Saturday, December 17, 2011


It's that time of year when the shopping frenzy is programmed into our brains. In the middle of the holidays, remember that sometimes the simplest gifts are the best. For younger kids the box is often more interesting than the toy itself. If you have a cereal box, a clean milk carton or a toilet paper tube you can actually make your own toy and get to experience a real gift, creative time together with your kids.

happy holidays! Check out the "Free Projects" section to learn how to make some recycled art projects.
These projects are all included our ScrapKins Build-It Book.

Click HereTo Download this graphic as a PDF.

Friday, December 2, 2011

The Monster Orphan Project: Orphan No. 2

A monster with perfect hair is often hard to find. Meet Lila. Sweet with a gorgeous smile, she will charm you, offer to sort your mail and put away your groceries. You will fall in love with Lila.
Then she will eat you. 

Monday, November 21, 2011

The Monster Orphan Project: Orphan No.1

Whenever I do a large children's event inevitably there are projects ("orphans") that get left behind. Kids forget to come back, they fall under the table or they just feel like donating the creation back to us. I have a special place in my heart for the "Monster Orphans" and thought they deserved their proper due. They are much loved.

A rare tube monster* with the 8-point "star mouth" capable of sucking in large amounts of air and refuse for feeding. Although short, Horace is extremely powerful and prone to outrageous arguments which he rarely loses. Often seen in the proximity of old shoes. *Sadly when I photographed Horace it was a rather windy day and he escaped on the way home. This is the only known photograph of Horace. 

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Top 10 Things I've Learned Teaching Art to Children

I recently started an Artist in Residence program to bring ScrapKins to schools. Here's an observational list from my weekly classes at a school in Brooklyn.

Top Ten Things I've Learned Teaching Art to Children:
1) When you teach children Art you will receive free Hugs. 
2) You will be called by a new name. Call it affection or lack of attention but soon you will be christened with a nickname. Mr. Yanish is now "Mr. Radish." (I kind of like that one.)
3.) To kids, the promise of being able to paint is like another birthday. (Paint a lot.)
4.) Prepare to be observed. I was asked why my hair was gray the other day. (I'm okay with that one but I did want to retort "Why are you so short?")
5.) Copying = Admiration. Some kids are natural creative geniuses, some need encouragement, and some will copy anything you show them. When I was young, I copied Mickey Mouse, Heathcliff and Garfield, so when a child wants to make their monster look exactly like my monster, that's admiration kicking in. (When 2 kids also wanted to name their monster "Mr. Yanish", that's weird.)
6.) The Simple Things are the Best. Building a milk carton pirate ship is pretty cool but when I carried around a little tub of water and they "tested" their ship and saw it floating, I got some serious fun points. Simple. Floating Rules!
7.) Demo. Demo. Demo. Kids have a lot going on in their small heads. Don't tell them to cut out a square. Show them. Hold it up high so they can see it. Then do it again. One more time.
8.) Make Little Jokes. Don't worry about a stand-up routine in class but a little silly goes a long way. Example: We we're cutting out eyeballs from cardboard so I stuck one to the forehead of a boy. I also brought in a tub of dirt for our gardening project and told the kids I made them brownies. Heh heh.
9.) Know the Secret Sign for Quiet. Most teachers have a "quiet" signal. Some clap their hands, some ring a chime. Learn it. Use it. Even art needs some quiet time.
10.) Create an Outline then Discard it. Know the basics of what you'd like to get done with the kids then figure that you'll be lucky if you get half of it done before a fire drill interrupts class, someone spends 5 minutes refusing to work without "pink" scissors and 4 kids can't stop giggling about burying "Mr. Radish" in the garden.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


Here's the ScrapKins latest creation, the Recycle-Saurus. It's portable, collects lots of cans and bottles and shoots smoke out of its nose. What more could you ask for?

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The Ultimate Block Party in Baltimore!

ScrapKins headed to Baltimore to participate in the Ultimate Block Party on October 2nd. We we're  proud to share our creativity with the kids of Baltimore, recycling toilet paper tubes into custom ScrapKin monsters and displaying the ScrapKins "Recycle-Saurus."  Visits from U.S. Secretary of Education, Arnie Duncan and Baltimore Mayor, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake.
U.S. Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan
Designing your own ScrapKin Recycled Art Monster

A fearless ScrapKin Tube Monster!
Behold the Recycle-Saurus

Saturday, September 10, 2011

ScrapKins at NY MAKER FAIRE: Sept 17th & 18th!

We're so excited to be a part of the NY MAKER FAIRE this upcoming weekend. It's an amazing DIY, creativity festival with tons of fantastic inventions, robots, crafts, and things you can play with. Don't miss this one!

Visit ScrapKins in the "Young Makers" Section, Exhibit #7046 and make your own "Recycled Art Monster" and behold the mighty "Recycle-Saurus!" Roarrrrrr!


Saturday, September 17th: 10 am - 7 pm 
Sunday, September 18th: 10 am - 6 pm
New York Hall of Science
Flushing Meadows, Corona Park, Queens, NY

Tickets online here.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Float On Ye Vessel of Milk


In honor of the last days of Summer, I share one of our carton boats catching a wave. (That's my nephew you hear.) There is nothing simpler and more satisfying than building a boat and watching it really float. I especially love the image of the "little boat" next to the big boat. The real world is one giant testing lab. We found that although toilet paper tubes make excellent sails, if they get wet they begin to fall apart. You can always substitute with a piece of plastic jug or bottle for a more "capsize-friendly" craft. Do try this at home. 

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Research & Design: Summer Building

 How can you turn a bunch of recycled materials into functional vehicles? That's what I've been trying to figure out. My studio has been transformed into a miniature Auto testing lab this summer the likes of which you've never seen. (You can witness some of the strewn car parts and bits of tubes and cardboard piling up behind my cycle prototype.) Why am I doing all this? In the name of Science? Yes. In the name of Technology? Yes. In the name of Ice Cream for Breakfast? Yes! In actuality, we're hard at work on our new app for the I-pad which will show you how to build and test these cool projects using a 3D interface. It's a huge undertaking and we hope to share more sneak peaks later this fall. 

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Building at Bank Street!

Special thanks to our friends, Sara, Beth and the staff of Bank Street Bookstore in Manhattan for letting us host a "Recycled Art Sidewalk Extravaganza!" We love this store because they have so many great options for kids. I got inspired browsing the shop and ran home to work on some new projects!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Learning Resourcefulness at the World Science Festival

The ScrapKins came out in full-force at The World Science Festival on June 5th at Washing Square Park in NYC. So did the crowds. 
Our milk-carton boat building project was a big hit. (Learn how to make your own ship here.) 
So popular was the project, we we're out of milk cartons in the first 2 hours, leaving us to explore the real meaning of resourcefulness.

Here's what I learned from the experience:

1) You are only as good as your Team: Our Art Helpers we're amazing! We had them asking local stores for any scrap cardboard and returning with piles of materials from a local toy store and cartons from the coffee shop and bakery. 

2) When in doubt, let the Kids decide: We had one little girl, invent her own project on the spot, turning a straw and egg carton into a flower. We made this one of our art projects for the rest of the day. The true sense of being a "ScrapKin" and really using what you have couldn't have been clearer.

3) It's really about the act of creation: After all the preparation of materials, we found that the simple act of personal creativity by a child is more important than any shiny packaging. The child who made a boat in the morning had the same experience as the child making a bookmark from scrounged materials in the afternoon. It wasn't the project or the type of materials but the simple act of creating something.  This is a humbling and often overlooked message. In a world of amazing technology and pre-packaged fun, the power of doing something real with your hands, building something, using your imagination is more powerful and more needed than ever.

Thank you to the kids for making me remember that.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

How to Make a ScrapKins MONSTER MASK!

Our friends at HOPSCOUT made a very cool How-to-Video showing the steps to make an Itcher mask from a paper plate and cardboard. This projects is right out of our Build-It Book. Thank you to Deb and the team for their creativity!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Books with the Kids

We had an amazing weekend of Earth Day book signings and Recycled Art sessions with the kids. Thank you to those who came out to see The ScrapKins in action.

Here are a few shots from our event at Strand Books in Manhattan. Photos ©2011 Alejandro Cerdena.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Are you feeling Earthy? Here comes the TOUR!

Time to get out and enjoy the weather and
help us celebrate the launch of the ScrapKins Build-It Book in New York City!

Friday, April 22nd: 


Book Signing & Recycled Art Projects
3:30-5:30 pm
828 Broadway (Corner of 12th street)
New York, NY  10003

Saturday, April 23rd: STORY TIME
Book Signing & Recycled Art Projects
11 am - NOON
686 Fulton Street
Brooklyn, NY 11217

Saturday, April 23rd: 
2-5 pm
283 Grand Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11238
(718) 398-0008

For the most up-to-date info on events & signings follow
us on Twitter.
A young builder let's me autograph his book at Books of Wonder!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Sneak Peak at the new ScrapKins Mini-App!

So excited to share a screenshot from the forthcoming ScrapKins "Scrap Collector" Game which will be released for FREE starting around April 15th! Think Recycling in a fun game format for kids. We're calling this a "Mini-App" as it's the pre-cursor to a much bigger app for the I-pad coming in June. 

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

National Cereal Council Plea "Eat More Cereal!"

All right, I'm joking. I said "Eat More Cereal." (And there is no such thing as the N.C.C. yet.) Around my apartment, my girlfriend and I consume cereal voraciously. So needless to say, all those empty boxes are like blank canvasses waiting to be decorated, folded, cut and "Scrappified." One of my latest uses has been as book mailers as one of or recent reviewers noted.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

From the Sketchbook

                                       Swooper Teaches The ScrapKins about Solar energy

Saturday, March 26, 2011

What do you make with your kids?

From across the Pond, Michael Smith from UK's Green Living Review reminds us of the power of play and kids thinking inside the box, outside the box and about the very box itself.

"How often do we see kids than, when they come across a cardboard box, for instance, that may have had a gift in for them even, that the box is being played with rather than the toy. If we allow them to get on with that they will put us to shame in the ideas department as to what to do with packaging materials, etc. and if they have a little guidance such as the “Scrapkins Build-It Book” they will even outperform any of us by way of ideas, I am sure."

Thanks to Michael for reviewing our book and getting to the very root of our creative mission. 
The question I pose to our audience is, what do you make with your kids? How can you inspire their creativity with materials you already have at home? We'd love you to share your ideas by commenting.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

The Roots of Creativity

ScrapKins in Pre-Production
That's me. Age 4. Right round the age I drew the characters that would eventually become The ScrapKins. (I still make that blank stare sometimes when someone disturbs my work.) I asked my mother to see if she could find some examples of my early creativity and she delivered. It's fun to stop and think where it all began, when it began to grow. Why monsters? To this day, I like anything with sharp teeth. But it's all for show. The sharper the teeth, the softer the real monster inside.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Book has Launched!

We're very excited to offer our first book for sale! The ScrapKins Build-It Book, Volume 1 is available at and several NYC stores. 

We'll be having several Book Signings/Recycled Craft Sessions to celebrate Earth Day in April. We'd love for you to come visit with us:

Friday April 1stTeddy Bear PJ Party
6-8 pm
Putnam Hospital Center
670 Stoneleigh Avenue
Carmel, NY  10512
(845) 279-5711 x3581

Friday April 22nd: Book Signing & Recycled Art
3:30-5:30 pm
828 Broadway (Corner of 12th street)
New York, NY  10003

Saturday April 23rd: Book Signing & Recycled Art
11 am - NOON
686 Fulton Street
Brooklyn NY 11217

For the most up-to-date info on events & signings please follow

Monday, March 14, 2011

Gearing Up for our Book Launch

Scrap City is buzzing these days as our resident recycling monsters, prepare to launch The Scrap Kins Build-It Book, Volume 1!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Stacker Asks GLANK

Stacker talks to GLANK creator, Paul Rudolph.
GLANK, is an "industrial junk funk" musical performance group that uses instruments made from recycled objects. "It's a cross between a techno dj and an automotive assembly line." Performers in mysterious white suits, banging on found instruments and interacting with the audience. (Paul also composed the original Scrap Kins theme song which accompanies our first animated short.)

STACKER: Hi Paul. Thanks for being our first guest. Let's get started. I've got to be back in Scrap City to take daily inventory. Why do you use recycled materials for your instruments?

PAUL: Because many of the materials would be thrown away and end up in land fills or the ocean for ever and ever.  Materials such as plastic water bottles work great as percussion shakers. I use other materials because they sound really cool:  things like discarded LP tanks (old balloon filling cannisters) and saw blades.

STACKER: Efficient and creative. What is the coolest thing you've ever made?

PAUL: I have two sets of tuned saw blades, each with 11 blades mounted on a resonator box.  These are two of my favorites not only because they sound great but they look really cool. And they have marching harnesses so you can be completely mobile while playing them.

STACKER: I like to be mobile with my clipboard. It helps when I'm counting. Very important question: Who is your favorite Scrap Kin and why?

PAUL: You are because of your affinity for multiplicity - multiple eyes / glasses - and you're organized. That's inspiring.

STACKER: Well. This interview is going great. I'll just mark down your answer here on my chart just so we have a record. Why is it important that people recycle?

PAUL: So that landfills don't fill up and we have to send trash to the Sun via giant garbage rockets.

STACKER: Excellent point. Garbage rockets would be a disaster. Allright. Itcher begged me to ask you this. Can't believe I'm agreeing to this one. Picture yourself rolling down a mountain of disgustlingly filthy tube socks. Are you:

A) scared
B) having the best time in your life
C) worried about foot fungus
D) Itcher is the greatest

PAUL: D!!!
STACKER: I don't think we really need to mark this one down. 
Paul, you've been great. Thanks for your time. We hope to book GLANK for Scrap City's next music festival.