Open House | March 25, 2017


Party party party!

Are you free on March 25th? Would you like to make some art in a non-judgmental space that celebrates creativity and imagination? Well, you’re in luck!

You’re invited to stop by the TinkerLab studio on between 10 am and 1 pm on Saturday, March 25 and learn more about the process art offerings at TinkerLab. The event is free.

The TinkerLab studio is part of the Cubberley Artist Studio Program in Palo Alto, CA. The Cubberley Artist Studio Program (CASP) supports the vitality of the arts in Palo Alto by providing City-sponsored, affordable studio space for artists, building creative community and fostering public engagement with the arts and artists.

The studio will be open as part of the annual Cubberley Day, a community celebration of the vibrant hub that we’re lucky part of.

Cubberley Community Day 2017
On the agenda:

  • Make art from old books
  • Play with a variety of tools such as colored pencils, watercolor paint, and stamps
  • Enjoy great music while you create
  • Learn about the surrealist game of Entopic Graphomania
  • All in an environment that celebrates experimentation, play, and heart-centered creativity
  • All ages are welcome

book art 2

You’ll have access to old books and watercolor paint for painting experiments.

book art 1

I’ll introduce you to the surrealist game of Entopic Graphomania, which you can play on an old book page, with pen and colored pencils…or something else.

It would be great to see friends, old and new. I hope you’ll stop by!

Your creative collaborator,



Famous Inspiring Painting Quotes

Quotes can uplift us, inspire, and send is in a new direction with just a few simple words of wisdom. As an artist I often look to professional artists for tidbits of inspiration to help me get over a hump or work through a block.

These are a few of my favorite painting quotes from some of my favorite artists through the ages. Feel free to borrow these images to share. If you happen to post to Instagram, tag me at @tinkerlab  


bob ross painting quote tinkerlab

“All you need to paint is a few tools, a little instruction, and a vision in your mind.” Bob Ross

degas painting quote tinkerlab

“A painting requires a little mystery, some vagueness, and some fantasy. When you always make your meaning perfectly plain you end up boring people”  Edgar Degas

hopper painting quote tinkerlab

“If you could say it in words, there would be no reason to paint.”  Edward Hopper

picasso painting quote tinkerlab

“Painting is just another way of keeping a diary” Pablo Picasso

sakai painting quote tinkerlab

“When you want to make the main color pure and bright, don’t just keep adding bright colors on it. Just make the colors around the spot darker and dull. It will give the scene dramatical effects. I think the life is the same.” Hiroko Sakai

van gogh painting quote tinkerlab“If you hear a voice within you say you cannot paint, then by all means paint and that voice will be silenced.”  Vincent Van Gogh

kahlo painting quote tinkerlab

“I don’t paint dreams or nightmares, I paint my own reality.” Frida Kahlo

da vinci painting quote tinkerlab

“The painter will produce pictures of little merit if he takes the works of others as his standard.”
― Leonardo da Vinci

No-Cook Play Dough

no cook playdough (1)

I’ve been making this recipe for the best playdough for a few years now without too many changes. After investing in this amazing BPA-free electric kettle, I was wondering if I could make this playdough off the stove top. So I did some experimenting, and low and behold — this recipe can be even easier and still the amazing dough that we all love. Here you go…

Use The Best Playdough Recipe ingredients.

No Stove Play dough recipe

  1. Mix all the dry ingredients from this recipe.
  2. Boil water
  3. Add water and oil to a bowl and mix
  4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix until the dough comes together.

Spring Sink Mat Prints

Printing making with Kids - Sink Mat Experiment

Printmaking with kids can be accessible and easy. This simple printmaking activity can be set up for children as young as three, maybe even two if you’re feeling brave!


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Printmaking with Kids: Easy Sink Mat Printing

I spend a lot of time at the hardware store. And last week I spotted this flower mat — the Blumz Sink Mat! — I love that exclamation point! — It’s an exciting sink mat! — and it looked like something that could be fun to print with!

In honor of Spring’s inevitable arrival (yes, it WILL get warmer) and St. Patty’s Day (I married a “Doorley”, after all), we used green and yellow paint.

I also found a bag of ten foam brushes at the dollar store, so the luck of the Irish was clearly with me. I covered the work space with paper and then my daughter painted the mat with our fresh Spring palette.

And then we added a sheet of paper, pressed it down with the palms of our hands, and pulled our first print.

Ooooooooh!! She loved it, and I thought it came out gorgeous!

We pulled three prints, which frankly was more than I had bargained for, and then the real fun began! If you followed our Jello experiment, you’ll recognize a common thread here…

And maybe you picked up on the addition of an apron. I love that focused expression.

There’s a leprechaun in my house!

More printmaking art projects for kids

16 Easy Printmaking Projects for Kids

Abstract Recycled Prints

Styrofoam Prints (from a veggie or meat packing tray)

Cookie Sheet Monoprints

Bubble Prints

5 Easy Steps to Set Up a TinkerLab

We talk a lot about setting up tinkering spaces here at TinkerLab, and I’m often asked for advice on how to set up a maker space at home.

There are so many ways to approach this, and we all have different spaces with multiple constraints and possibilities. However, there are some cornerstone tips on how to set up your home TinkerLab® that will work for spaces of all shapes and sizes.

I pulled this nifty graphic together for you, and it’s easy to pin or print. Get your free 8.5″ x 11″ printable version here.
How to set up a TinkerLab at home

More Inspiration

If you’re looking for more ideas on how to set up your tinkering space, the following links are my favorite places to start:

Tinkering Spaces Interview and Tours: Tons of tours of home and school maker spaces

TinkerLab Resources: List of my favorite supplies and furniture for your TinkerLab

How to easily Save and Share Your Child’s Art

How to Set up an Art Cart

The Creative Table Project: How to Set up a Creative Invitation

Salad Spinner Spin Art

Salad Spinner Spin Art DIYThis spin art project is wonderful for children of all ages, and is especially age-ready for preschool children.

Process-oriented art is so appealing to young children. Why? Because they’re given free reign to explore, experiment, and play with art materials and follow their curiosities along the way. This is a wonderful process art experience that only requires a few simple supplies that you probably already have: a salad spinner, paper, and paint. You can also invest in a spin art machine if you’re looking for something a little fancier.

Are you ready to make some salad spinner spin art?


Note: This list contains affiliate links

Tip: look at a second hand store for a low-cost salad spinner to save yours from a fate as a forever art supply.


  1. Cut paper to fit inside salad spinner
  2. Place paper in the spinner
  3. Squeeze poster paint on the paper
  4. Close the spinner
  5. Give it a spin – turn it fast for the best effect!
  6. Open and admire your art
  7. Repeat

Watch the Video


spin art 1

spin art 2

spin art 3

If you enjoyed this, check out what happened when I asked my daughter to think about what else she could spin…besides paint.

How to Easily Save and Share Your Child’s Art

where do i put all the art my kids make-“Where do I put all of the art my kids make?”

I get asked this question all.the.time! If you’re finding yourself reading this article, my guess is that you have tossed this question around, too!

As you may know, we live in a tiny house (here’s a look at our home maker space), and storing art is a real issue for us. Even if you live in a big space with plenty of storage, I wouldn’t be surprised if storing and saving art also has you in a bind.

Today I’m sharing a few ideas that we’ve tried (successfully) with the hope that some (or all) of them will work for you.

Note: This article contains affiliate links. I only include links to items that I adore or that I think you’ll find valuable.


1. Use an Art App like Keepy

keepy app

Save your kids’ memories and remove the clutter.

If you’re ready to pitch (ahem, recycle) the art, you could go with an app like Keepy. I was introduced to Keepy about two years ago, and I’ve been using it to save photos of my children and of their artwork. The basic app is free with the option of signing up for a small annual fee of $9.99, which includes unlimited uploads.

keepy mobile kids art

There are a few things I really like about the app:

    • One the BEST features of Keepy is that you can have your child add their voice recording to an image and DESCRIBE their artwork. This is an amazing way to preserve memories. On top of that, your fans (grandparents!) can leave voice memos back!
    • You can invite family members to join and get access to all of the photos that you share. This can be so much easier than sending texts with photos, although I do both 🙂
    • It’s 100% private, unless, of course, you want to share.
    • The photos are organized by child, so you can easily find images or artwork and add them to individual timelines. If you have a photo of multiple children, you can easily tag them both or all and the photo goes into all of the buckets.
    • You can easily turn photos or artwork into photo albums or objects. I just ordered a set of mugs as holiday gifts for cousins, and the entire process took around 5 minutes.

See Keepy in action here ⬇️

2. Invest in an Art Portfolio

portfolio kids art

Store your favorite pieces in a bound portfolio.

My youngest daughter was in a fabulous Young Fives program, and her teacher had all of the parents invest in an oversized art portfolio to keep our memories for the year. We saved examples of our child’s artwork for the entire school year, and then spent a day or so tucking them into the portfolio. I loved the process and outcome so much that I went ahead and invested in more portfolios so that I could go back and save my older daughter’s work as well.

Portfolio for kids art

To give you a sense of scale, I’ve added some common toys and objects. This is the largest portfolio at 18″ x 24″. It’s large and bulky, but a lovely option for those of us memory keepers who don’t like to toss things.

3. Turn Your Art into a Photo Album

mixbook arts and craftsLose the cluter and keep the art in one easy-to-find spot. And make a copy for grandma 🙂

I’ve been a huge fan of companies like Shutterfly and Mixbook for everything from business cards to photo albums. My friend Jill at Catch My Party recently hosted a party with Mixbook, and I have fallen in love with this company.

The quality is incredible and the interface so easy to use. I just made three 2016 photo albums for family members and ordered our holiday cards from them.

Because I never took the time to make a photo album of arts and crafts when my kids were little, I’m now in the process of digging up old photos to create a memory book of my kids’ art. Given that my children are now 6 and 8, this seems daunting to go back and find all the work, but I’m finding that it’s not too bad, and actually a pretty enjoyable trip down memory lane to look at all the old photos and work.

mixbook arts and crafts

You can create your own spreads with tons of layout and design options, and they also offer a really cute “Arts and Crafts” book template for those of us who are short on time. I’m a DIY gal, but I love the template and I know my kids will enjoy looking at the whimsical layout.

Here’s what I love about Mixbook:

  • The interface is ridiculously easy to use.
  • The templates are fresh and gorgeous.
  • There are 100’s of DIY options for those who like to create their own look.
  • The quality and aesthetics of the merchandise is high.
  • They are always offering amazing deals. At the time of writing this, they’re offering a fabulous 40% off site-wide, and 50% off orders over $100. I used this code and saved over $100!

4. Find Display Cabinet Frames that Open

childrens art frame cabinetDisplay special or seasonal pieces in this frame.

This 8.5″ x 11″ frame is designed to hold multiple pieces of children’s art. My dear friend Sarah has these in her kitchen for her three children, and swears by them. She often swaps out the work inside to reflect the season or what her children are currently working on.


My kids went to a preschool that made these useful frames that have a slot in the back that can hold up to ten paintings. With the high level of paintings that came into our home, these got a lot of use. You can read more about how we hang art in our home here.

5. Store Art in a Large Container

Save favorite artworks in an air-tight bin. 

This is least fancy option of the bunch, but it works for those of us who just can’t get around to storing and making decisions about art. I’m sure Marie Kondo would have a thing or two to say about this, but let’s be real. Amidst the chaos of parenting small people, not all of us can muster the time and energy to organize art. And you can always go back and photograph it for your art app when you have some time.

I know this is less than glamorous, but it is practical for those who are short on time and big on storage. Get a weathertight bin like this one so keep moisture and critters out, which is extra important if you’re storing this in a garage or basement.

kids art storage

How to Organize Art Supplies

Now, if you’re wondering how to organize all of your art supplies, I’ve got you covered:

How to Set up and Art Cart

Organize a Self-Serve Creativity Zone

Simple Art Supply Organization Ideas

Read my best-selling book and get tips on how to foster creativity and independent thinking at home: TinkerLab: A Hands-on Guide for Little Inventors

Six Arts Advocacy Quotes

Art Advocacy for Children’s Art in Schools

The arts have been proven to improve academic achievement, spark innovation, and strengthen the economy. With school arts budget cuts and limited community resources for the arts, most of us can all rally behind a strong need to bring more attention to why the arts are relevant and important to the prosperity of our society.

If, like me, you feel passionate about the importance of the arts and see a need to help others understand their value, you’re in a position to champion for their inclusion in schools and the greater community. How? You can start by sharing these quotes or others like them via social media. Spread the word and help raise consciousness for creativity.

Here are six quotes that you can use to help spread the message that the arts matter. Feel free to share widely.

art quote albert einstein

“Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.”  ~Albert Einstein

art quote william bennet

“The arts are an essential element of education, jus like reading, writing, and arithmetic…music, dance, painting, and theater are all keys that unlock profound human understanding and accomplishment.” ~William Bennett, Former US Secretary of Education

art quote picasso

“Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.” ~Pablo Picasso

art quote jacob bronowski

“Every animal leaves traces of what it was; man alone leaves traces of wha he created.” ~Jacob Bronowski

ar quote henry james

“It is art that makes life, makes interest, makes importance, and I know of no substitute whatever for the force and beauty of its process.” ~Henry James
art quote george washington

“To encourage literature and the arts is a duty which every good citizen owes to his country.” ~George Washington

dashed lineFor Families and Teachers (1)

TinkerLab is your one-stop resource for process-focused art activities for children. Hosted by best-selling author and Harvard-educated art teacher, Rachelle Doorley, TinkerLab leads from a philosophy that’s learner-centered.