Tutorial: Paper Mâché “Helping Hands”

In response to the “Day of Service” that celebrated Martin Luther King Jr. back in January, we talked in art class about constructive ways in which we use our hands. We talked about how we can help by using our “helping hands”! Here are some of the ideas we came up with in art class:

With my hands, I can…

  • draw
  • sweep up dirt
  • clean
  • wear my gloves when it’s cold outside
  • give hugs
  • put trash in the dumpster
  • wash
  • wave to friends
  • clap to music
  • chop vegetables
  • fold laundry
  • help cook

Everyone has such unique ways of helping our around the village, so we decided to make our “helping hands” a unique reflection of our personalities! Therefore, when it’s time we’ll paint our hands in our own unique ways, and reflect upon what it’s like to be a helpful citizen to our community.

Below are pictures of the process:

This is going to be a short and sweet tutorial, since there are so many ways to go about it and ours is just one of them!

  1. We put on latex gloves and wound masking tape around our hands and fingers. We were careful not to do it too tight so we could remove them after our whole hands were covered!
  2. We ripped up about 2 newspaper into strips, and then realized that it would be easier if we had small squares instead. We dunked the small squares of newspaper into watered-down elmer’s glue (about 2:1 ratio water to glue) and stuck the pieces to our masking-tape hands
  3. Through trial and error we found it was easier to stick our gloves on an overturned cup to a) open up the base of the glove so it didn’t collapse under the weight of the newspaper and glue and b) so we didn’t have to touch the hand too much while we were doing the paper mâché (some of us are very sensitive to texture!).
  4. We continued to paper mâché over the course of a few sessions to make sure the surface of the glove was covered as much as possible so that no masking tape was peeking out. Once the glue and newspaper dried our surface became very hard and it was time for painting!
  5. The glove shown above is Sian’s, and she chose to first paint her hand white to get a nice, neutral surface and then she picked out some favorite colors – blue, purple and red, with which to paint her hand.

Tutorial: “Stained Glass” Leaves

Every year, we have a village-wide event called Family Day where friends and family of the community come to share a meal and take in some Innisfree-style entertainment as well as a craft fair. One of the things we do to get into the holiday spirit is decorate each table with something hand-made. This year, we decided stained-glass leaves were the ticket, and the artists got to work in the studio learning how to make fake stained glass to be cut into leaf shapes, and then adhered to jars with candles inside to let the light shine through. I didn’t get pictures of the final product somehow- but here is our process, with help from the internet.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Wax paper
  • Tissue paper, ripped into about 1″ by 1″ squares (ours varied a LOT)
  • Mod Podge or Elmer’s glue
  • Old paintbrushes
  • Scotch Tape
  • A flat working surface
  • Leaf shapes
  • Scissors

If you wish to turn your leaves into table decorations like we did, you’ll also need glass jars and tea lights.

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Tape a length of wax paper down to a flat, protected surface. We put down a plastic table cloth before we began because it’s easier to get off a sticky gluey mess that way! The tape helps the edges not to curl.
  2. Gather many different colors of tissue paper and tear into 1″x1″ pieces (ours varied a LOT!)
  3. You’ll need a cup of watered down glue (about a 2:1 ratio glue to water) and some old brushes that you don’t mind getting all sticky.
  4. Spread some glue down on your wax paper, then place tissue paper pieces as you wish. Spread glue over the top of the tissue paper to smooth them down. (Ours didn’t end up being very smooth, but it worked nonetheless!)
  5. Cover the entire wax paper surface- this might take a while, but we really enjoyed the process.
  6. Wait for the surface to dry before cutting into desired shapes.
  7. We collected leaves from outside for our stencils- this was a great opportunity for a nature walk, and we got some really great leaf shapes out of it! Trace your leaves onto the wax paper with a sharpie marker once the surface is COMPLETELY dry.
  8. Cut out leaf shapes and hang in a window! If you want to make the jar candles, simply use hot glue to adhere the leaves to the surface of the jar. If you want to re-use the jar, just peel off the hot glue after running through a hot dishwasher or use a razor to scrape off the glue.
This is an idea of what they would look like, but ours turned out being a rainbow of colors and of course you wouldn’t get the lines from the leaves- Image courtesy of sparkandchemistry.com


Tie-dye tutorial

11375270_600284916777298_393736460_nNothing says summer to me more than tie-dye! You’re outside, surrounded by all the lovely bugs and plants nature has to offer and you’re transforming that blah t-shirt from last fall into something bright and colorful. Much like the caterpillar goes through its transformation into a butterfly, we may feel transformed by the simple act of bringing color to a t-shirt! Though there may be many, many tie-dye tutorials out there…here’s one from the heart of the Innisfree Art Studio. We came upon the good fortune of being left many packets of dye and bottles from a previous dying project, and therefore didn’t have any supplies to buy. If you’re starting from scratch, you can either buy a kit that comes simple and ready to go at Joann Fabrics or Michaels (a great use for that 50% off coupon that comes so often) or buy RIT dyes that come in a powder and you can mix with water. I’d never heard of this method until recently, and quite like it because it’s easier to customize colors and I find it way more economical! Here’s your supply list:

1) Plastic bags (zip-lock is preferable but we used old bread bags and bulk bags and simply tied them in a knot to seal)

2) Rubber bands

3) Gloves

4) Empty ketchup bottles and RIT dyes or squeeze bottles from a craft store OR tie-dye kit

5) Washing soda (Arm and Hammer makes a basic one)

6) Large plastic tub

7) Newspaper or some kind of table covering, depending on how you choose to protect your workspace

8) Tshirts, socks, fabric, headbands, dresses, scarves or whatever your heart desires! Just as long as it’s 100% plant fiber (cotton, wool, silk- NO synthetic fibers)

Step 1: Cover your workspace and make sure your dyes are ready to go- I mix about 3 teaspoons of RIT dye per bottle (about 8 oz.) to make the dye. You can adjust this if you want a darker or lighter result. Make sure the powder is completely dissolved, as particles will stick to the fabric and give it a speckled look (though this may be what you want!)

Step 2: Band your t-shirt, socks, pillowcases, whatever. We used many different methods to band our clothing items. Here’s a good layout of your design options: 5003067434_194c724574  Step 3: Soak your banded items in the plastic tub with a 1 gallon water to 1 cup washing soda solution. Water should be warm to best dissolve the washing soda (also called soda ash). Soak for about 15 minutes until garment is saturated.

Step 4: Squeeze out your cloth item with gloves (washing soda can sting a bit) until it’s not dripping, then place on your work surface and prepare to tie-dye!

Step 5: Saturate your items with dye colors of your choice. The way your garment was banded may inform your dye decisions (people typically choose to dye in between banded sections, creating the separated colors you often see in professionally tie-dyed spiral or striped designs). However, the colors are always up to the artist! We got quite creative and messy and still came up with some gorgeous results.

Step 6: Place your garment in a plastic bag (zip-lock or recycled depending on what you have available) and seal well! I often place all of our individual baggies (labeled with names of course!) in a larger trash bag in case something leaks.

Step 7: Let sit for 24 hours.

Step 8: The next day, rinse under cold water until it runs mostly clear. Then you can remove the bands and keep rinsing until water is clear. When you feel the garment has been sufficiently rinsed out then you can run it through a normal wash/dry cycle in the washing machine. In our experience, we had a t-shirt that was saturated in purple dye and it turned many of the other t-shirts a bit purple which was nice, but not necessarily the plan! Oh well! There’s a lot of flexibility with tie-dye so be flexible with how your garments come out- you might be pleasantly surprised! Screenshot 2015-08-07 09.40.35

Faux relief-print tutorial

EDIT: I just realized we already did a tutorial similar to this! See this post for an abbreviated version, but we’re re-invigorating the process so this post is a more full description. 🙂 

It’s the first week of June…and it feels like April. Chilly, rainy, the world is a luscious shade of green and the bright red cherries out the window are definitely calling my name. While I watch the birds outside take baths in ditches and puddles, let’s learn a new printmaking technique! Is the perfect time to stay inside and teach your hands a new trick.

It’s been more than a month since we’ve had a tutorial and I have now done two rounds of this same technique so let’s learn faux relief-printing! When I say faux, it’s only because the surface onto which we will create our image is not of traditional stamping material. But it will work nonetheless!

To start, a relief print happens when a flat surface such as a piece of linoleum or rubber (or in this tutorial’s case- styrofoam!) is carved or pressed into in a desired pattern or design and then the remaining surface is inked. This results in all the recessed areas staying ink-free (and thus taking on the color of whatever paper its printed on) and all flat surfaces get inked with desired ink colors. Sound confusing? It’s not!

Our first step is to gather all required materials for this process- you may find that you prefer some tools over another, but the objective of this project is to use things you might already have laying around or at least are easy to access.

  • flat pieces of styrofoam of any size (the ones we’re using are about 5″x5″, cut from discarded meat trays…washed well!!!)
  • Paper with your desired design or pattern drawn on it, same size as styrofoam piece
  • ballpoint pen
  • pencil
  • brayer (ink roller) or foam brush
  • a piece of cardboard covered in tinfoil, spare piece of glass from a pictureframe, etc. Just something flat to roll your ink onto.
  • Paper you want to print on (any color, but must be the same size or larger than your piece of styrofoam)
  • Acrylic ink, block printing ink, screen printing ink…just some kind of pigment

Things to remember:

  1. When creating your design, take care that it fits the size styrofoam piece you have available. That being said, it is possible to break a larger design into lots of smaller ones and then print them side by side. I’ll show an example of that later.
  2. It will print backwards! If you’re drawing a design that is “orientation-sensitive” (ex: has text, or things that need to stay in a specific orientation), you might want to scan it in somewhere and reverse it. You might want to make a copy of the drawing no matter what, because it will most likely get ruined during the process and you might want a backup
  3. Most printing inks are permanent so be mindful of what you’re wearing. Old oxfords make great smocks!
  4. Make sure you have access to water- you’ll want to rinse paint off your styrofoam and painting surface so it doesn’t dry and become permanently encrusted.

A little background info.:
The images I’ll be showing you are from a long-term project done with the town art program. We talked about what home means to us and developed imagery accordingly. I won’t include more description in that for privacy’s sake but you should know that these images fit into a larger project goal we’ll tell you about later! The village art program has developed similar imagery, and they will be eventually combined to create a group project.

Okay, let’s begin.

Step 1: Let’s assume you already have your image drawn. It’s on a larger paper than your styrofoam piece but the shape of your future printing-plate has been traced onto the paper so you know what your boundaries are. Similar to this:

The black and white image is simply a copy of the red drawing on 8.5×11″ paper

Step 2: Place your paper over the styrofoam and line them up together, then tape styrofoam square to the back to secure. (holding both pieces up to a light is helpful in lining things up)

Step 3: Flip your paper over so the drawing is on top and the styrofoam is on bottom. Now grab your ballpoint pen and trace over the image, pressing down into the styrofoam so you create an indentation. Don’t worry about ripping through the paper- it’s more important to press the image into the styrofoam!

Whatever lines you press into the styrofoam will “resist” the link , whatever remains flat will take on the ink color.

Step 4: Once you feel you’ve successfully traced your image into the styrofoam, take the paper and styrofoam apart. Now it’s time to run a test print!

After the image is carved, the styrofoam should be good and bumpy with the impression of your lines.


Step 5: Grab your tube of paint, your brayer (roller) a flat, washable surface such as a piece of glass, plastic, or cardboard covered in tinfoil, and the paper onto which you want to make your print. Squeeze out a bead of ink about 1/2″ by 4″ (or the width of the brayer) and start rolling your brayer through it, first in one direction and then in perpendicular motions. This is to ensure there’s an even spread of ink and you have neither too little nor too much ink on your roller. An alternative to this is to simply use a foam brush and ink your styrofoam piece that way. Test out different methods to see which way you like best!

Step 6: Once your roller (or foam brush) is covered with ink, roll over your styrofoam image with the image side up! Make sure the entire surface is covered, and not too much ink has globbed up the grooves that you just made with your pen. This will ensure a clean print. (picture to come)

Step 7: Place your piece of paper over the freshly inked image and rub with your palms, applying a bit of pressure and taking care to rub all corners and edges. (picture to come). When you’ve rubbed over the entire surface, peel the paper from the styrofoam and you have your print!

These two designs (bike and red sweater) were done by Ellie

It is entirely possible to skip the whole paper part of this process and go straight to drawing on styrofoam- the paper simply allows you to get your drawing just right before you start pressing into the material.

And don’t just print once…use this your printing plate over and over to try new colors, new paper, and even print on fabric. Have fun!

BONUS: My favorite spot in our new studio so far….I’ll post more pictures of it in action next time!


Sketch to Stamp tutorial: Part 2

Since we’re participating in the #52weeksofprintmaking challenge, an instagram challenge in which participants produce an original print each week, this seemed like the perfect opportunity to complete and print some fabric with Corinne’s design. Here’s how we carved the stamp, and printed it on fabric to make the hand warmers at a later date!

Step 1: So when we left off, we had just transferred our drawing to the speedball speedy-carve. What’s tricky about stamping is that you can either carve around the entire drawing and then carve out inner details, or carve around each individual line. Since this is a pretty small drawing, I chose to carve around the entire thing and then pick out certain inner details. The general rule of thumb about stamp carving is to start with your smallest tip (my particular stamp carving tool has 3) so in this step you’ll “outline” everything you can with your smallest carving tip. (Excuse the picture, I started doing step 2 before remembering to pick up the camera!)


Step 2: Now it’s time to knock out everything you know you don’t want. All the space around the dancing heart man needs to be scooped out to be at a level below the desired image, so I’ll change tips to the curved “U” shape gauge. Really the point of this is to get rid of as much material as possible surrounding the image without damaging the image itself.


Step 3: My last step in the carving process is usually to “raise” the image more by using the deep “V” gauge as opposed to the shallow “v” gauge. This is to ensure that the image is raised above the carved out parts as much as possible to make for a clean stamp. An optional step is to cut excessive parts off around the image, which I did her so I knew on which side of the stamp the cane would be. You don’t have to do this, but it eliminates some of the excess that could make for a not so clean image.


Step 4: Now it’s time to print! Your first one might want to be a test print because it’s possible that the surrounding bits of stamp aren’t carved out enough and end up getting paint on them, which means parts you don’t want to show print along with the part you do want. If this is the case, simply cut those bits out with the “U” to make them deeper and out of the way. I’m using speedball screen printing ink, which works nicely because you generally don’t need much of it for it to work and we don’t have to buy a separate ink for block printing. I have a piece of glass from an old picture frame that I use to roll out the paint, and when you hear the roller make a sticky, tacky noise when you roll it across the glass you know it’s ready to roll onto the stamp. If the roller slides across the paint and the surface without the wheel turning, you have too much paint.


Step 5: Roll the paint onto the stamp, taking care not to get it on the surfaces surrounding your image. Since the roller wheel is stiff, this shouldn’t happen. When you feel like the entire image is covered, turn it over onto the printing surface and press firmly with your palm. I use the same surface that I do for screen printing, for stamping (tutorial shown here) and pin it the same as well so the fabric stays taught as I press down. When printing on paper, it’s not necessary to use a soft surface.

Here are all of our dancing dapper heart men! We left plenty of space around them to trace our heart template. Later, we’ll cut them out and make the heart hand warmers mentioned in the last post.


IMPORTANT: After the paint is completely dry (4-6 hours depending on thickness) it is important to heat set the ink with a hot iron or dryer. You set your iron all the way up to the hottest setting your fabric will stand, turn your dried, printed fabric over onto your ironing board and run the iron over for at least 3-5 minutes on each section of fabric. Take care not to burn your material, though it will get that hot!

Et Voila! That is our sketch to stamp tutorial for Corinne’s Dancing Dapper Heart Man. 

And lastly- the Valentine’s poem written collectively by 5 art class members, given to all community members for Valentine’s day.

A Poem for You

It’s a beautiful Valentine’s Day

I could make you a Valentine’s dinner.

I could share chocolate and candy,

But I would like to thank you first:

Thank you for carrying compost

Thank you for cooking dinner

Thank you for helping me

Thank you for being my friend

We give friends hearts

We give friends hugs and kisses.

How about this dance?

February 2015