Teen Librarian Toolbox
Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

The Making of Our String Art “READ” Sign

This year, I am pretty excited because not only did we debut the new Teen MakerSpace, but I was able to hire two MakerSpace Assistants to help keep the area staffed after school and on weekends. One of my assistants is Morgan Durfee, who was an art major in college and is an awesome cos-player. In fact, she has done a couple of cosplay programs for us here at The Public Library of Mount Vernon and Knox County. You can follow her on Instagram: @nightingale_vixen

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Teen MakerSpace Assistant Morgan Durfee (Nightingale Vixen) as Wonder Woman

Because of her artististic talents – which are awesome! – she gets recruited to do a lot of projects. To be fair, it’s what she signed up for as the TMS Assistant. She recently made a fantastic string art “READ” sign for us to put on display in our Teen MakerSpace. We got the idea while looking for string art information online. Here’s the how of it if you are interested. It takes several days, but it is very much worth it because the sign has high visual appeal and impact. Also, Morgan made the sign in the Teen MakerSpace because we like to model making behavior as well as being open to provide assistance to anyone who may need it while using the space.

Supplies:

  • 2 1/2 foot by 1 foot piece of plywood
  • 250 small nails
  • Mod Podge
  • Sponge brush
  • Template for the letters READ (we printed ours off easily in Word)
  • String (we used craft floss)
  • Discarded book

Step 1: Preparing Your Board

Morgan decoupaged the background using Mod Podge and pages of a discarded book. This step took about an hour and then we left it to dry overnight. She is now working on one made with comic book pages which I think will look stunning.

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Decoupaging the board

Step 2: Setting the Nails

To create the word READ, we printed off letters from Word on our computer. Each letter was the size of an 8 1/2 by 11 sheet of paper. For visual effect, we wanted strong, bold letters. Morgan then cut each letter out and used a black marker to outline the letter with little dots to guide where she would put the nails. It took her around 3 hours to get all of her nails in place. We are exploring the option of using a nail gun if we repeat the project.

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2 Hours Later (say this in your best Spongebob narrator voice)

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Yay – Finally done hammering nails!

Step 3: Stringing the Letters

The next step took about an hour. Morgan weaved the string – we chose red for visual impact – in between and across the various nails, tying off each end of string with a solid knot to prevent unraveling.

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The stringing part is so much quicker!

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Also, it looks amazing!

Voila! Here’s our completed sign. I love it so much.

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The completed sign up in the Teen MakerSpace

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