Books, Color, Chance

_mur0006The next time you see a telephone book, look beyond the phone numbers, advertisements, thin pages, and wobbly covers. Philadelphia artist Katie Murken did exactly that when she created Continua, a work that combines recycled phone books, color dye, math, elements of chance, and sculpture.

Gathering scores of old and surplus phone books, Katie stripped off their covers and dipped the 3 outer edges into dye. In total, she dyed approximately 1,560,000 sheets of paper with 24 different colors.

dye_readybooks_dryingThen she stacked the altered books into columns. However, the colors she used were determined by a customized color wheel and a pair of dice. A dice roll determined how she would stack the books.

murken_continua_2The result was 24 tall columns of vibrantly colored, gently wavy books pages, arranged completely by chance. And the color! The color! Katie used non-toxic dyes from a small company in California.

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Walking among the stacked pages was incredibly calming, yet energizing. It was also validating. To me, it felt like confirmation of what the knowledge inside books really looks like.

_mur0019If you’d like to see more images of Continua, or read interviews about Katie and her fascinating process, you will find numerous links on Katie Murken’s site.

Photographs courtesy of Katie Murken

This Tea Party RULES


It might look like a proper tea table with matching teapot, cups, saucers, sugar bowl, creamer, and a platter of cookies. But beware! Your guests want those cookies something fierce, and aren’t afraid to get grabby in our fast-paced cookie snatching game! Video, of course, at the end of the post.

We read Tea Party Rules, written by Ame Dyckman, and illustrated by K.G. Campbell (Viking, 2013). A bear cub follows the delicious smell of cookies to a little girl’s tea party. Pretending to be the girl’s stuffed bear, the cub eagerly awaits the moment when he can devour the cookies. He’s got her completely fooled, but then the girl decides that her toy bear needs to follow the “Tea Party Rules.” In other words, he needs to be clean, neat, fancy, and dainty. Poor Cub is subjected to a bath, ribbons, perfume and a dress. But when it comes time for a lecture on dainty eating, he snaps. He attacks the cookies. When only one cookie remains, Cub stops. Suddenly, he realizes that he’s not only ruined the tea party, he’s made the girl very sad. So he gives the final cookie to her. Does she eat daintily? No she does not. She decides it’s time to play BEAR!

You’ll need:

  • 9 – 10 paper cups
  • 1 corrugated cardboard base (I used a 9.75″ x 13.75″ cake pad)
  • A selection of patterned tape
  • A selection of colored masking tape
  • 1 small paper plate (mine was 7″ in diameter)
  • 1 spouts template, printed on 8.5″ x 11″ card stock
  • Extra poster board for tea set handles, spouts, and sugar tongs
  • 1 small pom-pom
  • 2 circles of white poster board (approximately 3.5″ in diameter)
  • 3 circles of tag board or brown poster board (approximately 3.5″ in diameter)
  • 3 button magnets
  • 1 rectangle of or brown poster board (approximately 2.5″ x 9.25″)
  • 1 rectangle of white poster board (approximately 3.5″ x 9.25″)
  • 2 jumbo paper clips (mine were 2″ long)
  • Scissors and tape for construction
  • Markers for decorating
  • Hot glue

finished-tea-tableThis project consists of 1) A tea set with cookies; and 2)  A pair hand grabbers for the snatching game. The cookies have magnets hot glued to them, and the hand grabbers have paper clips taped to them. Thus, when the hand slaps down on the cookie, it picks it up!

glove-with-cookieWe’ll begin with the tea set. To make the table, hot glue 4 paper cups to the bottom of a corrugated cardboard base. The cookie platter is a flipped-over cup hot glued to a small paper plate. You don’t want the cookie platter to be too tall, so you can either cut a full size paper cup down to 2.25″ inches, or use a shorter cup (we used 3.5oz plastic drinking cups from Target). Decorate the platter and table with patterned tape, colored masking tape, and/or markers. Then hot glue the platter firmly to the top of the table.

tea-tableTo make the teapot, flip a paper cup over, then tape (or hot glue) a poster board handle to one side. Cut the spout from the template and trace it onto white poster board. Fold the tea pot spout in half (the fold is marked with a solid black line on the template). Next, fold the spout’s tabs outward (the tabs are marked with dotted lines on the template). Attach the tabs to the tea pot with tape (or hot glue). Finish by hot gluing a small pom-pom to the top of the tea pot.

tea-pot-and-tea-cupsTo make tea cups, cut 2 paper cups down to 2″. Use tape (or hot glue) to attach a white poster board handle to the side of each cup. Then place the cups on a white poster board “saucers.” Decorate the teapot, cups, and saucers with patterned tape, colored masking tape, and/or markers.

Next up – the sugar bowl and creamer. To make the sugar bowl, cut a paper cup down to 1.5″. Drop a paper baking cup inside for extra flair. To make tongs, fold a narrow strip of poster board in half. Those cute little sugar cubes? Foam packing peanuts, cut in half.

sugar-bowl-and-creamerThe creamer is a paper cup cut down to 2″. Cut the creamer spout from the template, and trace it into poster board. Fold the spout in half (the fold is marked with a solid black line on the template). Next, fold the spout’s tabs outward (the tabs are marked with dotted lines on the template). Attach the tabs to the cup with tape (or hot glue). We filled the creamer with white cotton ball “cream.”

Finally…the cookies. These are circles of tagboard (or poster board) decorated with markers. We made 3 cookies per kid. Hot glue a button magnet to the back of each cookie.


Now for the game! We had 2 hand grabbers – a bear paw and a fancy white glove. To make the bear’s paw, round one end of a 2.5″ x 9.25″ strip of tag board (or brown poster board). To make the glove, cut a hand in one end of a 3.5″ x 9.25″ strip of white poster board. Tape a jumbo paperclip across the palms of both grabbers.

game-handsReady to play? Have 2 kids select a grabber and sit down at the table. On “Go!” each kid must use his/her grabber to quickly remove cookies from the platter. The kid who grabs the most cookies, wins!

Return of the Katie

return-of-the-katieAfter a year of globe-trotting and fine chocolate, Katie is back! You might recall last year’s story time post about royal pizza. At the end of the post, I introduced Katie’s interim replacement, Miss Marissa. Here’s Katie passing along the crafting crown:

crowning marissa

So where did Katie go? Everywhere. Her husband was on sabbatical in Brussels, and the whole family went with him to experience the wonders of Europe. But if you’ve been following our Instagram, you’ll see that Pop Goes the Page was never far from Katie’s mind. Cue the music…it’s time for a photo montage!


Statue of King Leopold II, Brussels


Steen Castle, Antwerp


Fountains, Luxembourg City


White chalk cliffs in Etretat, France


Snaefellsjokull National Park, Iceland


Hall of Mirrors in Versailles, France


Eiffel Tower, France


London Bridge, England


The Matterhorn, Switzerland


Brandenburg Gate, Berlin


Limestone rock formations off the Algarve coast, Portugal


Mozart Memorial in Vienna, Austria


The Colosseum, Rome


Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris


Venice, Italy


Krka National Park, Croatia


Hans Christian Andersen statue, Copenhagen


Spis Castle, Slovakia


Flower carpet in the Grand Place, Brussels


Luggage packed, Brussels


The journey ends in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware

What was your favorite travel destination?

I have to choose just one? I would have to go with Iceland. The unrivaled beauty of the island is amazing. Everywhere we went, we stopped to take a million photographs or more. There is unique landscape to behold, friendly people to meet, delicious food to eat, and rich history to learn. Something about that place touched a deep spot in my wanderlust soul and I must go back. My husband and son wholeheartedly agree.

What did you miss about the States?

My family and friends. It was very hard to be that far away. And peanut butter. We found peanut pate in Brussels, but it did not taste at all like good ‘ol fashioned American peanut butter.

What do you miss most about Europe?

I miss being able to jump on a train and be in a different country within a few hours. It was incredible to suggest going to Paris or Luxembourg City or Amsterdam for a quick weekend trip and just being able to go. I also loved the convenience of living in the city and not needing a car to go about my daily business. We had everything we needed within a five block radius of our apartment: our son’s school, several grocery markets, a bakery, a meat and cheese shop, a pharmacy, many retail stores, a movie theatre, and dozens of great restaurants. It was such a freeing feeling to not have to drive a car everywhere and that I really miss. When I returned to Princeton after not driving for nearly a year, I was dizzy from all of the crazy traffic on the New Jersey Turnpike!

Do you have any awesome travel hints?

Skip the preplanned tours (if possible) and explore on your own. It may require you to step out of your comfort zone, but you could end up in places you never knew existed. One of the last trips we took before coming back to the States, we went to Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic with little planned other than to explore the towns where my husband’s ancestors lived. We ended up stopping one night in an old walled city in Slovakia that dates back to the 13th century, and the next day we explored nearby Spis Castle. We hadn’t at all expected to spend a day pretending to be knights in an enormous castle, but it was well worth the unexpected detour.

If Dr. Dana could guilt trip you about your glorious year of travel while she remained confined to the States, what would be the most effective angle for her to take?

Hmmm, she could demand I deliver more Belgian chocolate, which I’m happy to do. And she doesn’t even need to share.

So Katie has returned to the library, and got back into the swing of things immediately. Here she is testing out a new photo backdrop whilst wearing a Charmander onesie. Yup. Just another day at the office.

katie-as-charmanderIn the spirit of full disclosure, I too was wearing a Pokémon onesie. It was very comfy.


Now that Katie has returned, must we say goodbye to Miss Marissa? Nope! She’s staying on while simultaneously working on her library degree. So you’ll be seeing both Katie and Marissa on the blog from here on out. Aw yeah.