Posts tagged: painting

Ghosty, Ghoulies …

By , October 14, 2010 9:21 am

Here are a couple of quick and fun Halloween ideas that I love, but unfortunately can’t really take credit for. The first came from school, the second was from a bake sale. Oh well, have fun with them anyway!

Ghostly Foot Prints:

Boney Witch Hands:

(These are just plastic food service gloves with candy corn “fingernails” in the tips and then filled with popcorn “bones.”  Tie wrists closed with black yarn or ribbon!)

Color – Marbleized Paper (Weekly Unplugged Project)

By , February 2, 2009 9:20 pm



This has actually (unintentionally) been a colorful week for us.

I haven’t mentioned Odyssey of the Mind (OM) here yet, but my friend and I just discovered it (actually she discovered it) and we dived right in last fall as coaches for our children’s Montessori class (1st – 4th grade). It’s a bit complicated to explain OM in this post, but suffice it to say that the children have to come up with an engineering or creative project entirely on their own.  “Outside Assistance” is heavily penalized.

My 8 year-old daughter apparently has the role of a tree in her completely student-created play.  She decided she wanted to dye some net green to be her leaves, so she chopped up an old artichoke that we happened to have in the kitchen and boiled the net in it to dye it green.  It didn’t work so well. She then tried green food coloring. Not too effective either (I think it would have worked better on a natural fiber). That was all entirely her idea.

Personally I probably would have headed to Walmart for some green dye, or better yet, green net!  But of course I couldn’t say that to her – “outside influence.”  So, I look forward to seeing what possible solution she comes up with next.

I was so proud of my daughter’s initiative and creative thinking!  These Unplugged Projects are more than just a diversion.  I believe that they encourage original thought and teach that it is OK to not get it right at first.  Just experiment to see what works, and if it doesn’t, then try and figure out how to make it work.

That was a bit of a tangent, but her experiments with dye got me thinking about food coloring and how we could incorporate that into the theme color. I began Googling food coloring and oil because I knew that the two don’t mix and I thought there might be something fun out there. I was quite excited to find this: Marvelous Marbling.

I have wanted to try marbelizing for a long time now. I have fond memories of loving it the time we did it in elementary school. Since the memory has stayed with me that long, it must have made a big impression!

Traditional marbleizing involves oil paint and turpentine. Frankly, I have never had the energy to tackle that. Turpentine – ick. This webpage tells how to marbleize using just food coloring and cooking oil. I had to try it!   So we did.  I made a few alterations – here is my version.


For this you’ll need a shallow pan that is large enough to fit the paper you’ll be using (we used baking pans), food coloring, cooking oil, white paper (we used card stock – NOTE:  thick card stock produces as a nice result, thinner paper tends to get a bit greasy), water and an eye dropper.  The eye dropper is optional, but we found it worked better than just pouring.


Put just enough water in the pan to cover the bottom (**VERY IMPORTANT!**).  As we discovered, if the water is too deep, the color will sink if you work too slowly.


Put about 1/2 tablespoon oil and 1 teaspoon food coloring into a glass (we halved the proportions of the original since we only had tiny bottles of coloring and I didn’t want to use it all up).




The two ingredients will not be mixed. [NERDY SCIENCE NOTE:  Oil and water don’t mix due to dissimilar molecular bonds – “like dissolves like” and water molecules and oil molecules are not alike.  Read more here about why oil and water don’t mix:  Let’s Talk Science, and here is a good, simple tutorial about solubility and water: Water Tutorial]

At this point, the mixture will look something like this:


Beat it hard with a fork until well blended.  It is like mixing an oil and vinegar salad dressing and will take a few minutes.  We experimented with mixing it in a jar and shaking it up.  That worked even better, just make sure the top is on tightly (we had a bit of a food coloring disaster the first time my daughter tried it).




When done, it will look more like this:


Using the dropper (or gently pouring if you don’t have a dropper), place drops of colors on top of the water.  The drops will stay in a blob, or perhaps explode a bit.  You can place one color inside another.  Experiment.




When you have dots of color all over the surface of your water, use a toothpick, or a fork, or a feather (whatever you want to try) to make patterns in the colors.  They’ll make blobs and swirls and pretty patterns.



When you are happy with the design, gently place your paper on top of the water.  Leave it for a little bit.  We waited until the oil started to show through the back of the paper (about 30 seconds?) and then peeled it gently off.



There will be lots of oohs and aahs as the pattern is revealed!



That last one reminded me of a medical slide. LOL!

We even tried hot water vs. cold water.  Knowing that molecules move faster in hot water, we wanted to see if anything different happened to our oil/color mix in really hot water.  We didn’t see anything too dramatic, but my daughter did note that the blobs converged a bit more quickly.  (For more on hot vs. cold liquids, please read my post:  Molecules in Motion).

We also experimented with dropping a blob of food coloring directly onto the wet cardstock.  We could work it a little with a toothpick for a bold effect:



Let the paper dry then use it for cards, wrapping paper, framed art, whatever you want.  Ours will become thank you notes.


According to my 8 year-old daughter, this is her “new favorite project!”


For more color project ideas, please check out all the links here.


The theme for next week’s Unplugged Project will be:


Hope to see you then! (If you want to join us, please read about how to here.)




White – Salt Crystal Paint (Weekly Unplugged Project)

By , October 5, 2008 8:32 pm


The theme for this week’s Unplugged Project was white.  This was a really hard one for me!

I spent the whole week thinking:  “I pick the themes, so why on Earth did I pick white??”  All my kids could think of was white paint or marshmallows, but unfortunately we had neither in the house today when it got down to the wire for doing the project or giving up.

I figured there was bound to be a way to make homemade white paint so I googled “homemade paint.” I came upon this neat web page: Recipes for Art Materials.

As I read through the paint recipes, I came across an intriguing one for Magic Crystal Paint that required only hot water and Epsom salt (isn’t salt white?), both of which I had.  Further googling for “epsom salt paint” also led to this teacher discussion board post about salt paint.

This Salt Crystal Paint is simply a salt water solution that you brush on paper.  After the water dries, the salt crystals remain and produce a glittery effect.

My kids and I were excited to try it and we decided to really experiment.  We got out the Epsom salt, construction paper, crayons, scissors and hole punches.

We began by making construction paper “snowflakes” to use as stencils.  The idea of glittery snowflakes was quite appealing on this almost wintry day.

We used the shaped hole punches on our stencils too.

We also colored some pictures on the dark construction paper using crayons.

To make the salt solution, mix about 1/2 cup Epsom salt with 1/2 cup hot water.  I made mine by stirring the salt in on the stove.

We made one batch this usual way.

We also tried another way by adding LOTS of salt until we could add no more thus making a solution that was supersaturated (I snuck a bit of science in here!).

We stuck our stencils down with tape, trying to keep them flat, but without using so much tape that they would be difficult to remove later.

The first batch of “paint” looked like plain water and I didn’t hold out much hope for success. But we painted it on our stencils and our pictures anyway, then let them dry.

Here we are peeling off the stencils:

The effect was really cool!  It is quite difficult to show in a photo, but when you look at the pictures under a light or in the sun, they really sparkle like snow!

We did one picture with the supersaturated solution and it came out thickly crusted with salt.  There wasn’t much sparkle, just a flat white effect.  In fact the white almost completely hid the crayon:

We preferred the milder 1/2 cup salt and 1/2 cup water version, but the supersaturated one would be great to use as a paint on its own.  You could achieve some interesting looking white textures with a bit of experimentation.  The brush strokes really showed up well, as you can see in the photo above.

A fun variation that we’ll have to try another day, is to add food coloring to the solution. This will create colored crystals!

[NOTE:  In case you are unfamiliar with it, Epsom salt is the common name for magnesium sulfate.  It can be found in most pharmacies since it is often sold as a soak for feet or for adding to a bath.  I have also seen it in the garden section of Walmart since it can be used as a fertilizer.  Roses love it and that is how I use mine!  It is usually in a milk carton-type container, but I have also bought it in a resealable plastic bag.]

I imagine that this project works better with Epsom salt than table salt since the crystals are much larger.  I wonder if Kosher salt or sea salt would work too?  That would probably cost a lot more though.


Did you do a white Unplugged Project with us this week?  If so, then please put a link to your white project in Mr. Linky below.  Please remember, this week’s Mr. Linky is only for white projects.

If you didn’t do a white project but are interested in future Unplugged Projects, then please DO NOT link, but read how to join in here.  We’d love to have you!


The theme for next week’s Unplugged Project will be:




Paint – Experimenting With Paint (Weekly Unplugged Project)

By , June 1, 2008 8:12 pm

We’ve been getting so fancy lately with our Unplugged Projects, that this week I decided to keep it simple. It was a warm, unscheduled day full of happy play, indoors and out. An 8 year-old visiting school friend was here for the afternoon, so I just set out watercolors, washable tempera paints, paper, and crayons and let them have at it to see what they would do.

At first they just painted and tried a little wax-resist with a white crayon:

Then our friend had the idea of pouring on paint and folding the paper in half to make “ink blot-style” paintings. My oldest daughter and her friend had fun with this for quite a while. Here is our friend’s first “ink-blot” piece, a butterfly:

Here are some more:

And a few of the finished paintings:

My 5 year-old son did a bit of real painting, but he was more in the mood to do his paint with water book. If you are not familiar with these, they are like coloring books, but the pages are pictures filled in with colored dots. All you do is brush water over the page to make the colors emerge and appear to have been painted. Not the most creative activity in the world, but quite fascinating really. In fact, I distinctly remember absolutely LOVING paint with water books at about his age. This one is Babar (from the local dollar store):

I wisely left my little 2 year-old daughter bare chested for the project. By the time she had finished her purple masterpiece she was, herself, also a purple masterpiece:

A good time was had by all, and some very fine art resulted from our fun!


Did you paint with us this week? If so, then please put a link to your project in Mr. Linky. If not, then consider joining in next week. It’s easy and fun. Click here for more information.


The theme for next week’s Unplugged Project is a little different. I’m just going to leave you all with an adjective:


This doesn’t mean that the project needs to leave your kids and your house a sticky, horrible mess! Free associate with sticky: Tape? Glue? Velcro? Honey? etc. etc. etc.

Good luck and I can’t wait to see what we all do for sticky!

Food (Weekly Unplugged Project) – Potato and Pasta Stamps

By , April 13, 2008 9:33 pm

I confess that when I picked the theme food for this week’s Unplugged Project, I had potato stamps in mind. I have never tried stamping with potatoes and have always thought it sounded fun. But we got so into it, and since I was cooking pasta for dinner, we tried a few pasta stamps too!

Here are the materials:

First I asked each child what they wanted for a stamp. I told them to keep it simple! My daughter wanted a moon and a star. My son wanted a spiral.

These sounded manageable so I cut a potato in half and began carving using a box cutter to draw the initial outline on the potato, and then a kitchen knife to cut away the unneeded portions. Since my children are only 7 and 5, I did all the cutting (although my 5 year-old son would have loved to have gotten his little hands on the box cutter!):

This can be a bit tricky. The star lost a point and became a rather lopsided four pointed star. I lacked the mental energy to really figure out the spiral, so it became a mushroom. My son didn’t mind. My advice: keep it simple (especially at first) and use potatoes that are as firm as possible. Ours were a bit old and soft. That’s my excuse and I am sticking to it!

I blotted the stamps with a paper towel to remove the excess moisture. Using a paintbrush, we then painted the stamps with paint and printed pictures and patterns on card stock. The kids made cards for their friends. I just had fun.

Then I got adventurous and decided to try a roller effect. I peeled a whole potato and carved a rectangle on two sides, and more of a square/dot on the other two to create what I hoped would be a cool rectangle-dot-rectangle-dot pattern when rolled across the paper. I painted the rectangles blue, and the dots yellow, then rolled it on the card.

We all thought that the final result looked great! Final photos show this card.

After this success, I was really into this stamping thing and found some dry pasta in my pantry with interesting textures (I was cooking pasta, so pasta naturally came to mind). I used a rotini (twisty corkscrew pasta) and a penne (a tube with small ridges) to make a few more cards. The penne was subtle, but made a nice grass effect. The rotini was fun and drew “oohs and ahs” from my children. There are so many different pastas out there, I suspect that at sometime, you might see some more pasta stamping at Unplug Your Kids!

Here are the finished cards. First the kids’ cards for their friends:

And mine. First my potato cards (the one on the left was created with my “roller potato!”):

And then my pasta and potato cards. The blue, widely-spaced lines are the rotini pasta. The green grass is penne pasta.


If you did the food Unplugged Project with us this week, then please link to your project post in Mr. Linky below. If you didn’t join in this week, but would like to, we’d love to have you with us! Simply read about how the Unplugged Project works, and jump right in.


Next Monday’s Unplugged Project falls right on the first day of TV-Turnoff Week. What a dilemma! Since I actually post my weekly project Sunday night before I go to bed, I guess I am OK (I might not be quite as prompt a visitor though). But for those of you who like to do the project and post on Monday, if you are participating in the TV-Turnoff Week Blog Challenge you are faced with having to sit it out, do it early or late, or do a quick Monday post. I’ll leave that decision up to you and plan a project for next Monday anyhow.

The theme for next week’s Unplugged Project is:


This is in honor of Michie who has been longing for a scissors project for quite some time now!

What can you create with scissors? If your little one is too young for scissors, then you can do the cutting and your baby can do the creating! Remember, even one tiny snip “counts.”


For those who did the food project this week, here is Mr. Linky:

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