Friday, August 19, 2016

Shaving Cream, Paint, and Fun

I took an art class this summer and learned to make marbleized paper using shaving cream and paint. It was so much fun that I knew I wanted to try it with my girls. I bought the supplies and then never got around to it. But this morning, after several long, boring, cranky weeks, I decided that we would spend our last Friday of the summer making art. It was so much fun! The best morning in weeks.

Here is what we did:

(I gathered all the supplies and set everything up first. This project is MESSY so you need everything ready to go before you touch the paint and shaving cream!)

First, spray shaving cream on a cookie sheet. You can use any flat surface (in my class we just worked directly on the art table), but this contained the mess well and was easy to clean.
Then smooth the shaving cream out as best you can with your hands. The goal is to cover the whole surface.
Then drip lines or spots of paint on top of the shaving cream.
I bought liquid watercolors online to use for this. They are relatively inexpensive and have strong, vibrant colors.
You can use tempera or acrylic paint, but the colors won't be as bright. (You can also make your own liquid watercolors using old markers - check Pinterest for instructions.) I made and posted a color chart so we could see how colors react with each other and we talked about colors that looked good together and colors that don't. Mixing purple and yellow is a no-no. This particular project looks best if you use only 2 or 3 colors.

Then using a chopstick, unsharpened pencil, paintbrush handle, etc. draw lines through the paint to mix it. It works best to make some sort of pattern instead of random squiggles. There is also an art to knowing when to stop!

Once the design is made, lay a piece of paper over the shaving cream and press it gently to make sure that all surfaces are touching the messy stuff. We used nice drawing paper, two weights of watercolor paper, and tracing paper. All worked well and each gave a slightly different effect. In my class we also used paper plates, deli paper, and watercolor paper with a linen-like texture. I think almost any kind of paper could work.
Then carefully lift the paper off and set it on the table. I covered my table with waxed paper to protect it and make clean-up easier. You can re-use the shaving cream for several papers, just add a little more paint if needed. The first printing is always the clearest, but second and third prints were still pretty. We marbleized both sides of our papers to make them more usable for future projects.
Then using a ruler or straight edge, scrape the shaving cream off. We found using a metal ruler made it easy to wash between colors.
Set a large trash can next to your work space and scrape the messy ruler on the side to clean off excess shaving cream. By the end of the morning, even our trash can was pretty!
The painted paper is damp, so hang it on a clothesline or drying rack for a while.
Then clean off your work surface, chopstick, and ruler and begin again. The three of us quickly worked out a system on one person painting, one person helping and prepping the next tray, and one person cleaning. After almost two hours and 3 cans of shaving cream, we had about 15 beautiful marbleized papers!
Now to dream up ways of using all these gorgeous papers...

- Work table with easy access to a sink
- Cookie sheets or other flat work surfaces (one per person)
- Waxed paper or old plastic tablecloth to protect work table
- Trash can
- Clothesline and clothespins
- Shaving cream, the cheaper the better (no aloe or menthol kind). One can makes 5 or 6 first prints.
- Liquid water colors
- Chopstick or paint brush handle
- Metal ruler
- Assorted paper (watercolor or heavy drawing paper works best)
- Aprons or paint shirts
- Paper towels and damp rags for clean-up

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