Community Art Project: Quarantine Style

Our library’s buildings have been closed for over three weeks now (thanks, COVID-19), and the full-time staff have been coming in to empty the book drops, shelve, figure out future programming options, etc. Since the beginning, after the shock wore off, I began trying to figure out something that our community could do to feel, well, communal.

And my mind went back to when we have a passive kids’ program where they help create the art for our window displays, and I was like “WE CAN DO THIS. We have the technology. We have the capability to make our community’s greatest artwork. Our library will be that artwork. Better than before. Better…stronger…heartier.”

And this is what I came up with:

Essentially, I envision absolutely filling our Children’s Library with community artwork: on the windows, walls, hanging from the ceiling, etc. People passing by can see the installation growing day-by-day. And then when we reopen? What an awesome way to welcome everyone back.

Besides all of the normal workday responsibilities and projects, I look forward to the calming task of printing, cutting, and displaying hearts. It sounds absolutely soothing. Check back in a month or two to see if I still feel that way. Heh.

Also, it’s a passive program that we can easily track. Boo. Yah.

Anywho.

In case this inspires you to fill your community space full of hearts, you can get your own basic heart by clicking on the image below.

Let me know if you decide to do this at your library (and/or send me pictures!) – it’d be so fun to see communities all over the world filling up their libraries with something that means a lot (whether it’s a heart or some other symbol that your community would rally around).

I’ll likely update my Facebook page with pictures as the artwork grows, so keep an eye out there. Otherwise I’ll probably post here once our library buildings reopen. Until then, stay safe, happy, and healthy.

My Bertoia Totoro

A few months back I stumbled upon this Apartment Therapy post where the writer had covered a Bertoia chair with stuffed pandas. Apparently it was an April Fool’s joke, but to me? It. Was. BRILLIANT!

I found a decent-priced knockoff of the diamond-shaped version, like this:And then I had the difficult job of finding a not-too-expensive stuffed animal that would make both Bruce and I happy. Relatively quickly, I found our perfect critter: Totoro! And if you haven’t seen My Neighbor Totoro, you really should – it’s gorgeously animated, and is a very sweet story. But at one point, the little girl named Mei falls asleep on Totoro’s belly. I’m like “if I can’t snuggle up to a giant Totoro, then dozens of smaller Totoros will have to do.” Obviously.

My mom had given me a set of specialty needles years ago, and I had never used them, but I got them out and chose to use the smaller curved mattress needle for this project. The only other thing I needed was some dark grey embroidery thread. Oh yes! And the Totoros! I had to order them from two different ebay sellers – both used the same picture/description, but one shop sent slightly smaller versions, which I wasn’t bothered by since everything went together really well and added a wee bit of variety.Yes – the Totoros look a little alarmed at their fate: getting their cute ‘tocks sewn down. It was sort of a game of Where’s the Needle Going to Come Out? which I generally lost. But the many random finger stabs were worth it since the process went very fast.

I went ahead and arranged the stuffed Totoros before I started sewing. Their cute little tails made the perfect “anchors” by pulling them through the wires. I only had time to get the peripheral stuffed animals sewn down on the first evening, but the chair looked complete, and so it was easy to let this project slide a few days while I did other projects.

I wrapped it up this morning, and am beyond thrilled with the results. The chair is super-comfy, and the best part? When you get up from the chair it’s like the Totoros have seen things…terrible things that cannot be unseen. It amuses me to no end.

Okay, enough of my yammering – I know y’all want to see the finished product.

Ta-Da!!!!!! Wookit deir widdle tocks! SQUEEEEE!!!!!

Ahem.

And what the chair looks like when you’re standing above it:Like a nest of cuddles.

Please let me know if you have any questions about this project, and I’ll happily answer. It really was easy, and the results so incredibly satisfying.

Pom-Pom Wreaths

I’ve been storing leftover pom-poms from my canvas art from a few years back, as well as several wreath forms I had bookish plans for (which fell through out of laziness).  What’s a girl to do? Pom-pom wreaths!

I created two very easy-to-do wreaths made out of wreath forms and leftover pom-pom balls.

I got out my hot glue gun, pom-poms (thrown in an empty casserole dish to get maximum pom-pom containment/sortability), and my wreath forms.  Then I settled down to glue like crazy while watching cheesy holiday flicks.  I was also making Chex Mix for the first time while doing this, so I was forced to get up every 15 minutes for two hours…so this project took about two hours.

My large front door pom-pom wreath with a sparkly green door hanger.

I was using the smaller leftover pom-poms (eagle-eyed readers might note that there’s a lot of blue pom-poms in the mix that weren’t used in the canvases – this was because I bought blue pom-poms for a Doctor Who craft that never happened), so I had plenty of hot glue burns on my left pointer finger since I’m not always the most careful of gluers.  I tried a quick-dry tacky glue, but the drying time was an issue in terms of being able to move quickly without knocking of previously-placed pom-poms.

I went ahead and covered the entire wreath in case I ever hung it in a window (I also wanted to use up all my pom-poms).  To finish it off (i.e. to make a hanger), I cut about a 2″ piece of ribbon, hot glued one side, and then pushed a push-pin down through the ribbon/glue and into the form.  I then repeated this process on the other side of the ribbon.

A cute red ribbon with white trim is a neat touch to this fun and unconventional wreath that no one may ever see, but I'll know is there.

I found some sparkly door wreath hangers at a dollar-type store and hung them up. Behind one, I sticky-tacked to the door a special “Season’s Greetings” special round card that Bruce had from his childhood.  Both Bruce and I really enjoyed having the old mixed with the new.

The second wreath (out of four that I plan on completing) with a round glittery illustrated card in the background.

Shrooms & Such

Well.

We’re about halfway through Gnomevember, and so far so good.  The kids really seem taken with all of the gnomes around the library.  The gnome hunt has been the biggest hit so far, and people seem reluctant to play Game of Gnomes.  I think it’s that whole “if I can’t grasp the concept within two seconds, then it’s more hassle than it’s worth” mentality that I can’t seem to break through.  We have one family who has come in every Friday who can hardly wait to play the game several times before they leave.  I’m going to try and figure out a different way to pitch it to patrons (short ‘n sweet’s the goal).  We’ll see.  I’ll let you know.

But that’s not why I wanted to write this post.  I wanted to write about something that I should have seen coming from a mile away.  No!  Two miles – minimum.  Just take a strolling scroll down to see what I’m talkin’ about:

The #1 most favorite thing for kids playing our games to do is to put the mushroom stickers over the gnome’s pupils.  It happens several times per day.  Every time we wait for the children to leave, and then gently perform some eye surgery to relocate the stickers.

That poor gnome’s pupils have had to be re-Sharpied several times, and I’m worried that eventually it’s going to tear through the paper.

Yes, we’ve talked about just leaving the mushrooms where they’re stuck – but come on!  Scroll back up, look at him, and tell me that that is not creepy.  It looks like the gnome’s tripping out of his mind.

And yes, we’ve had one “crotchshroom” incident with a boy old enough to know exactly what he was doing as his mom stood by and seemed oblivious to what a phallic symbol is.  Yes, “surgery” was performed in that case too.

It’s just one of those things that reminds me of who my audience is, and that to them it’s the funniest spot for a sticker possible.  In my childhood, I’d like to think that I would have been all over the objective to “build a throne,” at least my earlier childhood years.  Getting closer to 10 or 11?  I would’ve gone for the laughs.

And yes, as an adult I laugh quite a bit at how obvious it was that this would happen.

Oh No NaNoWriMo

Well, I finally had a quasi-epic fail in terms of putting together a crafty prop for a display.  I had this, by the amazing Rachel Moani, as my inspiration.  For awhile I’ve wanted to try my hand at making a big book like Moani’s, and the perfect excuse was NaNoWriMo.

I opted to try a somewhat larger book rather than an friggin’ ‘uge tome.  We don’t have a lot of storage, so my hope was to keep the book at a manageable size to store for various different displays. As you may have surmised, my book will not be stored, but we’ll get to that.

Honestly, I didn’t really measure, and I really should have measured.  I was also out of glue so I tried using lots of tape.  Lots and lots of duct tape.  And other tape.  Yep.  Tape.

So, here it is – and yes, I strategically took the picture from a distance and at an angle (and yes I filtered it – STOP LOOKING AT ME THAT WAY. Ahem):

I do like my handwritten NA NO WRI MO, but really detest the cursive on the other side of the book.  I think I should have either left it blank, taken the extra time to do a nice print, or written something fun like “once upon a time there was an author…”  But what’s done is done, and at the point that I made that call, I was coming up on my self-imposed deadline of “this project is now taking more time than it should.”

The biggest change I made to the original inspiration (besides having it barely look like the inspiration) was to try and cover the botched-up underneath-the-top-layer bits, I accordion folded some paper that was the same height as the top page, and then taped it down.

To try and distract from the big book, and to fill out the table a bit more, I added our library’s rarely-used typewriter and typed out where to find out more about NaNoWriMo.  If you look closely, you can also see some “artistically crumpled” paper to the left of the typewriter.

That’s about it!  It’s not the worst display ever, and I definitely learned from my mistakes.  I may hold off and practice some cardboard-wrangling on my own time to just get a better feel for the medium before I delve into such a complex cardboard piece again.