We need more of this in the house…
no fighting or bickering, just working.
Otis and I recently painted these wooden sculptures on a Tuesday afternoon together. Did you know that you can pick up these little scraps of wood for free at the lumber yard, in the scrap bin? I wish I had known this before we bought a fancy set of blocks. I grabbed a handful at a recent visit and primed them so they were ready by Tuesday afternoon.
We talked about how painting 3-dimensional sculptures was different from painting 2-dimensionally on paper, and we did a few experiments with mixing paints to achieve flesh tones. I made the old man on the left first, and then Otis made his own version. Like our little corporate drones?
I looked at his sculpture as he was putting on the finishing touches, and asked in disbelief, “Otis…are you making…. an Indian sculpture?” I mean, doesn’t that look like a bindi on his sculpture’s forehead? I had to take a deep breath as I contemplated having a conversation about racial sensitivity. After all, the kid had been making all his sculptures in varying shades of dark brown. Luckily, though, it’s just that someone else was trying to throw a rock over this sculpture’s head, and it hit him on the forehead (this happened to Otis when he was 3). Phew, glad I can wait to have that conversation!
Look at us, we’re rolling in it!
Last week after our textile printing project, we went to a demonstration at our local art store, where they were printing t-shirts and demonstrating other printmaking techniques. I wanted to continue our printmaking experiments, so I thought it would be fun to print money. Both kids love play money, and I thought it would also be a fun way to incorporate math into their play.
We used these foam plates, which are really easy for kids to use. The trickiest part was trying to explain to Otis that you need to draw and write everything backwards.
I loved this experiment. Otis, less so. I think some steps required too much attention for him – all the backwards writing, lining up the plates with the paper (even though I cut the paper a little bigger to give him some room) – and he likes projects with a definite goal (such as printing an entire piece of fabric). He lost interest after a while. But I’m not giving up on this idea yet – I’m going to make more art with Otis’s kindergarten class (we made Valentines last time), and I think I’m going to modify this project so that the kids can personalize their printed money with drawings of themselves. Next week we are definitely going to take a break from printmaking.
I recently decided that Otis and I needed some alone time together. It felt like we were fighting a lot and one morning, I woke up with a surprising sense of clarity and knew that rather than spending less time together, we needed more time together. Maybe it’s sort of like immersion therapy where if you’re afraid of snakes, you get thrown into a snake pit? Hmmm, which one of us is the snake? Well, now Tuesday afternoons are our “special time” and this past week, we printed fabric.
It all started with this video. It’s beautiful, and we both really enjoyed watching it over and over. (via Wren Handmade)
This got us thinking, and we decided we also wanted to print fabric. Since we still have Valentine’s Day Fever, we decided on hearts. I cut out two hearts out of the rubber stamping blocks (like this one), and we used fabric paint on unbleached muslin, which we taped to the table to keep from slipping. I let Otis decide how he wanted to set the pattern, and we started working.
We took turns inking and printing, and the piece of muslin that we used, which was a little less than 2/3 of a yard, was just about the right amount of fabric for his attention span. Having two stamps to use at the same time really helped move things along. Here’s a piece of our finished fabric:
You can really see the texture from the paint being rolled on with a brayer because the fabric paint was runnier than traditional block printing ink. I found it frustrating, but Otis didn’t seem to mind.
We decided to cut the fabric in half and use them as furoshiki, to wrap up some cookies that Bee and I made. We added food coloring gel at the very end of mixing to get a splotchy, “hand-dyed” look. Otis will take these to school for the kindergarten teachers, and he’s so proud of the work he did.
We also printed a few single hearts on some extra muslin, and I sewed them into little pouches so that Bee could also bring some to pre-school for her teachers.
I had a really great time doing this project with Otis, and I already have an idea brewing for next week. And maybe it’s my imagination, but it feels like Otis and I have been getting along better already.