Thursday, December 1, 2011

Coffee Filter Art

I know I'm biased, but coffee filter art looks even better in person than you see in the pictures.  I need a new camera.  Anyway, coffee filter art is very easy.  It's great to do along-side children.  In fact I learned about it from an occupational therapist in the classroom.  I always love a craft I can do with my children present without worrying about what might get destroyed.  But, children are not necessary to enjoy this project, either.

To prepare:  I typically buy large frames at the thrift store to paint.  They are hideous and cheap.  You can't beat $6 and a little labor (not sure if I can say "elbow grease" if I'm not cleaning?).  The background paper you choose is important.  I like to use a solid colors so that when the filters are in place, it looks sort of like a graphic print.  In the "Olivia" art below, I just painted over the poster that was originally in the frame.  You'll need:  coffee filters, washable markers, medium size paint brush, double-sided tape, glue, background paper, and frame.

First, use your frame and filters to decide on a layout and how many filters to design.  Tip:  arrange and take a photo with a phone or digital camera, then repeat and compare layouts.  I eyeball everything.  Maybe one day I'll discover a rule of thumb.  I do know you should make a couple of extra filters, in case some don't turn out the way you'd love.

Next, use the markers to draw overlapping circular patterns on the filters.  Don't overthink it.  Random is good.  In the art above, I used three shades of blue.  It's just a matter of your palette and preference.  Then, take the paint brush and brush off most of the water back into the cup.  Start with a little water and build as you get more used to it.  Use the damp brush to make dots and swirls through the marker lines.  Lines will blur.  My personal preference is to blur about half of the lines and to use more dots of water than swirls.  Also, brush water on the perimeter of the filter to help it dry flatter.  After they dry, press them under a heavy book for as long as you can stand it.  I'm always itching to complete a project!  Also, remember, the previous detailed instructions are for those who want to know everything before beginning.  Suggestions are meant to be diverted from.  Break the rules.  Do your own thing.

Now it's time to lay out the designed filters on your background paper.  It's helpful to arrange with help from the double-sided tape.  But, I learned the hard way it alone will not hold filters for long.  The good news is that you can stick and unstick until you're happy.  Then use small dots of glue to permanently adhere filters in place (I used a glue gun).  Finally, place your art in the frame and ENJOY!

There are so many different ways to mix this up; I can't wait to try more!  For the Olivia filter, I painted it black, wrote in white-out pen, and skipped the water painting.  You could draw different or more random shapes, or cut your filters into other shapes (try cutting them before drawing and after for different effects).  Filters come in a few sizes, so you can experiment with scale.  Try the unbleached ones.  I am also dying to try melting crayon wax drips for an added dimension.
Here is a filter designed by my son, Dash : )  Maybe I should collect his and frame them.  Hmmm....

Hope you enjoy playing with this one.  Blessings!
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