Saturday, July 19, 2014

{writer's lab} zine making with kids

We have spent a lot of time the last few months making zines. Zines (short for magazine) are an inexpensive, alternative media that have been popular since the 1920's at least. Some might say that early pamphlet and booklet writers from the early days of the printing press were the first zinesters.

Typically, zines are hand written or typed, glued together, and photocopied. The accessible materials and publishing method have made it attractive to punks, skate culture and various fan fictions. The marginality lends zine writers a certain freedom in their creation. Since you are writing for a small audience and you can print issues as needed, the subject matter can be as arcane as you wish.

This highly specialized content makes zines perfect for kids to create. They can write about anything they want, include as many pages as they want, and distribute freely (or very cheaply) among their friends. 

I especially like that it is so much more physical than blogging or other online publishing methods (which I obviously love too). The actual writing, cutting, gluing, driving to the copy shop, copying, collating, folding, stapling or binding - all gift the zinester with the wonderful experience of actually participating in the entire process, in real time. I love that and think it is often missing in our lives. 

So are you ready to get started?

We started in our house with my zine making. I made a little zine for the Journal Jam lab I am running this summer. I made this because I wanted to send participants something real and tangible in the mail. I am smitten with real mail these days and this project was an extension of that passion. Making a zine was also on my TRY THIS list. 

So, the kids watched my process and then became interested in making zines themselves. They started making zine/workbooks for classes they were leading in our homeschool co op. My 8yo son, who is a big Keri Smith fan then branched out to making several zines of creativity prompts. 

We were also involved in a really cool, co op camp recently. One of my jobs was to create a zine of the experience. I had wanted to include the camp kids more but time was extremely limited. Instead, I listened for quotes, took notes and pictures, and included as much of the kids experience as possible.

The subject of your zine can be anything! It can be your poetry, recipes, journal entries, cartoons and art, fan based (My Little Pony, Lego, Harry Potter), open ended prompts, a story, tutorials and musings. Or all of it! 

You can write the whole thing yourself or ask your friends and family for submissions. 


Once you have a list of topics compiled and you have narrowed it down to one to start with, you....start!

Making a list of what you want to include in your zine is a good idea. 

I usually make a mock up first. That is just blank paper folded with page numbers and notes about what will go on each page. If you are doing front and back, folded 8.5x11 in paper, you might be surprised at how quickly it gets confusing. I constantly refer back to the master. 

Also, if you are going to do double sides pages, do them on individual pages and have the copy shop help you make a master from these. It is really impossible to draw, tape and write on both sides of paper and not have it bleed through to the other side. 

We like to use a wide variety of writing styles within the zine. I will print, write cursive, use fonts from the computer, utilize different markers, use a typewriter and find words from magazines. The variety can make the zine feel energized and alive or cluttered and hard to read, so work with finding the balance that you like.

Adding decorative touches is fun too. Rubber stamps, stickers, photographs, little drawings and my favorite, washi tape, can all photocopy in black and white nicely - so experiment and have fun.

When you have everything written, decorated, and organized, it is time to head to the copy shop. As much as I would like to do all the photocopying myself, I rely on help from the copy master. After talking with him, it was revealed to me that the copiers behind the counter have much better image quality that the ones used in self serve. The public copiers are all preset and have fewer options (this is at my copy shop - yours might be different). So, I work with the experts; they have been exceptionally helpful to my kids and myself.  Our runs usually range from 10-20 copies at a time.

Time to distribute. How will you share your work? We have given ours out to friends, sold them to friends, posted them on Etsy, and given them to community members. You might leave a few at the local coffee shop or in the periodical section of the library. You can send them to friends or even famous people in your content area. Comic shops and record stores might sell them or give them out too. It is up to you to think about where your potential readers might be. If you are a serious zine producer, you can list them on distribution sites, but we are far from that now.

Please leave resources and any experience you have had with zines in the comment section. If you produce a zine, drop me a line and I will gladly promote your work in whatever way I can. I would love to organize a kid zine swap at some point, so log your interest here and start writing and making!

Monday, May 26, 2014

{monday mission} buy cool postage stamps

I love sending mail and have been working on ways to incorporate it more into my labs and other online projects. Something tangible, send through space, seems extra special these days when every experience seems so digitalized.

So, this week, I ask you to head over to the United States Postal Services website (here) and order some stamps. They have a really amazing selection, much larger than most local post offices;  you will yearn to write and send handwritten coorespondance like it is the 19th century.

The USPS offers stamps with flowers, artists, dancers, political activists, musicians, writers, patriotic themes, and more. Think of the interesting meta dialogues you can start in the upper right hand corner of your envelopes!

Monday, May 19, 2014

{monday mission} hike

This week, what about taking a hike in the late afternoon? You know that time when everyone might bored and cranky....

Bring good treats, a camera and a challenge for each person to spot something wild or thrilling.

See what you can imagine lurking in the woods.

Wonder what it would be like to live in the forest.

Count the butterflies, the blooming flowers, the birds, the trees that look like something else.

Catalog the smells.

Notice the change in temperature as you move from one microenvironment to the next.

Breathe in the clean air.

Have fun and be glad you are alive and able to do this.

Monday, May 12, 2014

{monday mission} make a wall of fame

Who are your heroes?

Encourage your family to sit down one night, make a list, find pictures and hang them up for a DIY Hall of Fame that will inspire and stoke your curiosity.

Who would be on your WOF?

Monday, May 5, 2014

{monday mission} pack your dishes up!

It has been a while since we have done a Monday Mission, and I have a good one for you today!

How about, just as an experiment, packing up most of your dishes? Seriously. What would it be like it every one had a bowl, a plate, and a cup and not too much more? There would be a whole lot less dish washing for one. 

Don't go crazy. Don't give them all away. No, just pack them up and put them in a closet or your garage until the end of summer. And then reevaluate. 

We have tried this and are ready to pack up even more. In the quest for simple and slow, this is a super easy place to start. 

Let me know what you think in the comments (and share a picture if you try this!)

Thursday, May 1, 2014

{wellness challenge:: may} tidy your nest

We spent last month cleansing our bodies by experimenting with  increasing our water intake. This month we are going to move outside ourselves and clean up our space.

A big decluttering before summer hits seems like a noble and brave idea. I don't know about you, but I want to spend my summer drinking cold drinks, reading good books and finding places with adequate air conditioning.

So, roll up your sleeves, get ready to purge and clear your space of everything that is unnecessary.

You can join the free FB group here. The group is secret so if this link does not work, just drop me a note at Mama Scout and I will get you in.

I am thinking daily mini-challenges and lots of checking in to keep ourselves accountable.

What can you unload in just one month?

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

{journal jam} register for a different summer

Capturing glimpses into your child's soul is maybe the most cherished aspects of creative writing and journaling with your children.

This summer, my newest lab, Journal Jam, will help you create a daily practice of exploring, communicating and jamming as a family.

For 3 full months, you will receive daily prompts that are adaptable for all ages (from verbal pre-writers to high schoolers)

Our secret FB group will become a community to share and motivate each other.

And to make it extra fun, I have created 2 mini e-books just for you (on running a kid's book club + creating a film club). By feeding our minds with great literature, art and film, we can fully support a holistic cultural literacy. I tell you everything I know about watching movies and reading books with kids and offer some great lists of resources.

I am also creating my first zine! This will be rubber cemented and photocopied just like the ones you might have made as an angsty 15 year old. The only difference is I am an angsty 40 year old! My summer manifesto zine will have lots of good ideas, recipes and just a dose of irreverence.

Finally, most Mama Scout Labs have some sort of merit badge involved. Not this lab - you guys get THREE badges to use for yourself or for your kids. In your welcome pack, you will receive a reading, sleeping, and travel badge!

And of course, I will have weekly giveaways - because that is something I love to do.

I am so excited for this lab!

I think I create and lead the labs I need most, and I am definitely as excited about working with my kids this summer as I am with YOU!

We are going to create something real and memorable.

You will always remember this summer, sitting at the table, writing and talking with your kids about serious things, silly notions and big what if's? You will create a binder or box full of secrets hopes, memories and audacious scribblings.

This is simple, slow and true.

I'll meet you at the kitchen table.

Register here.


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