Make your own brick library

Posted on Jul 29, 2014 in Alumni News and News


You may have noticed the cover of the July, 2014 issue of Kansas Alumni magazine, which featured bright, sunny porch steps stacked with colorful “books.” The library consisted of hand-painted bricks and pavers painted to look like old books featuring KU authors and other classics. If you are into crafty projects, you may have seen this popular idea online. Google “book bricks” and you’ll find more tutorials and how-to videos. In fact, our Associate editor, Chris Lazzarino, first spotted this idea, and we thought it would be fun to do. The bricks make great bookends, garden art, or even a nice focal point on a windowsill or shelf.

The books are fairly easy—the hardest part may be deciding your favorite classics— and can be made by anyone. If you don’t feel up to hand-painting the lettering, you can use alphabet stickers found at most craft stores. We kept our books simple, decorating only the spine, which is really all that shows if you choose to use them as bookends. Painting on bricks is a rough endeavor, so embrace the imperfections and don’t strive for perfect lines!


Here’s the easy step-by-step tutorial:

Step 1: Bricks and Pavers
Gather old bricks if you can find them, or buy an assortment of pavers from a garden or home improvement store. If you are using old bricks that have a little bit of moss on them, first soak them in a light solution of water and bleach (about 1/4 cup to 1 gallon of water), and then scrub them to remove the moss. Let the bricks dry several hours or overnight. If you are using pavers that you have just bought, they tend to be dusty so rinse them off well and let them dry several hours or overnight.

img_step3_basecoat1Step 2: Supplies
For other supplies, you will need acrylic paint, brushes, blue painters masking tape, tracing paper, and computer printouts of book titles (or use alphabet stickers for the lettering). You can use inexpensive paint for this project. In fact, the liquid acrylic that you can buy in bottles at the craft store are perfect for this. You also need to have an assortment of brushes on hand, from wide flat brushes, to small narrow brushes for lettering. Use bristle brushes—foam brushes will not hold up against the surface of the brick.

Step 3: Base coat
Paint your bricks and pavers with a white coat of paint. This helps seal in the porous surface, and will help you get even coverage when you apply more coats of color.

img_step5_bookcoversimg_step4_pagesStep 4: “Pages”
To created weathered-looking pages, paint three edges with an off-white or cream paint. Add a second coat. When the paint is mostly dry, use a darker tan and with a long narrow brush, paint lines along the pages. Broken lines work well, and we are going for a rough, weathered look here, so wiggle the brush and don’t worry that the lines aren’t straight. Add additional lines with white paint to achieve the look.

img_step5_darkpaintimg_step5_highlightsimg_step5_tape2Step 5: Book Covers
Make sure the paint on the “page” area is thoroughly dry, and then tape over the edge, leaving a margin for the book cover. (Be sure to press the tape down on the edges well.) Paint  your book with a solid color, adding two coats. Add a little black paint to your book color, and add the deeper tone to cracks and creases in the brick. Use a wet paper towel to blend the dark color in and wipe away the paint that is not in the cracks. Next, add a little white for highlights to the cover. This is easy to do with “finger-painting.” Dip your finger in a little paint, wipe most of it off on newspaper or a paper towel, and then lightly rub across your book. Adding the deeper tones and highlights help give the book a bit of dimension.

img_step6_symbolStep 6: Spine and Details
The next step is to embellish the spine. Add panels for the book titles, stripes, and symbols. Most publishers used a small symbol or brand on their spines, and adding a small embellishment  to mimic this can add to the effect. When the book is completely dry, remove the tape that protected the “page” part of the book. Even if your page paint was thoroughly dry when you taped it, you may remove some paint when you  strip off the tape. Don’t worry about this, the random spots will add to the aged look of your books, or you can go back and touch up with paint if you prefer.

img_step7_lettering1img_step7_lettering4Step 7: Lettering
We printed out book titles from the computer, and then traced them onto the books before we hand-lettered them. You can totally wing it if you feel comfortable, or you can use small alphabet stickers. (Stickers not recommended if you will use these books outdoors). For help with hand-lettering, have a good tracing paper to transfer the title. Speedball’s “Mona Lisa” tracing paper has dark carbon, and it shows up well on the rough surface of the brick or paver. Tape a piece of tracing paper in place, and then trace your printout. The result will be rough because of the surface of the brick, but it should give you enough to go on. Carefully paint your lettering, dark paint on light surfaces, and light paint on dark surfaces. Don’t worry if your lettering is rough, it just adds to the charm!

img_step7_lettering3Paint a “drop shadow” to the left of the letters, which will help the title pop a bit. If you want, add the title to the front of the book as well, especially if you plan to use the books as pavers in a garden.

Step 8: Sanding
Use a very rough sandpaper (we used 60 grit), to sand along the edges and rough up the bricks. If desired, drag the sandpaper across random areas to remove paint.






img_brick_books_v1And that’s it! Have fun making your own colorful library of brick “books.” Recreate your favorite childhood stories, plan a themed collection for a boy or a girl, or decorate a windowsill near your favorite reading nook. These would also look great edging a garden area. If you plan to use them outside, you might want to coat them with a matte-finish spar varnish so that the paint will last longer. Have fun and be sure to send us photos of your “new” books.

—Susan Younger, Creative Director


Photograph of books on steps by Steve Puppe,

Photographs of the process by Susan Younger


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’Hawks in Rock

Posted on Feb 28, 2014 in Alumni News and News


Have you ever heard of the term “Pareidolia?” Most people haven’t, but surely everyone has experienced it. Pareidolia (parr-i-DOH-lee-uh) is the phenomenon of recognizing familiar shapes in clouds or objects, the man in the moon, religious icons in toast … or Jayhawks in rocks.

Tim Brandt, b’74, director of the Adams Alumni Center, saw this rocky likeness of our beloved mascot while he was running around the Troon North Golf Course in Scottsdale, Ariz. He was struck by the shape of an outcropping of rock, and he sent us the photo. “All you need is a little paint, and it would look just like the Jayhawk,” he says.

img_rockJayThrough the years, alumni have sent images of Jayhawks in clouds, piles of leaves and even puddles. The Adams Alumni Center is also home to a collection of figurines from alumni, including this cute little Jayhawk made from four garden rocks glued together and painted in bright hues. No one knows who sent it or when, but its silhouette does look quite a bit like the rock formation in Arizona.

Studies show that if a person sees images in objects and clouds, an activation in the brain has occurred. Alumni know that when we see Jayhawks everywhere, there’s been an activation in the heart. If you have images of your own “Hawk Pareidolia,” email them to us at so we can post them.

—Susan Younger

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Happy holidays from the KU Alumni Association

Posted on Dec 17, 2013 in Alumni News and News

Thank you for your membership in the KU Alumni Association! Your loyalty and support are vital as we continue to strengthen our beloved university. We look forward to another memorable year in 2014.

We hope you enjoy our holiday greeting!

Rock Chalk,

Kevin J. Corbett and the KU Alumni Association Staff

P.S. We’d love for you to share our video with fellow Jayhawks!

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Bad art by good people

Posted on Nov 14, 2013 in Alumni News and News

Blue Cat by Gary Cullor | www.kualumni.orgThe Bourbon County Arts Council in Fort Scott recently sponsored a Bad Art by Good People project, and our beloved crimson and blue was represented in a unique way.

Gary Cullor, b’67, e’67, chose to paint “Blue Cat,” inspired by the “Blue Dogs” paintings by George Rodrigue. Of course, Cullor thought it appropriate to make his cat a KU cat to counter the purple cats that populate our state.

24 “non-artists” submitted original acrylic paintings for the project after they were guided by an artist mentor, and the paintings were auctioned at an evening reception to raise funds for the arts council.

The Bourbon County Arts Council was founded by Cullor and his wife Sally, d’68, in 1971.

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Do you have a unique Jayhawk in your closet?

Posted on Oct 15, 2013 in Alumni News and News

news_wood_jayhawkPatsy Woods, who retired from KU’s Life Span Institute, recently uncovered this Jayhawk while cleaning out a closet. She doesn’t recall where she picked it up but thought the KU Alumni Association might want to add it to our collection of Jayhawks.

We were delighted to add it!

If you have an unusual, or even somewhat strange, Jayhawk that you would like to donate to the Association’s collection, we’ll put it on display at the Adams Alumni Center with the rest of our historical Jayhawks. Or, if you want to keep your Jayhawk but share its story, we’d love to feature it on our website.

Email us at for more information.


Back to school

Posted on Aug 14, 2013 in Alumni News and News

Fall classes on the Hill begin Monday, Aug. 26, but young students in the Lawrence school district are headed back to school today.

We’ve noticed a trend of first-day-of-school pictures monopolizing our Facebook newsfeeds, and many of those photos happen to include Jayhawk gear! It might be a sign that our Facebook friends lists consist mostly of KU alumni, fans and friends.

Since we already have a Facebook photo album dedicated to adorable Future Jayhawks, we’d like to invite parents to send us pictures of your little Jayhawk in their back-to-school crimson and blue.

If you’d like to show off your future Jayhawk, email a photo to us at Include the following information:

  • Name of the child(ren)
  • Full names of parents (we will only publish first names, but we’d appreciate it if you include last names so we can verify–and in some cases, update– your information in our records)
  • KU degree information for the parent(s), if applicable
  • Child(ren)’s birth date– again, we won’t publish this information, but we’d like to make sure the parents’ alumni record is up-to-date

That’s it! We can’t wait to see more photos of Jayhawks headed off to another year of school.

Future Jayhawks | www.kualumni.orgDid you know that kids can be members of the KU Alumni Association, too? Sign them up for Future Jayhawks, our membership program for kids, and they’ll receive an exclusive, KU-themed gift with each annual membership renewal, along with a special birthday card from Baby Jay and other goodies throughout the year.


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Recycling, Jayhawk-style

Posted on Aug 5, 2013 in Alumni News and News

Jayhawk recycle bin |

Judi Young Knapp, j’63, and Roy Knapp, e’63, g’69, g’73, may live in Norman, Okla.,– the home of the University of Oklahoma, a fellow Big 12 member– but they still show their Jayhawk pride.

The Knapps, Life Members of the KU Alumni Association, were surprised recently when the city rolled out new recycling bins in KU blue instead of the more common brown, gray or beige color that blends in with the landscape (or Sooner red, for that matter).

They decided to go all out and dress up their bin with a Jayhawk to match. “As KU graduates, we are quite partial to ‘true blue Jayhawk blue,'” said Judi.

We love hearing about the unique ways people share their spirit! Email your story to

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KU’s 141st Commencement to be held May 19

Posted on May 8, 2013 in Alumni News and News

Commencement Baby Jay | www.kualumni.orgKU’s annual Commencement ceremony is less than two weeks away! The 141st Commencement will take place on Sunday, May 19 at 10:30 a.m. Alumni are invited to the Hill to celebrate the newest class of graduates. We also invite you to reminisce about your own Commencement.

Submit Commencement photos

Our Facebook albums featuring alumni weddings and Jayhawk babies have been wildly popular, so we created another album for Commencement photos through the years. Alumni Association staff members kicked off the album with pictures from their own graduation celebrations–let’s just say the photo provided by our esteemed president, Kevin Corbett, isn’t quite what we expected. Click here to check out the album.

Want us to include your photo? Email it to us at and be sure to include your full name and class year. And if you’ve got a funny story or a touching memory from Commencement, tell us about that, too. We’ll add it to our photo album and then you can like it, share it or tag yourself in it.

Grad Grill

Graduating students are invited to celebrate with us on Stop Day at the annual Grad Grill. This rite of passage features free barbecue from Bigg’s and the opportunity to mingle with fellow graduates before starting your final Finals Week.

The event takes place on Friday, May 10 from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. at the Adams Alumni Center.

Commencement Open House

On the day of Commencement, the Adams Alumni Center will host an open house from 12 p.m.-3 p.m. Graduates and their families can stop by for a champagne toast and a light snack, and alumni are welcome to drop by and offer congratulations.

Congratulations, class of 2013!

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Making memories

Posted on May 6, 2013 in Alumni News and News

Joey Stallman, c’12, found a unique way to hold onto his college memories without a giant pile of memorabilia taking up space in his house: a quilt and pillows made from T-shirts he collected as a student, representing activities and organizations that tell his KU story.

Kansas Jayhawks KU T-shirt pillow | www.kualumni.orgPerhaps even more impressive? Stallman made the quilt himself, even though he’d never used a sewing machine before. “I looked into it online, and there are companies that will make your old shirts into quilts for hundreds of dollars, so I decided to pursue the cheaper option,” he said. “I knew I would appreciate the final product more because it was made by me.”

He borrowed a sewing machine from his coworker, Shawna Huffman, d’99, and got to work. The shirts represent KU Dance Marathon, Delta Lambda Phi fraternity, Student Senate, the KU Bookstore, Student Alumni Association, Student Alumni Leadership Board and the Rotary Youth Leadership Academy. He also included the Class of 2012 T-shirts he received at freshman orientation and at graduation.

Stallman said his most memorable T-shirts are from the KU Dance Marathon, and he included every shirt he had from the organization. He joined the organization as a sophomore who had no experience with the group, and by the time he was a senior his world revolved around the kids and Dance Marathon.

He also included the first and last shirts he received as a member of SAA— it was called Tradition Keepers his freshman year– as the focal point of the quilt, since it was the first organization he joined at KU. “In designing the layout,” he said, ” I thought having the ‘Tradition Starts Here’ logo with every other shirt stemming out from it would kind of tell the story of my time here, my rendition of the tradition that is KU.”

Kansas Jayhawks KU T-shirt quilt |

Joey is originally from Hutchinson, Kan., and graduated with a degree in linguistics. He currently works at the Douglas County Dental Clinic as an assistant and is working on prerequisites to attend dental hygiene school in fall 2014. He has had multiple people request that he teach them how to make a quilt, and he’s already begun work on a second quilt. Photos used with permission.

If you have a unique story you’d like to share, email us at

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The magic of Lawrence

Posted on May 2, 2013 in Alumni News and News

If you’ve spent any time at all in the great city of Lawrence, you know it’s a magical place.

A video making the rounds on the Internet shows that the late actor Michael Landon apparently thought so, too. The video was shot in the early 1990’s, and we don’t know much about it other than it’s long (ten minutes!), nostalgic and filled with bike-riding residents. Landon speaks for about a minute at the beginning of the video, and the rest of it is set to music.

According to IMDB, a portion of “Where Pigeons Go to Die,” a 1990 television movie directed by Landon, was shot in Lawrence.

Without further ado, here’s the magical video. (Click here if you can’t see the embedded video below.)

If you don’t have time to watch the entire video, don’t worry– we did that for you and made note of some points of interest in case you want to skip ahead.

The first five minutes are idyllic scenes of life around Lawrence neighborhoods, featuring lots of kids, bicycles, balloons and family fun.

Our building even makes an appearance! The lobby of the Adams Alumni Center steals the scene at 4:26.

Shortly after the five-minute mark, recognizable landmarks start to appear, like the former home of the Lawrence Arts Center in the Carnegie Building at 9th and Vermont Streets.

At around 5:40, scenes from the KU campus are featured, starting with the Spencer Museum of Art and the Natural History Museum and its Panorama. The alma mater begins to play at 6:50. You’ll spot Chancellor Gene Budig greeting guests at the Outlook around 7:25 just before footage of a Homecoming parade begins at 7:30, followed by scenes of a football game in Memorial Stadium a basketball game at Allen Fieldhouse.

Around the 8:45 mark, South Park is featured, and the video shifts to footage of downtown Lawrence. If you were in town at this time, you’ll recognize a few iconic places of the era: downtown Mexican restaurant Dos Hombres (now the home of Cielito Lindo) and the upscale eatery Fifi’s (now a bar called Crimson and Brews).

The video closes with a few more words from Landon about the magic of Lawrence. We hope you enjoyed this walk down memory lane, or for some of you, a look at what life in Lawrence was like twenty years ago!

Thanks to @oxfordist, who tweeted a link to this video last night and caught our attention. Have something fun to tell us about? Tweet it to us at @kualumni or email us at

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