Carrot prints and painting

What: Printing and painting with food dye, using carrots cut into shapes as stampers and “brushes”.

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In progress. Kid 6 is beginning a picture on the left, kid 4 is making random stamps in the middle, and I am partway through some more coordinated stampingĀ on the right. There is a tray of blue dye and a tray of yellow. Carrots don’t “wash off”, so double dipping has predictable results.

How: Cut the carrots on a couple of different angles and at different sizes – you should be able to get small circles, big circles, ovals, irregular/pointy ovals, and even a rectangle or two of various proportions. I also cut one carrot unevenly so that it stamped a half circle, and cut another to give a more triangular result. Take plastic or styrofoam meat/fruit trays and put a few drops of different colours of food dye on them. Rub the carrots in the dye and stamp them or roll them or “brush” them on the page to make patterns and pictures.

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Kid 6’s finished pieces on the left, and kid 4’s finished pieces on the right (which may have devolved into finger work). Streaking was a popular technique.

Extras: Careful choice of dyes means you get to talk about mixing colours – and the colours WILL mix! You can focus on making patterns of whatever level of complexity your kids are up to, do it “wrapping paper” style. Or use the shapes to build up a picture and talk about what shapes are in the picture or make up different parts of the picture. I would have liked to talk about what happens when you roll – that mental translation from a 3D object to what its sides look like in a 2D form as you roll it across the page – but neither kid 4 or kid 6 was quite up for that. At first (and mostly) they just used the carrots like pencils, but as they went along they began to see that they could do more than that.

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My two pieces, made for the purpose of keeping my hands busy, talking as we went and (without specifically saying so) demonstrating ideas. The first was wrapping-paper style stamping, the second was experimenting with techniques and shapes to make a picture. The “dunes” at the bottom are one piece of unevenly-cut carrot, rolled across the page.

Citrus prints

What: There’s a huge pile of lemons under the lemon tree at the moment. So when the kids saw Mister Maker doing citrus prints on TV, it became one of our summer art projects.

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Mid-activity.

How: We used a few different sizes of lemon, cut in half – I had helpers for the cuttingĀ to make sure there were several halves per paint colour. The paint was my standard acrylic, thinned with a little water and put on small styrofoam fruit trays for easy stamping. I picked three fluorescent colours this time. We each stamped over our page and let it dry, and then worked back into the design with permanent markers to emphasise the citrus shapes. Kid 6 insisted they wanted to do theirs exactly as they’d seen on TV and used a plain black marker, which gave quite a striking effect against the fluorescent paint. I used a range of coloured markers on mine to play with various effects. Kid 4 ignored this step completely.

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Kid 6’s final product.

Extras: While we were waiting for the citrus prints to dry, both kids helped me use up the rest of the paint with some finger painting. Kid 4 carefully built a complicated Star Wars narrative around theirs, layering in the story stroke by stroke. Kid 6 discovered that the paint was thin enough they could layer in the image handful by handful, and covered their whole page.

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My print, with multiple colours of marker and a variety of shapes drawn back into the print. I also allowed my shapes to overlap, something the kids weren’t quite sure was acceptable.