Marvelous MESSY background art

Instructions for Project Two of Life Book came at the beginning of this week. (As you remember, this is a year long on-line course with a new project every two weeks throughout the year–quite fun so far!) I gathered the materials and watched the video on how to make the background paper for the drawing.

Anna, Jakob and I had fun, fun, fun this afternoon making a glorious mess with shaving cream and brightly colored ink. Some of the pages we made are just for fun–not sure WHAT we will use them for; maybe cards? bookmarks? They are too dark or too patterned to draw on top of and we hate to cover up the fun designs with photos for a scrapbook page.

Here was the process:

first stepFirst we protected everything (since we are working with permanent ink)–grubby clothes, newspaper on the table, plastic gloves on our hands. Then put a long piece of aluminum foil on the table. Cover with shaving cream. Use back of a spoon to smooth. Drip on colorful ink. Swirl with spoon to lightly color all of the shaving cream. (Don’t swirl for too long or the shaving cream will go flat.) (The original instructions did not do this step for the main project…but we liked the pastel background rather than darker patterns on stark white paper.)

step 2To reach this point, drip colored ink dots around the edges of the shaving cream. Do the same with a second color, if desired. Then swirl gently with the back of a paint brush (or some other pointy-thing). Make sure your design is within the size of the page you will be printing on. (And DO NOT EAT this stuff…no matter HOW MUCH it looks like a fancy iced cake!! ha-ha)

step 3Carefully (VERY carefully!!) lay your paper face down on the fancy colored goop. (We used the textured side of heavy watercolor paper. The scrapbooking card stock later used by Jakob also worked, but the colors tended to smear a little more and the paper curled significantly while drying.) Gently push down on all parts of paper to make sure it is thoroughly coated with the colored shaving cream.

step 4(You DO still have your gloves on, don’t you? Now is when the really messy fun begins!) Gently peel the paper back off of the shaving cream. You probably need to hold down one edge of the aluminum foil while you lift paper upwards. Be careful nothing glops off onto the floor if you hold the paper up to photograph it…

Now, wipe the shaving cream off your paper. Keep using new paper towels so you don’t blur the colors or turn everything muddy if colors mix while you are rubbing. Have a trash can handy to throw the paper towels away immediately to help prevent unnecessary mess. (Fun, planned mess=good! Unexpected, oops mess=bad…) Also, to avoid blending or blurring patterns, it is helpful to start wiping in the center and stroke outward towards the edges of the paper. Take a moment and enjoy the lovely patterns that are emerging from the mess. Then keep using clean paper towels and keep wiping until all shaving cream is removed from your paper.

step 6Enjoy the lovely background you just made for your next drawing project! I really, really like this one…which may not be so good since now I’m nervous about “messing it up” with a not-so-well-done drawing…sigh…

Jakob messing aroundDaughter Anna (9 years old) wasn’t so sure about getting her hands (in gloves) goopy, although she loved the bright colors and is excited about the finished product. Son Jakob (15 years old) enjoyed the creative challenge, thought the mess-making was fun, and did a few extra projects. He has no intention of joining us for the drawing part but very much enjoyed this step. (And he wants to know when we can do this again…)

jakobs pageOne of Jakob’s finished pages.

finished pagesHere is the collection of finished pages–ready and waiting to be used in other art projects!

(By the way, for those of you who prefer more muted art…you can achieve that with more muted colors of inks. You don’t have to be wildly colorful like my family to enjoy the designs and patterns produced by this technique…)

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