Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Projects to Enrich the Girl Scout Cadette Book Artist Badge

The Girl Scout Cadette Book Artist badge is my favorite of the Cadette badges.

Because really, who doesn't want to earn a badge in bookbinding?!? The ability to make your own bound book is the best thing ever, and it's absolutely one of those skills that will grow with you throughout your entire life.

But of course I've never met a lesson plan that I couldn't futz with, so you won't be surprised to learn that I don't think that the Book Artist badge goes far enough. The bookbinding skills are excellent, but there's so much more to be said. You can't make a book without paper, for instance, and so papermaking, to me, seems essential.

Many lovely books also have decorative endpapers, so obviously you need to explore different ways to make artistic endpaper.

And Girl Scouts promise to use resources wisely, so I don't think you can talk about making new books without also talking about ways to productively re-use the tattered and torn old books already out there in the world.

So these projects, then, aren't necessarily projects that fulfill one of the requirements of the Cadette Book Artist badge--instead, they're projects that enrich it, that allow Girl Scouts to dig deeper and explore further, and that open up new possibilities for interested girls:


I think that an understanding of how paper is made is a great place to start when you're learning how books are made, and the process is surprisingly easy and kid-friendly. Here's one kid's very first piece of handmade paper:

Here are some ideas for papermaking:

  • basic handmade paper (we put comic books in ours!)
  • photo paper. This isn't exactly making paper from scratch, but rather making interesting photographs into pages for a book, with the idea that you can doodle and journal on them.

Artistic Endpapers

These are intended to be pasted down to the book cover to hide where it's attached, but they're lovely works of art in themselves, and since they're abstract, making them is a fun, process-oriented sensory experience.
  • alcohol ink and tissue paper. The tute specifically uses this for an album cover, but I think that you could cover a thinner piece of paper and make endpapers, as well. Tissue paper is easy to obtain, and alcohol ink is fun to play with!
  • printmaking with Styrofoam. This would be an easy project to gather the supplies for. Ask friends, family, and parents to save you the tops of their Styrofoam take-out containers for a month, and you'll have LOADS for printmaking.
  • shaving cream marbled paper. This project was SO FUN, and the paper turned out great! I highly recommend it.
  • wine cork stamps. Use these DIY stamps to stamp all over high-quality paper to make endpapers.

Upycled Book and Book Page Crafts

Girl Scouts use resources wisely, and there are so many discarded, unwanted, damaged books in the world that it would be a shame to learn all about how to make new books and neglect exploring all the ways that you can make old books new again.

And yes, many people, when confronted with book and book page crafts will say the following "I could never destroy a booooooooook!"

To that, I say, "Really?!? You're going to treasure that complete set of Reader's Digest Condensed Books, all fifty volumes that do nothing but offer five-page synopses of Moby Dick and A Tale of Two Cities? You're going to pass down to your children the thrift store copy of Green Eggs and Ham that has three pages missing and blue scribbles all over the rest?"

Of course you're not. Nobody actually wants books like those. But I'm going to take that Reader's Digest Condensed Book and teach my kids how to make a book safe out of it, say, and then they're going to keep secret treasures inside. I'm going to teach them how to take the covers off of that Dr. Seuss book and make their own journal, and then they're going to keep a diary inside of it. Here are some other ideas for making much better use of old books and book pages:

  • beeswax-coated paper. This is more a sensory activity than anything else, but if you cut the paper to shape, punch the holes, and then coat it in beeswax, you can make a pretty sturdy bunting out of it. Do the embellishing and decorating first, as well as the cutting and punching, and you'll have reusable gift tags. 
  • book page poetry. We did this project with an old Sweet Valley High book, and the poems came out awesome.
  • decoupaged book page mosaic tesserae. Older kids working on a more sophisticated mosaic piece could make these with proper safety gear on--broken glass is SHARP! For younger kids, buy flat-backed glass marbles and let them make them into magnets.
  • decoupaged monograms. You can buy letter blanks at any big-box craft store, or you can make your own out of cardboard.
  • decoupaged room decor. I think it would be fun to have every girl bring something from her room to decoupage. The lampshade in this tutorial would be quite the accomplishment!
  • padded envelopes made from book pages. If you need some small-scale padded envelopes, or perhaps packaging for a gift, this DIY looks much quicker and easier than even running to the store to buy some would be.
  • paper feather. These would make such cute party decorations or costume components.
  • paper flower. The tute calls for newspaper, but you could use vintage book pages just as easily.
  • paper scrap pendants. Make these with the leftover flurries of paper after a bookmaking project; if you have a multi-level troop, this project would also complete a step of the Junior Jeweler badge.
  • paper scrap magnets. Here's another way to use paper scraps, if you're not into pendants.
  • plasticized paper. This probably wouldn't make the book pages sturdy enough to make sit-upons, but maybe a picnic tablecloth?
  • upcycled artwork. This elaborate project lends itself well to process-oriented fun, but I bet it wouldn't be too challenging to make it come out cute, as well.
  • vintage book photo album. This would work well with old dime novels. Find one whose book cover lends itself to a cute theme!
  • watercolor and Sharpie-embellished book pages. Inspired by this blog post, the kids and I did our own drawings with Sharpie on vintage dictionary pages, and then embellished them with watercolor. 
P.S. Want more Girl Scout projects? Follow my Craft Knife Facebook page where I post what works and what DOESN'T work, right as it happens!

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