A Great Update

Besides recently giving our library’s community space a muchneeded update, I’ve also been trying to make our office a bit nicer. I share this office with Jennifer, our Children’s Librarian, and it’s pretty much the hub for the rest of our team.

The doorway leading out to the circulation desk has had its share of fun decor over the years. This is a photo taken a few years back:

In an earlier version of this post, I had gone into detail as to what was going on in this photo. But honestly? It was really boring. I wanted this post to be brief, and have a fun Before & After element to it.

So I made it short and sweet.

Without further ado, here’s what it looks like today:

Ta-Da!!!

It feels SO GOOD to declutter and beautify our small office space.

I’m also going to throw in a super-simple tutorial for those who may never given laminating much thought. If you want to take your laminating to a whole new level? Use some tape and some super glue.

A Super-Simple Laminating Tutorial

  • First, I taped one inner-side of the laminating sheet down in order to make it a stable surface.
  • Second, I used the natural straight line created between the wood edging and the laminate top as a guide to line up the letters.
  • Third, I used a bit of super glue on the back of the letters to stick them exactly where I wanted them.
  • Finally, I removed the tape and easily transferred the sheet over and into the laminator.

Ta-Da!!!
Again!!!

Now if you’re reading this and realize that this is where I’m going to leave you, and you’re like, “But wait! I want more details!!! WHY HAVE YOU FORESAKEN ME?!?!?” Sorry about that! Just ask for details on any aspect in the comments, on social media, or by email (hafuboti@gmail.com). I promise: you haven’t been…foresakened? foresook? foresaked? I haven’t abandoned you.

Book End Cozy Redux

This is the third, and final, sign revamp post. Here is part one and part two in case you missed them.

As I went to look for my post on what I call “book end cozies,” I realized that my first post about them was buried in a holiday-book post. Oops.

And at the beginning of my most recent book end cozy quest (heh), I thought that I had come up with an amazing new way to use laminating machines, which prompted me to post this:

Well, it turned out to not work. Even the first prototype turned out to be a fail after I looked at it closer. But hey! Hopefully, through my research, I can save you from experiencing upsetting things like laminator-jams:

Needless to say, I finally came up with a fool-proof template for professional-looking bookend cozies that I am excited to share with you! Yay!

Okay, so exactly are book end cozies? Well, they’re signs that go over bookends to indicate exactly what books are contained between those book ends. Like this:

SMALL BOOK END COZIES
(5.5″W X 4.75″W)

First up, I measured out and designed what I wanted our cozies to look like, and then printed them out onto cardstock to give them a better chance at a long life. Note that both sizes of cozies are on Letter-sized paper (8.5″ X 11″).

Then, I used our slide-cutter to cut the signs out. If you don’t know what slide-cutter is (also known as a paper trimmer), then you need to get yourself one. I have been using a Fiskars paper trimmer for both work and my ornaments, and it’s fan-friggin-tastic. Here’s what it looks like:

It has a thin wire that goes along where the blade will cut – so you can see exactly where your cut will be made. It doesn’t handle stacks of papers, but it’s totally fine with two pieces of stacked cardstock. This slicer is perfect for detailed work.

Once I had two of these signs cut out, I folded each in half and then made a sharp crease using a bone-folder (they’re not just for book covering). You can make folded things, such as brochures, look so professional by using a bone folder.

I took it a step further (let’s hear it for type-A’s!!!) and added some black crayon scribble on the sign, and along the white edges of the cut cardstock:

This was to give it a bit more depth, as well as hide any miss-folds and/or the white edges.

Now it’s laminatin’ time.

Two smaller cozies can go in one laminator sheet, you just have to be a bit careful.

Once they’re out – it’s trimmin’ time!

I sliced the laminate edges down to 3/16″ around the sides and top, :

And then on the bottom, I sliced a tiny bit off of the paper:

I did this so that they’d become a pocket, like so:

Okay, that may not have been the best visual example, but at this point, the cozy is done. All you have to do is slip is over a small book end:

Doesn’t it just pop compared to the cozy that it’s replacing? And it totally matches our new signs. Plus, the original was looking rough, but note that it was never laminated. Here’s a shot from the back:

It even looks good on this side! And there’s an added bonus that we shouldn’t need to use packing tape to keep it on. If, after it gets regular use and it turns out that tape is needed, then I’ll update this post.

LARGE BOOK END COZIES
(9″H X 6″W)

The large cozies end up needing two pieces of Letter-sized paper, but one laminate sheet.

So here we start out:

I had to re-shoot the above image, so yes, it’s a different sign, but same size as what’s below. And I had a “blank” black scribbles page printed out, too. I did some added scribbling and white-edge covering here as well:

Not pictured: sandwiching the two sheets back-to-back and then laminating them in one laminated sheet, and then cutting down the extra laminate (down to a 3/16″ edge) , and trimming off the bottom.

In the following picture you can see the new cozies and one of the cozies that they’re replacing. The original is completely sun-faded (it used to be black and a light orange). I’m hoping that using a printed-out design will lessen or altogether eliminate the fading.

And best part? You can use these cozies with different styles of book ends to bring about a cohesive look. These are what the above book ends look like without their cozies:

And here’s what a book end cozy looks like in use:

Whispers “Sooo Preeeeettyyyyyy…”

Now for some technical stuff that should get you book end cozying to the max!

If you have Photoshop, then email me (hafuboti@gmail.com) and I will send you the layered files for the small and large cozies.

Don’t have Photoshop, but have Word? Have Photoshop, but don’t wanna email me for files? Then here are the measurements for cozy text boxes:

Small Cozy: 4.92″ H x 5.25″ W

Large Cozy: 9.5″ H x 6.62″ W

Have Word and don’t know what I’m talking about? You can tell Word the exact size that you’d like to have your text box. With your text box selected, go into the Format/Drawing Tools tab and look to the right:

Ta-da!

And hey, if you need more help with this, then just reach out to me. I will breakdown any aspect of this process if you’re uncertain about any part of it.

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.

My Almost Insta-Flannel Board

Ever since I found a love of felt (see here), I’ve been wanting to invest in a flannel board.  However, we’ll hopefully be getting a new children’s librarian soon ::crosses fingers:: and I have no idea if s/he is even interested in using felt in storytimes.  So, to spend the library’s money on something that may or may not be used is just wrong.

Enter ingenuity!

I have no idea if other people have done this, but this idea came to me because I’ve used various frameworks (from bulletin boards to empty frames) for other random crafty things and I was like, “hey, we have these extra unused picture frames at the library that I could totally use! It’ll be on the small side, but it should be quick, easy, and cheap.”  It was indeed all of the above!

Basically, I took out the glass from one frame and carefully discarded it.

A picture of a very sad picture that no one wanted to look at. Also the cardboard I used for later on in the project.

I then glued two pieces of black felt to the backer board (and trimmed the excess).

Empty frame, and the cheap cardboard backer partially covered with one of two black felt pieces.

It was on the flimsy side (this needs to stand up to curious toddlers who I hope will interact with the board), so I took a cardboard box lid and cut it to fit the frame. I then folded down the little metal prongs – and BAM! I was done.

The back of the frame with the bonus thicker cardboard backer - showing off my lazy cardboard-cutting style.

I now have a pretty snazzy gold-framed felt board.

That's it! A completed flannel board for storytimes using things that we had lying around the library.

The gold paint had flecked off a little bit in the lower left-hand corner of the frame (you can see the black splotches in the above picture).  I had a gold leaf pen at home, so I brought it in and used it to cover the damage – and it looks great! (refer to the top image of this post)

This truly was a fantastic instant gratification project.  I’ll be sure to let you know how well it holds up.  And if it does hold up well, then I may even think of making a few more with different colored felt backgrounds for different stories.  It would also be fun to add a hanger to the frame and hang it up somewhere in the library where we could switch out what was in the frame(s) to go along with the decor each month.

I showed my boss this project and she was so excited about it that she’s offered to bring in a much larger picture frame of hers to be converted since the glass was cracked.  I’ll be sure to post about that board as well if we do indeed flannelize it.

Side Note: I made the turkey from the top image from using the template found here.  I plan to use this in a toddler storytime, so I wanted to make only the large feathers, and didn’t embroider the feathers since I wanted sticking power.

May Flowers

This is one of those projects where I can only take a tiny-bit-o-credit for anything but putting two other peoples’ ideas together, and then asking the amazing Mary to make it happen.  If anything, I actually hurt the project a bit when I tried to help and discovered the best way to attach the 3-D flowers to the ceiling if our main goal was to have them randomly drop and startle both staff and patrons alike.  But the end results are absolutely lovely and just brighten my day every time that I come into work.

Here’s where I got my core inspirations:  Our 3-D Flower Inspiration.  Yes, this first one’s in Bulgarian – if your browser can translate, then great! Otherwise it’s pretty clear what to do based on the visuals alone. (Gosh, I love the internet!) Instead of sewing, Mary used quick-dry craft glue.  This second inspiration for our 2-D flowers made my mind go “gosh, that paper looks like it was color-washed with paint.”  It was a shazam-moment, because up to that point I was planning on using tissue paper again.  I excitedly called Mary when she was working at the Main Library and had her gather some larger picture books from our Book Sale that had been sitting there for months.  I explained to her that we could color-wash the pages pretty colors and then make all of our flowers, both 3 and 2-D, out of them.  She took those ideas and totally ran with them with magnificent results.

Basically, she used some liquid watercolor paints, a spray bottle of water, and a good paint brush.  She removed the pages out of some large outdated junior non-fiction books and she would add color, spray water, spread the color over the paper and sometimes spray one more time to create interesting patterns.  After the first side dried, then sometimes she’d repeat on the other side – usually using a different color.  Many times she left the other side as-is, which was equally pretty.

Once the pages were painted, then she either used a paper cutter to cut out strips of various sizes for the 3-D petals, or would freestyle the large 2-D petals.  Then lots of gluing.

Finally, minimal tape was used to hang-up the 2-D flowers.  She added a fun and unexpected 3-D element to the flower stems with the leaves naturally drooping over.  LOVE it.

The silly way that I had tried to hang the 3-D flowers? I poked a hole in one of the flower petals and stuck one end of some fishing line through it and taped the heckie-pooh out of the end.  Then the other end of the line was looped over a wooden beam and tied with a knot.  The majority of the flowers fell off the end of the line.  We had to go back whenever a flower fell and just loop the line around a petal (similar to the original inspiration blog) and tie a knot or two with the one end of line.  For good measure we’d also tape down the end of the line onto the petal.  We had the doors open the other day to let in the springtime breeze and the flowers looked so pretty twirling in the breeze – and NOT ONE fell down with the secondary tying method.

Mary also made a “May Flowers” sign in the front door (I couldn’t get a good pic of it due to all of the crazy reflections on the glass).

My favorite part of this whole thing?  I was checking out books to a boy (around 7 years old), and he was looking at one of the giant window flowers.  Suddenly he said in a somewhat awed tone “that’s like Eric Carle.”  That was never our intention, but it was one of the best compliments we’ve received about any of our displays.