Tape Play

This is what the breakfast table sometimes turns into in our home.

Pancakes, coffee, napkins, and, ahem…tape. Of course, yes, please pass the tape!

Tape has been a favorite medium since it arrived in our house a couple months ago, and it’s taken on all kinds of forms since. The colors are incredible, and full of tons of possibilities. You can find a set of ten colors here. Great stuff. Not only is it useful for adhering one thing to another, but kids catch on quick that it can be used to make lines, designs, and shapes. Sometimes on a large scale. And my 2.5 year old is really into cutting it right now. Something she’s working on, and by golly she’s determined to master the technique!

Nothing is safe when the tape comes out!

But why is tape fun for kids? It can be layered, twisted, and bent around the edges of paper (or objects!). It’s sticky! If you spend time around young kids, you’ve no doubt witnessed a near-universal adoration for stickers. And because the impact is immediate, it’s highly accessible. There are no questions about how bright the color will look (as there might be with paint), and the limitations of the medium give children a clear sense of what the material will do.

Children who haven’t mastered scissor skills shouldn’t be limited from exploring tape. I just peel off multiple strips and stick them to the edge of a bowl or table for my child to pull off at will.

Tape as an art medium has been gaining steam in recent years. Melbourne street artist Buff Diss makes large-scale tape installations (this is one of my favorites) and Philadelphia-based Mark Khaisman creates beautiful images with transparent brown packing tape. And that’s it…tape is their medium, and they’re really good at it. So, if you ever thought that your child isn’t artistic or creative because he or she doesn’t draw or paint, fear not! Creativity comes in many shapes and forms, and sometimes that form is masking, painters, or packing tape.

Tomorrow I’ll share another unexpected use for tape that came from one of my daughter’s current obsessions. Stay tuned!

Giving Thanks

I started writing these posts just six months ago, and can’t believe how far this site has come.

Thank you so very much to each and every one of you who reads this blog. Family, friends, new friends, loyal readers.  It means the world to me. And it delights me to no end when I read your comments about your own creative adventures, or visit you in your homes and see that you and your kids have been tinkering with some of our projects.  Your comments and ideas keep me going. Thank you!

Thank you to my girls. This site wouldn’t exist without you. (And thank you to the iPhone for giving me an outlet to the world, and entertaining my children in those dark moments when all hell breaks loose!)

And finally, I’m grateful a million times over for the love and support of my creative and kind husband. I can’t even imagine who I would be without you.

I’ll be signing off for a few days to enjoy some time with the family. Wishing you all a very happy Thanksgiving.

xo, Rachelle

Marbleized Paper

This is Painting Project #3 from last week’s series of painting experiments (Drippy Gravity Painting and Aluminum Foil Painting were #1 and #2), when we dug into three totally different painting projects in one hour.  If you’ve been following me, you most likely know that my projects value process over product, but I can’t help but appreciate how freakin’ pretty these marbleized papers turned out.

Note: This post contains affiliate links for your convenience. 


  • Pan. I used an old cake pan, but something that’s not too shallow will work great
  • Small bowls or cups for mixing the paint
  • Paper, cut to fit inside the pan
  • Pipettes or eye droppers.
  • Forks or Popsicle sticks (or something similar) to stir the paint
  • Liquid watercolors or food coloring
  • Vegetable oil

Mix 1/2 tsp. of oil with 1 tsp. liquid watercolor in each bowl. Whisk them up really well until the paint and oil appear to be one.

Fill the bottom of the pan with about 1/2 inch of water. Not too much or your papers will sink to the bottom. Squeeze some paint into the droppers and drop dots of paint into the pan.

Place a piece paper on top of the water, and then fish it out once it’s picked up some color. Experiment. Try out different color combinations.

Have a paper-covered table ready to absorb these oily marbleized monsters. Aren’t they pretty? Or at least pretty cool? We ultimately made about 25 of these before running out of paint and steam. My 2.5 year old was done after about #18 (the process moves fairly fast once you’re set up), and I pulled the last few out.

They’re really oily to begin with, but fully dry in about a day. I used 80 pound sulfite paper, which curled up on the edges. If you want to achieve a flatter final product, try using watercolor paper or something on the stiffer side.

Now to figure out what we can do with these. Holiday gift tags? Postcards?

Special thanks to Unplug Your Kids for this fun idea.

More Art Projects for Toddlers

12 Simple Art Projects for Toddlers | TinkerLab.com
For more toddler art projects, you may enjoy the easy-to-set-up activities that use mainly everyday materials in 12 Simple Art Projects for Toddlers.

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Aluminum Foil Painting

Why stop with paper when you can paint on egg cartons, fabric, and wood? I love digging around my cabinets and recycling bin for substrates other than paper, and aluminum foil became the basis of yesterday’s second painting experiment. (The first was Drippy Gravity Painting).

Foil wrapped around a piece of cardboard.

And securely taped.

N chose blue and orange paint. She has a thing for blue, so that was no surprise. After mixing the two colors she exclaimed, “I made black!” Well, not exactly, but I saw her point and didn’t have the heart to set her straight. Don’t you love the shine of that foil? Who wouldn’t want to paint on that?

We used BioColor paint, which worked nicely on the foil.  If you’re using tempera, just add a little dish soap to it, which will help the paint adhere to the foil and keep it from cracking.

But the project didn’t end there. Oh no. Once the painting had run its course, she picked up a pencil, fascinated by how it etched into the surface of the foil.

Painting on foil was an valuable exercise in working with a new material, gaining the experience of pushing paint along a super-smooth surface, and engraving pencil marks into the soft and pliable foil. Next time the foil comes out, I think we could do some cool things with tissue paper collage. Can’t wait!

Do you have any other ideas for aluminum foil art experiments?

Drippy Gravity Painting

Many of you have commented that attention spans at your art tables run short. Shorter than short. Maybe almost nonexistent. And I want to support you in two ways: one is to say that this is so normal for toddlers and preschoolers to give an art project their 4-minute all, and two is that I must be deceiving you into thinking that my daughter’s interest is sustained over many moons. Not always the case. Rarely the case. Maybe never the case.

But I keep on at it. Pulling rabbits out of my hat. Introducing the same materials over and over again to build familiarity. Introducing new materials to keep the interest high. It’s a fine, fast-moving dance between me, her, and the projects — definitely more whirling dervish than Nutcracker Suite.

Case in point: this afternoon, between 3:30 and 4:30, we ripped through three completely different painting projects. Three! I set it all up during nap time, and we tore through it all in less than an hour. Drip painting: 10 minutes. Tin Foil Painting: 15 minutes.  Marbleized Paper Painting: 15 minutes. Throw in another 20 for clean-up and you’ve got an hour. What a mess!

I’ll leave you with Painting Project #1 today…the rest will follow.

Drip Painting

I added extra water to my Salt and Flour Paint recipe, seen in those squeeze bottles, to make the paint nice and pourable. I thought N would enjoy squeezing paint on the cardboard — it’s a nice strong substrate –but didn’t anticipate just how runny the paint would be. What a fun surprise!  When N saw the pools of paint, she asked for pasta to stick in the puddles, and then added marker embellishments along the right side.

Once she figured out that gravity was at play, she moved the board back and forth then side to side. It’s all about the process, isn’t it. And it’s moments like this that I think I hit URL-gold with the name TinkerLab — toddler and preschool art is so much about tinkering, experimenting, playing, and surprises. We’ll be doing this again, for sure!

What kind of tinkering have you been been up to?