I know that I wasn’t being super-original at all when it came to deciding how to decorate the Children’s Library for April. I was mostly excited to try out paper mache on a much larger scale than I ever have before in my life. I’d also seen several cool things on Pinterest that I wanted to try. Here are the two things that got my wheels turning: 1. The Farm Chicks’ How to Make a Cloud tutorial, and 2. Minieco.co.uk’s Craft for OKIDO Magazine. I basically took the core ideas, mashed them up, and put a few spins on them. And of course I wanted to take another crack at using spray starch and tissue paper on the windows. Spoiler Alert: the spray starch didn’t work again and tape was deployed.
We had several snow days over the past few months and I put them to good use with making the clouds (since it is a rather messy process). Somewhere online I stumbled across the recommendation that after the initial newspaper layer, the final layer should be basic white paper which would help in the painting stage (and it did – it was awesome)! I also thought ahead (woohoo!) and attached some ribbon between layers for attaching the raindrops. The only other thing that I would have done differently is used more masking tape to fill some of the spaces which would have made it a tiny bit easier to cover.
I found a simple line-drawing of a raindrop online and made four separate sizes as templates – another variation that I made. I wasn’t sure if I wanted random sizes dropping, or if they should go from smaller to larger as they got closer to the ground. Thankfully Mary argued for the latter, and it was definitely the right call. We continued that consistent perspective shift even on the window 2-dimensional raindrops (and using the same templates too). She also suggested that we go from the lighter shades of blue on the smaller drops, to the darker blues on the larger/lower drops. We only had two shades of blue in tissue paper, so those were randomly applied.
I had known from the get-go that I didn’t want to cover the clouds in cotton – I wanted Mary to use her amazing art skills to paint them (and she totally rocked them). I really wanted them to look like a child’s drawing of a cloud had come to life. I also hope to re-use the clouds in our decorations for our Summer Reading Program, but not as clouds – you’ll have to wait and see what we do with them (tee-hee!).
The final adjustment I made from what inspired me is that we used fishing wire to attach the raindrops. And I wish that I had video to show you, but whenever we have an air current going through the building, the drops twirl and look absolutely amazing.
As I mentioned above, the spray starch just doesn’t work. It flaked off even faster on the inside windows that were close to the air vents. I finally figured out that I could use a tiny bit of spray to hold the cloud circles in place and then I’d tape over them – which eliminated the dripping mess. Next time we try tissue paper on the windows, I think that I’ll try liquid starch.
On the tissue paper raindrops, we only put three smaller pieces of shipping tape on them to attache them to the windows. Then I’d cut the tape (using a box cutter) to echo the shape of the raindrop. We completely covered the drops that were at curious child-level with tape to keep them from being damaged.
Basically, every window in the building (even the office windows) had a rainy day on them. One other team member made up a fun sign for the front door.
We’ve had a lot of really fun reaction from both children and adults. Many of the younger children either try to count the raindrops, or ask why it’s raining inside. I ask them if they’ve ever heard of what people say about April. Most chime in “April showers bring May flowers!” I then ask them, “So if we’ve decorated with rain showers this month, then what do you think that we’re going to fill the library with next month?” The realization that dawns in their eyes has been precious as they excitedly answer “Flowers!”
I’m also really pleased to say that even with the display having been up for about a week, that we’ve had a lot of interest from the community. We’ve had at least half a dozen people come in to see what we were all about and ask questions. I didn’t ask them if it was the decorations that caught their attention, or if it made them curious, but we haven’t had a reaction like this since when we first opened the Children’s Library.
As always, please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions about this process – I’ll happily answer them as soon as I can!