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Monday, June 26, 2017


Hacking is bad when it comes to computers but great when it comes to crafts. Today we’re joined by school principal Ana Campbell, the protagonist of author Liz Boeger’s award-winning, unpublished cozy mystery, AppleJacked!, the first book in her proposed Moccasin Cove series.

Liz grew up in a snake-infested area of South Tampa originally called Rattlesnake and still lives in Florida. After nearly three decades as an educator she still prefers genuine snakes to the human variety. She has been a teacher, teacher-trainer, and a school administrator. Connect with her on Twitter @LizBoegerAuthor and learn more about her at her Moccasin Cove Mysteries blog.

Craft Hacks for School & Home: T-shirt Paint

School principal Ana Campbell shares a story from early in her teaching career when this Craft Hack came in handy. It taught an important lesson to her students and to her boss.

“Campbell, what’s with this paint all over my new cabinets and windows?” My demanding boss did not modulate her tone for the thirty smirking fifth graders in my reading class.

I kept my cool and refused to stop teaching just to quiver for the queen.

“Deylon,” I whispered. “Would you please show the principal those Clever Clings we made last week?”

The confident boy had been a frequent-flyer in the principal’s office in previous years. This year I used every brain cell I possessed to find him leadership opportunities. He met my challenge handily. I refocused on the student who had been reading to me and let Deylon take charge.

“Look here, Principal Miller, you jest peel ‘em off and see, mash ‘em, and they go right back on. No mess. We reuse them all over the room posting our work. Ain’t that clever? Let me show you my writing sample hanging on that window.”

I can thank that overbearing boss for this crafty idea. Early in my career, my husband was in the Air Force and we moved frequently. During one deployment, he was in Qatar and I was all by my lonesome in Nevada, where I was hired to teach at a new school. I’ve learned I can avoid student meltdowns when they feel connected to their work. So, I post samples of student work to build their confidence and pride, but, “NO TAPE ALLOWED ON ANY SURFACE!” was the mantra of my highly intimidating principal. What was this teacher-girl to do?

At about the same time, I was using T-shirt paint to decorate some canvas sneakers to wear to school for a garden-themed unit in science. A glop of paint had smeared on my laminate countertop at home and I didn’t notice it until the next morning when I was checking to see if the sneaker design had fully dried. Voila! An idea was born that would solve my NO TAPE dilemma.

I discovered that the dried smear of paint easily peeled off of the countertop just like a window-cling. No residue, no stain, and the thing clung again and again when I applied it to the window, to mirrors, and to my refrigerator. If kept free of dust and dirt, it could be used to hold light-weight student work on the cabinets and windows. I even used it to number the cabinets in my classroom.

It’s been nearly twenty years since I discovered this craft hack. Now, as a school principal with my own NO TAPE policy, I share this idea with my teachers. So, have at it and have fun--but don’t let me catch you putting tape on my windows and cabinets! 

Materials:  Bottles of t-shirt paint in colors of your choice, laminate or glass surface to use as a temporary canvas, paper towels, toothpicks.

Time: 15+ minutes to paint and at least 24 hours to dry, depending on humidity and the thickness of your cling creation. Warning: This is fabric paint, so keep it off cloth fabrics you don’t want stained.

Result: Repositionable “sticker” used to post student work, label a cabinet, leave a happy note on a mirror or refrigerator.

Surfaces: Non-porous: laminate (like Formica), glass/mirrors, whiteboard, refrigerator

1. Shake paint down into the tip of the bottle before dispensing to eliminate air bubbles. If you do get a bubble in the design, just smooth it out with the toothpick.

2. Squeeze paint onto the “canvas” in desired design. Paint from the foundation colors UP, in layers. Use multiple colors and mix with the toothpick for a marble effect.

3. Make the cling at least two inches wide on a side and as thick as a nickel for ease in handling. Skinny or thin areas will tear.

4. Allow to dry completely—at least 24 hours. This is a much longer time than when using on fabric. Cling will feel tacky to touch when dry, but not sticky. If you smear it when checking the dryness, repaint and re-dry.

5. Peel the cling off the “canvas” and adhere to desired surface. Overlap the corners of student work to post on the cabinet or window. Reusable. FUN!

Southern elementary school principal Anastasia Callahan Campbell investigates the murder of a young teacher while trying to save her failing school and bring economic recovery to her beloved Florida hometown. Untamed beaches, corporate raiders, meth labs, off-stage child abuse, autism, and childhood secrets take their toll on the sassy school leader. In the process of her sleuthing, Ana learns a hard lesson; while it takes a village to raise a child, it may also take your life!


Angela Adams said...

That flag is awesome! Thanks for sharing!!!

Liz Boeger said...

Hey, Angela--much appreciated. The white paint had a sparkle to it that looked even better when fully dry. Hope you can try it out yourself.

Vicki Batman, sassy writer of funny fiction said...

How much fun to discover this little trick. I'm still awed by the town name of Rattlesnake.

Debra H. Goldstein said...

Clever Hack trick -- with children and grandchildren, I can definitely use this! BTW, congrats on your first guest post.

Liz Boeger said...

Hi Vicki and Debra!

Rattlesnake-YES! It had a post office and was the location of a rattlesnake meat canning plant. I was born after the area became part of Tampa, but the lore was part of the inspiration for my series. If you ever come my way, I'll take you on a tour.

Hope you have fun trying the craft hack, Debra. Send me some photos and I'll post them on my blog. I am so grateful to Lois for this opportunity.

BE Well!

Ashley Lynch-Harris said...

Great post, Liz! I love the craft idea. I live in Florida, but this is the first time I heard about Rattlesnake! Very interesting. I look forward to reading your book once it's available. :)

Liz Boeger said...

Hi Ashley,
So glad you stopped by. Cross your fingers on the book....will keep everyone posted on my blog.

Be Well,

Liz Boeger said...

Dear Anastasia,

I wanted to thank you for allowing me to share a craft hack from my teaching days on your marvelous blog. I visit here often for crafts, recipes, and books to add to my reading shelf. Take care of those boys of yours and uh, good luck with your moms.

Be Well,
Anastasia "Ana" Callahan Campbell
Principal of Moccasin Cove Elementary


Happy to have you, Ana. Come back any time.