Ive been extremely lucky to have been introduced to a remarkable group of educators and parents that make up the the Next Wave Muslim Initiative. Together we have put together an Islamic Arts summer camp for kids 12-18, focusing on traditional Islamic art and practical craftsmanship. This is the first of its kind in the country, and the long term goal is to bring practical Islamic arts back into the lives of young people across the country. To that end the kids will be learning bookbinding, calligraphy, marbling, leatherwork, illumination, and papermaking, all as part of a project-based curriculum that culminates in a piece of work they will have created from beginning to end.
We did a one-week pilot project last Ramadan, in which they created a hand-bound book with their own calligraphy on the cover, and every day learned a new skill: they dyed paper on Monday, cut their own pens from bamboo on Tuesday, learned to write a nun (they were working on reciting surah al-qalam, which starts with Nun) and then wrote a final good copy on the paper they dyed on wednesday, then did an illuminated border on the piece thursday, and friday they folded their papers into booklets, sewed them together with linen thread, and ended up with a book that they bound, on paper they dyed, with calligraphy they wrote surrounded by their own illuminations. It was super fun and every kid got to take away an object they had made from start to finish.