September 28, 2009

Book Covers: 1918 Inspiration

    On closer examination of  the book "How I Did It," I realized that what I thought was the cover was actually a beautifully crafted book cover. Now back in the day, when I had to cover my school books, we used brown paper bags and newspapers and clumsily made origami folds and crinkles which ended up looking like dingy elephant-skin covered blocks or  newly wrapped pieces of meat.
    In High School, people stopped covering their books with paper products altogether, they used the newly minted "Booksoxs." The beauty of the booksox was that it was stretchy, almost like tights for your book. It only took a few seconds to put on and some people used this to their advantage by rotating one sox on all five of their textbooks in time for the "Did you cover your textbook check?" To my knowledge, these sox didn't actually protect anything, they were made of cloth and spilled juice would sink right through it.
    Anyway, the book cover on "How I Did It," is probably common knowledge to a lot of people, I had never thought of wrapping a book so simply. I decided that this type of cover would be perfect for when I go to reenactments and have to bring my homework and school books. It doesn't damage the books either. I've seen people bring wrapped books which looked just like those wrapped-piece-of-meat books, with visible tape. They are distracting and could be made more discrete.

To Make a Book Cover:

  • Book ( Soft cover are easiest to work with) 
  • Ruler
  • Cardstock, paper ( use a thicker paper.)
  • Pencils
  • Glue (I used Nori Glue, If you can't find this a homemade rice glue would work.) 
First I measured my book and marked where the book corners would be. For a hardcover book, be sure to add a little extra to each dimension for when you wrap the paper over. Make sure when you are measuring the book you open the book so that the pages are evenly divided on both sides. Make sure that the measurements fit when the book is closed too.
Then I drew out the rest of the dimensions based on this drawing. The dotted lines are folds and the red bits are where you will later add the glue. Cut out your cover on the outer solid lines. (The cover should look like the picture.) I should have used a bigger piece of paper to get adequate flaps.

Fold the side flaps in first and make sure you crease it well. Then fold the top and bottom flaps in and crease them. close the book and try to see where the top and side flaps meet, that's where you will put the glue. Make sure that you don't get any glue on the book, and that you wipe off any excess glue.

Rice glue is especially nice to use with paper products because it dries practically clear. Once you try it you will love it, it dries slow so you have time to adjust what you are gluing before it sets. You don't get the wrinkled paper that you get with school glue and it sticks better than a glue stick. *If you made your own rice glue, be sure to store it in the refrigerator. Paintbrushes, popsicle sticks and cotton  swabs work nicely for distributing the glue. Rice glue will completely dissolve off of the paintbrush when you wash it.

For a final step I used ink to draw on similar markings as the original 1918 book had. The original is drawn in crayon and mimics the lines on the real cover of the book. The finished product looks really great. I hope other reenactors start to add the covers to their books. Enjoy, I know I made a really simple project, overly complicated. You can see the inside cover of the original book in my post "How I Did It."

September 25, 2009

How I Did It: Teaching in 1918

While rummaging through a pile of unwanted books from my old school's library, I found this fascinating read: How I Did It: A helpful handbook for the teacher made up of devices, chosen for their originality and general usefulness, which will give variety to the schoolroom routine and add to the value and effectiveness of the teacher's work. Published in 1918, it really is amazing to read, there are tips in there that still apply 91 years later.

Some great ideas that I might use when I am eventually a teacher:
  •   Twenty Minutes of Fun: "The many morning tasks and the long tramp along country roads or across fields made arrival at school on time a problem for many pupils. Suggestions as to rising earlier, despatch of duties, talk on promptness as a virtue, written excuses for tardiness (always demanded) proved of little avail. I planned a change. Exactly at nine came reading from "Little Men," or whatever book we chanced to be enjoying...By using extracts from our storybook in our lesson work, more of an interest was aroused. Since I refused to lend my book, every child strove to be present  when it was read, and thus prompt and very nearly perfect attendance was secured. " (pg. 14.)
  •  School Outdoors: "When warm days come, often, as a special treat, I allow my pupils to have school outdoors. We choose a shady spot. Some old boards laid on the ground serve as desks and seats...even the most restless are influenced by the peace of nature on a calm bright day." (pg. 31.)
And some ideas that truly date themselves (Although, they did work for our grandparents oddly enough): 
  • Rural School Health League: "Not all rural schools have Health Leagues, so I am going to explain the purpose of ours and how we are using it to teach constructive hygiene." There is a sample chart that children were expected to fill out each day and points awarded to be added up.  "1. How many slept last night with their windows open at least three inches from top and bottom? (1.) 2. How many brushed their teeth once, twice, three times yesterday? (1,2,3.) 3. How many cleaned their nails, once, twice, three times yesterday (1,2,3.) ...7. How many combed and brushed their hair before coming to school yesterday? (2.) ...11. How many tried to sit and stand correctly yesterday? (1,2,3.) 12. How many took one bath last week? (1.) (pg. 162.)
  • Suggestive Drawings: "Workers with primary grade children like to find ways of obtaining results without the frequent use of "Don't." When Frank leans against the desk, he must be made to remember that this is not school fashion. Suppose we ask 'Are you lame, Frank?' Draw on the board a picture of a stork standing on one leg. Until the children have been some time with you, it will be very well to say occasionally, 'I hope we shall not have many storks in class to-day.' A glance at the picture and a meaning smile will bring good soldier positions, and if visitors happen to be present it will be such a satisfaction to be able to accomplish the result without a word..." (pg. 26.)
 I just love the image of the strict but loving schoolmarm, in her long, crisp modest dress saying some of these things. I must admit, I've been envying this pattern from Ageless Patterns. It is a slightly earlier period than the book, but it is gorgeous. Something tells me the faculty might think ill of me if I really wore that to teach in (maybe I'll create an 'updated' version of it.) 
Picture of 1918-1919 Rural School

September 22, 2009

Homemade Knitting Needles

Civil War Reenacting Knitting
My other half agreed to make me double pointed knitting needles in return for a Monmouth Cap.
They turned out really nice and you can't beat 6 knitting needles for under $4.00. It was a really simple project and we had fun sitting on the deck stairs in the sun whittling together.

Making your own needles:
  • Go to the hardware store (bring your needle gauge) and find a dowel of the correct width.
  • Add two inches to the length that you want the body of the needle to be and mark that length on the dowel. Continue until you have all of the needles measured out.
  • Score all around the dowel with a pair of scissors, on the marks you made (thinner sizes can be cut with the scissors.) *Don't worry about a rough edge, you'll be tapering them.* For larger sized needles, use a small saw to cut through at your score lines.
  • Mark each needle one inch from each end. Use this mark to form a slight taper to the ends with a pocket knife.
  • * Remember, the points do not have to be very sharp.*
  • After all the needles are whittled, sand them very smooth, and run a piece of pure beeswax over the needles, for a great smelling finish.
  • Use very fine grade steel wool to buff the wax, and keep it from getting sticky.
This site is great if you are interested in making a Monmouth Cap, these were popular up until the 17th century ( I'm sure there were multiple versions after this.) These were also featured in the movie Master and Commander. Making a Monmouth Cap.


Today my bunny, Boo, made this arrangement with her pile of Romaine lettuce. Boo is a house-bunny-not like the ones you see on T.V.
    She lives in the house like a dog or cat and uses a litter box. She enjoys sleeping under the sofa and being pet nonstop.
    She's very upset that fall is here because she is losing her fur coat which will be used in the winter to make a nest. She hasn't quite grasped the concept of putting the fur in the nest, so we have to brush her and put the fur into a nest for her. Our other bunny, Daisy makes a beautiful nest every year (all by herself.)

Anyone else keep house-bunnies?

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