Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Tuesday's Art Adventure: Textured Paper Collage

Welcome to the first art lesson. Before we begin, I want to tell you my philosophy on teaching art to kids. Too often we want kids to create these little masterpieces, so we pick a project where they have to follow steps exactly in order to create a predetermined perfect project that will then be displayed. And this is probably why most people grow up to believe they cannot create art.

The point of creating art as a child is to express creativity. It is to experience and test out what happens, not to follow a formula someone else created. Demonstrate new techniques to try and expose them to new ideas, but let your child explore where it takes him or her. The finished product really shouldn't matter nearly as much as the joy of creating it in the first place. And even if every painting turns brown from so much mixing, it's fine. Display it anyway. Let them be proud, but for heaven's sake, don't do it for them so it turns out "right"! 

Textured Paper Collage

A Collage is an art form created by attaching various papers and items together.

2 parts: a) make own textured paper; b) make collage with paper you made and paint


  • plain paper napkins (cheap ones are great)
  • school glue
  • a spray bottle
  • Any items with texture, plastic mesh bags from oranges, bubble wrap, plastic canvas mesh (like for yarn embroidery), corrugated cardboard, etc.
  • large household paint brush (like you use for a wall)
  • heavy painting paper or card stock
  • watercolor paints (the kid's kind, like Crayola. You can use the fancier kinds if you have them, but you don't need to)
  • scissors (see note at end)
  • brushes

To make textured paper,
Before you begin, fill spray bottle with water and add about one teaspoon of school glue. Put the lid on and shake to mix.
Place your textured item flat on the table
I used the mesh, but when I laid it on the table for the picture you couldn't really see it. So that's why you get this picture.

take one napkin and open one fold (so the paper is still doubled), and lay it on top of the textured item

spray the napkin with the water-glue mix. Make this completely wet, but a fine mist spray works best.

Tap the dry paintbrush up and down on the wet napkin in a pouncing motion which will force the napkin into the texture of your item.

Pounce over the whole napkin.

Now take another napkin and place it on top of the first one and repeat the whole process. Do it again with a third napkin.

Once you have three layers, carefully peel your new textured paper from the item you are using and set out to dry completely. It will take about 3-4 hours to dry, so plan accordingly. Try out as many different textures as you like.

{For another project idea, you can use chipboard letters or numbers and lay them backwards, use the same napkin process and create a paper with your child's name or something that looks like a license plate that could be fun to decorate.}

Making the textured paper was difficult for my three year old and easy for my six year old. Both boys liked doing it, but Chi's paper kept ripping because he kept stroking with the brush instead of pouncing. 

Because we needed paper for the collage, his brother and I just made some extra so he would have more choices to use for his collage. If your child is too young for this step, you can just collect anything with texture for them to use to make a collage. Or if you really want to try the texture paper, both of you should make some. If your child's paper all rips like my son's did, you can just share your paper with him or her.

Collage time!
Once your papers are dry, get out your heavy paper, your textured papers, glue, scissors and watercolors. And let your child go to town. 

Encourage him or her to cut paper and glue wherever they want. And then add paint. Maybe the texture looks like rocks and they want to make a whole scene. Maybe they just want to make a pattern. Maybe they just love the thrill of cutting and randomly sticking the paper down. That's okay too. 

Feel free to encourage them to imagine what textures look like (snake skin? grass?), but don't dictate what their finished product should be. 

The great thing about using the textured paper you created is that it paints very nicely, so they can turn the papers any color they want.

A note about cutting: by two your child can begin using scissors. Most safety scissors, though, cause frustration because they tend to bend the paper instead of cut. I recommend Fiskars kids' scissors. They do not have the plastic guards on them and they cut through paper as easily as regular scissors, but they will not cut skin. Truly! I used to scissor my fingers when teaching art classes to prove it to the parents. Fiskars doesn't know me from Adam, I just really like this product.

Please use and share, but give credit where it's due.
(This is copyright protected material.)



The Lettered Cottage


  1. Great tutorial and tips! I've been needing some kid scissors too, so I appreciate the recommendation. Thanks!

  2. Love it! We'll have to try this. Btw, the stained glass eggs were awesome! I love you philosophy too. Cutting is so hard! We have the Fiskars scissors too, but even at 3.5 Em has trouble, she practices a lot. Loves to cut and glue anything and everything!

  3. Thanks, Misti! Yes, cutting is hard, and it's so easy for both mom and child to get frustrated. (I sometimes do too!) It takes LOTS of practice. When I said by 2 then can begin cutting, I did not mean they will be great at it by then. I just meant that they can try at 2, so don't worry yet! I have found with most kids that one day it just clicks for them. Their hands can get tired out easily. Just cutting fringe is a good way to practice the motion of cutting and learn control.

    Chi often cuts something halfway and then tears it the rest of the way. This helps both of us because he is practicing, but he's solved his frustration issues. :) Plus tearing is an awesome way to create a collage, so if the scissors aren't working, just rip the paper up.

  4. Jen-

    As a former el ed art teacher, I totally agree with your philosophy of art. The focus should be the process, not the product...

    If you have a moment today, please share this with my readers @Creative Juice Thursday. Hope to see yours among all the amazing projects!

  5. Thanks for linking to Creative Juice Thursday! Hope to see you back again this week.


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