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Todd Oldham’s new book ‘Kid Made Modern’: midcentury modern-inspired crafts for kids

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Designer Todd Oldham has officially overtaken Martha Stewart as our leading progenitor of cool crafts with his new book “Kid Made Modern” (AMMO Books, $22.95).

Featuring 52 projects inspired by midcentury artists including Alexander Calder, Charles and Ray Eames and Isamu Noguchi, the book may sound a little pretentious. (“Hey kids! Let’s go build a Case Study House!”) But the projects are ultimately just like the Modernist works they emulate: simple, distinctive and for everyone to enjoy. My 12-year-old daughter Bridgette propped open the book and sat for hours painting the spoon dolls that were detailed in a series of photographs. I admire, too, that many of the projects use inexpensive and recyclable materials. The Marimekko-style wrapping paper made with bubble wrap dipped in paint worked great. We also made an arresting window screen out of paper clips and paint chips (stolen from Home Depot in our case) that takes its cues from Russel and Mary Wright. A Verner Panton-ish shoulder bag – “both space age and sturdy” -- is crafted from recycled padded mailing envelopes wrapped in multi-colored duct tape.

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As our readers know, my colleagues Deborah Netburn and David A. Keeps love midcentury designer Alexander Girard -- and they seem to have influenced Bridgette as well. She chose to make the Girard-inspired wooden spoon dolls pictured above. We purchased the wood spoons at Target and used a shoebox, paint and ribbon we had lying around the house. She thoroughly enjoyed this project, but clearly not as much as the people who commented on it as I carried it in to work. Some people understood the Girard connection right away, others didn’t, but everyone smiled.

What made this mom smile was seeing my kid totally engrossed in a book, making art, and earmarking projects for the future.

Put this one on your holiday shopping list for a favorite kid. It won’t disappoint either of you.

-- Lisa Boone

Photo credits Kirk McCoy/Los Angeles Times; Ammo Books

Correction: An earlier version of this post misspelled Noguchi as Naguchi and Verner as Vernor.


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