Dave the Potter, a Google + chat

pottery jugs similar to Dave’s

Herb teaches elementary school in Strasburg, VA at Sandy Hook Elementary. He is the librarian there. He absolutely LOVES the children and is always looking for new ways to interact with them and engage them with books and learning. For about a year now, we have been using Google Plus to communicate with our boys and their new wives and Herb had the idea that maybe he could combine this technology in his classroom. He had gotten a book in the library about an African-American potter named Dave that lived in the 1800’s during slave times. Dave is known for the poems that he would carve into the pots that he made and many of Dave’s pots are still around today.

So, this is where I come in. Herb wanted to use the technology to let the kids learn about what Dave did by doing the Google Chat with me while I was demonstrating to them how to throw a pot. We did this for seven days straight and each day we learned a different aspect of the process in order to allow the children the best viewpoint for seeing into my basement through my laptop and Herb’s smart board in the library.

In order to do a chat with someone you first need:

  • to be in each other’s “circle” in Google. This requires that you have a gmail account and then find the other person and put that person in your circle.
  • then there is an entire menu of options on your Google page at the top offering links/tabs to
  • Once you set up a Google Plus Profile Page, which is similar to a Facebook Page, then you have the option of starting a hangout
  • There will be a hangout link on the right hand side of the page in Yellow
  • Clicking that link takes you to a page that allows you to invite others to your hangout. You will notice that a person is online if there is a green dot in the bottom of their thumbnail or if there is a video camera icon by their name in the list of names on the left hand side of your screen.
  • If you are planning on publishing your video to Youtube as we did for Dave the Potter, you will need to get code from Youtube site and register with them, otherwise this box can be left unchecked as can naming your hangout.
  • At this point, you will be taken to a screen that will activate the call to the other friends and they will come online and join you in the hangout.
The children were really into the chat they did with me and if I couldn’t hear their questions, Herb would re-ask it for them. They were not always close enough to the microphone for me to hear them properly. The nice thing about this is that because kids are so used to this technology, they didn’t see it as a technology advantage as much as a way that they could instantly see and talk to someone that was doing what the character in the storybook was also doing. Instantly, they could ask me what the clay felt like, why it didn’t fall over, when do I “paint” the pot or how many pots do I make a day?. They didn’t care that they were talking to a screen. They didn’t even see it that way. My generation is still amazed at the “technology” because we can remember a time when only the Jetsons were doing what we can now do today.
I have made some screen shots of the screens to get a hangout of your own started so you can know ahead of time what to look for and I’ve also included our final video with the children so you can see how they interacted with me. It was really a fun project to do with Herb but I was really glad when the 8 days came to an end.

 

 

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Here’s a Challenge for You…

Claudia and I have been trying to chat on Google + or via cell phone each Thursday morning and yesterday she told me about a book that she was reading called Making Home by Sharon Astyk. Claudia is living the life that we all should be living. By that I mean, she makes things for herself and her family rather  than going out and purchasing those items. Essentially, she is homesteading. Claudia lives in a small city in New Hampshire and up until recently, she and her family had been renting but were able to purchase a home. Still, she and Steve, her husband of over 20 years, are living a life we all should be living. They don’t have a lot of money. Steve is a nurse and brings in the money for the family but Claudia and Steve together add to that by instilling a handmade philosophy that I truly believe we all need to embrace to a certain extent.

So, in having my weekly inspirational chat with Claudia, I looked online for a Kindle version of “Making Home” and it wasn’t available digitally so I looked at other books by this same author, thinking that Claudia and I could share and trade ideas that we each gathered from the other’s book. I purchased Depletion and Abundance: Life on the New Home Front [Kindle Edition]. I just started reading it yesterday so I haven’t gotten very far but I like what I am reading so far and I just want to set out a new challenge for you today. Just something to think about as I read and learn about how we, as a nation, can come together to help resolve some of the issues that we are going to face in the future as our fuel consumption takes on a different life for us.

The Challenge: Find a local person that has a skill (that you spend money and fuel on to go and purchase) and become an apprentice to that person to learn that skill. Be it sewing, canning food, gardening, cleaning, growing a food that you can’t buy locally, and share this with the community so that we can release some of our independence on consumerism.

A few of the squares…

Now that the wedding is over and we are adjusting to the idea of Thomas and Belle moving to Seattle, I thought I would use my evenings to start assembling the “Wish Them Well” quilt that I put out for the party here at the house in September and also at the picnic the day after the wedding in Arlington, VA. This way I could envision, while working on it, them seeing the messages that their friends and family wrote for them in their new apartment in Seattle. Their new apartment is all white, as most apartments are and I see this bringing some color into that space and helping them settle in. I envision them either hanging the quilt on the wall to look at or using it on the sofa to snuggle under while they watch movies or TV.

“Wish them Well” table

Today, I thought I would share my progress on the quilt and let you in on the fun. To start, this is an old idea. Quilters call this type of quilt a “signature” quilt and they have traditionally been made to commemorate a special occasion. I thought of doing this for my own wedding but didn’t. My idea at that time was to use it as a guest book instead of an actual book. To have guests sign a square as a way to know who shared our day with us. I have now seen, on the web where folks have done this idea to send off a co-worker, to welcome home a soldier or to share memories of grandparents. So it was only fitting that being a quilter, I wanted to do one for my son and his new bride to begin their life together.

Four inch white cotton was cut with the seam allowance drawn onto the square. Markers were put out in a basket and the sign to write them a message and we collected about 25 squares for the finished quilt. They are wonderful with some of them actually taking the time to color a drawing for the couple.

photoshop map of layout

I use photoshop instead of any fancy quilt software to layout anything that I want to work on and I put together a quick layout of how I want the squares to be placed. A twin sized quilt is about 96″ x 72″ so I used that size to scale the pattern for the squares. I am not sure if the quilt will end up a twin size or a lap quilt when it is finished because there is some white space that I need to design for and I don’t know yet what to put in there. I can be a “quilt as I go” kind of quilter sometimes. So, the wishes will be the whites squares and each of the green squares will be a traditional quilt square to add interest.

I am looking for traditional squares that might have some meaning to beginning a new life together. There are some really adorable cat and dog squares in the book that I am using and some on the web that I also want to add for their pets and a house square for their new place in Seattle. I have favorite patterns that I have enjoyed making through the years and I will probably add some of those. I have about 34 squares to play with so I am sure I can find lots of interesting options. I will get all those squares done and lay out the quilt on the floor before assembling all the squares together. This way I can make sure that there is a balance of color throughout and not have a concentration of too much of one color in any area of the overall design.

I’ve attached a gallery of the squares that I have so far and I am using my evenings to do a square a day. Not sure if the quilt will be done to ship to them for Christmas but I can certainly try. Over the years I have hand quilted all of my quilts but I may take this one to the quilt shop and see if I can have them quilt it for me. My hands are needed for other projects these days and the love that will go into the squares will show through without the added ache of putting all the stitches into the finished piece.

Enjoy the photos and let me know if there is a favorite square that you would like to see in the sample of squares surrounding all the wishes for a happy life in Seattle, WA.

Wishing Them Well…