Sunday, November 10, 2019

Painted Leaves

Printing from actual leaves is a fun activity since you can find the materials right in your own yard or at the park. Combine a nature hile with a simple art lesson.
These prints were made by applying a layer of acrylic paint to the leaf with acylic paint and a sponge brush. Make sure you apply the paint to the rougher side of the leaf where you can feel the veins. The paint should not be applies too thickly or you will not see the detail. I opted using rather bright colors that you wouldn't typically find in nature.

Sunday, October 6, 2019

Collaged Houses

There is something very appealing about creating a piece of art that involves imagery of houses. I don't know if it is just the idea of "home" or the appeal of the shape of a house the way it is depicted by young children, generally a triangle on top of a square. I like to think that it is a combination of an image of comfort and the unlimited possibilities to embellish.


This was a project that I did with pre-schoolers. The houses were cut out of poster board. The children had many choices of materials, most that were already cut, to create their house. They had burlap or craft foam triangles for the roof, felt rectangles with peel off backs for the windows and doors, buttons for doorknobs, strips of pretty ribbon for shutters, and rolls of decorative tape to be used however they saw fit. One child added a door for the cat! It seemed that the houses became more special as the decorations were piled on.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Print a Pagoda

Cutting simple shapes from scratch-foam is very simple to do. You can purchase sheets of this material from most large art stores. It is similar to Styrofoam, but it is much easier to cut as it is not as thick. I cut out the pagoda shapes and then let the children draw impressions directly on the scratch-foam. They should use their pen or pencil to make impressions that are deep enough to feel when you run your finger over the surface.
The next step is to roll printing ink onto the surface and print the image. The great thing about printmaking is the ability to make multiple impressions after making your initial plate. You can also add details to the plate to achieve another outcome. You may also want to try using an ink pad instead of a brayer and ink.
Try printing two or more pagodas on top of each other using contrasting colors.

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Accordion Books with Pressed Leaves and Flowers

Collecting leaves and flowers is a great way to develop in children an interest in nature, and to sharpen their observational skills. A walk along a country road or through an urban park can yield an endless variety of beautiful and delicate shapes in the form of leaves and flower petals. When collecting specimens to press, consider how much variety there is to be found even among plants that we classify as weeds. Some leaves are shaped like hearts, some have ridges like potato chips, and others look like tiny Christmas trees. Forget the trip to the art store, and gather the supplies for a nature accordion book wherever you happen to live.
When gathering your samples keep in mind that flower petals tend to be more delicate than leaves and their colors often fade. Also, think about what will happen once your specimen is flattened. Flowers with dimensional centers do not press as well as a pansy, for instance. Leaves also work better if they are not overly delicate. Maple and oak leaves work well. Ferns are a good choice too. Since I was planning on using my pressed leaves and flowers for a small accordion book, I picked specimens that would fit my layout.


I placed my leaves and petals between two sheets of computer paper, laying them out in a single layer. I placed the paper in the middle of a heavy book and placed a 20 pound weight on top of the book. Bear in mind that the point of pressing is to squeese out all the moisture, so do not use a valuable book as your pages may get slightly damp. I pressed my bits of nature for about a week. You can always take a peek and see how they are doing.
I used poster board to make the accordion book. I simply glued the leaves and flowers in place by coating the poster board with a glue stick and then laying the leaf or flower in place. I gave it a gentle pat to make sure that it was flat.

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Printing on Tee Shirts

Styrofoam take-out containers are essentially unfriendly to the environment and I try to avoid them as much as possible. Recently I did bring home the pictured container from a restaurant with my uneaten portion of eggplant parmesan. When I noticed the design on the bottom I saw a printmaking opportunity. I cut out some lettering from the middle of the container leaving that small rectangular cut-out. I got out some oil based printing ink and a rubber brayer to print this child's tee shirt.
Since the ink is not water based, you will need some mineral spirits or turpentine to clean your brayer. I also plan on letting the Styrofoam printing plate dry so that I can use it again.

Sunday, June 30, 2019

Pinch Pots

Pinch Pots The pinch pots were made with preschoolers. They are imprerfect, yet so charming because of the imperfections. We can literally see their little finger imprints preserved forever. We started by rolling the clay into a ball. Think of making snowballs. They pressed their thumb into the center and then pressed the clay outward to form the shape. It is a quick process, and easy enough to scrap your pot and start over again if you are not happy with the result. After the pots had dried the children painted them with acrylic paint, and I coated them with an air drying polyurethane to add the shine.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Pressed Flower Cards

I pressed these flower petals way back in the winter. Since it wasn't exactly the growing season here in New Jersey, I bought a couple bouquets at my supermarket. I pressed the flowers in between the pages of books after first laying them out between sheets of copy paper. I placed 12 pound weights on top of the books. This, of course, removes the moisture from the petals. I would not recommend using valuable books as the dampness may damage the pages. I left the petals alone for about 10 days.


I simply used a glue stick to attach the petals to the blank greeting card. I applied the glue to the card surface since the petals are delicate, and gently pressed them into place. I liked the wat they turned out, so now I'm ready to go out on a nature walk and gather some interesting leaves and wild flowers.