Monday, October 7, 2013

Hand dyed paper with chalk pastel solar systems - grade 6

In grade six, we are currently learning about the solar system. Doing science integrated art lessons is so much fun, and I especially enjoy doing projects with outer space themes (see here and  here.)

A while back I learned a great technique for dying paper with chalk pastels, which I have used for my silhouette project, as well as the following year for my spooky silhouettes. I've only ever tried it on white paper, but thought that if it would work on black cardstock, it could make the perfect background for an outer space portrait. Luckily, it worked so well!

I've outlined the steps to dying the paper again, as there are a few things I've learned since the first time I posted about it.

Here's what you need to know to hand dye paper (definitely works with white paper, and black cardstock)

Step 1: Fill a basin with water, about 2 inches deep. Using a pair of scissors (adult) or a popsicle stick (student) scrape off shavings from a piece of chalk, or a piece of chalk pastel, into the basin. 

Note: When I first began doing this project, I would let students shave the chalk themselves. Just for times sake, though, I have started doing this process with them. They come sit with me and tell me what colors to do in what order, and I scrape it into the basin. It speeds everything up so much!

Step 2: Keep going until your water is VERY speckly on top of the water. Make sure that you don't agitate the basin, or all of the flecks will sink to the bottom.

Step 3. Submerge your paper facedown into the basin, for about 5-7 seconds. Make sure to lightly tap all around the paper so that it covers all parts of the paper. Quickly lift your paper up in one motion, and lay it face up to dry (I put them on placemats to dry, as they're soaked!)

Step 4: If you have any white spots left, scrape some more chalk onto the blank spots to cover them up. The paper should dry quickly (in our case, within about 30 minutes.) 

While the paper was drying, students drew their planets onto white paper, and colored them using a combination of chalk and chalk pastels. We did a lesson on identifying the light source, and talked about how shading could make the planets look three dimensional. I let them invent their own planets, so they didn't have to worry about accuracy of shapes and colors.

Once their paper was dry, they glued their planets on, making sure that the light source always came from the same place. They were able to finish this in 2 fifty minute periods.

I hope I accurately portrayed how beautiful these are! Taking pictures of black background is never easy, especially since my camera made these come out a little bit chalkier than they are in person. They're so pretty!


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