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The Eric Carle Museum
of Picture Book Art
  • 125 West Bay Road
  • Amherst, MA 01002


  • Wednesday-Friday10 am-3 pm
  • Saturday 10am – 4 pm
  • Sunday 12 pm - 4 pm

Closed Monday and Tuesday

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Making Art Together

Kelly's Special Friday: Experimenting with Shaving Cream

Recently one of the Art Studio's Summer Interns, Kelly Niland, designed a special Friday project for museum guests. She planned the event, prepared the materials, and introduced visitors to the project throughout the day. The following is her description of that process and the day:

When thinking about my special project, I was not dedicated to a specific medium or method. What I knew for sure was that I wanted to create a project that felt magical and instilled wonder in our guests. I spent time reading through some of the books the Art Studio has, and I also spent time discussing my ideas with Art Educator Sara. Originally inspired by the process of painting with oil, which can be found in the book Tinkerlab: A Hands-On Guide for Little Inventors by Rachelle Doorley, I wanted to use an unconventional medium to inspire our guests. While discussing my ideas with Sara, we came to the decision to substitute shaving cream for the oil in the project. This was for a few reasons. First, allergies are always something to consider when deciding what kind of medium to use and we wanted to make sure the project was safe for all guests. Second, we decided that using the shaving cream would just be more fun! It expands really quickly while also being soft and fun to play with. I knew that shaving cream would be a huge success and exactly the type of medium I was looking for.

Next was the decision of what type of paint to use. I experimented with food coloring, liquid watercolor, and acrylic paint. All three were exceptional choices but in the end I decided to use the acrylic paint because the end result was more pigmented and exciting.

Lastly, I had to decide what kind of paper I wanted to be used in this project. I tested the results between student-grade watercolor paper, heavy-weight watercolor paper, and Hygloss Dippity Dye Paper (also known as color diffusing paper). The student grade watercolor paper ended up being my choice as it was very durable and helped accentuate the paint designs.

For the set-up, I created five stations with five trays at each station. Four of the trays were to be filled with shaving cream and used for the actual painting while one tray was for the excess shaving cream when finished. At each station there were five squeeze bottles of acrylic paint. Each station had access to the three primary colors (red, blue, and yellow) and two more non-primary colors (varied). Each station also had access to wooden tools for swirling the paint and a squeegee. As you can see below, once a guests’ tray was filled with shaving cream, they would use their acrylic paint to create different swirls and shapes in their shaving cream.

Once a guest finished making their swirl creation, it was time to create a print. The guest pressed their paper, either a full or half sheet, on top of the shaving cream. A guest is seen below pressing his paper into his shaving cream creation.

Once the paper was pulled up from the shaving cream, stiff peaks formed above the paper. This essentially hid the marble design from view and the squeegeeing process became an unveiling of the finished work. Guests were encouraged to wait at least five minutes before using the squeegee in order to allow the acrylic paint to dry and the marble designs to set.

Another guest is shown during the process of squeegeeing off her excess shaving cream.

The guests were bursting with excitement, the shaving cream painting appeared to be a huge hit!

Below, a guest shows us their electric creation!

While facilitating this project, I learned about how exciting it was to not only inspire our guests within the Art Studio to experiment, but also how exciting it was to inspire our guests to go home and replicate a project.

Relatively inexpensive and all around fun to play with, painting with shaving cream is easily replicated at home or in a classroom. Almost every guest took their creation home with pride and I was ecstatic to see how I helped inspired our guests to keep creating and making magic even after leaving the Art Studio.



We enjoy exploring materials and ideas in the Art Studio, and we’re excited to share our process with you! Please consider the following factors when adapting these posts for your learning environment: 

We facilitate a variety of programs within the Art Studio for a wide range of age groups. Please carefully consider the age appropriateness of each individual activity in your own learning environment.

Our projects are always done with adult supervision and proper safety precautions. Be sure all of your projects are overseen by adults who likewise follow proper safety precautions. The adults overseeing your project must also be responsible for handling or assisting with any potentially harmful equipment or materials. 

The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art is not responsible for any damages, injuries or liabilities that result from any activities contained within this website, and we expressly disclaim any responsibility or liability therefor. From time to time, we reference materials that we have found to be particularly important in our projects. We do not receive any monetary compensation for recommending materials. 


by Sara Ottomano

This entry was posted on Monday, August 27th, 2018 at 9:00 am and is filed under Internship Program, Special Events, Painting, Printmaking. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.


W. Anderson
Friday, August 8, 2018 - 6:12 pm
I have found ordinary cardstock works great and is a bit more economical than w/c. Coloured cardstock even more fun. It's hard not to get a great result no matter what you do but I tended to stick to analogous colours when I played it "safe". I was amazed that even the scrapings could make great prints. Just be sure to let the papers sit before your scrape, even for a minute or two. Liquid w/c were also my medium. The only ? I have is did you find unscented shaving cream? I don't mind the smell and find it dissipates after a while, but some folks have sensitivities.
Friday, September 9, 2018 - 3:02 pm
Thank you for your comments and question, it's wonderful to hear about other ways to experiment with paper marbling! Kelly had chosen the watercolor paper as it didn't curl as much as the cardstock did, but it is definitely a great budget-friendly alternative. Thank you also for echoing the need to wait a bit before squeegeeing, it helps a lot in solidifying the design and preventing it from smudging. As for your question, we used the original type of Barbasol which was economical but did smell like shaving cream. I am not sure if they make an unscented version or if other brands work as well as the traditional shaving cream foam, feel free to let us know if you find one that you enjoy using!

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