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'Kid Made Modern' update crafts

Todd Oldham's projects are inspired by midcentury greats.

December 19, 2009

With his new book, Todd Oldham challenges Martha Stewart's reign as the ultimate creator of cool crafts.

The 52 projects in Oldham's "Kid Made Modern" are inspired by midcentury greats such as Alexander Calder, Charles and Ray Eames and Isamu Noguchi. That may sound a little pretentious, but the ideas are ultimately just like the Modernist works they emulate: simple, distinctive and enjoyable.

Many of the projects use inexpensive and recyclable materials. For wrapping paper reminiscent of Finnish textile maker Marimekko's designs, my daughter and I dipped bubble wrap in paint. We also made an arresting window screen out of paper clips and paint chips -- a project that took its cues from Russel and Mary Wright. The book has a shoulder bag that evokes the great Verner Panton and is crafted from recycled padded mailing envelopes wrapped in multicolored duct tape.

What made this mom smile was seeing my kid totally engrossed in a book, making art and earmarking projects for the future. Bridgette, 12, chose to make Alexander Girard-inspired wooden spoon dolls. We purchased the spoons at Target and constructed a platform using a shoe box, paint and ribbon we had lying around the house. Bridgette propped open the book and sat for hours painting the dolls just like they appeared in the book.

When I carried the finished project into the office to be photographed, some people understood the Girard connection right away.

Others didn't. But everyone smiled.

-- Lisa Boone

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