Inventing the “Shadow Maker”

chicago-toy-inventor-nominee

See the cute kid above? That’s my nephew holding a stack of kid art kits that are part of my sister’s MasterKitz line. And Ben had a hand in creating some of the tools for the Waterlillies kit. Now he is one of five nominees for Chicago’s “Young Inventor of the Year” award! How’d he do that? In my sister’s own words:

“When I was developing a kit for Monet Waterlilies, I was a little stuck. Ben was creating the drawing as I was developing it and he was not having as much fun as he did with the other kits. For my previous kits, I created a stencil that went on top of the painting to help with the composition. That is when Ben stepped up and said ‘Mom, why don’t you put the stencil underneath the paper and rub the pastel on top…isn’t that what Impressionism is…an impression?’

Of course! He put the stencil under the paper and it was like magic! Then, I thought why not let him develop the rest of the kit. I told him that I needed to find a way for kids like him to be able to make shadows in the water just like Monet did in his paintings. And that is how he created the “Shadow Maker”. He tried many things, and then finally, he cut a piece of paper just like one of the lily pads, put it on top of the pastel drawing and then dragged his finger down the paper. The “Shadow Maker” protected what he already drew and created instant shadows!”

Brilliant! And I always new Ben was a little inventor. The winner will be decided by the number of votes on the TAGIE website, which ends October 31st. The winner will be announced at a big fancy formal gala. While I was visiting Ben last week, he put on his outfit that he will be wearing to the awards show—not once, but twice! I think I even caught him in the mirror practicing — his acceptance speech perhaps? LOL!

ben-toy-inventor-award-2Check out the site and see the four other inspiring competitors by clicking on the image to the left.

Renwick Gallery Photo Montage

Because of the government shutdown, we were not able to see the basketry exhibit at the Smithsonian when we went to Washington. However, in my “downtime” of surfing the net, I came across this link, the American Art Museum’s Flickr page, (I found posted by the Georgia Basketry Association), of all the baskets on display at the Renwick Gallery! Yah!

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I hope we are able to actually see it. We may be able to stop in on our way to New England in November. But in the meantime, it’s nice to see some of the exhibit if only in photographs. Eric’s basket is a creel which is in the pic featuring four creels. His is the one with the lid open.

So if you were wondering what the exhibit is all about, check out the link here!

Basketweaving on the Runway

project_runway_von_Bromssen_dressI enjoy watching Project Runway and have never missed an episode since it began (well, maybe a couple I might’ve missed over the years).

I love seeing what the designers create and how they work under pressure. Some of their creations are so inspiring. And of course, some pieces make me wonder “what were they thinking?!”

Last week was the season finale, and one of the designers, Alexandria von Bromssen, was clearly the underdog. She seemed to be a little cold and the others appeared not to like her.

But I was fascinated by what she would put out there especially the times when I thought she was crazy and she would be going home next. You have to admire that confidence in your work despite some mocking from your peers. And the judges saw something in her, apparently, since she made it to Fashion Week.

In her final runway show, I thought she should have won. Her collection overall was fresh, hip and more cohesive than the rest of them. And, her non-conventional garment was made out of phonebooks! Yup! Those flimsy paper pages became her fabric! The top was a very cool basket weave — and woven by children. Well, her students! She runs a sewing camp for kids and every year, she has them learn how to weave (Maybe a couple of them will be future basketweavers???). So she had her kids participate in her opportunity of a lifetime by helping her create the woven “fabric” for this garment.

I think it is amazing. I could see this over a sleek black turtleneck. Maybe I could get Eric to weave me a vest like this…