Paper Mache is the art of using “chewed paper”. This became a popular art media with the creation of mass produced paper. So, think of paper mache as being the result of too much paper being manufactured. Artists have always been good at recycling!
For your artistic creation it is suggested that you us a good quality colored construction paper. Other papers can be used, but if the paper has a slick surface it might be hard for the glue to penetrate; and if the paper is of a poor quality is might turn into a blob of pulp before it can be applied to a surface. Paper mache can be applied to almost any surface so look through your home’s recycle bin for something appropriate to use. By using a glass jar you make a handsome project that can hold water …and flowers!
In this video it is mentioned that a product called “Art Paste” (made by Elmer’s) is a wonderful paper mache adhesive. One small box of this product makes a gallon of glue that will be useful if you plan on doing a lot of paper mache work. Luckily this glue lasts a long, long time if stored airtight. Flower and water, or “wheatpaste” cannot be stored as it will rot. In this video watered down white glue is used. About 2 parts glue to three parts water …and adjust as works best for you. It should be the consistency of cream. This will soak into the paper and make the paper stick to almost anything. If the paper mache starts to stick to your fingers instead of your artwork you may have to stop and wash your hands. This is one small problem in using white glue as a mache paste …it will stick to whatever surface is stickiest! Watered down art glue can also be applied with a stiff brush as in decoupage artwork …but using your fingers is more fun!
Did you know that paper mache is also used as a decorative construction material for making architectural details inside buildings?
Vocabulary: define “Adhesive”
Cutting out a paper snowflake is a creative holiday craft that has been enjoyed by children and adults for generations. Cutting out paper snowflakes can make a wonderful family holiday gathering. This fun craft is easy to do and there are many Internet sites that can help you. But frequently there are people who do not understand the math and science of forming crystals, and that water freezes as a six-sided structure. In this day of STEAM education it is hoped that this short video will help to guide you in making an artistic creation that is based on scientific reality.
Children will greatly enjoy learning how to create their own snowflake masterpieces. One problem in learning this is that when you make one snowflake everyone wants to make more …and more! Advanced students of this craft can produce more artistic designs with the use of an X-Acto knife. Remember: Thinner paper works best when doing fine paper cutting.
Cutting seasonal snowflakes is practiced around the world. The art form of folding and cutting paper is called “Kirigami” in Japan, and “Scherenschnitte” in Germany. At an advanced level it is truly an art form. In early 1800’s America, a “proper” gentleman would often fold and cut a lacy paper design in order to impress his love. Very few of these still exist today due to their fragility. This very personal sign of infatuation disappeared as manufactured “Valentines” appeared in the late 1800’s. Today you can make a wonderful hand cut snowflake and turn it into a special holiday card for a special someone who will love that you took the time to make it yourself.
Vocabulary: define “Crystal”
The famous painting “American Gothic”, by Iowa artist Grant Wood, can be found at the Art Institute of Chicago. In my teaching career, I enjoyed decades of taking children to the Art Institute where we could look at this wonderful masterpiece. It well represents the Midwest of America …land and people like you will find in Geneseo, Illinois.
Use any art media you might like, and draw or paint your own version of Grant Wood’s insightful masterpiece. But …give your artwork a special finish and turn it into a statement on “Sheltering In Place” and our new infatuation with “carryout food”. If you wish, send me a photo of your unique artwork by
The house seen in “American Gothic” is still in Eldon, Iowa and is now on the National Register Of Historic Places. Make this unique place a destination for a future road trip that your family might wish to take through south central Iowa.
I want to give a recommendation to the “Getting To Know…” series of biographies written and illustrated by Mike Venezia. Artists, musicians, scientists and Presidents are all part of this wonderful book series written for a younger reader. I hope you like Mike’s special sense of humor that he shares in each book.
Vocabulary: define “masterpiece”.
Working in art means that you are usually looking at what you are creating. But …how does the mind, the eye and the hand connect. This “hidden” drawing is created by you looking at the subject you are drawing, but you NEVER look at the paper. To do this you have to hide the paper from view.
Take your time. Concentrate. Each drawing you make should get a little bit better as you THINK about the connection between your brain, eye and hand. Since you might do a bunch of these you might want to use a cheaper paper; but tape the paper to the table so that it does not move around. DO NOT do this on Mom’s good table because if your drawing tool leaves the paper you do not want to draw on the table! Maybe cover the table or tape your paper to a larger piece of cardboard.
Suggestion: This is a lot of fun to do with other family members as you might draw each other. Lots of laughs when you try this special way of drawing!
Vocabulary: define “drawing”.
Working with aluminum foil takes patience. My fifth grade student, who did not do well in most school subjects, proved that he had the patience, skill and imagination to build these unique creations. It was all he wanted to do! So he and I wrote a contract and by the end of the year he had to have 15 creations for the annual Art Festival. Once this young man had his aluminum creations on display he became inspired in knowing that there were things he could do well in school. Schools, and teachers, succeed best when they develop a desire to succeed in each child.
In trying these aluminum foil creations you can use a low temperature hot glue gun (with your parent’s permission). But you can challenge yourself to not use any adhesives and just use folding and crimping to fasten the parts together. A word of warning …once you make one, and then another …it becomes addictive and you want to build a whole family from your imagination!
Vocabulary: define “creativity”.
Karl M. Kindt III, the official knight of 10 American Cities, tells tales of chivalry for children.