Craft Books: The Gifts that Give Back!

Categories: Crafts and hobbies

There’s an old adage that I like to apply when shopping for friends: Give a lady a crocheted scarf, she has a functional accessory; teach her to crochet and she has a whole wardrobe… and maybe she’ll make a scarf for you one day, too.

I love to give crafty how-to books (for birthdays, holidays, just-because days) because I really believe in empowering people to do for themselves. Whether it’s crocheting, knitting, quilting, sewing, refashioning a T-shirt, baking, or hacking into a dead computer for parts, people like to get gifts that tell them how creative you think they are. And that makes me happy. But I gotta say, sometimes there’s an awesome bonus to giving DIY books! Example: Last year, I gave a copy of Debbie Stoller’s crochet book Stitch ‘N Bitch: The Happy Hooker to my friend Lauren. Several months later, a package arrived from Lauren–inside was a completed One-Skein Scarf (page 100) just for me!

PS: Happy National Crochet Week! What are you hookin’ up?

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Inside the Author’s Studio: Randy Sarafan

Categories: Behind the scenes, Crafts and hobbies, How-to, News

Welcome to Inside the Author’s Studio, where we give you a peek into the minds of your favorite Workman authors.


Today we step inside the mind and studio of Randy Sarafan, author of 62 Projects to Make with a Dead Computer, and Community Manager at Instructables.com, where he’s hosting a computer hacking contest called Keyboard vs. Mouse. Don’t forget to enter!

Recent book you loved/learned from

Everything Flows by Vasily Grossman.

Favorite bookstore

City Lights Books.

Hidden talent

Baking.

Bookmark, dog-ear, or virtuality?

Bookmark.

Book you are most ashamed never to have read

Creativity: Theory, History, Practice by Rob Pope. I keep reading the first half of the book, getting sidetracked and then starting over.

Most frequent form of writerly procrastination

I am constantly starting new things at the expense of everything else that I am working on.

Favorite childhood book

Anything with Curious George.

Alternate ambition

Musician.

Your perfect meal

Authentic NY-style cheese pizza.

Big dream

I’d like to take over a ghost town in the New Mexico / Colorado high-desert and turn it into a community for new media artists, hackers, and pizza chefs.

Super power of choice

Invisibility.

So, Keyboard or mouse?

In light of being a judge for the upcoming Keyboard vs. Mouse Speed Challenge, I can’t yet pick sides.

Mac or PC?

Mac all the way.

What Workman book would you like to receive as compensation for your involvement?

Cooking Jewish seems like it could come in handy in my household. (I currently make chicken parmigiana for every Jewish holiday.)

Randy Sarafan is the author of 62 Projects to Make with a Dead Computer.

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Spotlight on: Author Randy Sarafan @ World Maker Faire 2010

Categories: Behind the scenes, Crafts and hobbies, Fun and games, News

As you may have guessed from yesterday’s post about Allen Kurzweil’s tubular science experiments, Maker Faire certainly brought out the little (or big!) geek in all of us. The range of “makers” was impressive. While robots frolicked on the pavement, burgeoning yarn-bombers learned to knit at Lion Brand Yarn. A PopSci Fireball Gun roared with flames at the push of a button, while the editors of Martha Stewart Living constructed enormous plaster dinosaur bones. Everywhere exhibitors and participants were bombarded with a fusion of science and art.

Randy Sarafan strums sweet melodies on the Gamer Guitar (project #47).

It’s fitting, then, that we had Randy Sarafan and his book 62 Projects to Make with a Dead Computer, a celebration of tech and craft, nearby all weekend. Though he was a permanent fixture at his own Instructables booth, Randy stopped by Workman’s “Camp Make” to sign autographs and wow crowds with the creative projects in his book.

His sidekick, the lovable Squiggle Bot, also graced us with his artistic presence. Kids of all ages–yes, even some of our staff–enjoyed creating Squiggle Bot art (each one is unique!). Budding techno-crafters could take home their artistic creations, proudly stamped with an official Dead Computer rubber stamp, along with instructions on how to make their own squiggling doodler out of a computer fan, a battery, four markers, and googly eyes, of course.

The Squiggle Bot eyes his masterpiece.

If you’re now inspired to do something productive with the turquoise iMac that’s collecting dust in the recesses of your closet, definitely turn to the book for further instruction. My personal favorite is the Music Monster, project #43–a furry little guy with the eyes of a speaker and the mouth of a (functioning) CD player!

Be sure to check out the press accolades and blog tutorials that honored Randy and his artfully scientific projects after Maker Faire wrapped up! And stay tuned for even more Maker Faire highlights next week, as we feature Noel MacNeal’s 10-Minute Puppets, Megan Nicolay of Generation T, and more!

Dead Computer stickers: the pinnacle of Maker Faire fashion.

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Workman’s CAMP MAKE Demo Schedule: Maker Faire

Categories: Authors on tour, Behind the scenes, Crafts and hobbies, Fun and games, How-to, News

Mark your schedules for the following activities and appearances by Workman authors at World Maker Faire this weekend in New York City! For more information, click here.

SATURDAY, September 25*

10:00 AM Fold Origami and World Record Paper Planes – Jillian Ceravalo & Liz Davis, Workman

11:00 PM The Kids Make It Better Activity Kit and Design Your Own Do Something! Superhero – Stefanie Rosenblum & Liz Davis, Workman

12:00 PM Stitch ’n Bitch Book Series Signing and Yarn GiveawayDebbie Stoller, Stitch ’n Bitch

1:00 PM How to Make a Doodling Squiggle Bot (plus, take home a piece of original Squiggle Bot art!) Randy Sarafan, 62 Projects to Make with a Dead Computer

2:00 PM Potato Propulsion Pipe Experiment and Giveaway – A. Kurzweil & Son, Potato Chip Science

3:00 PM T-shirt Refashioning Demo and Book Signing – Megan Nicolay, Generation T

4:00 PM Potentially Catastrophic Science Demo and Poster Giveaway – Beth Wareham, Workman

5:00 PM Play 1,000 Blank Cards from The Games Bible – Avery Finch, Workman

SUNDAY, September 26*

10:00 AM Pop Bottle Science Experiments – Avery Finch, Workman

11:00 AM T-shirt Refashioning Demo and Book Signing – Megan Nicolay, Generation T

12:00 PM Stitch ’n Bitch Book Signing and Yarn GiveawayDebbie Stoller, Stitch ’n Bitch

1:00 PM Play 1,000 Blank Cards from The Games Bible – Avery Finch, Workman

2:00 PM Make-and-Take Paper Bag and Butterfly Puppets Noel MacNeal, 10-Minute Puppets

3:00 PM How to Make a Doodling Squiggle Bot (plus, take home a piece of original Squiggle Bot art!) Randy Sarafan, 62 Projects to Make with a Dead Computer

4:00 PM Potato Propulsion Pipe Experiment and Giveaway – A. Kurzweil & Son, Potato Chip Science

*Free button-making all day!

Special appearance by members of the Do Something! team

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Workman’s CAMP MAKE at World Maker Faire NYC!

Categories: Authors on tour, Crafts and hobbies, Fun and games, Kids, News

This weekend the World Maker Faire is coming to NYC for the first time. And Workman will be there! Stop by our “Camp Make” booth in the Craft Corral in Zone B at the former World’s Fairgrounds in Queens to meet and make with some of your favorite Workman authors! Make fashion, make explosions, make puppets, make yourself smarter, make robot art, make a difference, and more!

World Maker Faire is a festival full of, well, making. In addition to the fun at Workman, there will be incredible feats of technology and stunning visual displays (ArcAttack’s Singing Tesla Coil as seen on America’s Got Talent), family-friendly activities (the BioBus!), delightful eats (gourmet truck food, anyone?), live music, and a crafty yarn bomb. If it can be made, it will be there: A 13,500-lb, 40-ft-tall Raygun Gothic Rocket, a life-size version of the game Mouse Trap, a bubbling Coke-Mentos fountain… In other words, it’s going to be epic.

If you are in the NYC area and decide to come (day and weekend passes are available for on-site purchase), please stop by the Workman booth and say hi!

What:

World Maker Faire at the NY Hall of Science at the former World’s Fair Grounds in Flushing Meadows, Corona Park, Queens!

Where:

The New York Hall of Science (NYSCI)

47-01 111th Street

Queens, NY 11368-2950

When:

Saturday,  September 25 10 am – 7 pm

Sunday,  September 26 10 am – 6 pm

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Let’s Make a Squiggle Bot!

Categories: Behind the scenes, Crafts and hobbies, Fun and games

The other day we made My First Squiggle Bot (see, sometimes we make  things other than books over here!), a doodle-happy recycled robot from 62 Projects to Make With a Dead Computer by Randy Sarafan. This jittery little doodler is made using a fan pulled from an expired computer in the office IT closet (plus a battery, a connector, some rubber bands, and a handful of markers). Office Squiggle Bot wowed in a publicity meeting earlier in the week, then had a brilliant encore when Mattie and his dad, 10-Minute Puppet author Noel MacNeal, visited Workman last week.

After construction (pages 131-133 in the book), we simply attached red wire to red wire to activate and…look Ma, no hands! Squiggle Bot churns out masterpiece after masterpiece…

Now that we have two Squiggle Bots in the office, it’s time for a showdown! Will Squiggle Bot Beta take down Squiggle Bot 1.0? Or will they doodle happily together into the sunset? Remove your pen caps and start your engines, gentle-bots. And the rest of you, go ahead and place your bets, because it doesn’t get much more exciting than this.

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How to: Make your own RAM Money Clip

Categories: Excerpts, How-to

One of author Randy Sarafan’s favorite, and flashiest, projects from 62 Projects to Make With a Dead Computer is the RAM Money Clip. It keeps you organized, it’s stylish, and it’s fun while still being sleek. Follow the directions below to make your very own!

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How to: Make a Mouse Pencil Sharpener

Categories: Crafts and hobbies, Excerpts, How-to
Make your own mouse pencil sharpener with 62 Projects to Make With A Dead Computer! Scroll down for the full project instructions from the book.
After removing the electronic innards of the mouse, drill a hole in the mouse at its highest part. drill
Glue the pencil sharpener to the inside of the mouse so that the hole in the sharpener and the drilled hole align. glue
After some touch-ups to the track wheel, reassemble the mouse. You’re ready to sharpen! assemble

Mouse Pencil Sharpener from 62 Projects to Make with a Dead Computer

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The Dead Computer Book is Alive!

Categories: Behind the scenes, Crafts and hobbies, News

9780761152439…and very, very shiny. The book just arrived in this week! The image at right doesn’t do it justice–the cover is so reflective, you could tan yourself with it. Check out a photo of it here!

It was months ago (April 2009!) that we did the photo shoot for 62 Projects to Make with a Dead Computer (and Other Discarded Electronics) by Randy Sarafan. But for fear of spoiling the surprise, I didn’t want to post my behind-the-scenes snaps from the photo shoot until now. We were on location in southern Manhattan, shooting both on the street and in the studio. As always, it was a generous group effort with members of different Workman departments pitching in. While photographer Evan Sklar worked all the angles, Workman designer Jen Browning stepped up in between takes to act as hair and makeup stylist…and then later as a model! Book designer Rae Ann Spitzenberger and photo coordinator Danielle Hark were looking on.

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Workman sales assistant Nick During tries on the hippo shower cap as he gets into character to model the Walkman Soap Dish (project #14). And Emiglio the robot gets ready for his closeup.

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Prop and wardrobe stylist Jen Everett makes sure the furry green Music Monster (project #43) feels at home and looks perfectly coiffed (a little hair gel, perhaps?). The Disk Drive Bookends, project #10, are holding court one shelf up, while the All-in-One Shadow Box, project #35, are on the bookshelf below. Then it’s on to figuring out how to temporarily affix the Floppy Disk Wall Frame to the wall!

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Fast forward several months (August!) and it’s time for the cover shoot back at Workman (shot by photographer Jenna Bascom). And lest you think it’s all work and no play, cover designer Robb Allen strums a power chord on the Gamer Guitar (project #47).

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It takes a village to make a book like this come alive. And now that it’s alive and breathing, we’re introducing it around. To keep up with what’s new with 62 Projects to Make with a Dead Computer, follow the author’s blog!

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How to make a Dead Computer look as chic as a Rolex watch

Categories: Behind the scenes, Excerpts

The phrase “photo shoot” elicits glamour in the mind of anyone who has flipped through a glossy fashion magazine and admired the poised models, stunning jewelry, and unaffordable clothes. So it was with a fast-beating heart and visions of celebrity that I left the Workman office one afternoon to go to a SoHo loft for a photo shoot for 62 Projects to Make with a Dead Computer. I am not a model and did not know what to expect, but my fantasies of beautiful people, groupies, and free sample designer clothes seemed at hand as I entered the refurbished living room with lights, cameras, hangers, free food and…trash?

But it wasn’t trash that I put on my wrist and carefully positioned to be centered in the shot. It was a “rocking remote cuff”, made out of the plastic that covers buttons in an old T.V. remote. And it looked just as chic as a Rolex watch. With a bit of effort we got through the first shoot—please stop moving!—and went on to the second shot, for which I had to take off my clothes and get in the bath. The shoot was heading in a risqué direction, but fortunately for the audience I was not the focus of the shot: the scene-stealer was an old Walkman recycled into a soap dish (page 9 of the excerpt below). And later a towel rack made out of an old phone headset.

I was disappointed not to be discovered and shipped to the runways of Paris; but I did learn what makes a successful shot: props. And the best props are often not the expensive, latest-craze, name-branded types; but accessories and necessities that you can make from everyday items, like remote controls and Walkmen. And don’t worry if you can’t think of any good ideas: there are plenty in 62 Projects to Make with a Dead Computer that will make you look like a superstar.

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