Saturday, January 13, 2018

Studying Scripture: Color and Creativity

(FYI- the links below are Amazon Affiliate links. That means that if you click through and purchase something, I will receive a small commission at no cost to you.)

I've been spending lots of time in my new Catholic Journaling Bible- reading and studying and being creative.  This long awaited Bible from Blessed is She and Our Sunday Visitor features the NAB translation, complete footnotes, and wide margins for notes, prayer, and art.  It also has a beautiful handlettered verse in each book of the Bible from Be A Heart Design.  I've written before here and here about my desire for a Catholic Journaling Bible and how I used my current study Bible, and here about how my favorite pens held up in the pages of the journaling Bible.

I've been posting some of my margin doodles on Instagram and have gotten LOTS of comments and messages how different materials hold up in the Bible.  I'm happy to share a few ideas, tips, mistakes, and successes for you about adding color in this Bible using watercolor, acrylic paint, and stamping.  I reviewed colored pens in this post and wrote about other ways to add art, even in a non journaling Bible, here.

General Supplies I love for working in my Bible:
-These colored pencils (supplemented with a few Crayola colors)
-This pencil sharpener (sharpens both large and small colored pencils)
-These pencils (the only kind worth having!)
-This little ruler
-This eraser
-Washi Tape like this
-Vellum like this or this or this


 Stamping is a fun way for anyone to add art and lettering, no matter your comfort level with being creative.  Here I used a dark blue stamp pad and these stamps to add embellishment to Luke Chapter 1.  (The heart stamp is one I had made using my original drawing- head to the bottom of the post for how you can win one!) and the small letter stamps are from a dollar bin at Michaels a long time ago, but these are similar.)

I stamped directly on the page, and while it looks lovely, it definitely was problematic.  You can see here how the ink bled and ghosted straight through the page, making it totally visible on the reverse page.  It even bled a few pinpricks of color onto the next page. 

So I tried a new technique the next time I stamped.  I took a full sized sheet of labels like this and cut it down to the size of the margins (about 2"x8.5").  While the labels are bright white and the pages of this Bible are off white, I actually didn't notice the contrast as much as I thought I might.  I think that it blends in quite nicely.

I then stamped onto it FIRST, which ended up saving my tail as I made my first big mistake.  You can see below all the blobs of ink and the spacing issues.  Since it was just on the label, I threw it away and started with a second label, grateful it wasn't in my Bible forever. :)

I then carefully stuck the label on the Bible page.  I only peeled off about an inch of one end, carefully placed that, making sure to line it up well, and then peeled off the rest of the backing. Here you can see that the label did a perfect job of protecting the page- no bleeding, very very minimal ghosting.  This is definitely a technique I will continue to use, and not just with stamping.  I think this would work great for pens and markers not only to prevent them being seen through the page, but also to eliminate the fear of making a mistake.  You also could print out verses in your favorite fonts, decorate, cut out, etc.  The possibilities are endless!

Watercolor and Acrylic Paint:

 Next up I tried watercolor paint. Watercolor in this Bible is nice because you can keep it light, both in color and weight, whereas the acrylic can be a little thick and heavy. For this FIAT page, I first drew the lettering with these pens (after making a sketch on grid paper and tracing it using this amazing light box- just to be clear that I am not freehanding all of these pages!  I'll have another post soon about tracing and transferring techniques). 

I then added a small amount of watercolor paint (just an inexpensive set similar to this). The thin pages took the paint ok, but it definietly isn't going to accept paint like watercolor paper would.  You won't be able to do a lot of blending, layers of paint, or use lots of water.  I was very sparing with the amount of water & paint I used and it turned out ok.

The page has a little rippling, but it straightened out pretty well just from having the Bible closed.  There is a small amount of ghosting on the back of the page, but it isn't too bad. 

Next, I decided to try putting down a base before adding art.  I'd read that gesso or just white acrylic paint were recommended.  I don't have any gesso, so I tried some white paint I had and prepped the margin of one page. I did place a protective plastic sheet in between the pages for this technique.

Here you can see the paint dried fairly smoothly (this was just one thick coat, I didn't want to add too many layers). After it was totally dry, I tried decorating the page with watercolor and ink, and I did not like the result.  The combination was not a good fit for watercolor, and the surface wasn't smooth enough and had a residue that affected using a pen.  I probably won't be using this technique much, but I could see how with different materials it might be helpful.

The paint did do a good job of protecting the page.  Here you can see no ghosting or bleeding, but a little bit of wrinkling that did straighten out after the Bible was closed for a while.

So there are a few ideas for you if you are looking into using a journaling Bible for prayer and creativity.  What other questions, materials, or techniques are you trying or wondering more about?

Aaaannnnnnd, I have a fun giveaway going on over on Instagram where you could win one of my original Holy Family Heart Stamps, some of my favorite pens, a stamp pad, washi tape, some lovely holy cards, and more. The giveaway closes Sunday 1/14/18 at midnight, so go enter now!

You might like these other posts:
Pens for the Catholic Journaling Bible
Tips, Tools, and Ideas for Personal Bible Study
Adding Art to a Non-Journaling Bible
Sunday Readings Scripture Doodles 2015-2016
Sunday Readings Scripture Doodles 2016-2017
Why Your Handwriting Matters

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Katie Reads {9}

Time to chat about what I've been reading!  I've got a stack of faith-filled books for my students, including a few of their new favorite graphic novels.  I'm way behind on Katie Reads Posts, but I'd still I'd love to hear your thoughts on these books or suggestions of what I should read next in the comments!

(FYI- this post contains Amazon Affiliate links.  That means that if you click through and purchase something, I will receive a small commission at no cost to you.)

The Shadow of His Wings, A Graphic Biography of Fr. Gereon Goldmann, by Max Temesou, {A}

  • Fr. Goldmann was a seminarian in Germany at the beginning on WWII and was drafted into Hitler's SS.  This graphic novel biography (based on his autobiography by the same name) tells of dangerous and unbelievable events during the war that lead to his continued formation, secret ordination, and ministry to Catholics during a time when openly sharing one's faith often led to death.  
  • The first half of the book covers Goldmann's service during the war and imprisonment after.  It is followed by a text epilogue covering the events of the rest of his life as well as dozens of photographs and primary sources.  The novel also includes a section with the script and sketches for the making of the graphic novel, which would be awesome for aspiring little authors.
  • Graphic novels and WWII are both perpetually popular content in my classroom library, so I knew this would be a winner among my 5th graders.  I thoroughly enjoyed it as well, and now need to borrow the original book from my dad.  The life of Fr. Goldmann gives us a different perspective of the good that triumphed during a terrible time in world history, the profound power of prayer, and the guidance and protection found in the shadow of His wings.

The Plot to Kill Hitler: Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Pastor, Spy, Unlikely Hero, by Patricia McCormick, {A}

  • Following the above book, I was excited to see this biography about Dietrich Bonhoeffer in the Scholastic Book Order! Giving insight into the life and decisions made by Bonhoeffer as he and his companions quietly did all they could to undermine and reveal the evil of the Nazi regime, this page turner also contains personal photographs and info to give context to the time period.
  • Like The Shadow of His Wings, I think this book would make a solid addition to middle school library, helping promote critical thought and decision making about a time period where evil was prevalent but many desired peace and truth.   

Our Blessed Mother: The Story of Mary for Children, by Marlyn Evangelina Monge, FSP, {A}
Pauline Books & Media provided me with a copy of Our Blessed Mother: The Story of Mary for Children in exchange for an honest review.

  • This sweet but solid book about Mary is beautifully illustrated and filled with the story of the Blessed Virgin Mary's life, based on Scripture and Tradition.  Organized in chapters and over sixty pages long, this brand new book fills a need for content about Our Lady for older elementary students.  
  • Many picture books are written at a lower level and have smaller snippets of information.  I love that this book has more substantial information while still being illustrated and attainable.  Along with stories of Mary's life, also included are summaries of several Marian apparitions and information about how to pray the Rosary.

Be Yourself, A Journal for Catholic Girls, by Amy Brooks, {A}
The author provided me with a copy of Be Yourself, A Journal for Catholic Girls in exchange for an honest review.

  • Capturing the attention of young Catholics can be a difficult task, and helping them develop time and habits for personal prayer can be even more challenging.  The Be Yourself journal would be a perfect gift to encourage the prayer and devotion of any preteen or teenage girl.  The graphics and design are trendy and eye-catching, but they share solid content and faith-filled resources.  
  • The journal is filled with some full color text and illustrations, but also plenty of black and white space for coloring, doodling, and decorating by the user. It contains inspirational quotes and Scripture, coloring pages, journal starters, Q&A pages, list making pages, and reflections.  I think that my favorite feature is the Saint letters- written to the reader from the perspective of powerhouse Saints, they share biographical info, but also advice and encouragement that relates and connects to every day life.  
  • With plenty of space for creativity, the journal can be worked through in any order.  Even when it has been read and filled, I think Be Yourself would encourage the young lady to use journaling and study as part of her prayer.  It would also make a great gift- I plan to share mine with a former student who has asked me to be her Confirmation sponsor. :)

St. Francis of Assisi, St. Bernadette, and St. Joan of Arc Graphic Novels, {A}

  • The Saint graphic novels reviewed here remain the most passed around books in my classroom (they still go from kid to kid, rarely making it back on the shelf), so I decided to gift my class with a few new titles for Christmas.   I added two more manga style novels (St. Teresa of Avila and St. Philip Neri) to the set, as well as the books pictured above.  
  • These books are shorter in length but with larger pages and more traditional comic book style illustrations.  I like that they are a quick introduction to the most important aspects of that Saints life.  They are great for my students to read in small snippets throughout the day, and are enjoyed by all my students, but sometimes most especially by my lower or reluctant readers.  I'm glad to have these as a resource to share with them these inspiring and strong heroes of the faith.  

The Life of Jesus, by Alex Ben, {A+}
Pauline Books & Media provided me with a copy of The Life of Jesus in exchange for an honest review.

  • Hands down, this is the favorite book I've added to my classroom library this year.  The Life of Jesus is a Graphic Novel which is stunningly illustrated with impeccable detail.  Chronicling Jesus' Incarnation from Birth through Ascension, it helps make the stories of Scripture come to life in a way that is relatable and attainable for my students.
  • Including quotes and captions paired with colorful, comic book style stories, this book would be a memorable read for any intermediate or middle schooler.  Each page also lists the direct Scripture References to each story.  The book is broken into themed chapters and has a great table of contents to help you find just the story you'd like to read.  I'd love to see a companion graphic novel covering the Acts of the Apostles!

Good King Wenceslas, by John M. Neale, {B+}

  • This happy thrift store hardback find earned a place in our Christmas book basket.  It pairs the lyrics of the song Good King Wenceslas with beautiful illustrations bringing the story to life.  There is a bit of back story as to the history of this Saint, but I would have like to have seen more info about him paired alongside the song.  The pictures carry the story and remind us of the generosity, kindness, and selflessness that are so important not only at Christmas, but all throughout the year.

  • I do not know why it took me so long to add this book to my collection, but now that I've read it, the truly gorgeous illustrations and sweet storytelling melts my heart.  It captures a love for the life of our dear St. Pope John Paul II, showing how his unwavering devotion to God and the Church changed the world.  Sharing Karol's life from his birth until his election to the papacy, the author captures his wonder, hope, and love, even in the midst of the many tragedies of his young life. The rich details captured in her incredible illustrations carry the narrative as strongly as the actual text.  I'm so excited to share this book with my students and classes to come.
  • Maybe Fabiola Garza and Pauline Books and Media will be adding more collaborations like this one to their titles?  What Saints would you like to see them work together on?

Which of these books would you most like to read?  What is on your To-Be-Read Stack?

You might like these other Katie Reads posts:
Katie Reads {1} 
Katie Reads {2}  
Katie Reads {3} 
Katie Reads {4}
Katie Reads {5}
Katie Reads {6}
Katie Reads {7}
Katie Reads {8}

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Epiphany Home Blessing Kits

"Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star at its rising and have come to do him homage."  ~Matthew 2:2

After Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem, the Holy Family was visited by three Magi from the east. They came to worship Christ and bring him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.  The Feast of Epiphany is celebrated on the 12th Day of Christmas, January 6th, but in the United States is moved to the Sunday between January 2nd-8th.  On Epiphany, it is traditional for families to bless their homes, remembering the hospitality of the Holy Family to the Wise Men and asking for protection and blessing on the home and all who enter.

The home blessing is done by writing on the door or door frame with chalk the symbols 20+C+M+B+18. The 20 and 18 represent the current year. The + reminds us of the cross on which our Savior died. The C, M, and B stand for the traditional names of the Wise Men, Caspar, Melchior, and Balthasar, as well as an abbreviation for the Latin phrase “Christus mansionem benedicat” which means “Christ bless this house.” Writing on the door also brings to mind the Passover of the Jews during the final plague in Exodus, when the blood of the lamb protected the inhabitants within.

This year I wanted to send some resources home with my students and CCD families to help them celebrate this Epiphany Home Blessing Tradition.  Knowing that writing on the door or doorframe might not work in every house (or be every parent's favorite thing), I made these little signs that can hang over or near the door.  They are about 8" x 3.5" and are just made with scrap wood from my parents' barn.  I drilled holes in each corner, painted them with some left over chalkboard paint, and tied on some twine.

I added a small piece of white chalk and a booklet (printable below) explaining this Epiphany tradition, a short blessing prayer, and a few suggested Scripture passages and songs.  I packaged it all in a brown paper bag with the top folded down to form a "roof" and stapled on these cute tags (printable below).

If you'd like to share this tradition with your students, but don't have spare lumber, paint, and twine (or time...), you could easily send home your students with a kit including a black piece of cardstock, chalk, and the traditions booklet.  Or make it even easier and just tape the chalk right to the booklet and pass them out.  This would be a great way to share them out Mass- put a stack with the bulletins and then anyone who wants to can take one home.

“In the magi, representatives of the neighboring pagan religions, the Gospel sees the first-fruits of the nations, who welcome the good news of salvation through the Incarnation. The magi's coming to Jerusalem in order to pay homage to the king of the Jews shows that they seek in Israel, in the messianic light of the star of David, the one who will be king of the nations." ~CCC 528

Click here for the Epiphany Tradition Booklet:

Click on any of the images below for the three different tags: