Sunday, October 14, 2012

Upcycled Art Supplies

Even though it's important for artists at any level to have good quality art supplies to work with, I also think there is great value in being creative and using items that you might be tossing into the wastebasket and finding ways to utilize ordinary household objects that can have a dual purpose. I'm always amazed to be standing behind someone in line at an art supply or craft store and watching them stock up on items that are costly and will ultimately not offer any choice as to how the finished product turns out. Googly eyes come to mind. When I was printing the little bird pictured above I noticed how interesting the image looked on the newspaper that I had spread out to protect my work area.
Here are a few suggestions for re-purposing items for art projects:


1) Keep a box with scraps of wrapping paper, pages from magazines, fabric, yarn, buttons, use for collage material. 2) Cereal boxes are great for making the covers of handmade books. 3) When you get a package in the mail, flatten the box and save the corrugated cardboard. It's a very sturdy, lightweight surface that remains stable for any number of projects. 4) Newspapers offer an interesting printing surface, although I realize many people read all their news online. 5) Kitchen sponges can be turned into ink pads. 6) Items with interesting shapes and textures can be turned into stamps for printmaking. Things like old keys, doilies, the bottom of an egg carton, leaves......can be printed.


Please feel free to leave any of your suggestions in the comments section. I've even re-used supplies left over from household re-modeling projects. The leftover grout from tiling one of our bathrooms was used to make a mosaic tray. I hate throwing stuff into a landfill.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Negative and Positive Space

Artists consider negative and positive space when they're designing a composition and sometimes this concept is a little hard for children to understand. A good visual for them is to stand with your arms akimbo (I love that word) and explain that you are the positive space and the area between your arms and body is the negative. An even better way is through printmaking. Try using scratch foam and an easy technique that I describe here. The children are encouraged to cut holes into their scratch foam with scissors, make holes with a hole punch, and create textures by pressing on the foam. That little grid pattern was made with a meat tenderizing tool. Water-based printing ink is rolled onto the scratch foam with a brayer. The children can overlay the prints to see all the surprise shapes that are created. You can finish up by asking them to show you the positive and negative shapes that they made.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Printmaking with Texture

Here's a fun way to introduce children to a simple printmaking project and create a handsome piece of art at the same time. Small sheets of colored tissue paper are placed on top of the different textures pictured. Printing ink is rolled over the tissue using the brayer and capturing the image of the texture. Spray glue attaches the sheets of tissue to a stretched canvas. Voila! Fun and pretty.