In my last post I showed you how guests made foam stamps in our last public art project and promised I’d show you how we made stamp pads for the entire studio. So first, the how, then, the why:
Start with some upholstery foam. Sold by the yard at fabric stores, and sometimes in packages at craft stores, it’s worth the effort to find a coupon if you’re going to purchase a lot. It doesn’t need to be super-dense or thick, maybe 1/2″ or 3/4″.
Hot-glue a piece of upholstery foam (or sponge) to a plastic plate or polystyrene foam tray. The tray should be just larger than the foam, and the foam should be just larger than the stamps you will use.
Use a plastic spoon, palette knife or spatula to smear tempera or other water-based soluble paint into the upholstery foam. The first time you load the pad, it will take a fair amount of paint. Now its ready to use. Easy, right?
If you plan to use the stamp pad the next day, just slip it into a zippered bag to keep moist. Let it air dry (with the paint on) if you won’t be using it again within a few days. Too long in the bag and it gets moldy. Spritz with water and add more paint when you’re ready to use it again.
If you’ve been to the studio you know we offer a specific selection of materials to explore, and we arrange multiple sets of those materials around the room so they are available to whomever stops in to experiment. When we include stamp pads in our projects we make them the same color across the entire room. Usually that’s so they don’t all end up turning brownish-black from the stamps traveling around the room. With this last project is was also so that the activity focus could be more on shape and pattern than on color, though we did also offered colored pencils so that color could be introduced to the papers through drawing.
We’ve used traditional black ink stamp pads in public art projects before, but we find they work best for smaller, rubber stamps. They aren’t ideal for our large, handled stamps. They also make parents of very young children nervous with all their blackness and permanence. Kids do love black, but that’s a post for another time.
Yesterday we started a collage project in the studio, but if you missed getting to make a stamp and a collection of patterned papers in our last project, don’t fret! You can easily make stamps and stamp pads like we used in the studio.
In the studio guests started by cutting shapes out of 2″x2″ rectangles of sticky-backed craft foam and then arranging the shapes small rectangle of polystyrene (like meat tray) foam.
Names and initials were a popular design. E made a one with her initials that she was happy with, even though the E’s read backwards. For her second stamp she wanted to make her entire first name. Together we talked about how to cut and arrange the letters so they would read correctly when stamped.
Some guests chose to leave their stamp behind for others to use. We displayed a selection of them on our front wall to inspire our guests’ designs.
If you don’t have any foam at home you can use interesting or discarded objects as stamps. Diana recently offered some great stamping/printing ideas here and here, and we a have printable/PDF about printing with found objects here.
In my next post I’ll share how we made white stamp pads, so check back soon!
This is my second post about printing with found materials. To see my first post in this series, click here. This post is all about making printing rolls made with PVC pipes. This is the project for you if you are interested in printing in repeat on a large surface like paper or fabric. Directions below:
I started by spraying Scotch Super77 on the outside of the pipe so I could position the fruit netting and yarn on the surface without it sliding off. Also try any other relatively flat textured found or natural materials to stick to the pipe. Not everything will stick but experimenting is all part of the fun!
I sealed the yarn and plastic netting with two coats of water-based Minwax Polycrylic Gloss (available at hardware stores). The gloss needs to dry completely between coats. Cleanup is easy with soap and water and brushes can be safely rinsed in the sink. An alternative to the Polycrylic is to use any brand acrylic gloss medium available at art supply stores. I prefer to use the Polycrylic gloss from the hardware store because you get more for your money.
Once the second coat is completely dry, the pipe is ready to ink up and roll! Try tempera paints or any water-based printing ink and use a brayer to get the paint into all the nooks in the yarn and plastic netting. See my previous post for printing surface suggestions.
An easy alternative to the process above is to cut out shapes from sheets of adhesive-back foam (available at craft stores) and stick them to the PVC pipe. Try printing multiple colors at once by rolling sections of the pipe in different colors. Mix the handmade printing roll with stamps or drawings or print directly onto a tee shirt or make your own wrapping paper.
The great thing about these printing rolls is they can be rinsed off in the sink and used again and again. PVC pipe is available in different diameters, so you could create an assortment of large rolls and mini rolls. The third and final post on printing with found materials will appear next week, so stay tuned!
To prepare for my recent Professional Development workshop, Possibilities in Print, I wanted to make a visual example of printing with found materials to hang in the Art Studio. There’s an unlimited variety of interesting patterns and shapes you can make with materials that are free! I printed with black and red washable tempera paints onto white Smart-Fab™ Disposable Art and Decoration Fabric but you could use any color ink or acrylics and any fabric or paper. Smart-Fab™ is available through Nasco in several different colors and three roll lengths at a very reasonable price. It’s a great alternative to printing on paper.
The first found material I experimented with was a regular 1-liter plastic seltzer bottle after seeing a pin on Rosemary House’s Pinterest board “Prints and Printmaking.” One of her pins lead me to the blog post by Inner Child Fun about making flower prints with bottom of soda bottles. Using Inner Child Fun’s idea, with a foam brayer I inked up the bottom with red tempera paint and stamped the bottle across the fabric.
If you can use the bottom of the bottle, why not the sides too? So using a sheet of adhesive foam, I cut a variety of shapes and wrapped them around the flattest part of the bottle. When inking up the foam try not to get any on the plastic bottle or your print will not be as clear. The tapered neck of the bottle made a good handle as I rolled it across the fabric. When I ran out of ink half-way across and needed to reink, it was easy to look through the clear bottle and line up the shapes to keep the pattern continuous.
Other found materials you could print with:
Packaging from glue stick 12-packs
The side of a tofu container
The bottom of various to-go packaging
A new Public Art Project, Prints, Patterns, and Papers starts on March 14 in the Art Studio and is free with Museum admission.
Use your handmade stamp to print a set of beautiful patterned papers while exploring color and design.
Yesterday, fifteen educators and art enthusiasts joined me at The Museum for the professional development workshop Possibilities in Print. Some participants were familiar with various printmaking processes and others had little or no experience with the medium. After a slideshow presentation of the many ways we’ve incorporating printmaking into The Studio’s classes and programs, we spent the afternoon rotating through the different printmaking stations experimenting with techniques and tools. In the photo above, educators made their own roll stamp for printing continuously across long sheets of paper or fabric.
Here they used different tools to make patterns on a plexiglas plate and hand printed them. We used primary colors (Red, Yellow and Blue) and overlapped them to create a multi-colored monotype print.
At the station pictured above, participants used handmade and store bought stamps to create patterned papers. Also, small foam plates etched with ballpoint pens could be printed on a pasta machine instead of a traditional large-sized printing press.
At the final station, participants inked large collagraph plates and ran them through The Studio’s printing press on either wet or dry paper. This workshop was a blast to put together and it was rewarding to see the enthusiastic response from all the teachers and artists.
My next Professional Development Workshop, Bookmaking and Beyond will be on Thursday June 28th, 1:00-5:00pm. This class is a companion to my other workshop Handmade Books and Cards. We’ll create even more styles of books for you to make again and again at home or with your students. It’s not yet posted on our website, so in the meantime check this link for upcoming workshops here at The Carle.
Teachers working together to create a scroll-style book in my Bookmaking and Beyond workshop.
Our studio space is blessed with an entire wall of windows on our South side. That means, in the months of short days, the sun’s glorious rays stream right in…to our eyes. That kind of direct light is great for feeling like a cat- relaxed and drowsy, but sometimes tricky for working.
As you can see, we’ve turned the slight architectural inconvenience into opportunity! Every November we break out the tension curtain rods and dream up aesthetically pleasing ways to shade our worktables. I’ve been a little obsessed with rainbows and the spectrum lately so with lots of help from our volunteer, Cindy, and more help from other volunteers we put this together.
The papers might remind you of Eric Carle’s pictures. Most of them were made in one of my Eric Carle Tissue Paper Workshops. The workshop goes over the nitty gritty of adapting Eric Carle’s processes and techniques to create unique collage papers with students or just yourself. Learn more about my workshop here.
You could make similar papers yourself or with kids using with paint, tools like our Silly Brushes, and tracing paper. We put the papers in plastic document sleeves and then used a 3-hole-puncher to make holes for the 1″ binder rings that connect the sleeves together. We’ve used this display method before and have noticed teachers and parents taking pictures and talking about how they would use the idea in their class or at home.
Is this idea inspiring to you? Tell us about how you might or have used tension rods, document sleeves, and binder rings in your home or classroom.
If you’ve visited the studio, you may have noticed that we’ve have out only a select set of materials for you and/or your family to play around with. For instance, you may have come when we’ve offered collage paper and glue, but no scissors. Maybe you wondered if we a.) misplaced our scissors or b.) thought we wanted to play a bad joke . The answer is c.) none of the above. We intentionally limit the variety of materials offered in our projects for many other reasons. I’d like to discuss those reasons here and invite you to respond.
One reason we offer specific or limited materials is to inspire creative problem solving. When a guest asks for a material we’re not currently offering, our response is to ask, “what is it you’re trying to do?” After hearing about their idea, we might follow up by asking “how might you do that with what’s here?” and then help them come up with ways to explore, or alter their idea. The goal is to help our guests, kids and adults alike, see the possibilities inherent in materials, and use them in ways they hadn’t thought of before.
Its like the idea that you could have lots of friends that you know only a little, or a few friends you know really well. When we have fewer materials to work with, we have the opportunity to get to know each of them really well. An unlimited choice of materials has its place in certain settings, of course, but our goal is to help people really get to know how materials “speak” to and through them. Since the majority of our guests are young children and their families, we encounter many (kids and adults alike) who are new to looking at and making art, so in our setting, limiting materials makes sense. Our Public Art Projects last for multiple weeks, in part, so that regular guests could have multiple experiences with a set of materials. It’s possible that during each visit the materials could be used in very different ways.
Limited materials also encourage our guests to take risks. Recently, during a project in which we offered tissue paper for collage with oil pastels, a boy (maybe 10 years old?) asked for “regular” drawing materials. When I asked him what he meant by “regular” drawing materials, the other kids in his group chimed in (with a tone that suggested they admired his abilities and respected his interest) to say that “he is a drawer”. My response was to start a conversation with him. I learned that drawing was his preferred way to work (perhaps his artistic safe zone), and that he especially liked the Manga style. I asked him if he already had an idea for a picture he’d like to make today, and let him know that collage was about making things with shapes. So, I suggested, “I know you like drawing, but what if for today, you made your idea with shapes? Maybe you could just give it a try?” He did. He worked for a long time, and he was pleased with his work.
Sometimes we offer limited colors to help our guests make discoveries about color or color relationships. For instance, if we offer just blue and yellow paint, a new artist (young or old) might mix them on their paper and “discover” green. In the Studio, we try to watch for these moments and help them be noticed. For another example, if I’m going to select materials inspired by a picture book about a visit to the beach, I might offer all colors, but sort them by temperature: warm colors (red, yellow, orange to suggest the sun and sand) and cool colors (green, blue, violet to suggest the water). Offering limited colors is a way for our guests and students to learn about color without us saying “today you are going to learn about color temperature” when they walk in the door.
Cathy Topal and Lella Gandini also make an interesting note in reference to working with found objects in their book Beautiful Stuff (pg. 90):
“As soon as we limit children to one color, the possibilities open up. Children become much keener and more discriminating observers- and so do the teachers.”
So, this is where I hope you will weigh in. How do you approach materials choices with children or students of any age? Do you offer specific materials? Let them have access to all their materials all the time? Something else?
This morning kicked off something new I’m trying in the Studio- Friday mornings 10:00-10:30 in Jan. and Feb. I’m setting up materials provocations especially for toddlers and their caregivers, free with Museum admission or membership. A related storytime in the Reading Library follows at 10:30 am.
Today we made bubble prints and shaving foam prints. I’ve done bubble printing with young children in the past but dug around the internet for a few alternate recipes. Today the mixture of tempera paint and dish soap worked better than the bubble solution and tempera paint mixtures. If you want to try bubble printing at home you might try this recipe. And this shaving foam tutorial has pictures and easy instructions.
Next week we’re doing something (its a surprise!) with tissue paper, so if you’re in the Amherst area and find yourself with a toddler on your hands next Friday morning, come on by and play!
We had an Eric Carle Tissue Paper Workshop scheduled in the Studio yesterday so here’s a peek at one of techniques we use in the workshop to make marks on paper: Put a little paint (like tempera) on a tray or plastic plate, roll a toy truck through it, then “drive” it on paper. This truck is especially fun because it can turn and make curved marks. You might cover a table with big sheets of paper and let your young artists go to town. On the other hand, if you need to set some space parameters you could put a piece of paper in a large cafeteria- like tray to help contain the marks. Happy printing!
In The Art Studio Latin Landscapes April 10 - May 21, 2013 Free with Museum Admission Capture the beauty of the landscapes from Latino Folk Tales: Cuentos Populares–Art by Latino Artists and create a picturesque panorama adapting the textured drawing style of illustrator Raul Colón.