I love making something from nothing. That may stem from my days as a classroom teacher when I saw five hundred kids a week with a minimal budget. I love projects that use up scraps and bits and things that otherwise might get hidden in our craft cupboard never to be heard from again. Chalk prints are perfect for that.
Materials list for chalk prints…..
Minimal materials, only a wee bit of mess and you’ve got yourself some fun process art. Enjoy the making of these pretty chalk prints that’s perfect as is or as a backdrop for some more art!
All you need for this project is some old chalk or pastels, a way to scrape them, medium heavy paper, and a large, shallow pan to fill with water.
You can really use any type of chalk for this. Sidewalk chalk would be easier for little hands to hold on to, making scraped fingers less likely. The tradeoff is that it’s less vibrant in color.
Top quality, artist supplies aren’t always necessary….
We used an old set of chalk pastels that I bought at our local big box store. They were not great quality so they weren’t getting used up. They were a little harder than I like but still vibrant in color, so perfect for this chalk printing! (I like a soft chalk pastel to draw with, like these favorites from Mungyo.)
You also need a way to scrape the chalk. You could use a plastic knife or any tough edge really. It doesn’t necessarily have to be sharp. We used mini cheese graters that my kids fight over using. (Get a similar cheese grater here.)
We used a big disposable aluminum roasting pan to put the water in. It may seem wasteful to use a disposable pan like this but I save them and use them again and again for arty adventures!
That’s it. Basically grab some old chalk and you’re set.
Avoiding issues when making chalk prints…
My kids really went for it and started scraping the chalk directly over the water so it dropped right down.
There were two issues with this method. The first issue is that it resulted in scraped fingers. Controlling the grater is much harder without something to rest it on. Number two is it takes a few minutes to scrape enough chalk for a vibrant print. The chalky color lays on top of the water for a few minutes but if you wait too long it will begin to sink. This made the process hurried and less fun!
How to make chalk prints…
First, prepare your roasting pan with about an inch or two of water and set it aside for a few minutes.
The we set up a “grating” station. The kids put their grater on top of a piece of paper and scraped little piles of pigment. Whatever colors are together on a piece of paper will pretty much get dumped in together so they may want to have several papers so they have more control over which colors go where.
Using the grater on the counter was much safer; no scraped knuckles. This is a great little fine motor skill activity as well!
Color, color, color….
When they have enough color they can fold their paper a bit and just sprinkle their pigment right onto the water surface. “Sprinkle” is key here. You want for the color to rest on top of the water, not breaking the surface tension. (I’m sure there’s a science lesson in there somewhere!)
Dumping the powder makes it sink to the bottom of the pan. I’m just guessing. Ha.
Pretty chalk prints…
When your water has plenty of color floating in it lay a piece of paper on the top gently. You don’t need to submerge the paper. Lay it down gently and make sure it makes contact with the water all around.
Peel it up one side at a time and lay it down to dry. Holding it up vertically will let the colors slide so get it flat ASAP.
This paper is beautiful all on it’s own. I love using process art like this for making even more art. This textured paper would make an amazing background for a drawing, torn paper for a collage, strips for paper weaving, or notecards.
If you’re going to use this chalk art you will want to “fix” the chalk to the paper. You can buy an aerosol art fixative like this one by Krylon. You can also use cheap, as in the cheapest, aerosol hair spray. Spray the surface of the paper, let it dry, and bam, you’re ready to make again!
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