Book Recommendation: Scribbleboy

posted by Gina

Scribbleations, new kid! Welcome to the neighborhood.

My name is Ziggy Fuzz.  I’m the president of a special fan club, and I’d like you – yes you, new kid around here – to join.  The full title of the fan club is the Scribbleboy Fan Club.  You’re probably wondering who Scribbleboy is.  So, let me explain.  If you look around the neighborhood you’ll see lots of graffiti.  Most of it is totally ugly and boring, but there are some pieces that are not totally ugly and boring at all.  That’s because they’re not graffiti – they’re Scribbles.  Scribbles scribbled by the most scribbledacious and scribblefabulous scribbler in Scribbledom.  His name – SCRIBBLEBOY.  Continue reading “Book Recommendation: Scribbleboy”

Camp Beret Begins

Taken from The Navigators site.
Image found on

posted by Beret

Well, it happened.

It happens every year.

The end of the school year approached, mayhem ensued, and now the two best reasons to ignore everything else in the world are in my house 24/7.

It’s looking a little grim for a post until “Camp Beret” goes on a brief hiatus July 8.

Who knows, my esteemed co-conspirator Gina might make a surprise appearance, or I might get lucky and squeeze out a book review before mid-July. But just in case, I’m sending apologies in advance.

Since many of you are experiencing a spike in quality time with your kids as well, might I suggest perusing the archives? Perhaps this is the summer to mummify a chicken, or make a lemon battery, invisible ink, or ice cream in a bag. Maybe you want to try extracting DNA from fruit, or use cabbage juice as a pH indicator. Now’s your chance.     Continue reading “Camp Beret Begins”

The Quick and Dirty Guide to Paper Marbling

©2013 Beret Olsen

Ages: 4 and up

I’ve done paper marbling many times, occasionally with satisfying results. Unfortunately, it required a checklist of fussy materials, as well as a sizable chunk of time. Something called ‘size’ had to be mixed ahead of time and allowed to thicken, but not so far ahead of time that it got moldy. Paper had to be pre-treated with mordant and allowed to dry. Who has time for all of that?

I also noticed that I was getting a little precious about the supplies–i.e., I had a hard time sharing them with my kids. That’s because up until a week or so ago, I thought the only way to marbleize was to buy the kit off Amazon, or drive around town trying to find ingredients like alum and methyl cellulose.

Full disclosure here: those are the materials and methods you need to use if you want those amazingly delicate Martha Stewart-y results. If you want to create papers that precisely resemble the endpapers found in old leather-bound books, and if time is not an issue, then by all means go and do it that way.


Marbling is fun. And cool. Why not try it with cheaper, more easily accessible supplies? That way, you might be more likely to do it with a group of kids, or with your own, on some random rainy day when you are desperate to squelch the endless bickering. Not that my kids ever behave that way.

So, here it is: the cheap and easy method for marbleizing paper.    Continue reading “The Quick and Dirty Guide to Paper Marbling”

How to glue stuff like a crafty mofo

posted by Beret


For those of you who would like to amaze your friends and family members with some mad gluing skills, this post is for you. Not interested? You still may want to take a peek down at step #5, which has a link to make a book press out of two cutting boards.

The techniques outlined below could apply to a myriad of different projects involving paper. In the demo, I am gluing the accordion book from a previous post into its attractive cover. If you’re looking for something else to make, try ‘crafty mofo.’ There you will find a boatload of interesting things to make–plus a few ugly ones, to be sure.     Continue reading “How to glue stuff like a crafty mofo”

Ridiculously Simple Bookmaking Part Deux: The Accordion Book

@2013 Beret Olsen
@2013 Beret Olsen

posted by Beret

Age Range:  anyone who can fold a piece of paper

You may be wondering: where is Gina?? Well, Gina is taking a moment to figure out some big life questions. I have tried to explain that the answer is 42, but for some reason, she insists on figuring things out for herself.

So I am back with another ridiculously simple bookmaking idea. The pages of an accordion book are made from one very long piece of paper, folded like an accordion. Hence the name.    Continue reading “Ridiculously Simple Bookmaking Part Deux: The Accordion Book”

Ridiculously Simple Bookmaking Part One: The Stick Journal

@2013 Beret Olsen
@2013 Beret Olsen

posted by: Beret

Ages: Three and up, though the very young will (of course) need assistance.

I love to make books.

I was going to do a very thorough post including all kinds of different bookmaking ideas. But then I realized the enormity of the challenge. There are a million ideas out there, and I am not to be trusted endlessly surfing the web. Somehow or another, I always end up on Youtube watching a couple of nimrods having a staple gun fight. In light of this, I decided to narrow my focus and introduce one project at a time.    Continue reading “Ridiculously Simple Bookmaking Part One: The Stick Journal”

Milk Carton Wallets

Perhaps I should call these juice carton wallets.  ©2013 Beret Olsen
Perhaps I should call these particular iterations juice carton wallets.                                           ©2013 Beret Olsen

posted by Beret

Ages: 6 and up

The first time I saw a milk carton wallet, it was in a giant pile laying on a table. Some lovely design student had made them about 150 of them, and was handing them out at portfolio night. She probably had her card tucked inside; I really don’t know. I don’t even remember a thing about her portfolio. Perhaps it was creative and fabulous. I was just mesmerized by that pile of wallets at her table. I took one, went home, and drank a lot of juice.

The rest is history.

“What?” you say. You already have a duct tape wallet? Well, that’s awesome. But someday, it’s going to be so rainy, or snowy, or just plain boring, that you will need something new and amusing to do. And this project is so simple and cheap, you may be surprised you haven’t tried it already.    Continue reading “Milk Carton Wallets”

Relief Maps

©2012 Beret Olsen

posted by Beret

Age Range:  5 to adult

Have you ever spear-headed a flour-paste project that festered, rather than drying properly? I’ve set up fans to speed the drying process. I’ve tried adding salt as a preservative–to no effect. I’ve even added a little cinnamon to help mask any ensuing aroma. Unfortunately, I now associate that spice with a classroom closet full of rotting papier-mâché planets.

Still, kids love doing these sorts of projects, so I was gearing up for another potentially malodorous round of flour dough relief maps. Luckily, someone revealed to me the secret of all such three-dimensional projects:  plaster cloth.    Continue reading “Relief Maps”

The Aftermath: Repurposing Those Sweet Treats

©2012 Beret Olsen

posted by Beret

Age Level:  Any

I’m a huge fan of Halloween.  It’s a festive, fabulous holiday without the baggage and stressful travel.  Sure, I had my candy stolen once or twice, and there were a couple of costume disappointments, but the pure pleasure of carousing after dark as a child–dressed as my alter ego–outweighed any of that.  I love the whole wacky mess of it.


I’m not so wild about the morning after.  Everyone is tired and cranky.  Work and school go on as usual.  And then, there’s the CANDY.  What to do with that boatload of sugar?    Continue reading “The Aftermath: Repurposing Those Sweet Treats”

Duct Tape Wallets

©2012 Beret Olsen

posted by Beret

Age Range:  7 and up, although kids under ten will need a fair amount of assistance getting their tape strips to behave.

Perhaps due to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s famed duct tape alert, I started buying duct tape long before I knew what to do with it besides tape stuff together.  I had rolls and rolls of it just laying around, waiting for something to break.  Thank goodness a friend of mine was trapped in her house with two kids for several very long and rainy days.  She’s the one who gave me a few ideas to get started.

The great thing is that duct tape is like legos.  You can make anything with it, from flip flops to prom dresses.    Continue reading “Duct Tape Wallets”

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