Teen Librarian Toolbox
Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

I Am SHERLocked: Sherlock Program/Party Ideas

After the success – and fun – of my Doctor Who program, I decided to have a Sherlock themed program.  Pop culture is a great programming tie-in.  For Sherlock, I am doing some hands on forensic science projects as well as some crafting projects.  The forensic science themed projects can be found here at my CSI program outline. I think the game of observation – where you ask teens to examine a “scene” and then recall what they have noticed – is especially fitting for a Sherlock program.  In addition, I will be doing the craft activities below.

Bottle Cap/Marble Magnet Quotes

Look, I am not going to lie.  I am a big fan of Marble Magnets and Bottle Cap jewelry.  You can make the individual pieces however you want, which means you are encouraging teens to be creative.  And in the case of the bottle caps, you can then string them onto cord with beads and make unique pieces of jewelry (or keychains, etc.).

The basic info for making Bottle Cap Jewelry can be found here

And here is the basic info for making Marble Magnets. 

And here are 50 things you can do with Bottle Caps.

You can download this sheet here

I put together a template of some inserts that teens can use to make their bottle caps/marble magnets.  But they can always make their own.  And you can also take an ink pad and they can make their own fingerprints.

Spray Paint Smiley Face Art

Materials: Blank canvas, various scrapbook paper, yellow spray paint, Mod Podge

Fans of the BBC Sherlock will recognize the distinct wall paper with a spray painted smiley face dripping down it.   So I created my own version using wallpaper (aka scrapbook paper) that would better fit into my personal space.  So give tweens/teens a wide choice of papers to match their rooms.  Then, glue it onto your canvas, giving it time to dry.  Use your yellow spray paint to make your dripping smiley face (this was harder than I would have thought).  Again, give it time to dry.  Then I used stickers to decorate and add quotes.  After it is all dry, apply a layer of Mod Podge over the top and give it time to dry.  You could also do a skull picture onto wallpaper if you choose.

Silhouette Pictures

Materials: A discarded book you don’t mind tearing apart, a blank frame, white paper, a black Sharpie

The Sherlock silhouette is an iconic image.  You can turn your teens into silhouettes and let them make their own pictures (more on this below).  I used pages of a book for a background.  I had extra picture frames lying around from another craft and we are coloring them with Sharpies.

Below is information on how you can create your own silhouette pictures.  I turned a picture into a black and white image and adjusted the settings as far as I could.  I then printed the picture, cut it out, and colored it with a black Sharpie.  Tape it down onto a new sheet of paper making sure you completely cover the edges and you get a crisp black silhouette.

After being colored and recopied

 Here is a great tutorial from this post at About.com

“You can pull characters from stock photos or your own pictures. All you do is separate the character from the background and then color the person with a solid color. This approach is effective because you can shoot your own photos and not worry about lighting and getting the best image. As long as it is clear and has the right pose, you’re fine. Once it’s filled no one can tell what the original looked like.

The Rapid E-Learning Blog - paint images black
  • Open the photo in a graphics editor.
  • Pull the person out of the background.
  • Fill the character with black and save the image.

Tip: If you want a transparent background with the image make sure to save as .gif or .png. You don’t need a fancy graphics application to do this. In fact, I did this demo in Paint.net which is a free download.” Source: About.com

You can see a photo montage of a teen doing their silhouette on the Tumblr: http://teenlibrariantoolbox.tumblr.com/post/72490546309/this-teen-just-turned-himself-into-a-sherlock

Some other Silhouette Tutorials:
HGTV: How to make a framed child’s silhouette
SITS Girls: Uses paint (I substituted paint for a black Sharpie to cut down drying times)
Bower Power: Photoshop Tutorial

You could also just use silhouette images of Sherlock and Watson found online.  That’s what I used in my example craft.

Making Doctor Who Minimalist Shadow Art

As part of my 10 Things to Do with a Blank Canvas series (part 1 and part 2), I created this fantastic Doctor Who shadow art.  And when I say I created it, what I mean is that I came up with this really cool idea and then I asked The Mr. to do it because I couldn’t draw a Dalek.  Actually what I mean is he took over the project when he saw my attempts to draw a bow tie.  And he is an artist so I let him.  BUT, I am pretty sure that you could find templates online, at the craft store, or make them in a program like Publisher.

Our goal was to create minimalist shadow art that represented Doctor Who.  We chose the Tardis, Angel Wings, a Bow Tie and a Dalek as our 4 images.


4 square canvases, our are 4 by 4 inches
Spray paint; blue & white
Painters tape
Exacto knife (don’t poke your eye out)
A plastic cutting mat

What to Do:

Spray paint your canvases Tardis blue.  Do this outside because there are fumes.  And you don’t want paint on the inside of your house.  We use an old cardboard box to spray paint on.  Let it dry completely.

While your canvases are drying, layer strips of painters tape onto your cutting mat to create a stand in canvas that is the size of your actual canvas.  You will be using this to make your shadow templates.  You need four of them.  You want to make sure the tape overlays your canvas so that it protects the edges of your canvas.

Sketch your design on the tape using your pencil.  You want it to be as simple as possible.

You will then use your exacto knife to cut out the pieces and make your stencil.  To make the Dalek one you actually have to put the little circles onto the canvas as well as the big overall stencil.

Remove the outside pieces and place them on your now dried canvas.  The open parts will be the design which you will spray white. Let it dry completely before you remove the tape so you don’t smudge things.  Smudging things is bad.

It’s actually pretty easy and straight forward.  It only got complicated because we created our own stencils.  You can get Angel Wings stencils at the craft store; these are usually used for scrapbooking or painting.  You could find images online, download them and print them off to make your stencils as well.  We found it easier to create our own so that we could have the images that we wanted.

This post is part of TWO marvelous blogging events!

Sci-Fi Month is brought to you by Rinn Reads. Check out the full schedule of Sci-Fi Month posts! There are reviews, discussions, giveaways, and more!

Doctor Who Week is a joint venture between  Maria’s Melange and Teen Librarian Toolbox. We have a full week of fun posts to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who.

TPiB: 10 Things To Do With a Blank Canvas, part 1

One of my recurring programming themes is Renovate Your Room.  We are actually in the midst of doing this right now as the Tween has decided that she no longer wants a princess room (sob, why do they grow up so fast?).  Now we are creating a new room with a Paris/Doctor Who theme.  My vision is that Doctor Who will fly in the Tardis and take a trip to Paris.  But redoing a room doesn’t have to be expensive or out of a box.  In fact, libraries are full of books that teach us simple, easy and often inexpensive things we can do.  This makes a room personal.  My current obsession is to create art projects out of blank canvases (bought in bulk when on sale).  While I experiment, I thought I would share with you 10 projects that we have done to help decorate the Tween room.  I am also going to be doing this as a tween/teen program later this month, so I know they all work.  I am a huge fan of using either pictures (I do love my kids) or words (I do also love a good quote).  

Make a Pseudo Canvas Portrait

Print any digital portrait/picture, including your favorite Instagram pictures.  You can try and do this transfer process outlined here.  But when I couldn’t get it to work, I simply glued my printed picture onto the canvas and decoupaged it.  Turns out, it works just as well. First, I prepped my canvas by spray painting it black (any color will work).  Then, I gently tore off the edges to create the older effect that I wanted.  Then after I glued and allowed my picture to dry, I did some stippling of black paint (use acrylic) along the edges.  Then, after again letting it dry, I did a finishing coat of Mod Podge.

Paper Collage

Using a variety of scrapbook papers, you can make a collage of any sort.  Simply glue it onto your canvas and decoupage.  You are only limited by your creativity.  Here I created the classic Mikey Mouse head/ears shape for my toddler’s room. You could use maps, scrap pieces of paper, postcards, etc.

Picture Collage/Memes

Made with PowerPoint

For more advanced collages, there are lots of things that I envision in my head that I don’t have the actual skill to make a reality.  So I often turn to Microsoft Publisher to help make it happen.  Here I use a combination of clip art, word art and downloaded photos to create collages.  Then I simply print and decoupage them onto canvas like I would a regular picture.

You can make a picture collage in both Microsoft Publisher or PowerPoint.  After you have layered your elements the way you want them, connect them together as a group (under format) and then choose “save as picture” to create a picture.  You don’t have to do this if you are simply printing your picture out, but you’ll want to do that if you want to send or import the new picture into another program.  You can, for example, do this and create your own postcards. It’s true.

Made with Instagram and Over apps

 You can make your own art to decorate your library.

Made with Instagram and Over apps

Use pictures and combine them with your favorite quotes to decorate your home or your library.  There really is no limit to what you can produce quickly and easily with the right tools (see my “see also” at the end of this post for a look at some of the tools I use).

Grid Pictures

Grid Photo made with PhotoShake app

In order to create these cool graph pictures that I decoupage onto canvas, I used the iPhone app Photoshake.  You can create graphs of up to 20 pictures I believe.  Then you simply print them, glue them onto your canvas and decoupage.  You can add words to your grid picture by creating a separate picture first in something like Over (see these apps to learn more) and then using that picture as one of the pictures in your grid picture.  Although this is a variation of the pseudo canvas portrait, I added it separately because it is currently my favorite thing ever.  They make great gifts for friends and family members to highlight a variety of pictures of your relationship.  Or to capture the different ages of a child.  Or you know, a collection of flowers or whatever your thing is.

You can also create this type of a look directly onto the canvas if you size your pictures correctly.  Use a 12×12 sized canvas and print out 9 of your favorite Instagram pics at size 4×4.  You can now create a grid collage with 3 rows of 3 pictures.  The have more information about this over at A Beautiful Mess.

Shadow Reliefs

One day I had a vision for a series of representational Doctor Who pieces (see above).  What I wanted to do was to take icons from the series and create some representational art.  If you wanted to do things like initials or common, every day objects (say hearts and stars), you could use pre-purchased stencils for this.  But we had to create our own.  This was a more involved project.

Step 1: Prep the Canvas

Anytime you just need a base color for your canvas, spray paint is your friend.  Quick, easy, and gets the job done well.  You will want to make sure you have two contrasting colors for this project.  Your base coat will be the color of your canvas so you will want to make sure you paint the outside edges of the canvas as well.

Step 2: Make Your Stencils

To make the stencils, we used blue painters tape, a crafter’s cutting mat, a pencil, and an exacto knife.  We overlaid strips of blue painters tape onto the craft mat to create a sheet of it that covered our canvas.  We then drew an outline of the shape we wanted in pencil.  Pencil was important because it erased really easily and we did have to make some adjustments.  We then used our exacto knife to cut out our stencil.

Step 3: Apply Stencil and Paint

Apply your stencil to your pre-prepped canvas and spray pain in your contrasting color.  You will want to make sure and cover the edges of your canvas with painters tape as well because there can be overspray and you don’t want it to get on your already primed edges.

Step 4: Seal

You can use decoupage (Mod Podge for example) or any spray sealant to help protect the longevity of your piece.

So here are some basic tips you’ll want to keep in mind:

Photo Printing
You can use regular photographs, but they are bulkier and don’t adhere to the canvas as well.  I recommend printing your pictures onto regular paper using your color printer.

Size is Everything
Make sure and keep picture and canvas sizes in mind.  You can buy canvas in smaller sizes, which would work well for doing say 4 Instagram pictures.  See the Shadow Relief canvases to get an idea of what I am talking about.  You can buy 8 by 12 canvases, which is the size of standard printing paper.  They also have 12 x 12 canvases which is the standard size of a piece of scrapbooking page.  You just keep sizing in mind when creating your project.  If you want to do larger projects (and they do make larger projects), you can do poster size printing at places like Staples for a fee. 

Patience Really is a Virtue
Anytime you glue something down, wait until that layer dries completely before moving on to the next layer.  This same rule applies to painting.  It is a process, be patient (which is really hard for me).

When your project is set up the way you want it to, you are now ready to seal it with decoupage.  There is spray decoupage and the liquid kind you find it jars and spread with brushes.  If you use the spray kind, do it outside (when it is not windy) because it stinks and gets all over.  Either way, you will want to apply multiple coats.  YOU MUST LET YOUR PROJECT DRY COMPLETELY BETWEEN COATS.

In order not to make this post too long, I have divided it into two parts. You are welcome.  Part 2 can be found here (after it posts).

See also: Using apps for Marketing, Instagram crafts 1 and 2, and Memes