DCPLive is a blog by library staff at the DeKalb County Public Library!


Feb 3 2014

Smaug the Paper Dragon

by Jesse M

Smaug book artWe’ve showcased art crafted from the pages of print books in the past (check out those posts here and here), but it’s been awhile, so when I came across this intricate paper Smaug (and Bilbo) made from pages of J.R.R. Tolkien’s classic book The Hobbit I just had to blog about it. The paper sculpture is a project by Denmark-based artist Victoria of VMCreations; take a look at her deviantART page for the full gallery of images.

Although the film that inspired the artwork (The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug) hasn’t yet been released on DVD, you can get the first installment in the film series (The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey) from the library!

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Nov 15 2013

The Employee Expo…check it out!

by Dea Anne M

Have you ever wondered what sort of interests and hobbies DCPL employees pursue in their spare time? Well, many of us enjoy making art and creating crafts of all sorts. You can see stellar examples of these at DCPL’s annual Employee Art Expo, now in its third year. Pieces on exhibit include photograpy. drawings, and needle work of all kinds. The display is up through November and many of the pieces are for sale. Proceeds from items sold will go to the DeKalb Library Foundation.

I will be participating in the Expo this year with a few knitted and crocheted pieces. I love both forms of needle work and regularly try to carve out some time to devote to one or the other.  Are you interested in learning to knit or crochet? Do you already know how but want to expand your needlecraft horizons? If so, DCPL can help.

crochetopediaIf you’re a beginner at crochet, consider Simple Crocheting: a complete how-to-crochet workshop with 20 projects by Erika Knight. Each project will teach you a particular stitch or technique. Projects range from simple hats to laptop cases and lace. For a more exhaustive reference full of instruction and fun projects ranging from easy to complicated, try Crochet-opedia: the only crochet reference you’ll ever need by Julia Oparka.

principlesBrand new knitters and knitting veterans alike will find an invaluable reference in The Principles of Knitting: methods and techniques of hand knitting by June Hemmons Hiatt. This book has long been considered the authoritative manual on knitting technique. It has also been long out-of-print up until last year’s newly revised release. If you are interested (as I am) in color theory and how it applies to knitting, don’t miss The Alchemy of Color Knitting: the art and technique of mastering exquisite palettes by Gina Wilde.

Finally, for an excellent guide to needle work of all kinds, take a look at Michael’s Book of Needlecrafts: knitting, crochet & embroidery edited by Dawn Cusick and Megan Kirby. I have owned a copy of this for a number of years now, and I use it often.

Some branches of DCPL also offer free needle craft classes. At Decatur,  Crochet Club meets on the third Wednesday of each month. All skill levels are welcome. Every second Saturday, you can join the Creative Expressions Crocheting Group at Covington between the hours of 10:00 am and 1:00 pm. Bring your current project to Clarkston on November 16th from 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm for a meeting of the Knit and Crochet Club. The meeting is open to the first 15 participants but you must contact the branch to register.


Oct 29 2013


by Jesse M

There are a lot of things to love about Halloween: the haunted houses, the costumes, the candy! But perhaps my favorite aspect of Halloween is one I observe every year, even when I don’t elect to dress up or decorate much, and that is pumpkin carving.

Extreme pumpkin carving coverThe origin of pumpkin carving is uncertain. In the United States, the first jack-o-lantern associated with Halloween was recorded in 1866, although carved pumpkins were first associated with the harvest season in general long before they became emblematic of Halloween.

Freakishly cool pumpkins coverThese days, the art of pumpkin carving has evolved into a complex affair, with numerous contests showcasing elaborate and inventive works of art that most of us couldn’t hope to equal. Yet there are resources available through DCPL that can help you create the jack-o-lantern of your dreams (or perhaps nightmares?), such as How to Carve Freakishly Cool Pumpkins and Extreme Pumpkin Carving. Other good resources for techniques and ideas are available online.

Did you carve an awesome jack-o’-lantern this year? Snap a picture and share a link to it in the comments! Here is one I’m particularly impressed by: R2D2 of Star Wars fame, carved just yesterday by my girlfriend. Below photos courtesy of Amy E.

Photo courtesy of Amy E.

Photo courtesy of Amy E.

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Dec 19 2012

Trees of knowledge

by Jesse M

A couple of years ago I posted about the reference book Christmas tree erected by the staff of the library of Delta College in Michigan. Since that time, many other libraries as well as individuals have been inspired to created their own “trees of knowledge”, and for today’s post I’ve decided to showcase some of them for you.

To start with, here is a time lapse video from last year of a large book tree being assembled in the atrium of the Mathewson-IGT Knowledge Center at the University of Nevada, Reno. The 9.5-foot tree (made up of pre-1950 National Union Catalog books) took three hours and 348 books to construct (take a look at this article for more details).

Here’s another tree, this one courtesy of the Boley Law Library at the Northwestern School of Law of Lewis and Clark College, complete with lights!

But the trend isn’t limited to universities; individuals are also getting in on the fun. Check out these two beauties submitted to social news and entertainment website, reddit.

Still want more trees of knowledge? Take a gander at this round-up of book christmas trees from last year.

Happy Holidays from your friends at DCPLive!


Dec 28 2011

This year, make it handmade

by Dea Anne M

I think we all could agree that there’s nothing quite like a gift you make yourself. Take, for example, the Mother’s Day gift I presented to Mom the year I turned nine. My scout troop made papier-mache earrings, and the ones I produced resembled nothing so much as a pair of orange golf balls. Some green glass beads and shellac turned them into something I considered quite fashionable and dramatic. Mom’s reaction upon opening the gift was…gracious, to say the least. I never saw her wear them. How could she? The things were huge and being clip-ons they probably would have slipped right off of her earlobes. She claimed to love them all the same and, as far as I know, they still reside in her jewelry box.

My crafting skills have improved since then, I hope, and there have been holiday seasons when lack of funds—or sometimes just the desire to give something more personal—have inspired me to make my gifts instead of purchasing them. One year I made personalized refrigerator magnets from polymer clay. Another year, we made candles and decorated picture frames. As I’m not the most enthusiastic shopper in the world, these gift-making sessions were infinitely more satisfying and fun than hitting the stores.

If you’re interested in planning your gift-making for next year’s holidays, or you want some ideas for gifts you can create through the year, DCPL has resources to help.

The Handmade Home: 75 projects for soaps, candles, picture frames, pillows, wreaths, and scrapbooks from the editors of County Living magazine will give you tons of ideas for gifts with down-home charm.

For the green-thinkers among us, Eco-craft: recycle, recraft, restyle by Susan Wasinger provides a number of ideas and instructions for stylish and surprisingly sophisticated gifts made from items that we often throw away. I was particularly wowed by the shopping tote made from coffee bags.

Martha Stewart’s Handmade Holiday Crafts: 225 inspired projects for year-round celebrations has gift ideas as well as inspirations for tabletop decor, gift wrapping, and holiday activities. Ideas for New Year’s, Valentine’s Day, etc. are here and the book  boasts the high-quality photography and enthusiastic tone that you’ve come to expect from the Queen of Crafting herself.

As long as you’re giving a lovingly crafted handmade gift, why not include a beautiful card that you’ve made yourself? Ultimate Card Making: A collection of over 100 techniques and 50 inspirational projects by Sarah Beaman provides, as the title might suggest, a wealth of ideas and instructions for making beautiful and unique cards. To keep the presentation of your gift as thoughtful and one-of-a-kind as the contents, be sure to check out The Art of Gift Wrapping: 50 innovative ideas using organic, unique, and uncommon materials by Wanda Wen. The wrappings themselves are gorgeous, and you’ll also find ideas for wrapping oddly shaped objects such as house plants and bottles of wine.

Finally, I must mention Pinterest, the social photo sharing website styled as vision boards. Users pin images related to special interests such as photography, gardening, and design as well as ideas for focused projects such as wedding planning and home decor. Crafters can browse hundreds of images for appealing ideas for crafts as well as handy source links for further information and instructions. What Harry Potter fan among your friends and family wouldn’t be thrilled to receive a Golden Snitch tree ornament? How about adorable “dinosaur tails” for the kids? It’s all there on Pinterest! You have to be invited to join, but the site has a handy “request an invite” button so that before you know it you’ll be crafting your gift-giving heart out.

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Sep 9 2010

Needle Crafters Unite!!!

by Tamika S

Recently, I discovered the joy of crocheting. My mother, who has been crocheting since she was 12, tried to teach me when I was younger.  My response then was “it’s boring!” and all I learned to do was a long line of chain stitches.  Fast forward X number of years later, with the help of a co-worker, I became interested in it and the rest is history.  As any crafter will tell you, once you start a hobby, you find yourself spending a great deal of time and money gathering materials, whether you need them for a project or not.  A room or area of your house becomes your work area and craft stores become one of your favorite places to visit.

If this sounds like you, add the Library to your list.  The Library offers a large selection of print and audiovisual materials to help you develop or hone your skills in any needle craft. Here are a few to help you get started:

Crocheting School:  A Complete Course by Sterling Publishing Company

The Complete Photo Guide to Crochet by Margaret Hubert.

I Can’t Believe I’m Crocheting [DVD] by Leisure Arts

Getting Started Knitting by Jennifer Worick

I Can’t Believe I’m Knitting [DVD] by Leisure Arts

Teach Yourself Visually Quilting by Sonja Hakala

The Art of Quilting [DVD] by Wisconsin Public Television

Did I pique your interest?  Do you need more than a book or a DVD to teach you how to crochet a scarf in time for the winter?  Well, in addition to materials, the Library offers classes on various crafts and there are even needle craft groups who meet monthly in the Library.  Here’s a link to the Library’s Arts and Crafts Events Calendar where you can find a listing for a crochet class at the Gresham Branch, the Knitting Circle at the Scott Candler Branch, the Brown Sugar Stitchers at the Wesley Chapel Branch, the newly formed Teen Crochet Group starting at Decatur in a few weeks, and the Creative Expressions Crochet Group who is celebrating its 2nd Anniversary on Saturday, September 11th with our annual Crochet Fashion Show.  If you are in the area, come on by and join us and see what fabulous things you can make with a hook or needle, some yarn, a little bit of time, and imagination.


Aug 17 2009

A Good Yarn

by Vivian A

Cover image of Knitgrrl by Shannon OkeyTake two knitting needles, a skein of yarn and thou and what have you got? Hopefully a sweater, a scarf or at the very least – a pot holder. I am less than the very least. I cannot seem to get the hang of knitting.

Three of my more than patient co-workers, a knitting store and a few books with huge pictures cannot seem to get my needles and yarn going in the right direction to make anything more than some impressive knots. Not the knits that I was striving for.

I just wanted to join the ranks of the fifty-three million women who know how to knit or crochet (another dismal failure). This is an impressive fifty-one percent increase in the past ten years.

Plus, I wanted to join celebrity knitters like Madonna, Cameron Diaz and Julia Roberts. In fact, Julia is set to star in an upcoming movie about knitting called The Friday Night Knitting Club. (Also a book you can check out of the library.)

I longed to whip through patterns in Stitch and Bitch by Debbie Stoller or even Knitgrrl by Shannon Okey although I am much too old to check it out.

Knitting is so cool that it has blogs like www.yarnharlot.com. Or www.ravelry.com which is like Facebook for knitters with nearly 400,000 members.  I give up, I am turning in my needles (and crochet hook) for something like ?????