Book: The Best of Making Things

A Hand Book of Creative Discovery
Ann Sayre Wiseman

A classic, hands-on project and idea book for makers of all kinds: teachers, home-schoolers, parents, and kids of all ages. 125 projects tested and proven by hundreds of visitors to the Boston Children’s Museum. Thoroughly and deliciously illustrated by the author.

Making Things is the answer to the child who asks, “what can I do?” Open the book and say: “Let’s make things! Paper from laundry lint! Chocolate pudding finger paintings! A cardboard box loom [that teaches weaving and math]! Stocking masks, a braided wig, and a grass hat!” Perennially popular, it’s a good bet for any parent, teacher, and makers who want to explore new realms of creativity.

Even non-readers can easily see how to weave, carve soap, turn a stick of willow into a whistle, or fashion their own stilts; scraps of cardboard become “cardboard racing turtles” — an activity the whole family can enjoy; a box becomes a play horse. Paper turns into sculpture and aeroplanes, as well as hand-made books. Mobiles and pendulum-driven sand-drawing explore the science of gravity; zoetropes and flip cards illustrate stop-motion animation; simple looms and other techniques turn rope and cloth into hats and shoes, macrame, twined baskets, and clothes. When you’re hungry, bake tasty bread dough and fashion it into edible sculpture; for dessert, try “stained glass cookies” made from melted lollypops. Then celebrate by making “sweet sounds from found objects.” Creativity for everyone!

Author Ann Sayre Wiseman developed the projects while running the Boston Children’s Museum visitor’s center, and said, “I still meet people who say ‘Making Things was (or is) my bible.”

She selected the projects to “develop natural curiosity and self-esteem” and to teach a range of “simple and important concepts that have shaped the cultures of the world.” Her philosophy of “learning by doing” is older than Aristotle, and the ethic of using odds and ends to “make something out of nothing” helps teach basic concepts of sustainability.

There is no expiration on the invitation to the creative artist in each of us. As Ann says in her note to “beginners and late starters”:

Remember, you know more than you think you know…

When you have tried most of the activities in this book, you will have taught your hands lots of useful skills for fun, for necessity, for leisure, and for survival.

These skills and concepts can set your imagination free and inspire you to try your own variations.
As you train your eyes to see and your hands to know, you will strengthen your belief in yourself.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions and go beyond the rules.
Originally published by Little, Brown, in the 70s, it quickly won a Scientific American Young Reader’s Award, a Parents’ Choice Silver Honor Award, and selection by the Book-of-the-Month Club. This revised edition combines the best selections from the original two volumes.

Ms. Wiseman was an accomplished artist with work in the Rockefeller and Hirschorn collections; she also pioneered the field of Art Therapy (see Nightmare Help, and Satisfy the Image), and authored a dozen other craft, music, and travel books.



From Kiko’s about page

As most do, I started learning how to do stuff from my mother, who learned from (among others) her mom, her granddad, and a teacher named “Miss Doing” (really!), at New York City’s famous “little red schoolhouse.” As part of a long art career that took her around the world, Mom helped develop a hands-on learning program for the Boston Childrens’ Museum visitors’ center. Many Saturdays, I helped her teach paper-making, weaving, rope-winding, etc. When she turned her hand-drawn project sheets into a book, I did the index. Making Things, A Handbook of Creative Discovery sold well for 30 years before Little, Brown let it go out of print. So I re-published it for my kids’ generation. It turned my two-book operation into a real (if small) publishing concern.

Handprint Press, USA


Hand Print Press is run by Kiko Denzer began in the early 90s, when he self-published Build Your Own Earth Oven.

In addition to the bookstore (which now includes a few other authors), the site contains stories and updates on ovens, heat, baking, beauty, agriculture, fire, community, culture, (spoon) carving, etc. It’s all art!

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