One of the shows that my four year old loves to watch is CBC’s Artzooka! For those of you who are not connoisseur’s of children’s television, Artzooka! targets children ages four to seven and focuses on a range of art techniques to show kids that everyone can be an artist and that art can be made out of anything and everything. The show’s pace and activities keep my eldest engaged and we often are digging around our treasure trove of art stuff to see if we can recreate or expand on the art.
One of her favourite projects is the “Picture Perfect Prints”. The PDF from the CBC website is viewable here. We have done it a couple of times using pictures from colouring books as our image we were copying. I loved the concept, but after the first couple of prints the plastic wrap became difficult to handle and it would begin to fold over on itself. I started to think about a more “permanent” solution that used the same ideas but with more solid components. I decided I could use some sort of hard board; plexiglass; and simple hardware to hold them together.
The supplies for the project were:
- 18″ X 24″ sheet of plexiglass
- 24″ X 48″ sheet of hard board
- 12 – 10-32 screws
- 24 – 3/16 washers
- 12 – 10-32 wingnuts
The tools I used were:
- 36″ metal ruler
- 4 – clamps
- 1/4″ drill bit
- 1/4″ glass & tile bit
- plastic cutter
- cordless drill
- cordless circular saw
- fine tipped marker
The first step was to cut the hardboard into 9″ X 12″ rectangles. I ended up using only half the sheet, but I figured the other half will easily be used up in a future project. I simply measured out the pieces and cut them with the circular saw. It was down and dirty, but I had my backing boards.
For drilling there were a couple of suggestions online. One was to using masking tape over the drilling point. The second, which made sense to the way I think, was to use a drill bit that had a steeper angle to the cutting surface. A typical drill bit is angled at 135 degrees and they suggested one at about 60 degrees. After staring at the wall of drill bits at the hardware store I spied the glass and tile bits. A closer examination at the bit tips and they definitely looked to be at the right angle and if they could cut glass I assumed they could successfully cut plastic without incident. It may be overkill, but when I’ve got two anxious girls wanting to get beyond the tedious measure and cut stages of a project, being successful is critical to everyone’s happiness.
Finally we hit a stage where my eldest could get involved in putting everything together. She counted out the individual hardware for each piece. It often became a circular counting process where eight washers turned into twelve or more. We discovered it was easier to move the washer to a different spot while we counted so we didn’t count it more than once. After we had the right number screws, washers, and wingnuts we were able to use them to attach the plexiglass to the hardboard.
After we confirmed it all fit together it was time to pull off the protective plastic which was by far the most exciting part of the project for my eldest. We then picked three pictures from one of her colouring books and put them into the paint presses.
For the art portion of the project we used tempura paints (they clean up with water, even when dried) and watercolour paper (it’s got enough weight to handle the probable copious amount of paint a two year old puts down).
The process is to put the paint onto the plexiglass, using the picture underneath as a guideline and then press the watercolour paper into the paint to transfer the image. Each print will be different and you definitely need to reapply the paint for each pressing. After our first pressings, my four year old remembered that you need to use a wooden spoon to rub it across the back of the paper. It definitely improves the transfer and I know that she’s absorbing all of the steps when she’s watching the art segments.
After everyone had their fill of slapping paint on the plexiglass we moved on to getting dinner into our respective bellies. I left the smears of paint to dry on the plastic. When I came back to them, it simply took a bit of hot water and a soft cloth with dish soap and the plastic was ready for the next onslaught of paint. Now that this art technique will be so simple to set up and put away, this will likely become a weekly exercise. Knowing how my four year old is always into trying new things, it’ll be interesting to see what other visual art projects may emerge from this new tool.