Friday, September 25, 2009

Prints and Stamps

One of my favorite stamping and printmaking mediums can be found at a hardware store or in just about any box store in the hardware section. It is cheap, easy to find, and you can also use it to seal up any drafts around your windows and doors:) It is roll of adhesive vinyl weather stripping tape. It come in a few different widths and is usually gray. I used the 1/2 inch width for the projects below, but have used thicker ones in the past. A roll should cost you about $3.00 and a little goes a long way. You also need cardboard scraps, masking tape, markers and paper. You can use tempera paint for a more vibrant result, but I prefer the markers. My 4-year-old enjoys coloring and re-coloring the stamp. If you use paint you really need to stick to a single color unless you want to take the time to really clean between colors. (If you do choose to use paint, I recommend painting the stamp with a brush rather than dipping it into the paint).

I have instructions for making a single stamp and a printing plate below.

1. To make a single stamp, start by cutting a scrap of cardboard into a square, about 3" x 3". Use a piece of masking tape to make a handle on one side (as pictured below).

2. Cut the weather stripping tape into small pieces of various sizes and stick them onto the front of your stamp (when you unroll it for the first time be sure you do not peel it off the paper. You want to paper to be on until you are ready to stick it to the stamp).
3. Color with markers.

4. Start stamping! You will need to reapply the marker after every stamp. You can easily change color by stamping it on a scrap paper a few times to completely clean if off). This is a great project for introducing pattern.

You can also make a scene that can be printed again and again by making a printing plate.

1. Use a larger piece of cardboard. Cut the weather stripping into pieces and start arranging.

2. Color with markers.

3. Carefully turn the printing plate over and press onto a sheet of paper. Be sure to keep it steady as you press.

4. Lift it off the paper carefully.

5. Repeat, repeat, repeat! You can make only one, or a great big edition of prints.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Finger Painting

No big projects today, just some classic finger painting. I simply could not resist posting this picture of my little man painting with his hands (and a comb). I think I will be making him a smock pretty soon.

Monday, September 21, 2009


I love the fall. The leaves on the ground provide an unlimited number of creative activities. Today while walking along a golden path, Hollin observed that the leaves look like little mice. We collected a few and came home and created this mouseterpiece!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Make a Fall Tree

You can make an adorable fall tree using leaves from your yard, a few items from your recycle bin, some glue, scissors and a marker. In the past I have made trees with little ones in a similar way--only I used to have them paint the "trunk" and use tissue paper for the leaves. That is still a great way to do this project, but I needed to make some changes to fit our current situation--all of our art supplies are in storage and I have no room for tissue paper or paint. So instead of painting our tube, we covered it with the white side of a long receipt, added some detail with a marker, and used real leaves we collected outside.

1. Start digging in your recycle bin. You will need a paper towel tube, a piece of cardboard for the base (we cut a circle from a cereal box), and a long receipt or other paper that you can use to cover the tube. We made a white birch tree. Feel free to make any tree you wish. 2. Cover the tube with glue and cover it with your receipt.

3. Cut short (1/2 inch) slits along the bottom. These will be folded back and glued to the cardboard to secure your tree to a base. Cut longer slits along the top. These can be various lengths as they will become the branches of your tree.

4. Add detail to the bark with a marker.

5. Cut a hole in the tree so a little critter can have a home in your tree.

6. Fold back the little tabs you cut on the bottom of the tube. Apply a generous squirt of white glue to each tab and press firmly to the cardboard base. Have your child hold it in place while you count to 100 together. That will give the glue enough time to keep the tree in place though it will not be sturdy enough to lift and move around for a few hours.

7. Fold back the branches and glue on some leaves. Add some leaf litter, pebbles and grass below.

8. We stopped here, but may come back to this later and add some fun details--a nest, squirrel, birds, a swing, tree house, etc. You could make an entire forest--the possibilities are endless!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Contact Paper Creations

In my last post I shared our leaf place mats. I thought it would make sense to share a few of the other items we have created with clear contact paper. As I said in my last post, I think this is a great medium for toddlers and preschoolers. Here we made a round "stained glass" rose window or sun catcher using contact paper, tissue paper, thin ribbon and stickers. Feel free to be as creative as you wish, any 2-dimensional materials will work. I do try to avoid picture stickers and stick to geometric shapes for design quality and because I want the final outcome to belong to my child, not Disney or another designer.
1. Cut 2 pieces of contact paper the same size and set one aside. Tape the non sticky side to your work space and carefully peel off the paper backing. Now the sticky side is up and ready to decorate. 2. You can pre-cut the paper and ribbon, or give your child the scissors and let them start cutting. I have found that most little ones really enjoy the cutting. Show your child how to place the paper, ribbon etc. on the sticky paper.

3. When the design is complete (keep in mind, the younger the child, the more minimalistic the design may be) you are ready to stick the top sheet of contact paper to the design. You will be sticking the sticky sides together. Start by peeling back a small portion of the paper (don't peel it all off at once) and carefully line it up with the artwork on your workspace. Peel the paper backing off as you press the top sheet onto the artwork.

4. Smooth out any little wrinkles and trim around the edges.

5. Hang in the window and enjoy!

As with all art, the variations are endless. You can turn this into a great art history lesson about rose windows in Gothic cathedrals or stained glass windows in general, symmetry, color, etc. You can also use the same process to make different things. We made Valentine's Day place mats in February using the little photo sheets that come with an order of prints. We recently made bookmarks too.

Hope this works for you!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

A Walk in the Woods = New Place Mats

We are now somewhat settled in our new home. We have been enjoying the beautiful weather as we explore our new surroundings. Yesterday we took a little walk along a little path at a picnic/ camping area in town. We went with the intention of simply taking a stroll, but before we knew it, we were collecting leaves and getting to know the native flora. Of course, we couldn't simply collect the leaves, we had to make something, so... instead of purchasing much needed place mats for our temporary quarters, we decided to make them.

I am a huge fan of clear contact paper as for the under 5 crowd. We are always using it for something--sun catchers, stained glass windows, bookmarks, cardboard house windows, fishbowls--you get the idea! It is great to use as a collage medium for the youngest artists because all they have to do is place something on the sticky paper and it will stay put--no glue needed. You can find it with the drawer lining paper in most grocery or box stores.

Decide how big you want your place mats to be and cut 2 sheets of contact paper for each place mat. Tape the non sticky side on to your workspace. You can tape it right onto a window or glass door. Notice that we were working in the bathroom of our one room temporary home because Waylon was napping on the bed!
Once it is taped down, peel the paper off to reveal the sticky side. Start arranging your leaves, tissue paper, or other flat materials. When the design is complete, peel the paper off the second sheet and stick the sticky sides together, sandwiching the the leaves inside. Be careful here, make sure you have it where you want it because it will not come apart easily. Now, peel off the tape and trim the edges.

We were able to talk about and identify the different leaves. This is great to do in the fall and can be adapted for any season.