Let me off the grid! A journey toward artful, holistic living in the middle of Sin City...

A journey toward artful, holistic living in the middle of Sin City...

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Spooky Silhouettes Tutorial

Spooky Silhouette Halloween card

In honor of my very favorite time of the year, I thought I'd share this easy technique. I used to do this with 4th graders (on a much larger scale) in conjunction with an architecture unit.

First off, you need tissue paper.  Make sure it's the kind used for art - it will say "bleeding" on the package. No, it's not a British expletive, it means that when the paper gets wet, the dye will run. This is important.  If the paper doesn't bleed, the technique won't work.
Bleeding tissue paper (not bloody, although for this time of year that could be nice and gruesome...)
The messy art table is optional.

 Once you've got the tissue paper, all you need is card stock (thicker paper is better for this project), an envelope to fit your card, a spray bottle with water in it and black Sharpie markers with different sized tips. I used a chisel tip, fine point and extra fine point.

You don't have to sort your colors; I'm just that kind of bear.
 Tear your tissue paper into smallish pieces. Use whatever colors float your boat. You might want to tear more than you think you'll need because you're going to cover your card and part (or all) of your envelope.

 Turn off the fan and send small bouncing children of the two-legged or furry variety out of the room for a few minutes (trust me). Open up the card and lay it so the outside is face up. Lay out the tissue paper however you like it, overlapping some of the pieces.  You can leave some areas white if you want, or cover the whole thing.
See why you don't want the fan blowing?

 Once all the paper is in position, carefully give it a spritz with the water. Carefully. Don't be like me and squeeze the trigger full force, sending bits of tissue paper flying all over the table. (What a dweeb...) Make sure all the paper is wet, but not soaking.  You don't want rivers. You do want it wet enough so that the ink will transfer to your card.
After I gathered up all the pieces from my water blast...

You can see how the ink is beginning to feather out from the water

Now go make yourself a cup of tea or coffee or pour a glass of wine and let the paper dry. Please don't be impatient like I was and try to make it dry faster with the blow dryer. Remember what I said about spritzing the water carefully? I'll leave it to your imagination...

When the paper is dry, it should easily slide off your card, leaving you with this:
I did the bottom half of the other side, too. I just didn't take a picture of it.

I did the envelope, too while you were drinking your wine:

(You know all those little bits of tissue paper that just came off your card? Aren't they cool? I think they look like they've been tie-dyed. Don't throw them away! In my next tutorial I'm going to show you something you can do with them so you're getting two art projects for the price of one. Put 'em in an envelope and put them somewhere safe. DON'T be like me and forget where you put them...)

Break's over! Back to the tutorial:
My sketch, done at 4:30 this morning

You need to figure out what kind of silhouette you want on your card. I suggest playing around with some sketches. Remember that silhouettes are black and the interest comes from the outside edges. Leaving spaces between objects will let the background colors shine through and provide visual contrast.
Let your pencil whisper over the paper!

Once you've got your ideas sketched out, transfer them, in pencil lightly to your card.  I used to tell my students that you want to keep your picture a secret from everyone but yourself.

Take your Sharpie in hand and begin to fill in your silhouettes:

A word of caution - notice the back of my card:
The bleeding Sharpie!

 That's why I put scrap paper inside my envelope when it came time to draw on it.

Come to think of it, it might not be a bad idea to put that paper inside your envelope when you're doing the tissue paper thing, too if you don't want the colors on the front to show up on the back. Depending on how heavy the paper is that your envelope's made of. Just sayin'...

Now that you've got your spooky silhouette all finished, there's one more thing you need to do, and that is erase ALL your pencil marks. The best eraser for the job is a white eraser because it's soft and doesn't leave ugly smudges on your paper. Sanford is the brand I have, but I'm sure there are other companies that make them.
You can see the eraser here. I think it's called a "Magic White" or something like that.

So here's what you can do to mask all the "stuff" on the inside of your card.  Cut two pieces of paper, slightly smaller than the face of the card and stick them to the inside of your card. I used glue dots because they were sitting on my messy art table. Double sided tape would work, also. And probably glue stick. Wet glue like Elmer's isn't my favorite because it makes the paper squinchy (= wrinkly). 

You're probably wondering, "Why doesn't she use one paper and fold it in half, then glue it in?" Well, I'll tell you. I once spent 47 minutes one day trying that very thing on another card and I couldn't for the life of me get the damned thing to go in so that: a) the card closed/opened flat and/or b) the inside paper didn't buckle. Incredibly frustrating. So I don't mess with that shit anymore. If you've figured out how to do it and can explain it to me, I'd love  to know.

Do you love this card, but don't have it in you right now to make one? You can buy a printed version of this very card, plus a hand-decorated envelope right here.

Do you want to try this project on a grand scale, with kids? (I salute you for your bravery!) Check out Mrs. Picasso's Art Room. 
She's got some great ideas.


Hey! Remember these?
You didn't throw them away, did you? Be sure to save them because in my next tutorial I'm going to show you something fun to do with them. It's a recycling/upcycling kind of thing.
Thanks for stopping by! See you next time...
(Shared on Homemade Mondays) 


Anonymous said...

Amazing. I wish my son could have stayed in your school for art class. You are the best art teacher! at least he got 2 years with you.

Julia Winkler said...

You have no idea how much that means to me. Thank you - you made my day!

Christina Behnke said...

Very cool! I found you via Sarah @ Frugal By Choice: Homemade Mondays. I may try this with my 8 year old here at home to send to his grandma [ my mom ;) ] Thank you for sharing. Our kids don't have art class here in Georgia, bummer!

Julia Winkler said...

Christina, thanks so much for stopping by! I'd love to see pictures when you get finished. I can't understand why school districts think the arts aren't important. It makes me really unhappy...