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


  • Thursday, Friday 10 am - 4 pm
  • Saturday 10 am - 5 pm
  • Sunday 12 pm - 5 pm

Closed Monday,Tuesday, Wednesday

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Making Art Together

Paper and Glue Rubbing Plates

One of our favorite tools to use in the Art Studio are rubbing plates. We’ve made several posts about making them with natural materialsmanufactured materials, and materials from around your home. But to use them in the Art Studio during the pandemic, we had to think of a new way to create rubbing plates. We needed to make rubbing plates that could be single-use and fit the safety protocols for the Art Studio- something that all educators are balancing during the pandemic. To make them more sustainable, we determined that the plates had to be durable yet paper-based, and something that folks could take home. In thinking back on a previous toddler program, we realized that we had a solution, using only liquid glue, and sturdy paper!

White glue scribbled onto black paper.

Last year, in one of our toddler Materials Play series, we explored drawing with squeeze bottle glue on thick railroad board paper. Using the glue to make marks was an engaging experience for little ones and adults alike. Guests said that drawing with glue was relaxing, fun, and visually engaging as the white glue glided across the black paper. Slight changes in pressure on the glue bottle yielded thick and thin lines, and the crossing over points yielded puddles of glue that formed together into smooth lakes.

Dried glue on black paper, with the glue lines becoming raised textures.

After the program, I was fascinated by the way the glue dried, creating wrinkled textures, air bubbles, and bumpy raised surfaces.

Four images of using a rubbing plate, the plate itself, a hand holding a crayon on its side about to rub across the paper, a paper with red textures from the rubbing plate, and a piece of paper with lots of warm colored lines on it.

In noticing that there were raised textures, I wondered if it could be used as a rubbing plate. I took a piece of paper, laid it on top of the dried glue, then ran a crayon on its side across the surface. To my surprise, it worked just as well as our other rubbing plates! At the time, we decided to wait to use and/or make them in a future program with Art Studio guests.

An accordion-fold book with a fish drawn on it next to some crayons and an empty accordion-fold book, all on top of colorful textured papers.

The opportunity arose this fall when we facilitated the Every Day Art Program, Stories that Surprise. In looking for a rubbing plate that we could prepare in bulk (with the help of our volunteers via curbside pick-up) and that could easily be recycled or quarantined with our other paper supplies, we realized that these glue and paper rubbing plates would work perfectly. Each guest who participated in the project got a rubbing plate that they could use to add texture and start their stories inside an accordion-fold book. 

For more inspiration on how to use rubbing plates in your art projects, check out our YouTube video about Stories that Surprise and previous blog posts including textured storiescollage catspaper birdswatercolor resist collage papers, and accordion-fold texture books.


by Sara Ottomano

This entry was posted on Thursday, February 11th, 2021 at 9:32 am and is filed under At Home Art Studio, By Sara Ottomano, Drawing, Homemade Materials and Tools, Toddlers, Paper. 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.

The space and programming of The Carle Art Studio is supported by a generous annual sponsorship from Penguin Books For Young Readers.

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.

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