Draw & Print Patterns Inspired by Textiles
Find patterns in the textiles around your house, then turn them into a series of prints inspired by the glass panel installation Spin, Weave, Gather by Nancy Callan. In her patterned glass panels, Callan references North Carolina’s rich history of textile manufacturing. From twisted threads, to woven patterns, to designs of stripes or dots, the fabric around us can prompt some pretty cool design ideas!
“I think art is both a question and an answer. We ask the question ‘What if?’ and we answer that question through the process of making.”
About the Artist:
Glass artist Nancy Callan lives in Seattle, Washington, where she works among many skilled glassblowers. She created the piece above while working at STARworks in Star, North Carolina.
• Scratch art printing foam (or recycled foam trays from the grocery store)
• Paper to print on
• Water soluble printing ink or tempera paint (also known as poster paint)
• Paint brush, pencil, or blunt end to use as a stylus (you can use more than one size tip to create different line thicknesses)
• Brayer (or small paint roller or foam brush)
• Washable, flat container for rolling ink
• Tarp or table covering that can get dirty
• Damp and dry paper towels for wiping hands
• Ruler – optional
1. Gather fabrics to use as your inspiration.
Find pillows, towels, or pieces of clothing with textures or patterns that interest you. Pictures from the internet can also be used as inspiration for the project. Printing them and having them next to you as you work can help.
2. Carve your decoration
Use your stylus or pencil to scratch patterns into foam boards, also called “plates”. Press hard enough to make an indentation, but not so hard as to cut through the foam. Mixing large and small patterns and using various sizes of foam boards helps create contrast and interest in your prints.
3. Create your Borders
To create even borders around your print, or to plan a layout of multiple prints on one large piece of paper, draw light pencil marks where you plan to print your design. This will help with positioning. You can use a ruler or straight edge, or trace around the non-inked styrofoam plates. You don’t have to be this precise if you don’t want to.
4. Add some ink
After you have covered your work area with a tarp or disposable covering, decide what color you would like your print to be. Put ink into the flat container and roll the brayer back and forth to cover the entire roller with ink. Roll over your foam plate several times until there are no bare spots. If you are using a foam brush, dab the ink on as evenly as you can. If you get ink on your hands, be sure to wash and dry them before touching your paper to keep from getting fingerprints on it.
5. Press on your design
Place foam plate, ink side down, on a piece of paper. Gently press and rub your fingers over the foam making sure the entire surface of the plate is in contact with the paper. You can use a paper towel or extra piece of recycled paper to lay over top of your foam plate before rubbing to help keep the edges of your print clean.
6. Do it again!
Carefully lift the foam plate off the printed paper. Remember, perfection isn’t the goal. If you would like to use the same foam plate with a different color, just gently wash the foam plate and the brayer with warm soapy water and dry with an old towel. Have fun; make more than one! Why not make multiple prints to share with friends and family?
If you like the way your foam plate looks with ink on it, let it dry and then glue it to a piece of paper ink side up. The plates will have a darker tone than the prints themselves.
Have friends or family each create their own unique patterns. Make a larger collage with all the prints.
If you don’t have styrofoam, try printing with a plastic sandwich bag! Brush one color of paint onto a bag, doodle designs into the paint with a Q-tip, and flip it onto a piece of paper. Gently pat, then peel off, and you’ll have a print.
This idea brought to you by Maggie Burgan.
Personalize your space with a tissue paper initial
Use small squares of tissue paper to create a colorful, textured initial to personalize your desk or room. This project is inspired by Pilar Albarracín’s Ceiling of Offerings, a sculptural installation made of 724 flamenco dresses suspended from the ceiling. From below, the ruffled material looks like a floating bouquet of colorful flowers.
About the Artist:
Spanish artist Pilar Albarracín creates performance, video, and installation art. She often creates challenging art about identity, culture, gender, and heritage.
• Cardboard cut-out of your favorite initial (or other symbol/shape)
• Colored tissue paper squares (1” and 2” work well)
• Tarp or table covering that can get dirty
Choose tissue paper colors that best represent you, and cut into small squares. Wrap the squares (one at a time) over the eraser end of a pencil to create a flower-like shape. Dab a small amount of glue to the bottom of the tissue paper, and lightly press onto your cardboard. Repeat the process until your cardboard is covered. The closer you place them together, the fuller the effect.
You can clump colors together or go with a random approach – either way, have fun! This process is simple, but you will find that it helps with focus and relaxation.
Draw a block-letter initial or a symbol onto a piece of cardboard, instead of cutting out a shape. Fill in the shape first, and then fill in or paint the background area.
Glue a smaller size tissue square inside of a larger one to create dimension. Use a complementary color for variation.
Purchase pre-cut tissue paper squares.
This idea brought to you by Maggie Burgan.
Show your love with tie-dye hearts
This is a fun and easy project that can be used to share messages of hope and support with those you love.
- Paper coffee filters
- Spray bottle for water
- Sharpie (optional)
- Protective table covering (ink from the markers will bleed through the coffee filter)
1. Use your markers to create designs and patterns on the coffee filters.
2. When you are finished, place coffee filters on an old towel or disposable table covering. Spray the coffee filters lightly with water. Start with just a few sprays and watch the colors spread. You only need to spray one side. (Be careful not to use too much water or all your ink will bleed out.)
3. When the coffee filters have dried, fold them in half and cut out the shape of half a heart with the fold down the center.
4. Put glue around the edge of one side of the heart. Use small pieces of crumpled-up filters or recycled paper as stuffing. Place the top filter over the stuffing and press down on the glued edges to form a pocket.
5. Add glue to the other side of the heart, add a few more pieces of crumbled paper, and press seams together.Let glue dry.
6. Write a word to reflect on or a message to share with someone you love.
Challenge: Make several more hearts and string them together to form a garland or banner.
Simplify: Pre-cut filters into heart shapes.
Create your own Chihuly-like sculpture
Inspired by Royal Blue Mint Chandelier by Dale Chihuly that hangs in the Carroll Gallery at Mint Museum Uptown, this project incorporates layering and mixing colors while using recycled materials from home. Watch how Royal Blue Mint Chandelier was moved to the Mint Museum Uptown.
- Old wire hanger (the thinner the metal, the easier it is to bend)
- Recycled plastic bottles
- Paint brush
- Scissors (pointed tip work best)
- Corks (optional)
- Pliers or metal snips (optional)
NOTE: This project is geared to older children and teens. To simplify this for younger children, precut the plastic bottles and begin at step 4.
1. Begin by removing the paper rod from the hanger. Either bend or snip off ends of the hanger so that the corks can be attached. If you don’t have any corks or wire cutters, just bend the two ends of the hanger in opposite directions. This will create the bottom of your chandelier and keep the plastic bottles from falling off the hanger. Option: If you don’t have a metal hanger, you can create a sculpture that sits flat.
2. Using scissors, cut off the tops or bottoms of the plastic bottles. Squeezing the bottle flat makes cutting easier. Once that is done, cut on a spiral or in straight lines stopping near the top. Leave enough of the top or bottom of the bottle so that they can be stacked together. Alternating tops and bottoms will create space between layers. Play with both options to see which one appeals to you before cutting all your bottles. (The thickness of the plastic bottles varies by brand; you may need to ask someone for help with the cutting).
3. If you are using the bottoms of the bottles be careful not to make the hole too big or it will not stay on the hanger. (See lower part of the photo). If you are using the tops of the bottles, cut just below the mouth of the bottle where the plastic becomes thinner. (See upper part of the photo).
4. After you have decided how many bottles you want to use and how you will stack them, paint them any way you like. If you want the bottom of your chandelier to be seen, paint or decorate your corks. Make sure the paint is dry before assembling.
5. Slide each bottle over the top of the hanger, stacking one inside the other. Bending or rolling the plastic strips in the opposite direction will take out some of the curl and create a straighter piece. Have fun creating your own unique work of art!
Challenge: Build a wire armature to create a larger piece. Be sure to watch the video below to see how Dale Chihuly built his chandelier. Add a strand of battery operated mini lights to make this project shine!
De-stress making a mandala
A mandala is a circular geometric configuration of symbols. With roots in Southeast Asian spiritual tradition, many today use these as a form of focused concentration, meditation, and relaxation. Art making also helps to identify and express emotion. This exercise uses symbols and colors to convey feelings.
Sheet of paper or paper plate
Colored pencils, markers, or crayons
A small round object such as a penny
Ruler or measuring tape (or you can just eyeball it)
Start by thinking of symbols that you like or that have meaning in your life. You can sketch some out on a separate piece of paper.
Next, think of a list of feelings and write them down. Decide which color best matches the feeling and make a mark for yourself so that you can look back at it as you create your mandala.
Find the center of your paper or paper plate using a measuring device. Trace a small object over the top of the center point. This will give you a starting place. Working from the center, create patterns using symbols or colors that express your feelings.
Reflect on your finished piece. What colors are you drawn to? What feelings did you assign to those colors? Did you notice any change in your feelings as you progressed through the activity?