Thursday, January 22, 2015

R-TV Revisited -- Making an iMovie

Most of my friends don't know that I have a Bachelors of Science in Radio-Television from Southern Illinois University - Carbondale.  I started my professional life as a radio newscaster before jumping to public/media relations.  I do admit I miss those news-gathering days.

I joined the American Sewing Guild many years ago -- it is a national organization that promotes sewing as an art and life skill.  But really, it is a group of (mostly) women who meet on a local level to share the common bond of sewing.  We welcome beginners and experienced sewers, and have a lot of fun at monthly meetings and chapter events.  One of my favorite activities is Sewing Camp, five days of uninterrupted sewing, held each year in May by the Philadelphia Chapter.  It's like a sleep-over party for adults!

All packed up for Sewing Camp!
This year, the national organization is sponsoring a contest, asking individuals or groups to submit videos on the theme of "What ASG Means to Me."  Given my background, I couldn't resist.

Me, with my fourth cousins!
For the last few years, I have been collecting and sorting through family genealogical papers and photos.  My grandmother didn't throw anything away, so I have a pretty good stack of letters, some dating back to 1870, newspaper articles and photographs.  I also have some first-person accounts about various relatives. Then, a woman approached my sister after church one Sunday, introduced herself and said "I think we may be related."  Sure enough, she was!  I met her and two of her cousins for dinner, and they were kind enough to bring along what family genealogy and photos they had to share with me.

When I starting thinking about producing a video, I decided to take a unique approach and write a story about how sewing has been passed down from generation to generation of women in my family. I drafted a script and began pulling together photos to tell the story, but didn't know how I would make it into a video.  (I should tell you that I'm not much of a techie.)

My young friend, Niyi, was happy to help.  He downloaded iMovie onto my iphone, and gave me a quick lesson on how to drop in photos, add music and record my voice.  Under his direction, I learned the basics of putting photos to text, and then played around with iMovie until I had something I was pleased with.    

 Here is the finished product:

I can't believe how easy it was to use iMovie.  Yes, there were some limitations.  For instance, I wanted to start with a black screen and fade up to my first video clip, but couldn't figure out how to do that or if it was possible with iMovie.  And I wanted the music to begin with the first photo, but could get that to work either, so it's under the entire video.  Minor things that I don't think affected the overall video.  Maybe if I play around some more, I'll figure those things out.

Now that I know what I'm doing, I hope to use it again!  I see tutorials in my future!

And here's a request...if you are so inclined, would you please share this video with someone you think would enjoy it?  This is a competition, after all, and the video with the most views by June 15, 2015, will win a prize for the video and for their ASG Chapter.  Thanks in advance for your help!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Scrabble Tile Fun

Hello again!  I've been slacking off on my blog posts...but one of my New Year's resolutions is to be more consistent with my writing, so hopefully, this will the one of many new posts for 2015!

If you peruse Pinterest, you may have seen this project -- coasters made out of Scrabble tiles.

I pinned this idea right away.  Scrabble is my favorite board game, and last year, when my son's friend was living with us, he and I played frequently.  (I hate to admit that he beat me often, but every now and again, I would come through with a triple word score and take the game!)

Last year, I made him a quilt using a panel of Scrabble fabric, and I knew this would be a fun gift for him this year, as he is moving on in life and starting his first 'real' job.
A Scrabble Quilt
The biggest challenge?  Finding Scrabble tiles!  I did a quick run through my favorite thrift stores, but there were no Scrabble games to be had.  An internet search led me to a great website with very reasonably priced new Scrabble tiles:  (Look under 'supplies' for the tiles.)  Better still, you can purchase them by the bag or select exactly what you need!  By the piece tiles are 10 cents each -- a real bargain!  I ordered two bags of 100 letters, plus extra vowels.

You will also need a backing material.  I headed to another favorite recycling store, The Resource Exchange, in the Fishtown section of Philadelphia ( This great store recycles all kinds of neat and interesting stuff, mostly from theater and movie sets, including furniture, wood, yards of fabric and trims, old photos and posters and, for this project, a couple of 12" square tiles of cork.

The right kind of adhesive makes all the difference, and I reached for my tube of E 6000.  This clear glue is strong, won't stick your fingers together, and yields a permanent bond when it cures for 24 or more hours.
It's better to spread the glue onto the cork than onto each Scrabble tile.  An old credit card helps with this!
My 28-year-old daughter and I were working together to come up with some good four letter words for the coasters, until she accused me of 'cheating' when I used a blank tile!  The coasters were 2 7/8" wide by 3 1/4" long, but if you wanted to use five letter words to make a larger coaster, you certainly could.  My favorite is:


Do you get it?  Read and chat around a cozy fire!  My daughter's included "Wine Stem Goes Here" and "Beer Pint Goes Here."

When you have the tiles arranged, it is a good idea to tape them with a piece of wide packing tape...that way, if you can't finish them right away, you won't forget the words!

After spreading glue on the cork, I positioned each letter, and when they were all down, I made sure they lined up well.  (Note:  these tiles aren't perfectly square, so they don't always make a straight line across and down).
I added an apostrophe with a black sharpie after the glue dried.  

I used a weight to hold everything in place while the glue was setting.

Each coaster was finished with two coats of clear poly-acrylic sealer.  A dozen coasters cost about $33.00.  I packaged 6 together for a gift -- just about right for a gift exchange.

I had about 30 or so tiles left over, and then saw this on Pinterest.

I searched through my tiles, ordered a few more from Sun and Moon, and now have 7 Christmas ornaments ready for gift-giving next holiday season.

Which got me could spell anything and turn it into an ornament.  How about "The Devine Household"  or "Nathan's First Christmas".  They also sell a few punctuation about "#we'reengaged" or "Let it Go!"  This could turn into an addiction!

While this isn't an original idea, I hope it inspires you.  So many times we pin things on Pinterest, but never bother to make them.  Sometimes it's because there are no instructions!  I'm sure there are more ways to use Scrabble tiles out there, and now that you know where to get them, you'll come up with some fantastic ideas, too!