Purple Twig- Art Exploration for kids. A mom run small business in Los Angeles. Stop by to see the trials and tribulations.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Printing A Village

We like to foster ideas of exploration of materials and also teach techniques and how to use tools. This balance of instruction and free expression and experimentation helps children to find confidence in their own ideas and feel proud of learning how to use a tool or a new technique.
This printmaking project is a lovely combination of the two. We start with an exploration of color and when dry we add another layer of printing using printing plates they make themselves. For this one we talked about villages, towns and communities while creating our printing plates.
Printing isn't easy for everyone. The ideas of repetition and of the image being backwards can confuse some students. We offered this project to ages 6 and 7.

-Square Coffee filters
-Black in or paint
-Plexi-glass or plastic place mat
-Brayer or small foam paint roller

I use these square coffee filters to start. Have you seen these. They are incredibly absorbent and take the color of marker well.

The kids can make any kind of design or drawing they like, patterns, or abstract mark making or representational. Using a pipette the children drip, drip water slowly onto their drawing and watch the colors change, spread and merge together.

Once dried the painting is ready to be printed on

And now for the printmaking part. I love having kids make their own printing plates. We have made printing plates using a few different techniques and materials but for this one we give the kids small pieces of foam. You could use styrofoam from vegetable or meat packaging.

The kids cut the shape of the house or castle or tower or factory or cabin, using a pencil to add the details of windows and doors and the oh so essential decoration. We then glued those styrofoam pieces to cardboard.
Once dried were are all set for printing.

I use  a plexiglass plate to spread out the ink but you could also use a plastic place mat. I use a water colorable black printing ink. You could use regular paint but it's a little thin and thus the print will be a bit muddled.

A brayer is the best way to get the ink from the plexi- glass to the printing plate.  We encourage student slo learn to use tools properly. You can also use one of those foam paint rollers. For many children, the rolling of the ink can be the best part.

Then using the brayer to do the stamping onto the painting makes a nice clear print.

I absolutely swoon over the black inked prints contrasted with the bright colors.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Wishing Flowers

In the Spring when it begins to get quite warm here in Southern California, the wild irises bloom and the air smells of the orange blossoms. This can be celebration enough but we also like to commemorate the coming of the Spring with these hanging wishing flowers. When hanging these sweet frozen trimmings in a tree the kids each make a wish.  If they catch the flower when the ice melts then their wish comes true.

We enjoy every step of the process from the picking of flowers to attempting to catch the flowers when finally freed from the ice.

What you will need:
1. cupcake tin
2. flowers
3. water
4. string

I like the large flowers and put one in each cup but many of the children love to fill the cups to the brim with flowers before pouring in the water.

When adding the string, it helps to place it in a circle around the tin before hanging off most of it.

Place in the freezer.

Once frozen run the backs of the tin under warm water to release the frozen flowers. And hang them in a tree or somewhere on a deck or play structure making sure the child can reach them.

Then the waiting and watching begins.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Easter Bowls

I am fortunate enough to have many generous families that frequent the studio.  These loverly fabric doilies were donated to us and have been sitting and waiting for the right project.  As I was experimenting with paper mâché  projects using fabric, I came across fabric stiffener. What a lovely marriage, fabric doilies and fabric stiffener.  I made Easter bowls, which are so perfect for those delicate eggs from the small local farms as well as for the vibrantly colored ones.

This simple project is so lovely,  changing a 2 dimensional tabledecoration into a beautiful 3 dimensional functional object to celebrate Spring.

You only need 4 supplies
1. fabric doilies
2. fabric stiffener
3. 2 bowls
4. plastic wrap or plastic bag

Pour some of the fabric stiffener into a bowl, just enough to cover the doily. Let the doily soak up the stiffener. 

Turn the other bowl over. This will be your mold for shaping the doily. Place the plastic on that second bowl. I learned the hard way that the doily will stick to the bowl, so the plastic is important. Place the doily over the plastic, making sure it is centered on the bowl.

Let dry. It dries in a few hours and you. Pull bowl out the doily, then peel off the plastic. That's it.

This year we dyed some eggs using natural dyes, blue berries, beets, red cabbage, and beets.  You can find recipes for these all over the internet. I couldn't resist and put one of the doilies into the blueberry dye, letting it dry before placing it into the fabric stiffener. It came out the most lovely shade of purple.

I also made this tiny one for little chocolate kisses.

I fell for these charming fabric bowls. They are so pleasing and satisfying to make. I made quite a few of them and take delight in seeing them in each room. 

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Fine Motor Skills

At Purple Twig we offer art classes for children starting at age 2. I love working with this age because the importance of how things look is a rare occurrence. This age is far more interested in the exploration of the materials, how they feel. We offer a lot of materials at this age, from sensory materials like shaving cream to tools like scissors for them to practice with.

We offer clay for sculpting, wood for building, brayers for rolling, pipettes for squeezing. The list goes on and on. Parents and children work together, talking about the color and shape of materials given and the possibilities of the materials.

 As the children come into the studio we have an invitation set out for them to explore before our story and larger art project. These invitation materials are ones that are readily available and focus on practicing prewriting mark making or their fine motor skills. Parents sometimes email me with questions about what materials can be offered to this young age, so I thought I'd share with you all a few great projects you can do with kids age 2 and 3.


This is a great introduction to using scissors. Having them peel those little colorful tapes is great fine motor skill practice and the snipping of the tape is so rewarding. They can make recalling long strips or little tiny strips. After they peel the tape, I recommend the adult to hold the tape between two hands for the child to cut.

The tape rolls in themselves can be rolled or stacked as well. 

Your little artist can place the tape on the paper wherever they like, using them as stickers or use them as a line in a drawing, making letters or a simple shape. 


I save all those extra bit of paper left over from other paper projects.  I spread them out on the table and have a pair of scissors waiting for each child.  This project offers a great opportunity to talk about shape and color with your child as well as help them with fine motor skills. Some children use two hands when using the scissors at first and some go right to using one hand. Even if they don't use them correctly, its great to introduce them to this common tool.

After they explore the scissors for a bit, I give them a glue stick and a piece of paper to glue start choosing shapes and colors to glue down.


A cupcake tin is a perfect container to offer beads and cut straws and buttons along with pipe cleaners. The pipe cleaner is so much easier than string and it can be manipulated itself.

Sometimes also offer small pieces of foam that I punch holes into as well. This project allows for discussions of color and size and shape of each of the materials as they choose what to string onto the pipe cleaner.

I hope you give these creative activities a try. Let me know how it goes if you do. I always love to hear what you all think.