Archive for the ‘Found Materials’ Category
Thursday, April 25th, 2013
My last post was about how we made a window hanging out of old marker caps and other plastic tops by stringing them onto wire. I thought it would be fun to share one more of our window hanging ideas because I often get questions and interest from our visitors about the window screens we have created in The Studio. The Ribbon Window Shade uses some of the same materials as our Plastic Cap Window Screen and is a good way to explore the art of weaving. It also provides some shade during the sunny weather that should be on its way soon! Here is a list of supplies you will need to make a window weaving for yourself.
Two tension rods that fit your window (We purchased ours at Target)
Duct tape to secure the rods
Colorful wire (We purchased ours at Home Depot)
Ribbons, strings, fabric strips, yarn or any other weaving material
First, you will want to put both tension rods in your window and secure them well so that they don’t move or shift when you start weaving. Our window is 58 inches wide and we hung the two rods 36 inches apart. I found that if you put some duct tape around the ends of the rods to attach them to the window they were much more stable and less likely to move once you begin wrapping the wire and weaving the ribbons.
The wire that we used is the same cable wire that was used for the Plastic Cap Window Screen. It is colorful cable wire that comes in a gray or black encasing which can be easily removed by peeling off the casing to reveal all the colorful wires. I suggest cutting the wire while still in the casing into lengths that are double your window length, at most. Otherwise the wire can get too long and tangles easily as you remove it from the casing. I began adding the warp (the vertical strands in a weaving) by looping the wire around the top and bottom rods. Secure the wire into place by wrapping the wire back onto itself. After you have added many lengths of wire this way then you are ready for the weaving part. I ended up doing 60 strands of wire to fill our window, but you may need to do more or less depending on the size of your window.
We have quite a collection of ribbons, strings, fabric strips, and yarn and I found that starting at the top with some of the wider ribbon works well to get the pattern started. To weave you should begin by pulling the ribbon OVER the first wire and UNDER the next and continue this pattern until you reach the other side (this back and forth pattern is done with the weft in a weaving). The alternating pattern will create a fabric-like weaving. And don’t be afraid to mix up your weaving a bit by going OVER two wires and UNDER the next one or making up any other weaving patterns you would like. Whenever you run out of one ribbon or string pick up a new one and keep going. I found that I could tuck some of the ribbon ends into place behind a wire but I also stapled a few together so they would be more secure. I liked adding some of the thinner string in front of the thicker ribbons so that there were a few layers on top of each other in the weaving. It is fun to experiment with whatever materials you are using to see how the textures and colors look with each other.
I hope you get to try out making your own window weaving and please take a look at our other window display tutorials like the ones below.
Window Color Wheel
Rainbow Window Shades
Plastic Cap Window Screen
I would also love to hear about any other method you used to make a window weaving so please leave a comment to let us know what you did!
Tuesday, April 2nd, 2013
We love The Studio’s large, southern-facing wall of windows and often use them as a creative display space for visitor art work or interesting materials. This winter, Diana and I have been brainstorming ways to reuse old marker caps and at the same time have been wanting to introduce a few new hanging displays. Here’s how I created our new plastic cap window screen that’s hanging in The Studio’s entryway:
Any plastic lids and caps from drink bottles, glue sticks and old markers
Colorful wire (We purchased ours from Home Depot)
Two tension rods that fit your window (We purchased ours at Target)
Hand drill or a hammer and nail
Scrap board or surface to drill the caps on
In order to string the caps onto the wire you will need to make a hole in each cap. We used our drill with a small drill bit to make the holes, but I also found that hammering a nail through the cap will make a hole if you don’t have access to a drill. For some of the larger lids we drilled holes on the short sides so that the lid could be strung sideways. Always use hand tools safely with adult supervision and protect your work surface with a scrap board to avoid drilling into your table or floor.
Once you have a set of caps with holes, put the first tension rod into your window and start stringing the caps onto the wire. We used the colorful cable wire available for sale by the foot at the hardware store. It comes with a thin plastic casing that can easily be removed to reveal the colorful wires inside. Unwind the wires and select how long you want your shade to be. Our shade is about 58″ wide and 43″ long.
Cut your wires to the desired length and loop attach the wire to the rod by looping it around and twisting the ends together. Wire is easy to work with because it’s more forgiving if you have to change the length or tension. String your assortment of caps and lids onto the wire. I mixed and matched the directions of the caps and clusters of each strand to make it look more random and fun, but arrange them any way you want.
After I had several strands hanging down from the top rod I attached the second tension rod at the bottom. Just like I did at the top, I looped the wire around the rod and twisted the wire back on itself to secure it in place. The bottom rod isn’t necessary, but it does help keep the strands from swinging around. The caps are fairly lightweight but we still used duct tape to secure the tension rod to the window frame.
I’d love to hear your ideas for reusing old marker caps in your classroom or at home, leave a comment below!
Search keyword “window” to view our different window display tutorials.
**Don’t forget to enter The Carle’s Call for Caterpillars Contest for the chance to win an original doodle by Eric Carle! Visit www.carlemusuem.org/call_for_caterpillars for contest details. Submissions must be postmarked by May 31, 2013.**
Friday, March 15th, 2013
It feels good to be back at The Carle! I’ve been scarce for a while because a very young person has come to live with my family and I took some time off to get to know her. In the past two months I’ve learned that life as a working mom of 2 kids under 2 years old is super busy but full of learning. I’m grateful that I get to spend time at home and time at The Carle learning about how toddlers explore materials and use them to make discoveries about the world.
While I’ve been out for most of our last Friday morning Materials Play for Toddlers series in the Studio, I wanted to share some pictures that were captured in a few of the sessions:
Pictured above: marbles, tempera paint, liquid watercolor paint, & black construction paper placed in the bottom of a plastic paper tray. Below, paper circles, cookie tins, tempera and liquid water color paint. Shake rattle and roll!
***Safety Note: if marbles are a choking hazard in your setting try golf balls or ping pong balls.***
Below: plexi mirrors, washable markers, water-soluble oil pastels, wide cups of water and brushes.
Truck Printing! Tempera squeezed into trays, toy cars and rolling stampers, black paper taped to the floor in the shape of a road. Secondary colors (violet, green and orange) chosen so that the mixture of the 3 would resemble mud.)
A buffet of beautiful ingredients: (colorful paper dot confetti, raffia snipped to smithereens, reflective plastic Easter grass, plastic newspaper bag shreds, white feathers, yarn scraps, clementines box mesh, (in other words, all the bits we had laying around) . . .
. . . pressed and sprinkled onto contact paper (paper frame attached first). This is my own sun catcher experiment. My guest’s compositions were less ordered, more spontaneous.
I hope this inspired some experimentation and creative fun with your toddlers! Happy mess-making!
Don’t forget to enter The Carle’s Call for Caterpillars Contest for the chance to win an original doodle by Eric Carle! Visit www.carlemusuem.org/call_for_caterpillars for contest details.
Tuesday, February 5th, 2013
Reid, our January-Term intern, designed and hosted a really fun special Studio activity last week for Museum guests. Here is her report on the planning process of the project and her reflection on the day.
When brainstorming for my Special Sunday activity, I knew right off that I wanted to experiment with the way we use light to make images. In the studio, our large windows provide so much beautiful natural light, and I wanted to utilize this feature in the activity. Meghan and I were bouncing activity ideas off each other when we came up with the idea of tracing shadows. Upon further elaboration we came up with the idea of using found objects to make shadow collages, tracing the lines, and finally painting over the drawn images. Initially I was having trouble deciding between collaging and painting, and this project combined the two!
Once I knew what I wanted to do, I began to plan out what materials we would use. I played with different kinds of drawing tools, paints, and paper to find the perfect combination of supplies. In the end, I decided to use Staonal crayons with tempera cake paints on large pieces of watercolor paper. I found the paint appeared bold and bright on the paper and didn’t smudge the Staonal, so the tracings remained intact.
We put out baskets of found and natural objects that would cast interesting shadows. Each visitor could choose up to 4 objects at a time, and when they were done with those they could trade them back in for different pieces to trace. We had natural objects like stones, pinecones, and seashells, along with found objects like ribbon, bottle caps, and mesh. It was important to have a variety of different shapes and sizes available.
On the day of the project we were lucky enough to have gorgeous sunny weather. Of course, because of New England’s unpredictable weather, we were prepared to use an overhead projector as a back-up plan in case the sun wasn’t out. We arranged the back of the art studio so that the tables were pushed to the right side; this area was set up as the painting area, complete with paintbrushes, water, sponges, and of course paint!
The left side of the studio was the tracing area. This is where visitors would put down their paper on the floor or sit on a chair and trace on a stool to arrange their objects and trace the shadows. We had cool shades that had previously been crafted by staff members on the windows already, and we moved these so there could be some interesting shadow patterns on the floors for the visitors.
The cool thing about this project was it could be as complicated or as simple as you want it to be, depending on age level, ability, and interest. I didn’t want something where the guidelines were super stringent. If a child didn’t want to draw on the floor, they could just paint at the table. I made sure to emphasize that when talking to the visitors. There were no rules to this project; the point of it was to allow the materials and the environment to inspire and to create.
I would say this project was definitely a success. It was exciting to see the families collaborating with each other and having fun with each other’s work. This activity was able to engage visitors of all ages. I was delighted to see how creative the children (and adults!) were with this project. Some visitors were very abstract with the images they made, while others used the shadows to create scenes out of their objects. All in all, it was a very fun afternoon in the art studio!
Saturday, December 8th, 2012
I promised some ideas for making greeting/holiday cards with kids. Here is one which will require a little prep and assistance from an adult since it calls for a specialty material and the use of an iron.
First, see what you have for fabric. Scrapish pieces will do. The bottom half of the tee shirt that ripped and a piece of the skirt with the stain on it will do. You might like to start with 3 different fabrics/colors, each somewhere around 12″x12″ but smaller will work too.
You’ll also need some double-sided fusible web from the fabric store. Pellon is one brand that makes some, but other brands work too. Ask for help at the store if you don’t’ know what you’re looking for. 1/3 yard will be enough to make a bunch of cards.
Then, iron the wrong side of the fabric to the fusible web according to the directions it came with. Here’s a tip from someone who learned the hard way: DO NOT touch your hot iron directly to the exposed web or you will get icky stuff on it. You’ll be fine if you trim your fusible web to be just smaller than the piece of fabric you are attaching to it. Since you’re likely using multiple fabrics/colors, you’ll be cutting it anyway.
When the fabric you fave fused to the web is cool, you and your young person are ready to cut it into shapes. If you don’t know what shapes to cut out, just take your scissors for a walk across the fabric and see what you get. The negative or left-behind shapes are usable too!
Next, peel the fusible web backing from your shapes and arrange them on a piece of folded cardstock. You could also arrange the shapes on a differnt piece of heavy paper that you glue to a card later.
Turn the iron back on and carefully iron your shapes to the paper with medium heat, no steam. You can use a thin cotton cloth over the shapes and card as you press if you want to be certain your iron stays safe from icky stuff.
Alternatively, instead of using double-sided fusible web, you could iron your fabric to single or double-sided fusible stabilizer and glue the shapes rather than iron them to your card. The stabilizer adds some dimension to the shapes but if its too thick, you can’t iron your shapes to the paper because the heat won’t pass through it enough to activate the sticky part.
When your shapes are ironed/glued down your card is ready for a message!
“Well, why not just glue fabric directly to the card and skip all the work,” you ask? You could, but sometimes the amount of glue required to glue fabric down warps the paper underneath. And, maybe you’ve noticed how the texture and color of fabric changes after its been soaked through with glue? With fusible web or stabilizer, the fabric still looks and feels like fabric when you’re done.
I wish I could take the credit for these great ideas, but I can’t. Diana first found the fusible web idea in this pretty book and she came up with the stabilizer variation for her Handmade Cards and Books workshop for teachers.
Handmade Hellos: Fresh Greeting Card Projects from First-Rate Crafters by Eunice Moyle and Sabrina Moyle.
However you make cards this season, have fun!
Friday, August 31st, 2012
Hey! We just realized we’ve shared 100 posts since we started this blog last June. To celebrate, I’d like to share some a small percentage of the many beautiful things made in the Studio since then . These images represent ideas, problems solved and not-yet-solved, imagination, experimentation, conversations shared, and yet more work which wasn’t kept by the creator but was still worthy of creation nonetheless. For those of you who have started or are about to start a new school year next week, I hope these images help you begin the year on a happy note. Enjoy the weekend and here’s to the next 100 posts!
Sunday, August 19th, 2012
The Studio experienced quite a production boom over the weekend!
We have a new train station
and even a City Hall
We’re quite pleased with how quickly Carleville is expanding
Wednesday, August 15th, 2012
Yesterday we started the new Public Art Project, Create a Cityscape in The Studio! Take a look below at what guests are making.
This project is inspired by the busy urban neighborhoods in the illustrations by Ezra Jack Keats, currently on view in the exhibition appropriately titled The Snowy Day and Ezra Jack Keats.
We gathered up egg cartons, colorful file folders, chipboard, paper towel tubes, paper cups, chopsticks, coffee stirrers, wine corks, paper bags, junk mail envelopes, packing peanuts and more, to work with for this project. I ordered our supplies through The Web Restaurant Store or they are donations from Museum friends and staff.
Found paper and fabric materials provide a great variety of scale and favorable drawing surfaces, so details can be added to buildings and their surroundings easily with markers or crayons. Read my post about helping children with found materials construction techniques, here.
This past spring we made Very Hungry Caterpillars with found materials to celebrate annual Very Hungry Caterpillar Day. View the fabulous photos here.
Speaking of celebrations, The Eric Carle Museum’s Tenth Anniversary is just around the corner and we have some fun plans in the works to involve fans from around the world in our year-long celebration here at The Museum. (Vague enough for you!?) Here’s a hint: The project will feature our favorite Caterpillar and LOTS of found materials. . .Stay tuned for more information about how your family, classroom or community can participate!
Monday, July 30th, 2012
In my bookmaking workshop a few weeks ago, several educators asked how to make the rubbing plates we used to create the texture accordion books during the class, so I thought I would share the steps here. Below is an example of a set of rubbing plates I made recently for a family art program at The Dorman School in Springfield, MA (students pictured above). I chose the textures: string, seeds, leaves, “hair”, “raindrops” and grass, based on a selection of illustrations from the picture book The Black Book of Colors written by Menena Cottin and illustrated by Rosana Faria.
First, collect pieces of thick chipboard, mat board or corrugated plastic to use as the plate support. If you are using chipboard or mat board I recommend sealing the surface first with a coat of Acrylic Gesso (available at art supply stores) before cutting them into your desired size. Brush it on at least one side and let it dry completely (30 minutes to an hour). Collect natural materials outside like leaves, grass, seeds, twigs or bark or purchase beans, grains, seeds or other materials from the store. Experiment with different materials and see what you like best!
Next, cut down the supports to the desired sizes, ours are in 5″ or 6″ rectangles or squares. Spread an even layer of Light Modeling Paste (available at art supply stores) with a thick brush or plastic spatula on the gessoed side of the board. Press the natural materials into the paste so they aren’t peeling away or lifting up. The paste has a consistency like thick cake frosting.
The paste acts as an adhesive as it dries. I recommend attaching leaves with the raised side facing UP so you will get a better rubbing. Set your plates aside overnight to dry completely.
The next day, trim any excess material hanging off the edge of the plate (grass, string, etc) and make sure the surface is thoroughly dry before sealing them. To seal the plate I used Minwax Water-Based Polycrylic Gloss (available in the paint department at the hardware store) and brushed an even coat over the top and sides of each plate and left them to dry outside in the sun or on a table indoors. Brush on as many coats as you like, drying thoroughly between coats. Two coats usually does the trick.
If you’re looking for other ways to use Polycrylic Gloss, check out my Printing with Found Materials 2 post.
For more information about making handmade rubbing plates, download our Texture Rubbing Plates Printable PDF available on our Activities page.
How do you use rubbing plates in your classroom or at home?