New in The Re-Source

This summer has been the hottest one on record in the United States, and millions of people are suffering from the effects of drought. Crops are failing, and rain is greatly needed. Our first article tells about William Kamkwamba, an African boy whose family survived famine and terrible conditions because he found a way to reuse scrap materials to make a windmill that provided electricity.

Many of us tend to take modern conveniences for granted, but a great number of people have no running water, electricity, or other form of power. Some engineers wanted to make life better for people in the impoverished country of Haiti, so they made solar ovens from simple materials. In our second article, you can learn how to make one, too.

Gary Hovey is an artist who creates his work with something you use everyday….tableware such as knives, spoons, and forks. Learn how he is inspired to make animals from ordinary eating utensils that he finds at thrift stores and garage sales. Maybe he'll inspire you, too!

Our fourth article may help you rescue a familiar art material that's been spoiled by too much exposure to sunlight. You'll learn how to make sun prints using common items found around the house, and we'll show you how to embellish the pictures with crayons, colored pencils, and oil pastels. As usual, we'll close with a quiz to see how much you know about recycling and how the process saves energy.

What's In This Issue

Summer 2012

Using Solar Energy to Heat Food

sun symbolCummins Engine Company is the world's largest manufacturer of diesel engines, and the company employs thousands of engineers in dozens of countries. Last year, a group known as the Heavy Duty Customer Engineering Team spent their lunch hours building solar ovens for people living in Haiti.

In celebration of Super Bowl XLVI, some of the kids in our art classes created mitten people to decorate trees in our downtown. Mismatched or outgrown mittens were stuffed with fiberfill from an old pillow, and then they were decorated to look like children. After all the Super Bowl Kids were finished, they were attached to old, fleece blankets that covered the trees. Thirty-two children created the figures, and their tree cozies were among the most popular, decorated trees on display!

Trees are the only energy source available in this impoverished country, and using them for fuel has led to "denuding" the landscape. The engineers wanted to do something to help the Haitian people, so they came up with a plan for making solar ovens from cardboard and aluminum foil.

The men made demonstration solar ovens, and they shipped them and enough supplies to make 100 additional units. With their plan, the ovens can be made for as little as $1 each. Besides helping to warm food, they kill harmful organisms that cause dysentery, the number one killer of children countries that have limited resources.

In addition to saving trees and introducing a free source of energy, the project encourages recycling and helps improve community health. The engineers' plan also encouraged Haitians to go into business for themselves by setting up a cottage industry to make and sell the solar ovens.

If you'd like to make a solar oven, you'll find instructions for creating one from a cardboard pizza box at

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by Marilyn J. Brackney

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The link above will allow access to dozens of Imagination Factory art activities and articles that appear in all newsletters.

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The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind

by William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer

windmillThis amazing, true story of a teenager from the impoverished country of Malawi is sure to inspire while making you more appreciative of the simple things we take for granted.

William Kamkwamba wanted a better life for his family and himself, and after experiencing a famine and near starvation, this small boy with big dreams set about inventing a way to bring electricity to his home.

In 2002, thousands of people died as a result of one of the worst famines in Malawi's history. William's father, a farmer, could no longer afford to send him to school, but determined to continue his education, the teenager visited the local library to learn what he could on his own.

There, he found an old British science book, and although he had a limited command of the English language, William studied the photos and diagrams to teach himself basic physics. He also found another book that featured a picture of windmills on the cover. Armed with knowledge from the two books, William's adventure in building a windmill began.

Scrounging the local scrap yard, the young inventor found a treasure trove of old tractor fans, shock absorbers, plastic pipe, and bicycle parts, and with these unlikely components, he began creating his own windmill. Others in the village thought he was crazy, but William was determined to build his windmill so he could bring electricity and running water to his house.

Eventually, he succeeded, and he was able to build a machine with enough power to light four bulbs and a radio. William built another windmill, and it enabled the family to irrigate the garden. People in the area called his inbook covervention "electric wind," and as news about the windmills spread, William found himself being visited by journalists from all over.

Finally, his great adventure resulted in a trip to the United States where he was interviewed about his experience on many television shows, and he spoke at a TEDGlobal conference. William shared his dream of building a larger windmill to help irrigate his entire village, and he also told the audience that he wanted to go back to school. Afterwards, members of the TED community came together to advise him about ways to improve his power system, and they helped with schooling and mentoring him.

We highly recommend reading The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, and to learn more about William, watch this video on You Tube. Visit William's official Web site at, and keep up with the inventor's latest projects, which involve teaching others how to build windmills to bring power to their villages.

Making Art from Faded Paper

If you've ever left a piece of construction paper in the sun for an extended period of time, you know that it fades. That's because the pigments used to color this fairly inexpensive material are not of the highest quality.

Rather than tossing faded paper, it's possible to take advantage of thilayout ones characteristic to make a sun print. This is a new way to make art, and it keeps something you might have thrown away out of the landfill.

To start, look through a junk drawer to find things that have an interesting shape. Examples include old keys, scissors, letter openers, and anything else that's fairly flat.

Lay a piece of construction paper in direct sunlight, and place some of the objects on the surface. Leave the paper, undisturbed, for several days or even weeks.

Finally, remove the objects, and the sun will have faded the surface in the space not taken up by the keys and other items you laid on the paper.

Outline the shapes that result with a fine, black marker, and to finish your picture, use colored pencils, crayons, oil pastels, or markers to add color or make designs in the faded area.


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Ohio Artist Gary Hovey

and His Amazing Metal Sculpture

gorillas by GaryAbout 30 years ago, Gary Hovey was traveling in Kansas when he saw some outdoor sculptures made of chrome car bumpers. At the time, it occurred to him that smaller, indoor sculptures could be made using common flatware, such as forks, knives, and spoons.

Gary didn't know how to weld, but the idea stuck with him. It wasn't until 2004 that he took a welding class, and he made his first piece, a running dog. Since then, he's created many animals ranging from birds to deer and gorillas, all from stainless steel flatware bought at garage sales and thrift stores.

In creating his work, Gary tries to capture the essence of the animal first, as he wants the piece to be appreciated for its form and movement. The sculptor succeeds at this very well, and it's only after closer study that you notice that the piece is made of forks, knives, and spoons!

Gary Hovey is an amazing artist, and by upcycling old flatware, he's doing good things for the environment, too. See more of his wonderful work at Gary Hovey Sculptures.