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Blog Posts by Subject: Design

Wintry Crafts and Books

At November 20th's Handmade Crafternoon, guest Jodi Kahn (author of, most recently Simply Sublime Gifts) provided some great inspiration on how to transform vintage images from the Library’s Digital Gallery into handsewn ornaments, card holders, sachets, and more.  Big thanks from Maura and me go out: to Jodi for her guidance; to local independent bookshop Word for selling both Jodi’s new book and

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Languages of God: The Word as Decoration

The First Polyglot Psalter, Psalter, in Hebrew, Greek, Arabic, and Aramaic; Genoa: Petrus Paulus Porrus, 1516The New York Public Library, Rare Book DivisionJews and Muslims have a particular attachment to languages as expressions of the Word of God. Hebrew and Arabic are both sacred languages since both are in a sense the language of God Himself.

But there is an important difference. The Jews lost their Hebrew as a living language while the Bible was still 

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Scribing the Sacred

If you find inspiration in thoughts of pen angles and letter heights, please visit the “Scriptorium” at The New York Public Library’s “Three Faiths: Judaism, Christianity, Islam” exhibition.

In the Scriptorium you will see the tools of the scribe: paper, ink, and pens, and learn how they have been used to create religious manuscripts over the centuries. The exhibit hall also contains a lighted table, with 

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St. Clare, Patron Saint of Embroiderers

I recently learned, while reading the Summer 1966 issue of Embroidery, that embroiderers have their own patron saint.  She's St. Clare of Assisi, an Italian contemplative known for her hand-sewn altar cloths as well as for her extremely austere way of life.  In 1966, the members of the Embroiderers' Guild, an impressive English organization responsible for the publication of Embroidery, embarked on a shared project inspired by the saint as part of the Guild's 

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From archives to center stage: newly processed Theater Division designs and originals

The Harem, 1924In the recent weeks, staff of the Special Formats Processing unit have been hard at work arranging, re-housing, and cataloging a number of collections, consisting of original costume and scene designs, and caricatures from the Library for the Performing Arts Billy Rose Theater Division. You may have seen samples from these stunning, vibrant original works in past exhibitions at the Lincoln 

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An Exquisite Handmade Crafternoon with Julia Rothman: Sept. 18th!

Do you want to play a game called Exquisite Corpse?  Don’t worry, there’s nothing ghoulish about it; it’s a collaborative art game that was invented by the surrealists.  And it was this game that inspired illustrator and pattern designer Julia Rothman and her colleagues Jenny Volvovski and Matt Lamothe to collaborate with one hundred artists on

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POP! goes the Picture Collection: Warhol at NYPL

Self-Portrait, 1967.(1)He came from my hometown. As a teenager, he collected photographs of movie stars. A few years later, I clipped fan zines featuring Hayley Mills and the Beatles and the Rolling Stones and the Dave Clark 5 and

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New Dorp Library 2010 Teen Art Gallery

Here is my coworker Jen's report on the 2010 Teen Art Gallery.

Saturday August 28th was New Dorp Library’s second Art Gallery that I’ve been allowed to host in the branch… Each year has been a wonderful ball full of stress and excitement! I was constantly worried about having enough finished pieces to fill the room with color and give people a chance to see inside each artist's mind.

Each month we had 3 dates for teens to join us for our

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A Natalie Chanin-Inspired Booklist.

If you were one of the seventy lovely people who attended our last Handmade Crafternoon (in May—eegads, so long ago!), then you know already what a wonderful time it was.  Natalie Chanin encouraged us all to take up needle and thread and make sustainable fashions entirely by hand from the humblest scraps of soft cotton jersey.  She filled the afternoon with stories, practical advice, and enthusiasm, and Maura and I couldn't have imagined a better way to wind up our spring series.  And of 

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Movable books in the Spencer Collection

Books with movable flaps, pop-up pages, and other "interactive" features are known to librarians as "Toy and movable books" and more than a thousand examples can be found in the Library's catalog. Most are modern children's books, but the genre has a surprisingly long history, pre-dating even the dawn of printing, and most early examples were 

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Handcrafted Postcards

Last month saw the last of the Library's Handmade Crafternoon spring series, as our special guest Natalie Chanin provided us with a tremendous afternoon of stories, lessons, and inspiration.  (The list of books we browsed that afternoon will come soon, I promise!)  Although I’ll miss our creative community over the summer break, Maura and I will be busy as

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Alabama Chanin at Handmade Crafternoon.

Our next Handmade Crafternoon is on May 15, 2010--with special guest Natalie Chanin, the creative director of Alabama Chanin and the author of Alabama Stitch Book and Alabama Studio Style.  Chanin's line of clothing and home goods mixes homespun techniques--like stencils, applique, string quilting, and more--with gorgeous modern designs. And her approach to production--slow and sustainable--is noteworthy.


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John Tauranac Talks New York City Subway Map History

Stephen J. Voorhies 1931 transit map coverA subway map of New York City appears to be completely utilitarian and to the untrained eye even pedestrian. In the eyes of another it is a document rife with information. What can be found in the subway maps of New York City is management lineage, a design statement, design history, history of the city, history of business, social history, aesthetics and intention. The adage of “read between the lines” reveals much when looking at a subway map.   At the onset of the New York City subway system, there were three ... Read More ›

Earth-Friendly Crafting, Then and Now.

If you like to make stuff, chances are that when Earth Day arrives each year "green" handicrafts come to mind.  Perhaps you make new items from materials that others would consider wornout or trash; or maybe you seek out all-natural materials for your crafts.  If crafting of this kind  interests you, you might want to look back in time at how crafters from decades past approached "green" crafting. 

Here are some vintage books from the Library worth browsing both for entertainment and information:

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Ezra Jack Keats Winners at Hudson Park

The winners of the Ezra Jack Keats Bookmaking Contest, open to students in New York City public schools, are on display at the Hudson Park Childrens Room through May 22. These books are beautiful and imaginative. Plan a trip to see them! Call us up (212.243.6876) to schedule a class trip.

Detail from A Day in the Museum by Jun Ying Wu of IS 259, William McKinley, in Brooklyn. A citywide winner, this book has pop-up recreations of famous art pieces:

Detail from Darker and Brighter by Julia Simoniello of 

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Crafternoon Favorites, Old and New

This weekend's Handmade Crafternoon was full of industrious, creative attendees—I never fail to be wowed by the skills, enthusiasms, and interests each member of our community brings to Handmade Crafternoons. 

Thanks so much for joining us!  My thanks also go out to Maura Madden for making us laugh while introducing us to some of her favorite books, both old and new, from the Library's collections. 

Here are the books we browsed with her on Saturday:

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Share the Fun at April 17th's Handmade Crafternoon

Get ready, because you are the star at this Saturday's Handmade Crafternoon!  We invite you, our attendees, to bring your own craft projects to work on in the company of friends.

Maura Madden, my favorite expert at creating crafty social gatherings, will lead the afternoon and will share some of her favorite projects and craft books. Don't want to BYOC (that is, bring your own craft)?  Between crafty things? No worries—we'll have craft 

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Books about Puppets and Felt.

March 20th's Handmade Crafternoon was full of creative energy and happiness, thanks to all of you who came and got crafty, and also of course thanks to the felt and puppet inspiration offered by our special guest, Kata Golda.  And I was glad to hear from many of you that the books that I gathered with the help of two enterprising Library interns were a particular hit!

So, without further ado, here's the booklist from that day.


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Hand-Stitched Mice at Handmade Crafternoon.

Don't worry! Our felt mice won't be frightening-- unless you want yours to be!Our next Handmade Crafternoon is in just two days, and my co-host Maura Madden and I hope that you will join us.  We've lined up a sweet special guest, Kata Golda, who makes extraordinary little toys and creatures out of felt  (and whose book Hand-Stitched Felt is a great guide to making your 

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A Paper Sculpted Goldfish.

Included among the books I brought out for last month's Handmade Crafternoon was one that I've been slow to return to the shelves because I want to try my hand at so many projects within it. The book in question is Kenneth Ody's Paper Folding and Paper Sculpture, and I'm a fan because it contains a really broad range of projects--from cute little projects like dog scuptures to some seriously elegant lacy paper 

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