Thursday, September 27, 2007

Family Workshop Report

One of the facts of life is that there are always lessons to be learned. There were a few at the Earth-Friendly Bookmaking for Families workshop at the Newburyport Public library last Saturday. The first was that having people sign up ahead is a good thing. For this one, since the format I planned was informal and didn't require knowing numbers, I decided not to bother. The last time I gave a family workshop at the library, with sign-up, we had a full house. This time attendance was very low. It could have been the time, the season, the topic, or the fact that people had to bring materials, but I think people are much more likely to come to something they have already made some level of commitment. Plus when there is a sign-up, the Children's Room staff always calls the day before with reminders.

Most of my workshops are done in schools which is a much more controlled setting, even in the case of evening family workshops. Teachers can remind the students, send notes home, etc. I think in the future in public settings I will ask the staff to gather materials for me and not require the participants to bring anything which is the way I have done things for years.

The happy lesson is a confirmation of the innate openness and creativity of kids. I am in the planning stages of a book for families on making books with recycled materials. As I think about it, I feel that in some ways it is the parents who need the book more than the kids. Although we lament, and with good reason, the amount of time kids spent in front of the computer and TV, I take heart in the fact that when kids are presented with what they need to sit and create, they do it with enthusiasm. When they make a book, they can't wait to write, draw, or collage in it. Adults on the other hand are often timid and reserved. They are afraid to dive right in.

The library experience also demonstrated the power of the collage box. I collect paper from all kinds of sources. Everyone in the house knows to keep the wrapping paper for me after the presents have been opened. I save scraps of art papers, old calendars, interesting envelopes, can labels, catalogs, and anything else that catches my eye. I cut or tear them up into smallish pieces. I am a firm believer that everyone is creative. One of the problems with creating on paper is that so many people assume it is necessary to draw well to do so. The colorful papers in the collage box are a friendly entry and a great way to get children and adults working.

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