Friday, July 31, 2015

The Art of Recycling

This film about community & art recycling in Mexico comes with a lovely explanation (below) that describes everything better than I can (with narration and background music, for those of you at work):

Recycling as Art in Mexico - Permacyclists #5 from Permacyclists on Vimeo.

Entre Amigos is just one of those organizations that gets what sustainability is all about. They are not an environmental organization so much as a community organization where, as founder Nicole Swedlow put it, "Everything we do is in some way focused on the environment."

Their work is infused by the values and ideas like those of the Earth Charter. "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle" - sure, that's environmental kindergarten at this point and Entre Amigos has it down pat. Not only do they supplement their funding with sale of recycled artwork, but wandering through their main building (itself built almost entirely from recycled materials) is like seeing inside the mind of some crazy recycle-genius. There's a chair made from a surfboard - then another made from wooden shipping pallets - and then another made from used soda-can tabs. Not to mention the egg-carton lampshade, the road-sign table, the fruit-crate bookshelf, the propane-tank lamps, the dozens of beautiful glass products made from old bottles - or the community-built recycle park built for a local school that had won a recycling competition.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Just Write

Today I'm off to write something new and post it online before midnight. Everyone inclined to do the same is invited to join me.

My link: More on Ghost Writer (click on the title to go to the .pdf) with new material beginning on page 101.

For more details on Just Write Thursdays, click here to go to the original post.

Image credit: windujedi

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Yes, Europeople, We Have Cookies

A notice from Blogger popped up on my dashboard this week, and I thought I'd share the wealth just in case some of you have inactive blogs on Blogger:

"European Union laws require you to give European Union visitors information about cookies used on your blog. In many cases, these laws also require you to obtain consent.

As a courtesy, we have added a notice on your blog to explain Google's use of certain Blogger and Google cookies, including use of Google Analytics and AdSense cookies.

You are responsible for confirming this notice actually works for your blog, and that it displays. If you employ other cookies, for example by adding third party features, this notice may not work for you. Learn more about this notice and your responsibilities."

Okay, so here's the deal: Blogger wants to help out with this requirement, so they have attempted to add a notice to everyone's blog. Your end is to make sure it actually shows up on your blog. Easy way to do that: type your blog URL but change it to a Euro URL (i.e. mine over in the UK is -- and yours probably has the same end extension.) When your blog comes up it should look like this:

If you don't see that notice bar at the top of your blog (or anywhere else) then you have to put up a notice and consent button, and more information on that can be found in the middle of the help page here.

To my knowledge I haven't installed any cookies on PBW (unless it was inadvertant) and since I have no idea how to I'm not planning to any time in the future. That said, Blogger does use some sort of cookie thing on here to create that dashboard junk data that I never asked for and generally ignore that dates back to when Google ate Blogger and messed with the whole set up. Anyway, since this is like that FTC notice thing I thought I'd pass along the headsup.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Mini Quilt Recycled Watercolor Journal

My fifth and final project for Recycled Journal Week began with this mini quilt I picked up at a show some years back:

It's made of wool, and really too small to be anything other than decorative, so I thought it would make a great cover for a little pocket watercolor journal. I went into my painting drawer and found a pad with a few sheets of unused 140 lb. watercolor paper leftover from a painting class I took, and then grabbed some old wrapping paper from the recycle bin:

First I cut my wrapping paper to size as end papers, and then tore the watercolor papers from the pad and trimmed off the preforations:

I then folded everything into signatures:

I didn't want to use the sewing machine for binding the signatures as that would show on the outside of the quilt. I dithered around for about an hour at this point because I didn't have a lot of other options -- and even though about going out to buy some sort of binder clip piece to use -- and then while I was straightening up the sewing room I found some leftover ribbon and decided to use that as the binding.

To do that I first punched two holes in the signatures:

I took two long pieces of the scrap ribbon, threaded them through a tapestry needle, and drew them through the signature holes on both ends:

I then used the needle to work both ends of the ribbons through the mini quilt in the center:

Once I knotted the ribbons and tied them together everything was bound nicely:

I also left enough slack in the ribbon while I was knotting it to allow the pages to stay flat:

The finishing touch was a piece of stiff, heavy cardboard to tuck in the pages, which will support them as I work in the journal:

This project taught me that I can come up with a solution to a problem (just not instantly) and that sticking to my objective is worth a little dithering. Total project time: 4 hours.

This has been a fun week for me. As you may remember I started out with this collection of unused stuff:

Without spending a dime on new materials I turned the stuff (plus an extra calendar) into these six handmade journals:

You can do this too, you know. Look around your home, see what unused junk and paper you have sitting around, and apply some imagination to transform it into your own unique recycled journal.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Gift Box Recycled Unbound Journal

My fourth project for Recycled Journal Week was to repurpose this slim 7" X 5.5" gift box, and I really didn't fuss with it too much:

Rather than try to cut down the box I decided to keep it intact and use to to hold individual sheets of leftover paper as journal pages, and since it's a box I didn't have to bind them. The lining inside the box was like quilt batting, so I started working with that and some fabric:

I quilted the fluffy lining between a piece of scrap muslin and a remnant of hand-dyed silk; both cut to fit the top of the box. Once I had it sandwiched together I added a Venise lace flower, metallic thread quilting and some seed beading:

Once I finished the piece I had a nice cover for the top of the box:

Because the box sides were too thick to take stitches easily I hot-glued the quilted cover to the top of the box:

I lined the inside of the box with some interesting scrap papers:

I then gathered up a bunch of pretty scrap paper from the recycle bin to put in the box, and was able to fit all this inside:

The box will keep the paper from wrinkling now, which is a nice bonus. Once I do use up all the pages I can permanently bind them (or even slip them into my pocket journals), refill the box and start again. I've also just run out of paper book marks, which I try to stick in every book I lend or give, so I'll also be making the smaller strips of paper on top into those:

I admit this isn't a traditionally bound book-type journal, but the whole point of making your own is to suit yourself. I like how this one came out, but more importantly I know I'll be using (and refilling) it a lot. Total project time: 5 hours.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Bakery Box Recycled Prompt Journal

My third project for Recycled Journal Week involved the smallest of my materials, this wee bakery box:

I really like journals that have cards instead of pages, and I just happened to have a stack of outdated but otherwise pristine business cards that I need to recycle that fit perfectly inside the wee box:

To recycle the business cards I decided to remake them into creative prompt cards using images, words, and other kicks my muse always needs. As with the brittle journal project I first unfolded the box to see what area I had to work with:

I really liked the cardboard handles, and decided to leave those alone. Across the body of the box I stitched a frayed holiday trim remnant stamped with the word Believe:

I then stitched and glued the box back together:

The prompt cards are going to take longer to make (I think I can fit about a hundred cards in the box), but I put together the first six by sewing some stamped fabric and a piece of paper towel to them to cover the print side of the cards:

One thing that's important to me when I work on a project using recycled materials is to use things I have on hand that versus buying new materials. I've wanted to do something with those old business cards for a long time, and this gave me the chance to give them a second life. Total project time (for the box and six cards): 1 hour.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Calendar Recycled Pocket Journal

My second project for Recycled Journal Week came out so well I surprised myself, and it all started with this unused 2014 calendar:

This is a big glossy wall calendar with beautiful photos of gardens around the world on lovely thick paper, and I originally planned to take it apart and use the photos to make some journal pages, which I then never got around to doing. Here's how each page in the calendar looked:

I took out the two staples holding all the pages together and cut each one in half to separate the pictures:

It took a while to figure out how to use the pictures. I knew I didn't want to use the monthly grids, and I thought of all the craft blogs I've seen use old calendars to make pretty envelopes. That sparked the light bulb for me, and I folded each picture over in half, then in half again so that the grid was on the inside, and the photo faced out:

This produced twelve rather gorgeous signatures:

Once I had them folded I could see how to make each signature into two pockets. First I stitched each open end of the signatures with some embroidery floss:

Once I had all the signatures stitched up, I used the sewing machine to stitch them to a long piece of the calendar's cardboard cover, which I cut and folded into a cover for my pockets. Sewing down the fold of each signature created two pockets (and if you try this, remember to keep the open/unstitched end up as you sew each signature to the cover):

Once all the signatures were stitched to the cover, I had a completed journal. It came out so nice I used last year's Victorian calendar to make another one, and this time I used the sewing machine for all the stitching:

Here's the inside of the garden calendar pocket journal:

And the inside of the one I made from the Victorian calendar:

What can you do with a pocket journal? Save the little stuff! I'm going to use one of mine for some ribbon and Venise lace I frequently use, but you can also pocket your mementos, receipts, notes, photos, postcards, cookie fortunes, letters, or index cards in this type of journal. As a gift for a writer pal you could make one and stuff the pockets with writing prompts, or recipes for a friend who likes your cooking:

What I learned from this project is to keep in mind what purpose you want your recycled journal to serve, and take your time figuring out how to use your materials in interesting ways. Total project time: 2 nights @ 4 hours for the garden journal, and 1 night @ 4 hours for the Victorian journal.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Cover Me

Watch author/artist Victor Robert create a dust jacket for his illustrated kids' book Brian Wonders (with background music, for those of you at work):

BrianWonders-making-of-23 from Brian Wonders on Vimeo.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Just Write

Today I'm off to write something new and post it online before midnight. Everyone inclined to do the same is invited to join me.

My link: More on Ghost Writer (click on the title to go to the .pdf), with new material beginning on page 98.

For more details on Just Write Thursdays, click here to go to the original post.

Image credit: windujedi

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

The Cybrarian's Web 2

My second book from Library Thing's Early Reviewers program is The Cybrarian's Web 2 ~ An A-Z Guide to Free Social Media Tools, Apps and Other Resources by Cheryl Ann Peltier-Davis. This is the second book on this topic by the author, who is also the Digital Initiatives, Cataloguing and Metadata Services Librarian at the Alma Jordan Library at the University of the West Indies, St. Augustine, Trinidad and Tobago, so this is obviously information she works with every day.

In the introduction she shares her goals in compiling this book, and I'll quote here:

". . . to offer an 'environmental scan' of available eresources and to methodically identify, select, and evaluate tools that information professionals can introduce and integrate into their workspaces, communities, and even their personal lives."

As the host of a blog devoted to finding free resources for writers I know how much time it takes to track down, investigate and even test drive free software, services and online tools; I've been doing it for ten years. It's definitely a lot of work. The payoff is sharing the information with other users who need these resources but can't afford to pay for them -- and this includes but is not limited to not-yet-published writers, students, the unemployed or underemployed, folks on fixed incomes etc. Since these folks are usually also regular patrons of public libraries, the information in Ms. Peltier-Davis's book can enable librarians and media specialists to do the same with this reference.

The book contains over sixty unique resources arranged alphabetically and also by website, type of service, and those available for mobile devices in the back of the book appendixes. The author covers each resource with website URLs, a detailed overview of the free services and each service's particular features. She then discusses in depth how information professionals can effectively use the resource in one or more ways. There are also scattered through the book little FYI boxes with more information, background notes and important tips.

How valuable are these resources? I'll give you not one but two examples: After the problems I've had with Google Docs I've been looking for a low-cost, no-hassle service to host my free e-book library and my weekly Just Write stories. In fact, I've been looking since December with no luck. Then I read this book and found a free hosting service to do that on page 111. I'd never heard of this service before, either, but when I went to check it out it appeared to be exactly what I need. Then my daughter came to me to ask if I knew of a web site for free online courses for a friend of hers who needs to brush up on her maths, and that was on page 33 of the book.

I rarely use the words must-have in relation to any book, but The Cybrarian's Web 2 is a reference that should be owned by every library and school out there, not only to help the professionals provide better services but to make available the kind of free eresources that are needed by so many of their patrons and students.

Purchase Links:


Barnes & Noble

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Brittle Box Recycled Junk Journal

As my first project for Recycled Journal week I picked an old, clean, colorful box that once held peanut brittle. Mom left it behind after one of her visits, and I saved it because it was pretty and made of laminated card stock, and it reminded me of her (she is a nut for peanut brittle).

Along with the box I pulled a stack of old paper from my recycling bin to use for the pages. I decided to use all different types of paper for the pages to add interest:

I then unfolded the box to how much material I had to work with:

If you want to recycle a food box, the best kind for journals are those that are clean (anything that held a plastic bag inside, like a cereal box, is generally reusable) and match or could be cut down to the book size you want. You also want something that is reasonably sturdy.

For this journal I simply trimmed off the end flaps and folded my paper into pages to fit the dimensions of the box, using the left side panel as the spine. I then stacked four sets of pages (aka my signatures), perforated the folds with an big embroidery needle to create sixteen evenly-spaced holes, and sewed seven sets to the spine area with three strands of embroidery thread in a simple running stitch (which I did in dark green thread so you can see it; normally I'd use thread to match the paper color):

The final result still looks like the original object from the outside:

But when you open the cover, it looks like this:

Any trimmings you create while working can also be recycled; I used the two big end flaps I trimmed off the box to make a bookmark for the journal by gluing them together with a piece of ribbon. Total project time: two hours.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Recycled Journal Week

This week I'm giving myself a creative challenge to make some journals out of stuff I have sitting around the house. First, the stuff:

Why make journals out of three used boxes, an unused/out of date calendar, and a mini-quilt I picked up at a show some years back? For fun, mainly, but also to recycle and repurpose these items into something I'll use (versus simply tossing them in the trash or donating them to a thrift store.) I'll post each project daily, along with pics and notes on what I did in the event any of you want to try the same.

When making journals out of recycled items the best place to start is with the item itself. Look at the dimensions, the material it's made from, and how it might lend itself to becoming a book. Virtually any flat surface can be converted into pages or covers for a journal, but don't limit yourself to cutting things apart and binding them back together. Consider painting them or dyeing them to alter and/or enhance their appearance. Binding can be as simple as stapling your signatures to your cover materials, or if you have thin pages and covers and a sewing machine, you might try stitching your book together. If you've never made a recycled journal and want to watch someone do it, check out these video tutorials at Jennibellie Studio blog.

Stay tuned for updates on my progress and more info on how to make your own recycled journals.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Pic Ten

Ten Things I Saw on My Birthday
(Because you can never bore people enough with your one-day vacation photos)