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


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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