making sh!t for your girlfriend since 2007


soon come

Craft Mart ~ Nov 8 (6pm - 11pm) & Nov 9 (11am - 7pm) ~ Hamilton Artists Inc. ~ 155 James Street North, Hamilton
Halifax Crafters Society Winter Market ~ Nov 30 & Dec 1 ~ Olympic Community Centre ~2304 Hunter Street, Halifax
City of Craft ~ Dec 14 & 15 ~ The Theatre Centre ~ 1087 & 1095 Queen Street West, Toronto

Monday, September 6, 2010

Read&Write:The Pencil Project

So, remember that sneak peek from a while ago? Well, the Project is finally complete. I think I mentioned sometime before that Labour Day always feels like the beginning of a new year (even though I haven't been a student in forever) so it’s fitting to reveal what I've been working on all summer long today.
The Principal's office at Sarvajanik Highschool (Navsari, India)
Read&Write: The Pencil Project is a crafty, collaborative fundraising endeavour that combines several aspects of my life that don't always get to play together. You see, when I'm not making things, I spend a couple days a week selling books and hanging out with other book people - writers, readers, poets, etc.. And when I'm not working or crafting, I'm hanging out (or dreaming of hanging out) in a sleepy little village in northern-ish India. When I was there earlier this year, I attended a Republic Day assembly at the local highschool - the same highschool where my folks first met and graduated from in the sixties. The students at this school are mostly the children of farmers or field workers and, as I discovered during my visit, neither the school nor the students have very much money. The Republic Day celebration included an awards assembly and as these bright young kids marched up to the stage to accept their prizes from the Principal (there was an award for needle crafts!), it was heartbreaking to see that many of them (the older students in particular) didn't have shoes on - not even cheap, plastic chappals (i.e., flip flops - the footwear of choice out there). "Surely we can do better than this!" I thought, and managed to scrounge up a couple hundred bucks to donate to the school, that would be passed along to the kids. The donation didn't mean much to me - a month or two of going without a trip to Soundscapes, skipping out on some new skinny jeans, that sort of thing. But the more I thought about those kids, and the more time I spent with the Principal and staff of the school, the more obligated I felt to do something for them.

Primary school students with their Republic Day awards (above); a typical classroom (below).

While I don't have huge amounts of money to donate (I make things and sell books, remember?), I do have hands and a group of fabulous and talented friends, so with the help of some crafty pals and a dozen mostly-local writers, poets, and artists, I came up with Read&Write: The Pencil Project – a series of twelve original one line poems or aphorisms, engraved onto wooden pencils. Reaching out to the people I work with or have met through my adventures in bookselling, I managed to convince some truly exceptional writers to donate an original line of text (it had to be a less than 75 characters) which were then burned onto pencils (with the help of Debbie and Karyn) at the workroom. The pencils will be sold in an effort to raise some much-needed funds for the Sarvajanik Highschool and its students. With The Pencil Project, I hope to encourage folks to read poems, to write something, and to help some kids on the other side of the world read poems and write things.

Starting tomorrow (the first day of school!), I will reveal a different pencil poem everyday, and the entire series will be on display and for sale at my booth at the Queen West Art Crawl on September 18th and 19th . I hope that you’ll check ‘em out, in person or here on G-Uknit, and tell me what you think! Happy Labour Day, y’all.

Most of the desks in the classroom above were very tidy except for this one, which was way in the very back corner of the room. A closer look revealed the name of the vandal:

I'm not kidding.


roisin said...

K - this is amazing. I am so excited to see, and buy! these pencils. you are a generous soul.

leah b said...

this is incredible kalpna! will you be selling some of that poetic lead online anywhere?

t a n y a said...

what an inspiring endeavour, Kalpna. looking forward to seeing all of the pencils and poems.

Cat London said...

Great idea! I'd love love love to participate by buying lots -- I would love to give them as gifts as well. Is there any way for people who don't live in Toronto to buy them?

Anonymous said...

awesome awesome awesome!!! i hope you get to meet kalpna the vandal.

Ghostface Knittah said...

Oh, thanks everyone! I think once QWAC is over, I'll list them on Etsy so you out-of-towners can get some. Check back for more details!As I start posting them, feel free to contact me directly and tell me which ones you might want and I can save 'em for ya.

nesting.emily said...

Fantastic! What a great idea. India is so dear to my heart- my daughter and I visited it years ago. I can't wait to go back.
I'll be buying pencils for sure!!

Walter Helena Photography said...

Fantastic idea, and what a way to bring the lost art of writing in lead back to life.


Steph said...

great concept! I'd also be interested in purchasing some. Best of luck!