Mission: Hugs for All

hugs for allIt’s a big world out there. A world with lots of things in it. And those things need HUGS. The question is…are you up to the task? Are you a Hug Machine?

We recommend Hug Machine by Scott Campbell (Atheneum, 2014). Prepare yourself world. The Hug Machine (a little boy in a striped shirt and red rain boots) is on a mission to cheer people up, calm people down, and make things right. Tree? Hug! Park bench? Hug! Crying baby? Hug! Even a spiky porcupine gets a special padded hug. It’s impossible to read this book without smiling. Highly recommended!

Today’s simple project was designed by Jennifer Hyde, an ingenious teacher in Logan, Utah. Jennifer’s “Paper Hug” was featured in Family Fun magazine many years ago. I modified it only slightly for today’s post.

You’ll need:

  • Poster board
  • Scissors
  • Markers

Trace your left and right hands at each end of a 5.5″ x 27″ strip of poster board. Keep the hands connected as you cut them out of the poster board.The result is a long “hug.” Decorate the hug with markers (or use color masking tape like we did).

poster board hugOK, you’re ready to start hugging – and by hugging we mean go forth and find things to wrap your poster board hug around! You can just use the paper hug, or get right in there and use your arms too. Always dedicated to seeing a project through, Katie and I hit the streets on a rainy afternoon to share the love with Princeton.

Hugging John Witherspoon, Founding Father and past President of Princeton University…

witherspoon statue hug

The classic tree hug. It was a little damp, but who cares?

tree hugA mailbox clearly in need of a hug.

mailbox hugHugging a roaster and barista pal at our awesome local coffee shop, Small World.

small world coffee hugA hug for House of Cupcakes, who sell me donuts and cupcakes. Like, everyday.

house of cupcakes hugHugging a rainbow narwhal at JaZams, our stupendous local toy store.

jazams hugNo park bench escapes me…

bench hugNor jungle-like foliage…

leaf hug

A super-sweet hug from the folks at the Bent Spoon, best bakery in the world.

bent spoon hugAn attempted hug of one of Princeton’s famous black squirrels…yeah, no go.

attempted squirrel hugFinally, a hug from a random person who totally rocked the love. Awwwww!

random person hug

Sending hugs to those experiencing devastation and loss in Florida following Hurricane Michael. Our thoughts and prayers are with you.

Timeless Classic


In a dark castle, a clock hangs, hands frozen. Our stylish cardboard clocks, however, work perfectly! This clock was one of the most popular To Be Continued projects of all time. Considering our previous projects have involved singing stones, tabletop magic shows, and booby-trapped Incan temples, that’s saying a lot!

We read the classic book The 13 Clocks, written by James Thurber, and illustrated by Marc Simont (Yearling, 1950). Once upon a time, in a castle full of stopped clocks, there lived a cold and ruthless Duke and his beautiful niece, the Princess Saralinda. Scores of suitors seek the Princess’ hand, but all are chased away, sent on impossible tasks, or slain for trivial reasons (such as starting at the Duke’s gloves for too long). One day Prince Zorn, disguised as a minstrel, asks for Saralinda’s hand. The cruel Duke decrees that Zorn must find 1,000 jewels in 99 hours. Also, when he returns, ALL the frozen castle clocks must be striking the hour. However…unlike the other suitors, Zorn has the help of the Golux – a funny little man with an indescribable hat and distinctly sideways logic. An impossible task, yes. But you never know. With the Golux, things might just work out happily ever after!

You’ll need:

  • 1 box lid
  • 1 box cutter
  • 1 circle of white card stock
  • A couple pieces of brown poster board or tagboard
  • 1 clock mechanism kit (more on this below)
  • Scissors and glue for construction
  • Markers for decorating

First, let’s talk about clock movements. You know the hour hand, minute hand, second hand, and the little motor that makes them move? All those parts are knows as a clock movement. You can find clock movement kits in the woodworking section of Michaels Craft store.

clock movementAt $8.50 a pop, they can get pricey, especially if you’re doing this project with multiple kids. However, you can find them for a couple bucks cheaper on Amazon. The important thing to keep in mind is the length of the motor’s shaft (i.e. the part that the clock hands slide on to). The shafts can range anywhere from .25″ to 1″.  For this project, you want to aim for the shorter shafts. Otherwise, your clock hands will stick pretty far out of your cardboard clock base. Also pay attention to the lengths of the clock hands. You don’t want them to extend past the body of your clock.

So…onto the clock! The project begins as a cardboard lid. We used these 9.5″ x 11″ cardboard trays (you might recognize them from this bear cave and this butterfly garden). Decide where you want your clock face to be, then drill a hole into the lid (I used an electric drill to keep things tidy). If you’re going to add a pendulum, you’ll also need to cut a narrow rectangular slit in the bottom of the box (our slit was .25″ x 3″ ).

clock box step 1Next, place a piece of tagboard and a circle of white card stock over the hole, then redrill the hole. The circle is your clock face, and the tagboard piece elevates the clock face a little bit.

clock box step 2Before you glue the tagboard and the clock face to the lid, however, you’ll want to use markers to add numbers and decoration to your clock face. Check out these awesome clock faces. The smiling kitty!

clock facesWhen your clock face is finished, glue it to your clock. Then start adding a bunch of tagboard flourishes. We cut a bunch of different shapes and styles of flourishes, and let the kids decide what they wanted to use on their clocks. The more layers and texture, the better it looks.

finished working clockYou can also use markers to decorate the clock. We offered Crayola metallic markers, and the results were fantastic.

decorated clocksWhen all the decorating is done, install the clock movement. Just follow the instructions on the packaging, add a battery (a single AA), and you’re done!

If you’d like to add a pendulum, punch a hole in one end of a narrow rectangle of tagboard, then glue a tagboard circle to the other end. Stick the top of the pendulum through the slit in the clock body, then thread a piece of balloon stick (or a drinking straw) through the hole. Secure the balloon stick to the inside of the box with tape. Here’s a shot of the interior of the clock box with the threaded pendulum.

attached pendulumTap the pendulum to watch it swing back and forth. Eventually, it winds down and comes to a stop, but while it’s swinging, the illusion of a working clock is quite real!

The Artistic Journalist

the artistic journalist_artwork by megan whisner-quinlanWords of wisdom, explosions of color, gorgeous layers, and playful images. You will find all of these in the work of art journalist Megan Whisner-Quinlan. What is art journaling? Basically, it’s a more formalized version of a sketchbook. The goal is to express yourself with small, complete works of art within the bound pages of a journal.

A self-taught artist, Megan recently completed an Instagram-hosted project called #the100dayproject. I asked her to share her work, and answer a few questions about her process!

1_artwork by megan whisner-quinlan2_artwork by megan whisner-quinlanWhen did you first learn about art journaling?
I learned of art journaling about 16 years ago, right around the same time I discovered book binding, as they often go hand in hand.

How long have you been doing it?
I did art journaling for about 3 years until I had children and then stopped because I was so overwhelmed with the early years of motherhood. I came back to it about 3 years ago. Initially, I was just journaling during a difficult time, but then I added some nice designs on the pages and before I knew it the art took over.

Do you lean more towards the art…or the journaling?

Right now I lean towards the art. It really depends on where I am in my life. Art journaling is considered an art, but a therapeutic form of art. Sometimes, I will add more writing if I want to focus on certain elements of my life. Many art journalers use a lot of positive affirmations when journaling.

What are some of your favorite go-to supplies?

I use Ranger Ink’s Dylusions journals, paints and inks. They are specifically designed by art journalers for art journaling. I also love watercolors, watercolor pencils. and gel pens to add detail and background to my pages. I do a lot of collage as well, so used magazines are my favorite source for supplies as well.

Are there any parameters to art journaling? Or is it whatever you can imagine – text, images, sketches, color washes…?

There really are no parameters to art journaling, which is why it is so great and accessible for anyone.

Is it difficult coming up with a concept every day?

I almost never have any plan anytime I sit down to journal. Usually I will generate a direction from an image that is interesting and go from there. More recently I have been prepping many pages at once and just go back and forth between them each day.

How has your journaling changed since you first started posting it on Instagram?

I have only been posting on Instagram since January so It hasn’t actually been too long. But as an artist, you tend to try different techniques and phases all the time. I still feel like I’m “learning” and maybe I always will, so I guess right now at least I don’t feel like I have found my niche yet.

What are your top 3 favorite entries and why?
This is a tough one. I have some favorites, but more interesting to me is when you put it out into the world. You don’t know what will resonate with others. To this day I have always noticed, at least on Instagram, my favorites are often the posts that get the lowest “likes.” I love that. It is actually a comfort, because I know that I am still pleasing myself regardless of others opinions.

You finished your 100 day project, what are you up to next?

Right now I am in an “absorption” phase and am doing a lot of workshops online. I looked up one of the more known art journalers, Teesha Moore, and have been watching her videos. I recently just learned she suffered a stroke in March and is still rehabilitating. It is remarkable to see her progress, and even though she is struggling to regain control of her right hand (and speech) the art she is doing just for her recovery, is beautiful. She is such an inspiration to me, so right now, I am trying to learn as much as I can from watching her and grow even more as an artist.

19_artwork by megan whisner-quinlan

Click here to see this journal entry flutter!