Happy Spring!
March 26, 2012, 11:27 am
Filed under: art, kids, making!

Happy Spring!
Nashville is blooming and the sun is shining. I’ve been gardening, dancing, and juggling various projects (which include a new coloring zine, delicious recipes, and a fun collaboration with Vegan Cuts). Last week I taught a spring break animation camp and had SO MUCH FUN working with 5 imaginative, clever, kind, talented kids. Each day of the week one child got to act as director. The director dictated the story, materials, soundtrack, etc. Check out our videos here:

The Fire
Star Wars: Clone Wars | The Battle of Ryloth
Fuzzies Part 2

Happy New Year!
January 3, 2012, 12:21 pm
Filed under: kids, making!

Hello hello,
After enjoying a holiday internet break, I return with fun things to share. I had such a blast teaching another stop motion camp this winter. Making stuff is the best. Kids are the best, too.

Check out these super-fun videos!

Disco Dancing Penguin Party
Merry Christmas
Happy Chanukah
Mouse Attack!

I’m still taking requests for veg/winter themed coloring sheets. Let me know what you’d like to color!

Lastly, the limited edition Garlic-Onion-Beet-Spinach-Mango-Carrot-Grapefruit Juice character dolls will no longer be available in 2012. These snuggly friends have had a good run, but the time has come to start making new things (more zines!). Thora, Aksel, Krog, and the Tweeters will be available in the ThoraThinks store until the end of this week.


Farewell, friends!

Southern Sushi and Handmade & Bound
October 6, 2011, 11:01 am
Filed under: bookmaking, food, free stuff!, kids, reading, recipes, VeganMoFo

Hello hello!
Last night I dined with my dear friend Heather, a true vegetable lover and midwife-in-training. (Did you know that this is National Midwifery Week?) Heather hosted and prepared our feast, and my contribution was a plate of southern sushi.

I love making nori rolls throughout the year, using whatever ingredients are available from my farmer friends. This is especially fun in the fall, when winter squash, greens, roots, and shiitakes are abound! For this roll I used quinoa instead of sushi rice, which works just fine and tastes great. It does require decent sushi-rolling skills since the quinoa isn’t very sticky and kind of wants to fall apart. I cooked the quinoa with red miso, then tossed it with brown rice vinegar and chilled it in the fridge.

The fillings:

-local black eyed pea tempeh, mashed with homemade sriracha, toasted sesame oil, and a little Vegenaise
-steamed turnip greens
-green onions
-chopped almonds and black sesame seeds on top

I really packed a lot of filling onto each nori sheet and had there been onlookers, they would have been doubtful when it came time to roll. No worries, imaginary observers. Ingvar and I have this completely under control.

The spicy black eyed pea tempeh & turnip green rolls were so, so good. I served them up with wasabi and pickled beets from June!

On another note, I’ve been meaning to share photos from Handmade & Bound Nashville. It was a super-fun event featuring bookmakers, zinesters, and independent publishers. I had a great time sharing my book and making finger puppets with kiddos throughout the day– and it was totally inspiring to see all of the beautiful handmade books people had on display.  Thanks to Watkins College of Art, Design & Film for putting on such a smooth-running event!

book by Leslie Patterson-Marx

book by Leslie Patterson-Marx

If you live in Nashville and you like looking at incredible handmade books, check out Encoded Structures: Interpreting the Story — a juried gallery exhibition at Watkins.


…and finally, don’t forget to send in your own Ingvar photo by this Sunday for a chance to win a free, signed copy of Garlic-Onion-Beet-Spinach-Mango-Carrot-Grapefruit Juice!

accordion books!
September 16, 2011, 11:06 am
Filed under: bookmaking, kids, making!


Yesterday I made accordion books with a group of young friends at the University School of Nashville, and thought I’d share some pictures. This is a great, simple project to do at home, as it doesn’t require any shmancy materials and can be adjusted for kids of all ages.  (The books pictured were made by k-3rd graders).

Here’s what you’ll need:

A long, thin sheet of paper:  Ours was cut to approx. 17×3 inches. You can also glue smaller sheets of paper together, overlapping slightly, to make a longer piece. These books can be as loose or as uniform as you’d like.

Cardboard for the cover: We reused cracker boxes! Any cardboard will do.

Scraps of cloth, paper, ribbon, etc. to decorate the cover: You could use anything! Create a sculptural book by gluing objects to the cover.

Scissors: Kids might need help cutting the cardboard.

Glue: A glue stick works better than wet glue.

Follow these simple instructions from You can create more folds if you’d like. Decorate your cover by drawing, collaging, stamping, or attaching paper, fabric, buttons, ribbon, foil…  many of my students glued one long ribbon onto the front cover, which can be wrapped around to the back and tied in a bow.

Fill your book with your own stories and images, or leave it blank to give to a friend or use as a journal.  If you really want to be inspired, I suggest doing a google image search of  “accordion book”… people make so many incredible things!

View past book projects here and here.

Happy bookmaking!

-Nathalie VB

August 12, 2011, 12:21 pm
Filed under: kids, making!


Last month I spent a week teaching stop motion animation to three wonderfully creative girls.  We had so, so, so much fun writing our story, creating a set, making clay characters, recording voice overs, and watching our ideas unfold into an animated short.  At the end of our week together we had an evening screening of our video, Captured  (along with a couple side-projects) for parents and friends.  The girls stamped tickets at the door, served popcorn, candy, and drinks, and directed viewers to their seats. The screening was followed by a Q&A, where the young animators described their process and told stories about the week we spent together.  Once again, I was impressed and inspired by the imagination, humor, cleverness, and artistry of kids!

…and now we proudly present Captured!

What is your favorite stop motion animation?

bookmaking for kids
August 3, 2011, 12:07 pm
Filed under: bookmaking, kids, making!

Some of the coolest books I’ve seen were made by kids.

After teaching bookmaking to a 9-year-old friend last week, I’ve been thinking about how easy and fun it is to make books at home. Here are a few ideas for kids who want to publish:

* There are LOTS of different ways to bind books. Some of them require materials that most people don’t have at home. One simple binding that I like to use is called a pamphlet stitch. The materials you’ll need for this paperback book are a few sheets of white paper (or whatever else you’d like to use for the pages), 1 sheet of card stock or construction paper for the cover, scissors, and thick thread (waxed dental floss works well). This video explains how to make a pamphlet book. You can follow these directions exactly, but you can also get away with cutting some corners. I usually use 6 folded sheets of paper in a pamphlet book, and I just stab the needle straight through (without poking the holes first). You can also use scissors to trim your pages if you’d like. I like to trim them unevenly, in a fun, wavy shape. Experiment and see what works for you.

Have fun designing a cover for your book!

Want to check out some other kid-friendly bindings? Here’s a good place to start.

You might consider using recycled paper or even paper bags for your pages!
*Blank books make great journals or sketchbooks, and are wonderful gifts for friends and family members. If you choose to write/illustrate a story, consider these questions:
How can I tell my story through words?
How can I tell my story through pictures?
Do I want to use just words, just pictures, or both? (I love stories that are told through pictures alone!)

Maybe every page will have one big picture and a few words. Maybe some pages will have one big picture and a few words, and other pages will have lots of little pictures. Maybe some pictures will be from the point of view of a character. Maybe the words will tell us what a character is thinking, and the pictures will tell us what that character is doing. Maybe some pictures are abstract, and give us a feeling that cannot be described with words. Maybe the words don’t tell a story at all. Maybe there is one word in the whole book. Maybe some pages are blank. Maybe you will draw pictures on each page to create your own coloring book. Maybe there will be pop-ups!

…There are lots of ways to make books.

*Making accessories to go along with your book is super-fun. If you know how to sew (or have someone who can help you) you can make plush character dolls or a pillow!

Other things that make a great addition to a homemade book include:
-finger puppets
-magnets (I love making shrinky dinks and gluing magnets on the back!)
-coloring sheets
-necklaces or key chains, made by drawing a shrinky dink and making a hole with a hole punch before baking
-paper dolls
-stickers (when I was a kid I made stickers by drawing on blank, white labels from the store)
-a sequel!

Please feel free to send in photos of your creations, and to share any additional ideas you have!
All the best,
Nathalie VB

Fantasy Press
July 29, 2011, 2:41 pm
Filed under: bookmaking, kids, making!


This week I had the pleasure of teaching a 9-year-old friend, Margaret how to make a book! Margaret created a wonderful story about a unicorn within a girl’s imagination. She used very few words in the book (3 to be exact!). Instead of writing a story, Margaret focused on weaving a narrative- and a dreamy experience for the reader- through pictures. We also made magnets, buttons, bookmarks, etc. featuring the story’s characters and Margaret’s Fantasy Press logo. This process was tons of fun and the results were so satisfying! Seeing your ideas transform into a “real” hardcover book? Always a good choice.

I must say, I think making books is THE GREATEST. And kids making books? Extra great. Check back soon for a new post about at-home publishing for kids.

Thanks for a great week, Margaret!

-Nathalie VB

Margaret reading The Unicorn’s Tail with her father.  : )


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