Monday, October 31, 2011

Paper Mache Pumpkins

In preschool art class we took the last two weeks to create some fantastic paper mache pumpkins!
This is really fun and really easy to do. I love to work with forms made out of paper so that the kids only really need to add one layer of paper mache to get a good hard painting surface. So you can use your imagination and come up with any sort of shape you can make with a lunch bag and some newspaper stuffing. We have done snowmen and pumpkins in this way so far.

You will need:
-newspaper (for stuffing the form and for small pieces to paste on)
-paper lunch sacks
-some masking tape
-twisty ties

- red, yellow, orange, and brown paint
- brushes

The Process:
To make the paste mix 1 part flour to 2 parts warm water in a large bowl with a whisk. Mix in a Tbsp or so of salt to help preserve it. The paste is fun to use when it is warm, but it is fine to use several hours later as well.

To make the form we took the paper sacks and stuffed them with wadded up papers until it was just as plump or tall and skinny as we wanted our pumpkin to be. Next we took a twisty tie to tie off the top of the bag. To make the stem we simply twisted the top of the bag and secured it with a bit of tape. We used a small piece of tape on each corner as well to bring up the square edge into our pumpkin shape.

Once the form is ready you can begin the paper mache! Just dip the small pieces of torn newspaper into the paste until it is completely covered in goo and then remove excess goo by sliding it between two fingers. Apply the pasted paper to the form and smooth it out, continue to apply more pieces. Overlap pieces so that the entire form is completed covered. Allow to dry for several hours. It will be nice and hard and ready to paint. At this point you could do another layer of paper mache in white copy paper so that it takes less coats of paint, or you can give it a base coat of white paint to help with coverage.

During our second class we discussed color mixing and how to come up with orange. We made our own orange paint by mixing yellow and red and talked about how red is a "stronger" color than yellow. We discussed how to get a lighter orange verses a darker orange, etc. The rest is artistic history! They turned out super cute and just in time for Halloween and/or Thanksgiving display.

To fill the remaining time during our second class while our pumpkins were drying we created a tree collage. We traced our arms and hand to make the tree trunk and limbs. We added some texture to the trunk with brown crayon so it looked more like bark. Next we glued on bits of colored tissue papers for leaves. Finally we embellished with drawings. It would be fun to do one of these trees to represent each season and display them together!

Here is a photo of the paper mache snowmen that my students made in another preschool art session. We used the same process and made the forms out of bags. This time we filled the bag half way and then did a twisty tie, filled the remainder for the head and taped off the top of the bag. As you can see we used dried beans for the face (painted lima beans and plain black beans for the mouth). Cotton balls were glued around the bottom to hide imperfections and to look like snow. We also learned how to finger knit to make the scarves! very fun

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Paper Marbleizing

This is one of my favorite things to do! In this class we used a carageenan size and acrylic paints to create
  marbleized paper.

You will need:

- a blender (this does not have to be an art only blender as carageenen is edible)
- water
- 2-4 large flat containers (we used old baking pans and dish pans. These need to be dedicated to art since we are using acrylic paints) you will need one for the size and one for clean rinse water at each station you set up.
- various acrylic paints watered down
- pick type combs, skewers to move paint around
- white card stock or other heavy paper
- spray bottle of vinegar

The process:
To make the size (the medium that will hold the paint) blend 4-5 cups water with 1 Tbsp Carageenan for one minute. Pour this mixture into a clean bucket that has a lid and repeat. Next add 4 cups water to your blender and mix for one minute to clean out the last of the carageenan (you will still want to clean your blender as usual after this last step). Add this last batch of water to your bucket and stir and place the lid on. Let size mature for about 24 hours stirring about every 8 hours.

To make the paints: in small containers such as the cups you see us using mix acrylic paints with water in a nearly 1 to 1 ratio. This part can be a bit tricky and it is best to just test the paint in the size to see if the mixture is too thin (disperses immediately on the surface), too thick (sinks immediately to the bottom), or just right (staying on the surface of the size dispersing slowly).

To set up a marbleizing station you will need one pan filled about 1 inch deep with the carageenan size. Next to this pan you will need a second pan filled with a few inches of clean rinse water. Have your paints and combs and stick nearby as well as a stack of prepared papers.

To prepare the paper put and X or your initials on one side of the paper and spray the other side EVENLY with vinegar. The vinegar is a non toxic way to help the paper pick up the paint during the process. Some recipes call for Alum which is not very kid friendly.
Lay the paper vinegar side down in a clean area next to your marbleizing station. You will want to prepare a few pages at a time (we did 3 each as we were taking turns, as it got close to our next turn we prepared 3 more) just before you are ready to dip your papers.

1. Take your prepared paints and begin dripping them into the size. 2-3 colors at a time works nicely. It would be helpful to have droppers for this process for a bit more control.

2. Next take your stick or comb and swirl/marble the paint on the surface of the size.

3. Carefully place your prepared paper vinegar side down on top of the paint. Lower your paper by holding two opposite corners with your finger tips. Once the paper is on the size gently make sure each corner touches the surface.

4. Pull the paper out drawing it by corners across the size and out.

5. Immediately place print into clean water bath and gently swirl water over the top of the print to remove any remaining carageenan. Do not keep it in there too long as the paper gets more fragile the more wet it becomes. * It also works well to run the print under running water if available.

6. Oooh and Awww over your cool magical print and carefully bring it to the drying area (you will need lots of space to dry papers... once you get started it is hard to quit!!)

7. One final note, in between students or color transitions you can "clean" the size by placing an untreated sheet of copy paper on the surface and move it around until you feel all the paint has been picked up. This paper can be discarded (we saved some by washing and drying them because they ended up printing pretty cool as well - you never know when you will need that perfect background paper!)

Once your papers are dry you can use them for just about anything- collage work, book making, card making, backgrounds for drawings and paintings, etc.

Here are a few of our finished pieces.

We discovered that interesting prints can be made by simply pouring and printing... no marbleizing required!

Here you can see the effect of using the comb rather than a single stick to swirl the paint.

Some of our paints had a metallic shimmer to them... look how cool that turns out!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Aboriginal Art

Aboriginal Art

Today we took a look at aboriginal art work. I had the kids view this video to get an idea of the kinds of images we were talking about. We talked about how the designs were made primarily of dots and how our eye connects the dots for form lines. We investigated what subjects the paintings 
were about as well. 
Since many original aboriginal arts were done on bark we chose to do our paintings on recycled brown paper sack paper. I also gave the students the choice of using a stencil of a lizard, snake, or turtle as well as the option to create their own design. With the very young students it was best to start with a stencil since it can be hard to maintain an image in dot art- this gave them a good starting point. 
We used skewers dipped in paint to make dots

We used q-tips dipped in paint to make dots

and some of us used our fingers dipped in paint to make dots!

While our paintings were drying we watched this dream story video. We talked about how the artists used their work to tell stories. Then we went back to our paintings and shared stories that went along with our images. I think that was the most exciting part of the day - to hear what was in their imaginations!

An amazing job by a 9 year old student! lots of patience.

Art done by 7 year old. She uses warm and cool colors to
help with contrast so our eye can see her turtle image.
Art done by a 9 year old student. He chose to add contrast
by using black dots to outline his images.

And here is some of the work from our preschool class.