For one of their first projects of the trimester, our seventh and eighth­ grade makers have been journaling—not writing in journals (though, they’ll be doing that, too), but making journals of their own.

IMG_1723The making began by unmaking. Like biologists with their frogs, students dissected books to explore their inner ­workings. (We have some potential mad scientists at Lighthouse.) They studied the sewing and gluing involved in binding, and formed ideas on how they might replicate the process. Examples of different stitches were provided, but the students were left to determine what worked best for their projects by trial and error. (To practice their methods, they built prototype “art books” from the books they cut apart.)

I stepped into the Creativity Lab to peek at the work being done, and found myself awash in a sea of cardboard. The room had been transformed into an industrial, bookbinding center. Students waited in line at the paper slicer to trim their pages to size (half the length of printer paper), and a drilling station was set up to prep for binding. (Scrap wood was clamped to a table, to let the students drill freely without worry of property damage.) Keeping pages aligned during drilling proved challenging, but some students solved this problem by widening the holes. Clamps were provided, but, as anyone who has ever used a clamp knows, they can be frustrating when precision is crucial. A few students forewent clamps altogether. This did not prove advantageous.

Scrap corrugated cardboard was recycled for the journal covers, then everything was stitched together with yarn. With what time they had left, students decorated their projects. One student gave hers a pair of googly­ eyes, and another emblazoned his with a coat of arms. (One girl went to so far as to finger-crochet a small cord, which she used in combination with a dowel to latch hers shut.)

Then the bell rang, and time was up. There came a unified “Aww,” and the Creativity Lab was picked up.

The students will use their journals to document their making for the rest of the semester. In other words: the next project can now begin.

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David is the documentarian and professional development coordinator for the Creativity Lab. In 2014, he received a BA in creative writing from Louisiana State University, with focuses on short fiction and screenwriting. In partnering with New Orleans-based independent film company, Asymptote Pictures, his work has been featured in film festivals across the country. He likes his espresso maker, and vegetarian tacos.