DIY Fresco Art For Kids • An Activity in Ancient Art

You don't need to be Michelangelo to create this DIY Fresco art for kids! 

Fresco paintings are a huge part of the artifacts recovered from the fallen city of Pompeii, Italy in 79 AD. Fresco art is defined by combining wet plaster with pigments such as paint or pastels. In this DIY Fresco art activity, we will be doing a modified version that kids of all ages can do at home!

 

Materials you will need:

  • Plaster of Paris (BLICK Art materials)
  • Natural Burlap
  • Cardboard
  • Soft Pastels (any that are not oil based)
  • Mixing bowl
  • Measuring cups
  • Spray bottle
  • Clear washable glue
  • Wisk or mixing tool
  • Spatula
  • Box cutter (for adult use only)
materials for DIY Fresco Art For Kids

Directions:

Step 1:

Prepare your supplies! Cut your cardboard down to approximately a 1ft by 1ft square. Next, you should cut the burlap down to about a 10” by 10” square so that there is at least an inch of cardboard sticking out on all sides when you lay the burlap on top of the cardboard. 

 

square of burlap on cardboard

Step 2:

Fresco-plaster mixture: Use the ratio of 2-parts plaster: 1-part water. For this activity, we used 2 cups of plaster with 1 cup of water. Pour the ingredients into a bowl and begin to stir with your mixing tool. You will notice that the plaster will instantly combine with the water and become a thicker mixture.

 

make plaster for diy fresco art

Step 3:

Preparing your base: Pour some of your mixture onto your burlap-cardboard base and begin to smear into a circle like the image shown. Feel free to keep the plaster base relatively thick, this will give you a better effect in a later step. Let plaster dry for 2 hours.

 

prepare the base for DIY Fresco Art by spreading plaster on burlap

Step 4:

Time to make your DIY Fresco Art! Mist your plaster base with a spray bottle so that it is slightly damp. Use the soft pastels as desired to blend colors and create your own Fresco art masterpiece! Have fun with the plaster base, use your fingers to smudge the colors and see how they blend.

 

two hands decorating Fresco Art with a flower

Step 5:

Now for the fun part! Use your hands or a tool to gently break apart your plaster base. This will create “stress fractures” and make your Fresco art look like it has just been found from long ago or just like the artifacts recovered from Pompeii.

 

two hands creating stress fractures to fresco

Step 6:

Preserve your creation: Using clear washable glue, pour a generous amount onto the middle of your plaster base. Using a scrap piece of cardboard, gently spread the glue around to create an even layer over your base. This will seal in the pigment and the fractures you have added to your fresco.

 

Step 7:

Finish your Fresco! Once the glue is fully dried, gently remove the burlap-plaster base from the cardboard. Now you will be able to trim the excess burlap away from your plaster base. You have now completed your ownDIY Fresco Art!

 

completed fresco art projects

 

Funding for this project was provided by the Cornelia T. Bailey Foundation.

Thanks to the support from Orange County Government through the Arts & Cultural Affairs, Orlando Science Center is excited to host the blockbuster exhibit, Pompeii: The Immortal City in the Fall of 2020.
 

Orlando Science Center is excited to support partnership programs and collaborations leading up to and coinciding with the run of the exhibition.

Cornelia T. Bailey Foundation

If you enjoyed this project, you're going to lava these other Pompeii-inspired activities! 

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How to Create Iridescent Art: A Colorful STEAM Bookmark Activity

Scientists use nanotechnology to create this effect, but you just need clear nail polish to learn how to create iridescent art! 

Iridescence is the phenomenon of certain surfaces that appear to gradually change color as the angle of view or the angle of illumination changes. It can be found naturally in animals like fish for camouflage in the water and for attracting mates, or in the wings of butterflies and bird feathers. It is also seen in bubbles and you won't believe how simple it is to find out how to create iridescent art yourself!

Materials you will need:

  • Black paper
  • Clear nail polish
  • Permanent marker(s) that can write on black paper
  • Shallow container (like Tupperware or a frozen dinner tray)
  • Scissors
  • Tweezers (Optional)
materials for how to create iridescent bookmarks

Directions:

Step 1:

Cut out whatever size and shape bookmark you want to make. Smaller is easier to work with. Make sure it fits in your shallow container!

cut out shape of iridescent artwork

Step 2:

Write something or draw a picture on the paper with your markers.

draw art that will be under iridescent

Step 3:

Add enough water to the container so that it is about a half-inch deep.

pouring water over iridescent art

Step 4:

Hold one end of the black paper and slide it into the container until the paper is fully underwater.

slip paper under water

Step 5:

Add a single drop of nail polish onto the surface of the water above the paper. Make sure to just use one drop! Too much will ruin the effect!

*Tips:
The nail polish will dry quickly on top of the water. If it does, it will create a film that won’t stick to the paper. If the nail polish does create a dry film on top, simply scoop it off and try again more quickly!
It can take patience and practice to get this activity right!

add nail polish to water to create iridescent effect on your art

Step 6:

Now lift the paper out of the water, carefully dragging the face of the bookmark along the nail polish.

remove iridescent art from water

Step 7:

Leave your bookmark out to dry for about 10 minutes. Then check it out in different lights from different angles!

And that's it! You've mastered how to create iridescent art! Share your creations with us on social media by using #OrlandoScienceCenter or uploading it to our Science Showcase

finished Iridescent Bookmark art

Expand on the Activity!

Learn the science:

The nail polish spreads out into a super-thin film across the water, and then you transfer that film to the bookmark.

The film is only a few hundred nanometers thick, about as thick (or thin!) as a soap bubble. However, small differences in the thickness of the film change the color it reflects, so it creates the iridescent effect!

Can you think of any examples of iridescence in nature? Many bird feathers, butterfly wings, shells, and beetle shells have nano-sized, semi-transparent layers that create an iridescent effect when they reflect light. Scientists are also using nanotechnology to create iridescence for various materials and devices!

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Puffy Paint Technique: Try This Trick for Nearly Perfect Pictures!

Give your old clothes new life with this puffy paint technique!

Looking for an easy way to customize a t-shirt, tote bag, or even a pair of jeans?  Have you been burned in the past with attempting to free-hand a design with puffy paint? Never fear, we’ve got the solution! With this puffy paint technique, you have a chance to refine your design and keep yourself from suffering the agony of using puffy paint with a shaky hand.

Materials you will need:

  • A t-shirt, tote bag, jeans, or another garment you want to add your design to
  • Fabric puffy paint (look for the kind with a thin nozzle, especially if your image has a lot of detail)
  • A pencil
  • A piece of paper large enough for your design
Pencil, paper, t-shirt, and puffy paint needed for puffy paint technique

Directions:

Step 1:

Sketch or print out the design you want on a sheet of paper.

This puffy paint technique will mirror the image, so draw the image flipped from how you want it to appear on the shirt. 

use a pencil to sketch out the design you want to try puffy paint technique

Step 2: 

Prepare your garment. Make sure the area for the design is flat and protect your garment by sliding a piece of cardboard inside your garment where you want your design to go so the paint doesn't bleed through.

Step 3: 

Next, trace over the design in puffy paint. You want to work pretty fast so the paint doesn’t try before you finish your design.

Use the puffy paint technique to trace your design in puffy paint

Step 4:

Pick up the paper and place it paint side down on your shirt in the spot you want your design. Press down all over the back of the paper to push the paint into the fabric, but try not to move the paper around. Peel off the paper and you have your design!

 

If any of the paint dried too much and didn't transfer, you can go over them with the paint directly on the shirt and press down with a clean sheet of paper. Alternatively, retrace your original design, carefully line it up, and repeat the process. Enjoy!

The result of using puffy paint technique on a t-shirt

Expand on the activity!

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Salt Watercolor Painting Project • Paint Outside the Box

Brush up on your art skills with this salt & watercolor painting project

Think (or paint) outside the box wiht this unique painting technique! One-part experiment, one-part art experience, this salt & watercolor painting project will give you a wall-worthy finished project, while you learn some STEM skills along the way. 

Materials you will need:

  • Paper (Watercolor paper works best, but cardstock or sketchbook paper can also work)
  • Paintbrush
  • Watercolor paints
  • Salt
  • Water to rinse your painbrush
Materials needed to complete Orlando Science Center's salt and watercolor painting project

Directions:

Step 1

Set up your workspace and start painting! Keep in mind, your painting will change when you add the salt, so don’t worry too much about the details!

Begin your saltwater painting project by beginning to paint

Step 2

While your painting is still wet to the touch, sprinkle it with salt. Watch closely as the salt absorbs the water on your paper, and some of the color along with it! 

Observes salt on your watercolor painting project

Step 3 

When you’re finished, let your salt and watercolor painting project is completely dry, and gently rub the salt off the paper.

The result of salt and watercolor painting project

Expand on the Activity:

  • Try different kinds of salt! Table salt, sea salt, and rock salt are all great to try. How does the size of the salt grain impact what you see happen on your painting?

  • The amount of water on your paper will have a big impact on how it looks when you add the salt. Experiment with adding the salt at different points as your painting dries to see which effect is your favorite.

  • For another colorful activity with water, try this colorful coffee filter experiment!

 

Be sure to share your salt watercolor painting project with us by submitting a photo or video to our Science Showcase here or tag Orlando Science Center and use #OSCatHome on social media! You might be featured on our channels. 

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How to Make Bubble Snakes With Items You Already Have at Home!

Learn how to make bubble snakes with this STEM-sational DIY activity!

Bubbles, bubbles, everywhereWhat are the differences between one bubble and lots of bubbles? We'll show you how to make bubble snakes in the directions below so you can find out! 

 

Our Early Childhood Specialists in KidsTown put together this fun bubble exploration activity so you can practice your observation and critical-thinking skills at home. 

 

There is something magical about experimenting with bubbles, isn't there? For more bubbly goodness, check out our fan-favorite Un-Poppable Bubble recipe.

Materials:

  • Plastic bottle 
  • A sock 
  • Rubber band 
  • Scissors (and adult supervision)
  • Bubble solution*
  • A wide, shallow container 
  • A bubble wand or a pipe cleaner 
  • Optional: Washable paint for extension activity
Materials for how to make a bubble snake

*If you don't have bubble solution on hand, a mixture of dish soap and water will work for this project but you may have to do some tinkering with the amount of dish soap you add if you'd like to blow bubbles with a regular bubble wand. Sounds like another great opportunity to experiment to us!

Directions:

  • Use a bubble wand* to blow one bubble.

    Observe your bubble closely. What shape is the bubble? What colors do you see? How big is the bubble? How does the bubble move? What does it look like when the bubble pops? 


    Write down or draw your observations so you can reference them later!


    *If you don’t have a bubble wand handy, a pipe cleaner twisted to look like one works, too!

    Once you’ve completed your bubble observations, you’re ready to learn how to make bubble snakes!
pink pipecleaner twisted into bubble wand
  • Carefully cut the bottom off your plastic bottle. 

  • Cut your sock into a square that fits over the new opening in your plastic bottle with some room to spare on each side. 

  • Secure the sock to the bottom of the plastic bottle with a rubber band. 

Attach sock to bottle with rubber band
  • Pour your bubble solution into the container. 
  • Dip the plastic bottle into your bubble solution, sock end first. 
Dip water bottle into bubble solution
  • Blow into the plastic bottle from the end you would normally drink through and watch your bubble snake grow! 

  • Observe the bubbles in the bubble snake.

    What shape are these bubbles? What colors do you see? How big are these bubbles? How do they mo
    ve? What does it look like when the bubbles in the bubble snake pop? How is this group of bubbles the same as your first bubble, and how is it different? 
Bubble snake being blown out of a water bottle and sock

Expand on the Activity:

  • Experiment with the design of your bubble snake blower. 
    Try 
    using a plastic bottle with a different size or shape, experiment with different fabrics such as t-shirt or towel material, and give a few different bubble solution recipes a try. Which combination works best? 
  • Mix some washable paint into your bubble solution, or apply it directly to the sock after dipping it in the bubble solution, and then blow your bubble snake onto a piece of paper. Quickly remove the bubbles from the paper to reveal your bubble-painted masterpiece!  
  • Remember to check out our Unpoppable Bubble Recipe for more fun with bubbles! 
Example of art made by mixing paint into bubble snake solution

Did you have a blast with bubble snakes! Snap a photo or video and submit it to our Science Showcase here or tag Orlando Science Center and use #OSCatHome on social media! You might be featured on our channels. 

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Forensic Science Painting Project • A Forensics Vocabulary Art Project!

Make a messy masterpiece by creating a forensic science painting!

We love making messes at Orlando Science Center — especially in the name of science! Join us by creating a forensic science painting and learning some vocabulary along the way. We’ll be making some common spatter patterns using bright, beautiful colors to create a forensic puzzle work of art.  

 

For more forensic science fun, see if you can crack the case of The Incredible Cookie Caper

Materials:

  • A canvas, piece of cardboard, or paper (butcher paper, paper bags, or anything you have on hand would work fine!) 
  • Tubes of paint
  • Paint brushes 
  • Your hands 
  • Clothes you don’t mind getting messy!  

Directions:

Passive stains made by dripping paint on canvas

Create some passive stains.

Open your paint tube and hold it upside down. Allow it to drip onto your canvas. Try dripping from higher or lower to see some different stains.  

Transfer stains made by smearing paint on canvas

Create some transfer stains. 

Got some paint on your hand? Wipe it onto your canvas! Notice the pattern that you leave behind – not a smooth line or shape but evidence of your fingerprints! 

Projected stains made by flicking paintbrush onto canvas

Create some projected (or impact) stains. 

Dip your brush into your paint and fling it onto your canvas! What do you see? How do the shapes look different than the passive stains?

What other patterns or stains can be made on your forensic science painting? 

  • Void patterns occur when stains are made with an object in the way – kind of like a stencil. 
  • Spines are what forensic analysts would call the spikes coming out of your passive paint stains.  
  • Satellite stains occur when stains jump off of other stains. If you dripped paint on top of a paint puddle, the splashes the impact would make would be satellites.  
  • Flow patterns occur when gravity impacts the stain – this is how acrylic pour painting works.

Don't forget to hang, frame, or gift your finished forensic science painting! 

 

We'd love to see what you created, even if you made a few mess-takes! Submit your progress or final shots to our OSC Science Showcase or tag Orlando Science Center on social media and use hashtag #OSCatHome to share your creations! 

Final product from forensic science painting held in front of wall

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