Wire Tree Sculptures

I recently attended a makerspace workshop hosted by YAACS, the Young Adult and Children’s Services section of the BC Library Association. Three youth services librarians shared a number of simple, cost-effective crafts and activities to share with teens and tweens in the library.

A teen services librarian from the Burnaby Public Library, Rachel Yaroshuk, shared this beautiful and incredibly inexpensive craft, which she made with kids and teens at her library:  miniature wire tree sculptures!

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Supplies:

  • Thin wire (The lower the gauge, the easier it is to twist the wire)
  • Wire cutters / pliers
  • Rocks (for your base)
  • Hot glue gun (optional but recommended)
  • Tissue paper

You can find complete instructions for making a wire tree sculpture here, though for our craft we simply cut one long piece of copper wire and looped it over on itself, cutting the loops at the top and bottom to create our branches and roots. We also glued our roots to the rock, though if you’re working with kids this might be a job for the grown-ups in the room to take on.

We then used pieces of tissue paper to create little leaves and blossoms for our trees.

How cute is this craft?!? Wire can be purchased very inexpensively from home supply stories and electronics shops, and rocks can be found just about anywhere, making this a fantastic activity for budget-conscious librarians.

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Have you ever made a craft like this at your library? I’d love to know how it went!

Origami Madness, or, Why It’s OK to Suck

I facilitated an origami program as part of the spring break programming at my branch this week. Let me tell you, in no uncertain terms – when it comes to paper folding, I am the absolute worst. I am too clumsy, too impatient, too easily frustrated, not nearly detail-oriented enough, and far too easily distracted to be able to master something as fiddly as origami.

In the weeks before the program I was sweating. I looked at every origami book I could find, watched all sorts of Youtube tutorials, and scoured Pinterest trying to hone my paper folding craft.

In the end I managed to make a rather spiffy miniature Samurai helmet.

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And that was it.

When my origami program finally rolled around, things went from bad to worse. Not only was I still unable to fold anything other than Samurai helmets, there wasn’t a single child in the branch over the age of 9. Most of the kids in my program were 6-7 years old, with manual dexterity skills and attention spans to match. One instructor and a group of eager but impatient little kids. Not the ideal origami program scenario.

But you know what?

It all turned out alright in the end.

Sometimes, being absolutely rubbish at an activity can actually make you the best person to teach other people how to do it. You know that old saying, “those who can’t do, teach”? Turns out there’s some sense to it after all.

When something comes easily and naturally, it can be difficult to understand why other people find it so difficult or incomprehensible.

Because I found origami so difficult, I could empathize with the struggles of my participants. I focused on simple projects with limited steps – if I could do it, an impatient six-year-old could likely do it. No one felt stupid or unaccomplished at my program, or struggled to keep up with the instructor. Everyone worked at their own speed and at their own level, and everything any child made was a real accomplishment.

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Everything that’s not a samurai helmet was made by our librarian technician, Marianne. I can claim no credit for this adorable whale.

The children got to work with a grown-up who accepted her limitations with a smile and a complete lack of embarrassment. If I screwed up a project, I laughed, unfolded the paper, and started again. We learned to follow the different steps together.  I freely admitted that I wasn’t naturally talented, and made sure that everyone saw my many failures – failures are just a part of the learning process, after all! It was a fun afternoon, and I felt like a big weight had been lifted from my shoulders. It was OK to suck at something after all.

So, whether it’s singing, coding, crafting, paper folding, or any other kind of activity, don’t worry too much about your natural ability or skill – being rubbish at something can actually be a blessing in disguise, allowing you to mentor your participants, empathize with their struggles, revel in their successes, and reinforce the importance of not taking life too seriously, and being able to laugh at yourself.