Mache Pumpkin from Plastic Bags

This pumpkin is made from about 40 plastic grocery bags, some Saran wrap, 3 rubber bands, newspaper, paper towel and mache, topped off with a beautiful new orange glitter paint I found at Jo-Ann Fabrics. I'm so excited to have found this beautiful way to recycle plastic grocery bags.

Plastic Bag Pumpkin Tutorial
1. Collect about 40 plastic bags and loosely stuff them inside each other, one at a time. Compress lightly and tie bag shut with a slipknot at the top.


2. To smooth the surface, wrap the outside of the bag with a few long pieces of Saran Wrap. Overlap as necessary to keep edges lying flat. Take a rubberband (I used a 3" dia.) and slip around the center of the ball. Repeat with 2 more rubberbands, adjusting them evenly.



Adjust your rubberbands on top to be as close to the “stem” as possible, and the bottom to make a nicely centered crisscross as shown above.

3. Cover the pumpkin with one layer of paper mache. Be sure to run your finders through the creases often so that they stay prominent and don’t get smoothed over. For my favorite mache recipe, click here. Let dry overnight. Repeat with another layer of newspaper and let dry.

4. This step really helps to smooth out the bumps and gives you a nice white background to paint on. Cover the pumpkin with one layer of mache and paper towels.

5. I painted my pumpkin with two shades of Americana® orange acrylic paint. First a darker Cadmium Orange, then highlights of Jack-O-Lantern Orange, and finally Holly Green for the stem. After the paint dried, I added a layer of “Craft Twinkles Orange” from DecoArt®. It’s a kind of gel-looking paint that not only adds glitter, but a nice shine as well.

I’m going to experiment next with making more of these in different sizes. I think for elementary age students though, this size or larger would be best. This pumpkin measures about 8" in diameter.
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Art Journaling 117

This is another drawing inspired by the Austrian abstract artist, Friedensreich Hundertwasser. His philosophy about nature is very reflective in his artwork, so I used his quote and love of wavy lines to jump start this journal page.
1. I started by drawing a wavy horizontal line, and then five random circles for the flower centers above it. All the centers had a stem drawn down, then lots of concentric circles around them.
2. When I was happy with the size of the flowers, I drew lots of wavy horizontal lines that imitated the horizon line, and jumped around each flower.
3. After the sky was complete, I added block letters below spelling out one of my favorite quotes from Hundertwasser. With the drawing done, I traced all the lines with a thin black marker.
4. Using colored pencils, I filled in the drawing, using some more coloring ideas from Hundertwasser. The background I colored one color with medium pressure, and then came back over the black lines and pressed harder to shade. The ground and stems and letters were colored with matching colors too keep things readable. But with the flower circles, I let myself try all different kinds of combinations to see what I liked best. I think having some rules like this will keep teachers from getting a lot of half-done pages which have a tendency, in my experience, to not get completed.
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Art Journaling 116

Aluminum foil and Sharpies are at work here, in addition to some extra texture rubbing.
1. This idea comes from “The Usborne Book of Art Projects” book, one of my favorite. I started by taking a plastic net that onions come in, and stretching it over a square of cardboard. With a piece of heavy-duty aluminum foil placed on top, I lightly drew a rainbow trout fish with a pencil. I had help by looking at pictures on the internet, but students could look at colored pictures. The more details the students add, the more colorful their fish will look.
2. When the drawing was complete, I colored in all the rainbow colors of the fish (rubbing to get lots of bumps) and then traced the fish with a black marker. Dots may be added at the end. When complete, all the fish are cut out.
3. I painted the background of two journal pages with watercolor, leaving some sky space on the top. When the paint was dry, I arranged the fish and glued them down.
4. Lastly, I used a silver Sharpie to write a bit about these interesting fish, and added some details to the water too. This process might work well for any report that involves shiny, colorful animals.
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Art Journaling 115

Some of the best art journal pages I’ve seen just seem to just have a sense of freedom to them. I think that’s going to be my number one goal when I take this project to the classroom in a couple of weeks. The paper can be spotty and messy, headlines can go at the bottom instead of the top, and writing can go sideways and even upside down. No worries, just paint and draw and write and have fun!
1. I put a teabag in a few tablespoons of hot water to make some really strong tea. Note: Test the different teas first, a cinnamon type worked much better than Lipton. Using a brush or the wet teabag, smear the paper with tea, leaving some blotches and white spots. Let dry.
2. There are many “how to draw a cat” sites on the internet, but I liked http://i273.photobucket.com/albums/jj220/Sparkythespark/howtodraw.jpg because it seemed appropriate for elementary age students. I drew the cat across the pages with a pencil, and then traced with a brown Gelly Roll pen.
3. My title seemed to fit the best on the bottom right. I made block letters and then shaded in the edges.
4. Lastly, I wrote about my cats in the area remaining, and decided it didn’t have to be horizontal. I made my writing go up and down and follow the shape of the tail. This was a fun page to do and I really liked how the tea spots dried and all the natural colors seem to work together.
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First Flower Painting

This project makes for a great introduction to painting. And if you give students just the primary colors or red, yellow and blue, they can mix their own green.

1. Fold a tabloid or larger sheet of paper in half. Paint a blue vase in the center of the bottom half.


2. Paint 5 – 6 yellow dots in the top half of the paper.

3.  Paint red circle leaves around each flower.

4.  Use the yellow and blue paint to mix green and connect each flower to the vase. Add leaves where there is space.
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Torn Duck Collage

I adore torn edges. They have a way of making shapes that would never happen if you started cutting away with a pair of scissors.

1. Find two magazine pages with similar shades of yellow, and two with similar shades of orange.

2. Tear small shapes from both sheets of yellow and glue to make up the main body.

3. Add yellow torn shapes to create legs, tail and head.

4. Tear dark orange shapes for the feet, and light orange for the beak. Draw an eye with a black marker.





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Me & My Goals Self Portrait

This was inspired by a New Jersey middle school posting you can see HERE. Drawing just the top face allows a focus on the eyes, and the beginning of a school year is a good time to declare goals.

1. You can download my template with paper lines already on it HERE. Printing on cardstock will be the easiest to work with.


2. Start by drawing the eyes in pencil, just above the paper. Follow the rule that two eyes should always be one eye-width apart.


3. Draw the top of the head, almost touching the top of the paper.


4. Draw the rest of the face and fingers on the side. Student’s names go at the top and they are to finish the sentence “My goals for the 2012-2013 school year are...". All lines are traced with a thin marker. The art is colored in with pencil crayons.




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Art Journaling 114

I used two laws of perspective to help give this spread some depth. One is that with distance, similar shapes appear to get smaller, and two is that colors in general get lighter.
1. I started by drawing a horizon line about 2/3 of the way down the page. I drew the road that narrowed with distance, added the trees that got smaller, and the border around the edge.
2. With the lettering, I'm trying to experiment with staggered placement to both loosen up the look and hopefully the students. This journal should be one place where they don't have to worry about keeping things in straight lines. When I was happy with the pencil writing, I traced everything with a black Sharpie, going over the headline letters twice to make them darker.
3. Lastly, I colored in the pages with my favorite Prismacolor colored pencils. I used the lightest shade of green for the distance fields, and a darker for the area that is up close. I imagine two shades of blue could be used for the sky too.
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Art Journaling 113

I started with one of my favorite poems, “The Wise Owl” for this 2-page spread layout.
1. I really love the look of white on dark journal pages I have been coming across, so I splurged on a white DecoColor marker from Aaron Brothers for $3.50. To prepare the pages, I painted them with a dark blue watercolor and let dry.
2. My owl was drawn on the right page copying a magazine image, but I will probably find something simpler when I do this with a class. The point is to have a large bird drawing, with as many feathers and spots and line details as possible.
3. On the left side, I wrote my poem “The Wise Owl”
The wise old owl
sat in an oak.
The more he saw
the less he spoke.
The less he spoke
the more he heard.
Why can’t we be like
that wise old bird?
4. Some stars and dots were added around the pages, with a little yellow oil pastel inside the large stars.
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Art Journaling 112

This is another 2-page art journal spread, this time on the topic of dreaming.
1. I plan to give the students a rectangle to trace, one approximately the size of the shown quilt. They are to tilt it, make it go off the paper, and trace.
2. The head is drawn, along with a pillow and headboard. The quilt may be divided up into smaller squares. A quick heading and paragraph about dreaming are added in the extra space.
3. All lines are traced with a black marker. I filled in all the spaces on the quilt with color and pattern.
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Art Journaling 111

The goal I have for my journal is to fill up every single page, including the left hand sides. This post is an idea for making a 2-page drawing, one that goes across the center spine.
1. I placed my hand across my open journal and traced it with a pencil. Following the same angle of the fingers, I wrote “GOALS” as if extending from one finger, and the words “2009 – 2010 Year of School” below it. I decided to list my top 3 and added them at the same angle. I hope to reinforce to the students that when they write in their journal, they don’t necessarily need to write in horizontal lines.
2. To give texture to the large area on the left, I drew lots crosshatch lines with the Sharpie marker. On the right, all the writing was also traced with a thin Sharpie.
3. Lastly, I colored in the pages with a little oil pastel. My Portfolio brand of pastels are water soluable so if you brush water on top, it looks a bit like a painting.
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Art Journaling 110

This could be called a “My Favorite” page, which could include food, pets, flowers, clothes ... anything that is easy to find in your average magazine.
1. I found my photo first, and glued it to the center of the page.
2. I wrote in curved lines, “My Favorite” on top and then “Oatmeal Cookies” below with a permanent marker.
3. Radiating lines were drawn with watercolor pencils. I started with pairs of dark orange, filled them in, and then filled the remaining areas with yellow. A little water turned the pencil into paint.
4. After drying, I used regular colored pencils to define the edges and the letters a little more. I think this would be cute also with a photo of a cat or dog – any subject matter that they can cut out of a magazine.
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Art Journaling 109

I’ve seen even really young students make some stunning collages with magazine photos. The most successful seem to be those with a theme, like those that collect swatches of similar color.
1. I’ve posted this idea before regarding color collages, but I think another approach is to do it with a more organized grid system. My journal pages measure 7" x 10" so I used a 2" template to trace and cut lots of swatches of blue from various magazines. I glued these swatches down, all side by side, forming a 3 column by 4 row grid.
2. After all the squares are in place, I used the themed blue colored pencils to fill in the rest of the page until all the white was gone.
3. Using a black Sharpie, I did my best to name all the various colors of blue. I admit that I cheated and googled to get some extra blue names, so maybe in class the kids could be asked to label just a few of their squares. The point is for them to realize that that there are many, many shades and variations of any one color, and naming them might bring a little more appreciation for all their subtleties.
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Art Journaling 108

Today had a very prominent number attached to it – my son turned 13. There was lots of talk and cards and cake all revolving around this special number, so I'm thinking that must happen with other occasions to. Maybe a really good test score, or jersey number or locker number could be the starting point for a journal page.
1. I started by writing a little about the day in very spaced out lines with a black pen. I continued until the background was filled with evenly spaced lines.
2. Using watercolor pencils, I drew an outline of a big “13” on the paper. The area around the letters was shaded in, changing colors in some areas. For those unfamiliar with watercolor pencils, the cheap ones from Crayola will not give you bright, pretty colors. My favorite are the Prismacolor brand, which you can find at Staples.
3. I brushed water over the pencil and blended the colors when necessary.
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Art Journaling 107

I saw a poet somewhere who writes by just choosing words from a page in a book, and blacking out all the rest. I think kids could have a lot of fun with this if they were allowed to make really silly sentences that were still structurally correct.
1. The students will receive one column of a newspaper story. They are to circle a series of words that make a complete sentence. My one rule is that no two words may be next to each other. The chosen words are highlighted and circled with a marker.
2. The newsletter is taped to the left on a journal page. On the right, the made up sentence is written out by hand so that it can be easily read.
3. Finally, whatever image this sentence brings to mind would be illustrated and colored with colored pencils. I imagine these pages would be very fun to share with the class when finished.
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