Bubble Up | Programs That Pop

Novi Public Library's bubble pendants program was affordable, accessible, and fun for aspiring adult artists.

THE NOVI PUBLIC LIBRARY in metropolitan Detroit previously focused its art-making initiatives primarily on youth. We wanted to tap into our adult patrons’ creative side as well, so we launched Craftastic Wednesday. We’d provide the space, instruction, and resources for patrons to explore, play, and connect with one another while making art in a nonjudgmental, relaxed atmosphere.
Workshops such as needle felting, “It’s Soy Marvelous” (in which candles, lip balm, and hand lotion are made out of soy wax), 3-D printed jewelry, handmade journals, and altered book art have been offered with success.
One program was particularly popular: bubble pendant jewelry was cost-effective, unintimidating, and fun. This wearable art was made with favorite personal photos, printed images, and one-of-a-kind designs via a few simple techniques.

 

Affordable ingredients

Most materials were purchased at the dollar store and on Amazon:
• 1" pendant trays—round and square
• 1" glass cabochons—round and square
• Mod Podge
• E6000 glue
• paint brush, utility knife, rolling pin and
tweezers
• 1" punches—circle and square
• protective gloves
• alcohol inks
• crayons
• hot plate
After selecting pendant trays, attendees chose their images. The subject had to fit within the 1" tray. Attendees could use personal photos or select from old cards, postcards, scrapbook paper, and pictures of literary references and sports teams.
Once the image was cut to size, attendees were instructed to thinly coat both sides with Mod Podge. Once dried, this kept the solvent-based E6000 craft glue from causing the colors to bleed. While we preached “less is more,” some felt “more must be better,” so damage control with a hair dryer was needed.
After the dried image was adhered to the bottom of the tray with a dot of Mod Podge, a glass cabochon was attached on top with a pea-sized amount of E6000, enough to spread to the edges. This step was tricky because too much could spill over and too little could cause visible air pockets. E6000 needs to be ventilated, so we set up a table for gluing on the far side of the room.

Ink and wax

 

Melted ink crayons: before and after

Alcohol ink—vivid, fast-drying pigments available in many hues—on tinfoil was one of the demonstrated techniques. After smoothing out a piece of crinkled tinfoil, the ink was applied in random drops and gentle squirts from the bottle. As the inks melded, luminous, jewel-like patterns emerged. Most attendees were eager to try this technique, and it ended up being everyone’s favorite.
In the next technique, crayon shavings were put in the metal pendant tray and placed on a hot plate. The colors blended as they melted. Swirling effects could be made using a toothpick to “draw” through the colors quickly before the wax bubbled. The wax was hardened by placing it in the freezer for 20 minutes. Afterward, a glass cabochon was glued on top. The domed glass magnified and enhanced the patterns. Colorful ribbons and cords were a cost-effective way for attendees to wear their artwork out the door.

 

  

 

Alcohol links: before and after

Behind the scenes:

The workshop was advertised through social media, an e-newsletter, and a citywide magazine, as well as in-house signage. It was well attended by both men and women. The laid-back nature of this project encouraged guests to chat, laugh, admire one another’s work, and gush over photographs while music played in the background. The camaraderie was nice to observe and experience.

Mary Jarvis Robinson has a Master of Arts and of Library and Information Science degrees. She is selector for Novi Public Library’s art, craft, and design collections and serves as liaison to the city's Cultural Arts Advisory board

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