in pencil onto your speech bubble. Don’t be afraid to press down hard.

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Step 5: Finishing Your Speech Bubble

After your text is transferred, you simply outline it with your chalk marker and color it in.

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Step 6: Giving It That Old Chalkboard Feeling

If you want to take it a step further and give it the appearance of a used chalkboard, simply take a piece of regular white chalk – not a chalk marker, but a piece of traditional chalk – and color over the entire speech bubble. Then take a tissue and wipe it off.

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Step 7: Put a Stick In It, We’re Done

Hot glue a dowel rod to the back and you have a chalkboard speech bubble photo booth prop. Man, that’s a mouthful.

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And here’s Desiree modelling her chalkboard speech bubble.

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You can do this with any type of chalkboard sign. It doesn’t have to be a speech bubble. It doesn’t have to be a photo booth prop. It doesn’t even have to be a chalkboard. You can do it with regular paper and markers or gel pens. It has turned out to be a lifesaver for me, the person with epically awful penmanship.

And now we’re done with photo booth outreach. Tomorrow we will finish our outreach series by discussing teen coloring.

Outreach Week

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

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

Making Photo Booth Props: Outreach at The Public Library of Mount Vernon and Knox County, Day 3

Making Photo Booth Props: Outreach at The Public Library of Mount Vernon and Knox County, Day 3

photobooth12As promised, today is day 3 in discussing our outreach modules at The Public Library of Mount Vernon and Knox County and we will be discussing making our own photo booth props for our portable photo booth that I shared with you yesterday.

Why make your own props? Well, I figured since we are a Teen MakerSpace, it only made sense to make our own. So we did. With the help of various teens. And I’m not going to lie, it was AWESOME!

The Basics

We made 20 props total with the help of about 10 teens and 3 Teen MakerSpace staff. It was more expensive then buying pre-made props, but it was a great community activity and the teens got to give us input on what props they wanted to make and be involved with the process every step of the way. It takes about $50.00 in supplies and 2 days to make 20 props.

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Supplies

  • A computer and printer (we used this to make templates and to print off emojis)
  • Foam core poster board
  • A box knife
  • A hot glue gun and many, many glue sticks
  • Dowel rods
  • Embellishments
  • Acrylic paint
  • Paintbrushes
  • Paper towels

We tried a lot of different supplies, and some worked well while others were a complete fail. For example, we initially bought these cute pinwheel sticks at the craft store:

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Although super cute, they did not hold up to the amount of use our props got so DO NOT USE them.

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Use dowel rods, they are sturdy and hold up over the long term. You can spray paint them in bulk if you want something other than a natural finish.

We also experimented with various types of glue. A tot glue gun definitely worked the best.

For this type of an activity, you want to use acrylic paint. You can usually buy bulk packs at craft stores or buy individual colors for about .50 cents a bottle. If you know what props you want to make ahead of time, you can plan accordingly.

Making Our Props

We knew we wanted to make MakerSpace themed props for this outreach activity. This meant things like gears, science related symbols and more. In addition, our teens insisted that they wanted emojis.

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To make the emoji props, teens simply blew the emoji up to the right size on a computer, printed them off, cut them out, and glued them to a piece of foam core. They then cut the foam core to shape and size and glued them to a stick. Amazingly simple.

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To make our other props, for example the gears, we printed off a template which we then traced directly onto the foam core and cut out. We used paint to add features and give them dimension. We then simply glued them to a stick. Here’s a look at some of the props that we made.

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In addition, I happen to be incredibly lucky because I have two artistically talented Teen MakerSpace Assistants. For example, this is Morgan. She drew and painted this Einstein prop free hand.

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We are currently working on Star Wars themed props for Star Wars Reads Day. I made these Yoda ears all by myself using first a template and then some paint. It looks like Yoda, right?

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We are also working on making emoji pumpkin props inspired by this Michael’s activity I saw at a recent event.

emojipumpkins

There wasn’t a lot of technology involved in this Teen MakerSpace activity, but a great time was had by all and I consider it a HUGE success. Because we have the photo booth, we will continue to make various themed props with our teens when appropriate.

Tomorrow, I am going to share with you Desiree’s technique for making chalkboard speech bubble photo booth props.

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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.