Back to School Feelings

Hey, everyone! It's been a great summer! We've been spending lots of whole days brainstorming, creating, eating pizza, and just plain having fun together! 

Back to school is going be a mixture of homeschool and public school for this crew, and there are all the feels of transition as we gear up for the new school year.

 

Everyone is growing and thriving. We had a blast at our Fireflies Aglow photo shoot this summer. Here's a couple of our favorites.

 

Having great new photos inspired us to redo our whole website. We'd love for you to take a look!  Thank you for taking our photos:  Story and True.

We're in the home stretch of completing our book: Becoming Agents of Creativity. Stay tuned for the release! 

Have friends who you think would like to follow our creative adventures? Feel free to tell them about us.  We can be found on facebook, instagram, and twitter. 

Lastly, we would love to hear about what you're up to! Drop us a note or leave a comment to fill us in. 

Here's What We've Been Up To

Hi everyone! Here's an update from Fireflies Aglow.

We're working on something really fun! We are writing a collaborative book called Becoming Agents of Creativity! The project is a blast, and the kids are learning so much as we create away. Each of the kids dreamed up a character. They came up with what the character looks like, what their personality is, and their strengths and weaknesses.

The characters are the foundation for the book! Here's a sneak peak at a couple of them:

Susan the Owl

Susan the Owl


Sugar the Cotton Candy Cat

Sugar the Cotton Candy Cat


Zoe is in the final editing stages of her second book, Puppy Days.


We would love to hear what you are up to. Leave us a comment, and we will be sure to reply!

Learning Animation

Are your kids interests changing?

Our kids are progressing in their creative journeys, and developing their creative voices.

Zoe has been writing another book, and wants to learn more about photography and animation.

Emma is in show choir and honor choir, and wanting to explore animation.  She also wants to develop a story she's started about a wolf.

Aeva wants to learn animation, and draw all things cute.  She is also learning to play the recorder in music. 

Elina wants to learn animation, and write and illustrate stories.

Aidan is learning photography with his grandpa, and love package design and illustrating comics.

Elijah has decided to join us in our creative collaborations, and is a storyteller.  He is learning animation, imovie, and writing scripts.

What storytelling tools are available?

Learning...

Beth and I have been taking classes at Skillshare.  I'm so encouraged by all of the creatives creating how-to's, sharing what they've learned.  Some of the classes have adult content, so I prefer taking the classes to learn myself, and then adapt it to teach the kids.  After taking a class on creating gifs, we decided to teach the kids the basics of animation.

  1. We had them trace a sketch four times on tracing paper.
  2. We took photos of the drawings with an IPhone.
  3. We put the photos into an app called ImgPlay (An app that turns your photos into gifs)
  4. We saved them as videos, and put them into IMovie.
  5. Voila!!!
  1. Elijah wrote a script that the kids acted out.
  2. We ate pizza.  Creative collaboration is always better with pizza.
  3. We laughed a lot.  Creative collaboration is fun.
  4. Elijah showed us some animations he's been making on his Ipad with an app called Animation Desk.
  5. Elijah and I made a movie together in IMovie, so he would know how to start creating his own movies.

After, the girls and I went home...

Elijah and Zoe Both Started Making Movies On Their IPads

Finding The Right Creative Tools

We don't have IPads at home, but we have a laptop with Windows 7.  So, I started researching animation software that works with Windows 7 and is in our budget.  I decided onAnime Studio Debut 8 [Old Version, and we found an affordable digital pen and drawing tablet.    I was able to find both of these tools for a total of $50.00 including shipping on amazon.

The girls have already started doing digital paintings in Autodesk Sketchbook, which is free painting software, and are looking forward to creating animations, once our animation software is installed.

We upload all of our videos to a shared Vimeo account.  We'd love to hear what you're creating these days, and what your favorite tools are.  

Enjoying this creative adventure with you,

Angela Meijer and Beth L. Olson

Angela Meijer
Mixed Media Landscape Canvases

We had the privilege of hosting a "Mixed Media Landcape Canvas" project at Heartland's Kingdom Kid's Day Camp, on August 11, 2016.  Many thanks to Pastor Jon and Tara (who are amazing). They organized, rallied incredible volunteers, and provided a fantastic 2 Day Camp for the community.  It was a joy to be part of it!

We didn't know how many kids would come, so we prepared canvases for 60 Mixed Media Canvas Landscapes.  Here's a video art tutorial showing how we prepared for our art project, a class demonstration, and pictures of the artwork the kids created.  

Zoe and Aeva working on their Mixed Media Collages

Zoe and Aeva working on their Mixed Media Collages

Our Goals:

  • To Affirm Kids In Their Creativity.
  • To See The Kids Succeed In Creating Something Meaningful, In An Hour Workshop.
  • To Find A Project For A Diverse Age Group.
  • To Help Make Day Camp A Wonderful Experience.

Why we chose Mixed Media Canvas Landscapes:

  • A Landscape Sets The Scene And Gives The Kids A Starting Point.
  • With Paint Already Applied, The Kids Are Able To Jump Right Into Creating, and There Is Less Chance Of Paint Getting On Kids, and Carpet.
  • Someone Donated A Big Jar Of Modge Podge!!! (Thank you Joy Woodard)
  • 8x10 Stretched Canvases Are Ready To Hang, and Are Special.

Supply List for 60 Canvases:

  1. 8 oz Acrylic Craft Paint - Sky Blue
  2. 8 oz Acrylic Craft Paint - Grass Green
  3. 30 Sponge Brushes
  4. 60 - 8x10 Canvases (We purchased them in packs of 10 with a coupon at Michaels.)
  5. Modge Podge.  We probably used 16 oz.
  6. Scrapbook Paper.  We tore 12x12 sheets into three strips.  Each child had 5 strips in different colors.  There was lots of paper left over, which we will save for future projects.

Let us know if you have any questions.  We hope that this inspires you to create with kids, either at home or in large groups.  We were happy to see that all the kids dove right into their projects.  We observed that some of the kids needed extra help with cutting things out and getting the glue to work.  Having extra helpers was key!  Pastor Jon had older kids helping out with set up, tear down, as well as assisting the kids.  Some kids finished in about half an hour, while others were adding details for the entire hour.

Enjoying This Creative Adventure With You,

Beth and Angela

Making A Collage With Magazines, Paints, and Watercolor Crayons

After seeing these photos, which we posted on Instagram, we were asked if we would be willing to make a tutorial showing how to make a collage with photos.  So here is a mini tutorial showing you how to make a magazine photo collage.

(Elina filmed it with an Iphone - Mind Blown!!! - but back to the tutorial.)

Materials We Used (But use what you have!):

  1. Print outs of your own photos or magazine pictures.
  2. Clear Gesso (It's like a clear primer that lets the picture shine through.)
  3. Watercolor Crayons - (You can use oil pastels instead; they just don't spread with water.)
  4. Watercolor Gel Sticks - (If you're using oil pastels, these aren't needed.)
  5. Acrylic Paints - (You can use any kind of craft acrylic paints.)  We use the ones in this tutorial that we got for Bible Journaling.
  6. A willingness to experiment and explore...

What we've discovered so far:

The magazine pictures and the Bible pages both wrinkle some.  However, after a day or two, the pages straighten out.

You will notice in the examples below that the collage with the umbrella is really wrinkled.  We discovered that this happens when we use too much gesso.  Learning to create is a process.  

We hope you're enjoying your summer so far!  Beth and I (Angela), have been meeting and talking about Bible Journaling, and have spent some time journaling together too.  We had a lot of feedback from our last tutorial, and made a little follow up video for you. 

Here's our first thoughts on Bible Journaling, and it's not just for kids.  Here's a blog post that Beth shared on why she colors in her Bible.

Happy Creative Adventuring,

Angela and Beth

Thoughts On Bible Journaling

Are Your Kids On Summer Break?

Ours get out of school next Tuesday.  We wanted to send out an art tutorial just in time for summer vacation.  Aeva was home sick a few weeks ago, and so I (Angela) asked her if she wanted to journal in her Bible with me.  We both pulled out our Bibles, and here's what happened...

It got me thinking... I love art journaling, and I love art journaling with my girls.  Maybe this would make a great art tutorial!!!  We connect with each other while we journal, and we also connect with God.  We not only engage with the scriptures in a deeper way, but we are able to remember what we are reading.  After my discussion with Aeva, she told me that she wants to read through the Bible together this summer, so that she is able to understand it better.  This is how we are looking forward to starting our mornings together.

Here's a link for our favorite Bible Journal.

However, it isn't necessary to journal in your Bible.  You can journal in a separate sketch book!  Just make sure to write down the references for what you're journaling.

Watercolor crayons, colored pencils and gel pens... and stickers are our favorite ways to use our Bible Journals.

Colorful Bible Tabs are a big favorite.

Disclaimer!!!!   I'm not trying to tell you buy all this stuff!!!  I'm all about getting creative with what you have at hand.  However, I also like having ideas up my sleeve for birthday gifts, and some of these supplies are pretty fun...

Artistic journaling is not just for kids! When I (Beth) was 19 years old, I went to a missionary training school with YWAM Mercy Ships. Part of our graded course work was to keep an illustrated journal throughout the entire school. We had to turn it in each week to be graded. 

When I first heard about the illustrated journal requirement, I was offended. As they handed us boxes of crayons, I thought, "Do they think we are 5 year olds?!" The crazy thing is that after a couple of weeks I fell in love with the process. I still have that journal 20 years later. It is a treasure to me.

If you flip through the journal, you can see a huge difference from the beginning to the end. In the early parts of the notebook I used stick figures and magazine cut outs. Towards the end you can see that I took my time to carefully draw what was happening in my life. I love having a creative documentation of the things I was learning, as well as the high and low points I experienced.

I pulled out that journal just the other day and looked through it with my daughter Zoe. She was very interested as I shared my stories with her. It was a great connection point for us.

We are looking forward to sharing more ideas with you each month, so sign up for our monthly newsletter if you haven't already, and if you enjoyed this tutorial, please pass it on to a friend!

Happy June,

Angela & Beth

 

Scribble Drawings

With summer break right around the corner, we are gathering fun, doable ideas for the kids that anyone can do.  One of our kids favorites is scribble drawings.  It brings an element of discovery and surprise into the creative process.

Scribble Drawing Tutorial

Step 1:  Make a scribble on a piece of paper.  Option 2.  Have someone else make a scribble on a piece of paper.

Step 2:  Look at the scribble and imagine what that scribble could be.

Step 3:  Use your colors and drawing tools to accentuate what you see in your drawing and add what you need to in order to turn it into a finished art piece.

 

This is a super fun way to get your imagination going.  It's a lot like finding imagery in the clouds.


Here's some examples of scribble drawings made by Fireflies Aglow Artists:

Emma's Bluebird Drawing

Emma's Bluebird Drawing

Emma's Cow Drawing

Emma's Cow Drawing

Zoe's Fire Drawing - She made this on the computer.  You can draw on the computer too!

Zoe's Fire Drawing - She made this on the computer.  You can draw on the computer too!

Aeva's Dog Drawing

Aeva's Dog Drawing

Elina's Mouse Drawing

Elina's Mouse Drawing

We've got a new Instagram account and Facebook page, if you'd like to join us there.

Happy May,

Angela & Beth

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Visually Saying "I Love You"

Drawing A Portrait of Mimi

For spring break, we took a road trip to the West Coast to visit our family.  It was a wonderful time of reconnecting, and reaffirming love.  My Uncle Roger and Aunt Denise drove to the Oregon Coast to meet with us, and they brought their dog, Mimi.  Emma was very taken with Mimi, and Aunt Denise let Emma hold her, and walk with her on the beach.  Later, when we returned to the hotel, Emma pulled out her colored pencils and drawing pad, and drew a portrait of Mimi to give to Aunt Denise and Uncle Roger.  I was with her when she gave them the portrait.  They were so moved by the portrait, and told Emma that they were going to matt and frame the portrait and hang it in a special place in their home.  Emma beamed!  Her visual expression of love was not only received and appreciated, it was reciprocated with affirmation and encouragement.  It always amazes me how impactful, visual "I Love You's" can be.  

Emma's portrait of Mimi, that she drew for Aunt Denise & Uncle Roger during spring break.

Emma's portrait of Mimi, that she drew for Aunt Denise & Uncle Roger during spring break.

 

Who can I tell, "I Love You" today?

We encourage you to make a drawing, and send it to someone in the mail.

It's wonderful getting mail, that isn't a bill or advertisement. 


Another highlight of our trip was visiting Powell's Book Store, in Portland, OR.  Look at all these creative books for kids!

Another highlight of our trip was visiting Powell's Book Store, in Portland, OR.  Look at all these creative books for kids!

Speaking of Books...

Save The Date For:  Ankeny Author's Fair

 Zoe is going to be one of the featured authors at the Ankeny Author's Fair, April 9th, from 9-noon at the Pinnacle Club.  Come visit her booth, and get your copy of her new book, Harry & Larry - The Tale of Two Canaries.  Click Here For Directions.

If you're local, we would love to see you at the Ankeny Author's Fair.

Happy Spring.  

Beth & Angela

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Angela Meijer
Sew Much Fun

Sew Simple

Yesterday, Emma and I went on a trip to our local sewing store.  We came home with a few new colors of embroidery thread, and a couple plastic embroidery hoops.  We went through my fabric scraps and each of the girls picked out a piece that they liked.

This morning, Emma and I showed Aeva & Elina how to thread a needle and tie knots.  They were ready to go.  We put an audio book into the cd player, and you can see what is emerging in the photos above.

As parents of creatives, we love ideas that are:

  1. Low on Cost

  2. Low on Mess

  3. That Our Kids Can Be Proud Of (even as beginners)

If you want to freshen up on your embroidery stitches, here's a fun book with great illustrations.

If you want to freshen up on your embroidery stitches, here's a fun book with great illustrations.

And have you gotten your copy of Zoe's book yet?

Great Tip:  Our local library is our favorite place to find audio & craft books.  Our library lets you do inter-library loans and also put in requests for library books, if they don't have what you're looking for.

Happy March,

Angela & Beth.

Angela Meijer
Collecting "Out Of This World" Ideas

I'm sitting on the couch today, next to a sick kiddo.  We've been watching re-runs of Fixer-Upper, while I've been catching up on some of my computer work.  It's inspiring to watch house renovations, and other people "getting it done", as the plans I made today are going to get to wait, as Aeva girl gets better.

Today, we are doing the hard work of rest!

I love collecting ideas, when we are having "down time".  Gathering inspiration to draw from for a rainy day.

Where Do You Find Inspiration?

Here Is How We Gather And Store Our Ideas

  1. Pinterest is a wonderful place to gather and store ideas.
  2. Inspired by Nature:  Each of our kids has a special box, in which they can store their gathered treasures, including rocks, feathers, and shells.  We pull out the boxes at Christmas time to make vignettes and gifts.  Painted rocks as paper weights or garden markers are always a favorite.  We are also inspired by the animals we see.  We especially love watching the birds as they gather on our deck to eat the bird feed we put out for them.  The birds make their way into our drawings, paintings and stories.
  3. We love to store our drawing in three ring binders.
  4. Evernote or Dropbox are wonderful tools to store & share artwork, stories, ideas, school papers, etc.
  5. Our local library is full of wonderful books, audio books, dvd's, and even classes.

Another favorite activity when we are having down time is reading.  Have you ordered your copy of Zoe's new book yet?

Happy Creative Adventures From Our Home To Yours,

Angela & Beth

You Are An Artist

When I was a little girl (a 2 year old), I colored all over my parents living room wall with crayons.  My mom was not happy about it.  My parents were friends with an amazing artist named Eugene, who told them, "Don't paint over that drawing!  Your daughter is an artist!"  My parents were impacted that Eugene thought I was an artist.  My mom painted over the walls, because she wasn't going to let my creativity take over the house.  My parents also raised me believing that I was an artist.  Words are powerful, and having someone believe in and value your creativity is powerful, and so I want to affirm the creativity of everyone reading this today.

You Are An Artist

Our kids know they are artists, and we don't have to give them much prompting in order for them to create.  The girls have a giant bulletin board in their room, so they can celebrate and hang up their favorite creations in their room.  I also am a really big fan of refrigerator magnets with clips, and use them to showcase rotating artwork.  Today, I took our oldest daughter to the library, and while she was loading up on books to read this weekend, I picked up a book called Project Kid, 100 Ingenious Crafts for Family Fun.  It has some really fun ideas that I will take note of for when they may need a prompt, or for when we want to do something new together.

BIG AND EXCITING NEWS!!!!

Zoe's Book, Harry & Larry - the tale of two canaries has been published!!!!

Congratulations Zoe!  You are a published author!!!

As we try new things, learning as we go, amazing creativity takes shape all around us, especially when we team up to see creative dreams come true.  

Happy Creative Adventures,

Angela & Beth

Angela Meijer
Creative Dreams Are Realized With Collaboration and Teamwork

By Beth Olson

My daughter Zoe wrote a book last month. She is ten years old. Knock me over with a feather! I knew she was a bit addicted to typing on her computer, but when she told me she had written a whole book I was quite surprised.

Having a creative child is really exciting, but it can also be a lot of work. When my daughter told me her news I could not just back and say, “Oh, that’s nice, Zoe.”

What’s a mom to do? I had to take action.

While Zoe’s story was very fun and thorough, it needed a lot of editing to be put into a book format.

I started off by editing the book myself.  I spent several hours over several days on this part.

Next I passed the manuscript on to my dad for proofreading. I asked a friend to help me format the text into the correct page sizes.

Zoe drew a picture for the book cover.  She had very definite ideas about the way she wanted it to look. This is where Angela came into the process, she started making cover art for the book.  Angela was able to envision background graphics for the book cover.  Next, Ashley went to the drawing board, to give the canaries the animated personality that Zoe envisioned.

collaboration.jpg

Overall the process of turning a manuscript into a real book turned out to be a wonderful collaboration with friends.

What fun!

Don’t let your dreams just be dreams. Do your homework and make your ideas come to life!

Creative Prompt

Are you looking for a way to repurpose that holiday paper that you saved?  Fashion Forms provides templates to provide hours of paper crafting inspiration.  Here are a few of the outfits that Zoe has been making this holiday season.

We look forward to sharing lots of creative adventures with you in 2016.
Thanks for joining us,
Beth & Angela

 

Beth L Olson
How Do I Start Empowering My Creative Kid?

By Beth L. Olson

Are You Intimidated By Your Creative Child?

If you’re anything like me, you probably have felt overwhelmed at some point by your child’s imagination.  Personally, I have never felt like I’m the creative type.  When it comes down to it, I should say that I am rather creative in problem solving, but I don’t have artistic giftings.  I have three boys who are more like me, but I also have this lovely little girl...she is the reason behind why I am writing to you today.  My daughter Zoe is all about animals, writing, and art.  I am allergic to animals, and I am not good at art by any stretch of the imagination. I can connect with Zoe a little in the writing, though her writing tends to be far more imaginative than anything that would ever enter into my head.

How in the world do you set your child up for success in their giftings when you have no idea where to even think about starting?

I am so thankful that God brought Angela Meijer into our lives when my daughter was still very young.  Angela was able to say a few simple things to encourage me along the way. She seemed to be able to see things in Zoe’s artwork that I couldn’t.  What a blessing to have a friend who is an artist!

It was helpful just to be able to talk to someone who fully understood what I meant when I told her about the piles and piles of paper drawings ALLLLL over Zoe’s room and her anxiety at the thought of throwing out any of the drawings because each one was part of a specific memory.

I’m thinking that there are probably a lot of parents out there who can identify with this. This “parent’s corner” is for you.

By Angela Meijer (An artist, and mom to three creative kids)

HERE ARE A FEW TIPS TO ENCOURAGE CREATIVITY AT HOME

Art allows children the freedom to create, explore and discover. It also allows for personal expression, development of fine motor skills, and teaching moments such as cleaning up your mess when you're done working.

• Don't try to control your children's creativity with your own ideas and expectations.  Just give them a few tools to express themselves freely.  (Too many supplies can be overwhelming.  A pencil and crayons and piece of computer paper are my kids usual go to.)

• Turn on some music; dance, and play. Set the mood for a sense of fun and creativity.

• Create an “Art Kit” Tote: including a vinyl tablecloth, white paper, kids scissors, markers, crayons, watercolors & empty jar (for water), sidewalk chalk, and play dough (kept in a plastic bag to keep it fresh).   

• Chalkboards are a wonderful way to create drawings that can be documented by photographing them, and the mess in minimal!

• Create a place to store the artwork so it can be enjoyed later, or hang it on your refrigerator.  Artwork also makes wonderful Christmas presents.  Encourage your child to create a book of their artwork for grandparents and family members.

Here are a few art resources in the community:

Classes at the Ankeny Art Center - http://ankenyartcenter.com/classes.html

Bulldog Ceramics is a fun studio to paint pottery and do crafts - http://www.bulldogceramics.com


Beth L Olson
Introduction To Acrylic Painting

By Angela Meijer.

 

Why Acrylic Paint

What's so great about acrylic paints?  The reason we like them is that they clean up with water, but are waterproof when they dry.  This is great, if you want paint in layers.  It's also great if mistakes are made, because they can be painted over once the paint has dried.

What Kind Of Acrylics Do We Use?

Student grade acrylic paints are affordable and available at any craft store.  Here's a great starter set.

What Do you paint on?

Stretched canvas, canvas boards or watercolor paper/multi-media paper that is taped down to a table or drawing board.  If you look at the photo below, acrylics can be applied to any surface.  We've painted flower pots, rocks, found wood, etc.  Here's an affordable set of 8x10 canvases that are ready to hang on the wall.

How Do You Avoid The Mud?

We start with two colors that don't turn brown when they mix together.  We let those colors dry, and then we can introduce new colors.  This keeps the colors looking bright and fresh.  For example:  Use blues and greens first.  Then after those colors dry, bring in reds, yellows and oranges.  Here's a little color chart I saved on pinterest.

We keep a bucket of water to put our brushes in when we aren't using them, so the acrylic paint doesn't dry on on our brushes.  We like having paper towels handy, so we can wipe off our brushes after we wash them.  If we paint on an easel, we put a tarp underneath the working area.  If we paint on the table, we cover it with a vinyl tablecloth.

Here's Some Fun Results

This canvas was built up over a few painting sessions.  It was large enough to collaborate on, which sparked creativity in both of the girls.

This canvas was built up over a few painting sessions.  It was large enough to collaborate on, which sparked creativity in both of the girls.

Here you can see the first layer being developed.   All of the details can be added later.

Here you can see the first layer being developed.   All of the details can be added later.

We found some horse stencils and not only painted them, but used them as stencils in our other paintings, all done on found wood from the shed.

We found some horse stencils and not only painted them, but used them as stencils in our other paintings, all done on found wood from the shed.

Angela Meijer
Creating A Place

by Angela Meijer.

Creating A Place:  When you've got kids like mine (very prolific artists), you either set up a place for them to keep their artwork , or your home turns into Calder's Famous Studio.  I've always been fond of the chalk board.  The kids know the drawing is temporary, and the drawings make for gorgeous photographs.

In preparation for a summer and house full of creative adventures, a plan has been evolving.  A good plan.  A plan to create a place... one that will showcase, document, and celebrate the kids creations with the worldOperation Fireflies Aglow.

Lots of parents have asked me how to go about teaching their kids art.  They've also asked me to give their kids lessons.  While I'm not an art teacher, I can share with you what has worked in sparking my kids creativity.  My kids don't take much prompting, mind you.  They also have taken classes at the Ankeny Art Center, and have great art programs in their schools.

Supplies Needed:  I've found that less is more when it comes to creativity.  Too many supplies can be quite overwhelming.  A Pencil, Pencil Sharpener, Large Eraser, Computer Paper, and Crayons, and a place to put the drawings away has been our go to for years.  Now, they're getting into digital art.

3 Ring Binders:  This summer, we will file all of the kids artwork in archival plastic sleeves in a 3 ring binder.  Anything larger will be photographed and printed small enough to store in the binder.  Because we value our creations, we think about what we will do with our creations before we make them.  We've learned this the hard way, having found treasured drawings stepped on, spilled on, even ruined.

Blogging:  If you want to set up a blog for your child's creations, a great free resource for this is blogger, powered by google.  When I set up my first blog, blogger walked me through the process without knowing any internet language.  You can create a private blog, that is only sent to the emails of your choosing, or make it public to share with the whole wide world.  (If you make it public, remember to think about what you want the whole wide world to see.) After a year of posting my oldest daughter's artwork into a blog, I was able to upload to have it printed into a beautiful hard covered keepsake book at blurb.  It's always nice to have the artwork in print, as you don't always have an internet connection.  This website:  Fireflies Aglow is hosted by Squarespace.  If you don't feel like you have enough art to share or things to write for a website, consider doing it with a few friends.  Creating something together is a great way to build community and glean from each other's strengths.