Projects Projects Everywhere, Redux

the project projectQ: What do I do with my kid’s art projects? They’ll be upset if I toss them out, but I’m being squeezed out of the house by an army of cardboard creations!

No, this isn’t a question from a blog reader. It’s the question I ask myself the eve of every curbside recycling pick-up. You see, our home studio overflows with art projects. Which I consider a very good thing. Bring on the creativity!  But eventually, space runs out and reality rears its ugly head. My house overflows with paper, tubes, and boxes connected with sticky webs of tape. The shelves are packed, and I haven’t seen the top of my coffee table in 7 days. Worse, we don’t have any room to make new projects!

Alas, I have a few unpleasant options to choose from:

Option 1: Toss the projects. This usually backfires because my kids routinely root through the recycling bins for building materials, resulting in “MOM! Why did you toss my 10 car tissue box train!?!?” Or they catch me carrying the stuff to the trash and plead with me to keep the 45 pieces of pipe cleaner jewelry that have been hanging on the living room doorknob for 5 weeks.

Option 2: Have the kids decide which projects they’re ready to toss. I sit the kids down and tell them how proud I am of their projects. I explain that it’s time to let the shoe box fire station go because we all need to be responsible and keep the house orderly. My kids of course understand and don’t argue with me. They dispose of the projects and even offer to tidy up their rooms as well. Um…in the spirit of full disclosure…I must admit that I’ve never actually had any success with Option 2.

Option 3: Wait until they’re not looking / asleep and sneakily dispose of the projects. This is what happens most often I’m afraid. However, it’s surprisingly difficult to turn your back on an oatmeal container cat staring dolefully at you over the rim of a recycling bin hidden in the backyard. And then there’s the inevitable “Hey, where’s the swimming pool I made for my Shopkins?” A ferocious interrogation ensues until you finally confess you tossed it because you had to clean up. Even while you’re rationally defending the tidiness of your household to the indignant artist, you secretly feel like a horrible monster for tossing your child’s creative vision. Sigh.

In 2014, I blogged about one solution to project clutter. It’s a customized project book made out of an inexpensive photo album. You can read about it here.

project bookLast weekend, however, I came up with another solution! I created an Instagram account. Now, anytime a project needs recycling, I just upload a photo of it to my Instagram.

the project project screen shotThere the project remains, forever validating my kids’ imaginative musings. It’s a fun gallery documenting their tremendous creativity AND a digital representation of one less job for Mom the Recycling Cop. Bonus! Grandma and Grandpa can follow our Instagram to see what those clever grandkids are up to.

the project project train table

The Project Project hasn’t been running very long, but I can already see and feel a difference in the house. Projects are recycled without a fuss because they’re not getting tossed out. They’re simply changing into something that can be seen and shared with others. Also, I love these projects! I honestly feel bad when they have to go. Now I can revisit them all the time.

Want to see a truly FANTASTIC Instagram art project? Check out this fashionista mother and daughter crafting team!

Welcome Back, Potter

welcome back potterIt’s Harry Potter week at Pop Goes the Page! Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Parts 1 & 2 will be released this weekend, and there will be launch parties and countdown events galore. I thought it would be helpful to compile all of Pop’s Harry Potter posts and projects, just in case you find something that might come in handy at your wizardly celebration.

Let’s start big. This is a Spell Simulation game Princeton University junior José M Rico created for our Wand Works event. It was amazing. You can see videos of the 6 spells, and find a free download of the game here.

wand works spell simulation game by jose m rico, background by jeremy goncalvesAnd now for more amazing-ness. This Magical Miniatures post features an interview with Sally Wallace, a miniaturist and artist who constructs astounding Harry Potter dollhouses and miniature scenes. Feast your eyes on Hogwarts!

greenhouse1 smallerHowever, if your magical real estate aspirations need to be on a slightly smaller scale, try this Gothic votive castle. See the greenhouse to the left of the castle? Peek inside and you’ll see that the mandrakes are ready for re-potting!

greenhouse3 smallerHerbology continues with this little dried herb amulet

amulet smallerAnd these dashing, yet simple, snapdragons. You only need a paper cup, construction paper, and pipe cleaners (more ambitious gardeners can try these magical “growing” box gardens).

get-snappy smaller

We also have portable potion studio for all your brewing needs…

witchy kitchy stackedAnother Harry Potter post I dearly love is this suitcase boggart. I designed it for a Defense Against the Dark Arts table. The secret to making the suitcase thump and bump convincingly? A battery-operated pet toy called “The Weazel Ball!”

the-perfect-boggart smallerWe’ve also made plenty of dragon and monster projects in the past, from this food chain to a black light tin foil dragon. Representing the forces of good, however, is this phoenix puppet. You can make it out of a tissue box, and stroll around with it cradled in your arms.

fantastical-phoenix smallerMoving on to school supplies, try these simple, but immensely popular, quill pens.

quill-pens smallerIf it’s a wand you need, take a look at the custom wands we made at our Harry Potter Wand Works event (and if you’d like to meet Lane O’Neil, a real-life wandmaker, take a look at this post).

wizard with wand

Also necessary for any Hogwarts student is an inexpensive PVC pipe wands (with your choice of core, of course). There are also flying books, and things that fly OUT of books.

these butterflies can book

And don’t forget your wrist owl to deliver the mail (but not a Howler)! These handsome little fellas are made out of toilet paper tubes and pipe cleaners.

wrist owl examples

Once your school supplies are assembled, hit the classroom with the Chemistry of Magic!

chemistry-of-magic-web- smallerOr, learn some smaller spells. A pair of Slytherin students joined us at our School for Scoundrels program and taught kids Aparecium, Furnunculus, and Inanimatus Conjures. But Confundo was definitely the most popular. Also, there’s this special paper that allows you to set your spells on FIRE and watch them fly!

And, if Muggle Studies is full this year, you can always take a look at our online exhibit, which includes photos and information labels on everything Muggle.

muggle studies 101

Deluxe Chicken Grooming Kit [c.2011]

Wanting to bring a little Potter into your own home? Well, you can crank it to ELEVEN like this amazing family, or host a smaller party like the one concocted by Hope, our kid tester, which includes inexpensive decor ideas, templates, recipes, and useful links.

owl balloonsAnd what would Harry Potter be without some treats? Check out the gourmet pumpkin pasties crafted by Melody Edwards, a Princeton University graduate who is currently in culinary school. They were yummy.

birthday potter croppedWe also tested a couple recipes from the The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook by Dinah Bucholz (Adams Media, 2010). Including Hagrid’s famous rock Cakes!

rock cake testingThose wanting a more academic perspective on Harry Potter (not to mention a look at some goodies from our rare books vaults) should check out the Harry Potter and the Mystery of the Author’s Name post on Cotsen’s curatorial blog. It shows the different ways J.K. Rowling’s name has been spelled (and misspelled!) over the years.

If you’re wondering about the image that started this post (like how I magically manage to appear 9 years younger?), it’s a promo photo from a Harry Potter event we hosted in 2007. You can read more about the image, as well as some of my hints for promoting programs, here.

I also mentioned Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Well ladies and gentleman, Katie, Marissa, and I actually went and saw the play on Broadway. You can see our complete (and spoiler free!) post here.

full theater 2

French Pastries

ornamentsI bet that title got your attention, right? We made these delicious-looking ornaments for a Journey to the Centre of the Earth event. Kids colored them, hung them on a ribbon, and then brushed the backs with vanilla extract. Mmmmm!

A quick word about our undying devotion to accuracy. Yes, we did the initial French pastry research using Google. But since the internet isn’t always the most reliable of sources, I took them to a local French pasty shop called The Little Chef for some fact-checking. Edwige Fils-Aime, the owner and chef, was kind enough to take a look and correct them for me.

the little chefWhile he was doing that, I got to take a look at things like this:

pastriesAnd this:

puffsAnd THIS!

cakeAll in the name of research and accuracy, of course. And if some of the pastries happened to come back to the office with me, what of it?

To create French pastry ornaments, you’ll need:

  • French pastry template, printed on 8.5″ x 11″ white card stock
  • Hole punch
  • A selection of shimmer ribbon
  • 1 bottle of imitation vanilla extract
  • Q-tips
  • Scissors
  • Colored pencils

Print the template (which features the artwork of talented student artist, Aliisa Lee), and use the colored pencils to decorate the pastries. Punch a hole at the top of the ornament and run a piece of ribbon through it. Knot or tie in a bow.

Dip a Q-tip into the imitation vanilla extract (I found clear vanilla extract at the store, which worked great on the white paper). Gently rub the vanilla extract-infused Q-tip on the back of the ornament.

tarte au citronThe Little Chef was also a contender in our Hansel and Gretel Gingerbread Cottage Challenge. You can see his cottage (with a truly artisanal chocolate fence) here.