TinkerLab http://tinkerlab.com Creative Experiements for Kids Tue, 01 Sep 2015 17:40:26 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.4 Drop-in Art-Making at the TinkerLab Studio http://tinkerlab.com/drop-in-art-making-at-the-tinkerlab-studio/ http://tinkerlab.com/drop-in-art-making-at-the-tinkerlab-studio/#respond Tue, 01 Sep 2015 08:21:04 +0000 http://tinkerlab.com/?p=20250 You might not know that behind the blogging scenes, I’m also an art educator and make art in a sunny studio in Palo Alto, CA. Our home is tiny and I’m blessed to have a little extra space to stretch into. The studio is a converted classroom in what was once Palo Alto’s Cubberley High School....

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TinkerLab Saturdays at Cubberley Community Center, Palo Alto

You might not know that behind the blogging scenes, I’m also an art educator and make art in a sunny studio in Palo Alto, CA. Our home is tiny and I’m blessed to have a little extra space to stretch into.

The studio is a converted classroom in what was once Palo Alto’s Cubberley High School. After being open for a little over 20 years, it closed in the 1970’s and all of the old classrooms have since converted into community spaces such as preschools, art studios, community college classrooms, dance studios, and even a Chinese reading room. The complex is a rich collection of cultural wonders, and I’m honored to be a part of it.

cubberley high school hallway

Sharing the Space with the Community

One goal of TinkerLab is to create a community that celebrates each of us as makers.Toward this end, I’ve been opening my studio to families as a space for hands-on making. After taking a break for summer, we’re bringing back a series of FREE maker afternoons where families are invited to experiment and explore with different materials and ideas.

The next drop-in workshop will be Saturday, September 26 from 2 – 4 pm and I hope to see you there.

See below for all of the upcoming dates.

Art making workshops with TinkerLab®

Workshop Description

Drop-in Art-Making Saturdays. Think like an artist and get inspired to create new works of art in TinkerLab Saturdays, a fun, interactive workshop for families with children ages 3 and up. Drop into our studios any time between 2 and 4 p.m. to create new projects based on the monthly theme. Presented by artists Ann McMillan and Rachelle Doorley. Free. Just show up! Children must be accompanied by an adult. Children must be accompanied by an adult. Find us on the map.

  • September 26
  • November 7
  • December 12
  • January 9
  • February 6
  • March 5
  • April 30
  • June 4

Drop me a line if you have any questions or if you’d like to talk with me about hosting a private workshop for your group.

Cheers, Rachelle

p.s. If you’re looking for fun and simple art projects to try with your drop-in family workshop, try rolling marbles in paint (toddlers LOVE this one) or easy homemade stickers.

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NAEYC Registration Discount Code http://tinkerlab.com/naeyc-registration-discount-code/ http://tinkerlab.com/naeyc-registration-discount-code/#respond Mon, 31 Aug 2015 17:03:05 +0000 http://tinkerlab.com/?p=20241 The NAEYC Annual Conference & Expo is the largest early childhood education conference in the world, where tens of thousands of educators choose from hundreds of presentations and exhibits. This year’s conference will be held November 18-21 in Orlando, FL. About the NAEYC The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) is a...

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Screen Shot 2015-08-31 at 9.34.39 AM

The NAEYC Annual Conference & Expo is the largest early childhood education conference in the world, where tens of thousands of educators choose from hundreds of presentations and exhibits. This year’s conference will be held November 18-21 in Orlando, FL.

About the NAEYC

The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) is a professional membership organization that works to promote high-quality early learning for all young children, birth through age 8, by connecting early childhood practice, policy, and research.

NAEYC Registration Discount Code

Good news for friends of TinkerLab: I have a REGISTRATION DISCOUNT CODE for the 2015 Conference to share with you today.

NAEYC Registration Discount Code

There are extra discounts if you’re a student, NAEYC member, if you register as a group, or if you register early.

On top of that, you can get an additional 15% discount when you use the code Doorley15 at checkout.

Early bird registrations ends on September 25, 2015

NAEYC for Families

NAEYC is not just for educators! They also has resources for families on child development, music, families today, and help with selecting childcare and preschools.

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12 Easy Creative Table Prompts for Kids http://tinkerlab.com/12-easy-creative-table-prompts-for-kids/ http://tinkerlab.com/12-easy-creative-table-prompts-for-kids/#comments Sun, 23 Aug 2015 18:37:05 +0000 http://tinkerlab.com/?p=20215 If you’re looking for a simple way to set up creative provocations that encourage curiosity and imagination, you will love the Creative Table™ Project. These activities won’t take a lot of time to set up, and while your child creates you can step back while they enjoy the process of exploration. WHAT IS THE CREATIVE TABLE PROJECT?...

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If you’re looking for a simple way to set up creative provocations that encourage curiosity and imagination, you will love the Creative Table™ Project. These activities won’t take a lot of time to set up, and while your child creates you can step back while they enjoy the process of exploration.

12 No fuss creative table set ups for kids tinkerlab

WHAT IS THE CREATIVE TABLE PROJECT?

The Creative Table™ Project invites you to share an image of a creative invitation, prompt, provocation, or set-up. 

The creative table set-ups are simple: Clear a table, place the inspiring materials in an inviting arrangement, and invite a child to create.

There’s no right or wrong way about it. While we may have an idea about how the other person will use the materials, it’s ultimately up to the child to determine the outcome.

You can read more here for tips on how to set  up these creative table provocations.

12 No fuss creative table set ups for kids | TinkerLab

Creative Table: Why it’s Important to Have a Clean Table

Tape and Paper Bags

Paint and Looping Lines

Tape and Paper

Doilies and Scissors

Leaves and Glue

Stickers and Frames

Glue and Sand

Doily and Watercolor Painting

Valentine’s Day Cards

Cardboard Heart Stamps

Blend Chalk Pastels

Glitter Pine Cones

12 no fuss Creative Table™ set ups for kids

If you’re new to all of this, find out how to set up a self-serve maker space for kids.

3 More Easy Creative Table Invitations

If you enjoyed this, check out 3 Easy Art Invitations that Encourage Creativity and Independent Thinking, an article I wrote for Modern Parents Messy Kids.

More Creative Table and Space Inspiration

Organize your Art Station

How to Set up an Art Cart

Art Supply Organization

 

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The Family Survival Guide for Expo 2015 http://tinkerlab.com/the-family-survival-guide-for-expo-2015/ http://tinkerlab.com/the-family-survival-guide-for-expo-2015/#respond Mon, 10 Aug 2015 14:32:48 +0000 http://tinkerlab.com/?p=20103 We were just beginning to plan our trip to Italy when my friend Olivia mentioned that the World Expo, Expo 2015,  would be in Milan at the same time as our trip. How fortuitous! The heavily architected pavilions are a designer’s dream and knew this would be our family’s cup of tea. In addition, the theme...

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We were just beginning to plan our trip to Italy when my friend Olivia mentioned that the World Expo, Expo 2015,  would be in Milan at the same time as our trip. How fortuitous! The heavily architected pavilions are a designer’s dream and knew this would be our family’s cup of tea. In addition, the theme of Expo 2015 is Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life — yum, food!! — further proof that it could be a fun family adventure to detour over to Milan for a few days. Despite the heat, we had an amazing time and I want anyone planning a trip to Italy to know how easy and worthwhile Expo 2015 can be for kids.

The family survival guide for expo 2015 | TinkerLab

This Family Survival Guide includes everything you need to know for getting the most out of your Expo 2015 experience with kids.

What is Expo 2015?

This year’s Universal Exposition, Expo 2015 takes place in Milan, Italy through October 31, 2015. As you walk through the main gate, you enter a theme park filled with 54 enormous national pavilions, food venues, 140 participating countries, and open spaces that are a wide-open playground for kids, adults, and families to explore. There are even a few small-scale rides, but you have to hunt for them. More on that in a minute. The scale and quality of the pavilions is mind-blowing, especially considering that the whole event takes place for just 6 months. It would be an amazing thing to see these world expo sites repurposed as universities or small towns at the close their runs.

World Expo 2015 Pavilions

Expo 2015 Best Pavilions for Kids

With 145 participating countries, getting to all of the pavilions in a day is an impossible dream. On a hot day, you can anticipate visiting 5-12 pavilions a day with kids. This number all depends on the heat, lines, what times you arrive and leave, and your energy level. We were there for one full day and one half day and managed to visit about 15 pavilions altogether.

With that in mind, I’ll share my top pavilion picks for families to help you maximize your time.

EXPO 2015 Best Pavilions for Kids | TinkerLab

Czech Republic: There’s a shallow pool with a fountain right in front of the pavilion. This is a delightful place to cool off on a hot day, with a beer kiosk next door for libations. (bottom left)

Estonia: One of the pastimes in Estonia is relaxing on swings in the countryside. To capture that feeling, they installed a wall of swings. My kids loved this in the evening.

Brazil: The second story of the entire pavilion is covered with a wall-to-wall net that you are invited to walk across. So fun! The line was long for this when we entered Expo and we found that there was no line when we circled back at 5 pm. (bottom right)

Switzerland: There a number of pavilions within the pavilion. The one that stands out is the main pavilion that’s made up of four pillars. There is a separate line and entrance for this via an elevator that carries a small group of people up to the top of the pillars. Each pillar is stacked with one of four consumable foods: coffee, apples, salt, and water. When you enter the silos, it’s explained that you can take whatever you want, but to be mindful that the commodities should last for the entire Expo. When you look up it’s evident how much has been taken and how much remains, making it an excellent lesson in sharing limited resources.

Netherlands: This charming pavilion consists of a house of mirrors and a Dutch-looking landscape, punctuated with authentic and oh-so-cute food trucks that are carted all the way in from Holland. Since it’s hard to see from the main road, peel around the mirror house and you’ll find a small/ferris wheel cafe. Order some food and drinks and hop on for a slow loop-de-loop with a view. This was the best! Each car only seats two, so the kids took their own car and we all took a few spins. Scott and I hopped off to enjoy the much-needed shade and to toast a cocktail to our anniversary while the girls snacked on grilled cheese and spun around in Dutch style.  (top right)

Turkmenistan: What a surprise it was to find this delightful rooftop patio cozy hut and performance stage. There was no sun protection and it would have been far too hot to spend much time there during the day, but at night it was pure magic and a nice place to relax our weary feet. Since we had it all to ourselves, the girls put on a few dance performances before we made our way to Morocco. (See the night photos in “Tips for Experiencing Expo 2015 with kids” below)

Morocco: Next to Turkmenistan is an inviting Moroccan garden, landscaped with fragrant herbs such as mint, lavender, and rosemary, twisting paths that the kids loved chasing each of around, and a long, gurgling creek. We visited in the evening and it was delightful!

France: My kids LOVED the swing that was hosted by Air France. (top left)

China: The highlight in this pavilion was the silk worm display. My kids raised silk worms earlier this year and it was cool to see what appeared to be 1000’s of silk worm cocoons.

Expo 2015 Food

Since the theme of the Expo is “food,” of course it is not at all difficult to find good things to eat. I wish I could do this more justice, but because of the heat we weren’t enormously hungry and the girls were not feeling too adventurous to try new things.

Food at Expo 2015 Milan

A few things about Eating at Expo 2015

Each country sells food and you don’t have to wait in the main pavilion line for it. You’ll find many of the food stalls or restaurants on the side or back of the pavilions.

Food is not cheap! My 4-year old adores Korean jap chae, so we ordered a bowl. It was tiny, like a small scoop of ice cream, and it cost €10.

What we enjoyed:

  • Jap chae from Korea. Expensive but tasty. (top right)
  • Make-your-own Magnum bar. My husband has adored Magnum White ever since he was introduced to it in Spain when we were on our honeymoon (there it’s called Magnum Blanco). If you’re not familiar, it’s an ice cream bar, covered in hard chocolate. It was fun to pick out our flavors and toppings, all made to order. Located behind the Ecuador pavilion.€5 for a bar. (bottom right)
  • Grilled cheese (kid-approved) and sangria from the Netherlands. Both delicious. (top left)
  • Raclette from Switzerland, served with potatoes and pickles. I could have eaten this all day.
  • Kale and salmon salad from the USA. I can’t remember the exact cost, but it was under 10 Euro, delicious, healthy, and filling. We ordered the kids hotdogs, which they do not recommend.
  • Scott was excited about the beer from Belgium, which was divine by the Czech pool on a hot afternoon. (bottom left)
  • For a taste of home, McDonalds built a restaurant where you can find favorites including Happy Meals.
  • It’s very easy to find Italian food and coffee bars. Everywhere.

Passport Stamps for Kids at Expo

World Expo Passport

One of my favorite memories from visiting Expo 86 in Canada was carrying around a passport to collect stamps from the pavilions we visited. We were sure to pick up passports for our kids at a kiosk near the entrance gate (for a fee). The kids enjoyed collecting and comparing the stamps. They also took it upon themselves to design their own stamps! Totally worth the cost.

Cirque du Soleil Allavita!

Cirque du Soleil Allavita! | TinkerLab

One of the highlights of our time at Expo was taking in the Allavita! show.

On the train to Milan we had the great luck of making friends with one of the aerialists, Leah Christiana, and she invited us to see her in the show. What a treat! My kids were beside themselves with joy. Leah is one of the bungee babes and you can follow her Facebook page for up-to-date info on her performances.

The show begins at 9:30 pm. Kind of late for little ones, but a thrilling experience if they can stay up for it. Designed by Circque du Soleil exclusively for Expo, 2015, the show was amazing! It’s scheduled to run through August 30, so check ahead for dates if you don’t want to miss it. Tickets are not included in the Expo admission ticket, and must be purchased separately for €25,€30, and €35. I would recommend splurging for the more expensive seats because you’ll see everything sooo much better.

Tips for Experiencing Expo 2015 with Kids

And if all of that isn’t enough, I have a few more tips for making Expo an enjoyable experience with kids.

Tips for experiencing Expo 2015 with kids | TinkerLab

  • Recycle and Compost. The team that organized Expo did a great job installing recycling containers around the main concourse and beyond. The cans are clearly marked and it’s a great way to help kids think consciously about what they’re consuming and reusing. (top left)
  • Bring water bottles. There are free water refill stations located throughout Expo, offered very cold flat and bubbly water (bottom right). We used this A LOT.
  • Borrow a FREE Stroller. If you need a stroller, Chicco will loan you a stroller for no cost. Pick one up in the welcome area by the Triulza Ovest entrance. You can reserve yours by clicking here. Supply is limited.
  • Wear a pedometer or fitness tracker. We picked up the inexpensive CSX walking tracker (affiliate) before our trip, and it made all the miles we packed on that much more fun to accumulate. We tracked our steps and could’t believe that we walked over 10 miles the first day, including the walk from our apartment to and from the metro station! With toddlers, a stroller (see stroller tip, above) will be a lifesaver.
  • Baby-friendly offerings. High chairs, bottle-warmers, and baby-food warmers are available at Eataly, Tracce, Chiccotosto, Viavai, Let’s Toast, and Aroma. There are also breastfeeding and baby changing areas. Download a family-friendly map that shows these offerings.
  • Don’t worry about Bathrooms. There are clean toilettes everywhere and we never had to wait in a line.
  • Enjoy Expo at Night. The whole mood and energy changes once the sun goes down. The heat subsides, lights come on, and it’s pure magic. (top right and bottom left – Turkmenistan Pavilion)
  • Avoid the Crowds. It was very crowded and lines were long in the morning. When we were there, things seemed to clear out between 4 and 7 pm. Expo offers €5 tickets to people who arrive after 7 pm, which is when the lines seem to pick up again.
  • Use the free wifi. There are wifi hotspots around Expo, but they weren’t consistently easy to find so we mostly skipped using it.
  • Stay cool. If you go in the summer there’s a good chance it will be hot. Really hot. And humid. It was 38C/100F when we were there. Wear sunscreen, sunglasses, bring a water bottle for free refills, and bring a hat or umbrella. Finally, find the Czech Republic pool or an air conditioned pavilion if you just can’t bear it.

Location

Expo takes place northwest of Milan by the Rho-Fiera metro station, about 25 minutes from downtown. venue a few minutes from downtown.

Tickets

If you know the date/s you plan to visit, you can save money by purchasing a fixed date ticket. There are also open date tickets for just a little bit more. Children under 3 get free admission. There are also special student and senior prices, so be sure to grab those if you qualify.

  • Buy tickets online. Take a screen shot of the digital tickets to scan at the entrance gate.
  • The Family Package includes one-day admission for two adults and two children for €86 (fixed date) and €99 (open date). More children can be added to the package at purchase. If you’re planning to go for two consecutive days, the 2-day pass is a better deal.
  • Night Tickets. For extra savings there are evening only tickets for €5 for entry between 7 pm and 11 pm.

Expo 2015 Hours

Expo is open everyday from 10 am-11 pm, through October 31.

Getting There

Expo is located in the Northwest area of Milan, about 25 minutes from the city center. It’s easy to get to via subway. Take the Metro Linea 1 (red line 1) to the Rho-Fiera Milano Metro station. Purchase an anextra-urbano (extra-urban) ticket for €2.50 each way. You can get this from a machine at most Metro stations. Keep your ticket so that you can use it to exit. Children under 10 travel free of charge on the metro when accompanied by an adult in possession of a valid ticket or travel card. More details on how to get there, including a Metro Map, can be found on the Expo 2015 website. You can get updates on the Metro Hours here.

By car, there are parking lots near Expo that are available by reservation.

 

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Bark Painting Craft with Watercolor Paint http://tinkerlab.com/bark-painting-craft-with-watercolor-paint/ http://tinkerlab.com/bark-painting-craft-with-watercolor-paint/#comments Sat, 08 Aug 2015 00:40:06 +0000 http://tinkerlab.com/?p=20052 We did a fair bit of traveling this summer and one of our trips took us to Los Angeles to visit family. Because we try to travel light, there is always a resourceful eye out for easy-to-do art projects with materials we find along our journey. My parents happen to have this gorgeous tree on their...

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Bark Painting Craft - This is a fun and frugal way to bring more painting into your life.

We did a fair bit of traveling this summer and one of our trips took us to Los Angeles to visit family. Because we try to travel light, there is always a resourceful eye out for easy-to-do art projects with materials we find along our journey.

My parents happen to have this gorgeous tree on their property, which prompted a Bark Painting Craft. While I’ll focus mainly on bark here, you can borrow this idea for leaves and palm fronds as well.

Maybe even coconuts?!

find a tree

The first thing you’ll want to do is find a tree that sheds bark. As some healthy trees grow, the bark thickens and the old bark will peel off. It can often be found scattered around the base of the tree and loosely falling off the trunk. I’m not sure what kind of tree this one is. Any ideas?

Trees that shed bark:

  • Sycamore
  • Silver maple
  • Birch
  • Redbud
  • Shagbark hickory
  • Scotch pine

You can read more about why sycamores shed bark at the NYC Parks and Recreation page.

Bark painting lesson plan

Next, set up a painting area. I love this travel watercolor paint set from Sakura (affiliate). It comes with a cool refillable brush that you can load with water so you don’t have to pack a bowl of water for traveling. Neat! Because my kids and I share the set, we also pack a bunch of our favorite watercolor brushes. If you’re ever at the Metropolitan Museum, look in the kids’ art area for the black brush we have in this post. It’s fabulous and affordable!

Materials

bark painting

And finally, paint. Let your imagination go!

bark painting craft

Paint circles, patterns, faces, dots. There are so many options. Each piece of bark has its own unique shape that might lend itself to a certain design.

Bark painting lesson plan

If you want to keep on going, find some leaves to paint!

Bark and leaf painting

For another twist on Bark Painting, you’ll want to know about the Mexican craft of Amate Bark Painting. See this Lesson Plan from Incredible Art Department for more on that.

More Nature Crafts

With a little bit of acrylic paint and a skinny brush, you can paint up a storm of adorable leaf critters.

Adorable leaf critters, the perfect Fall art activity.

This post is also part of a series of 20 Nature Crafts, hosted by Red Ted Art. 

Yesterday, Maggy from RedTedArt shared this sweet, colorful driftwood seashell rattle, and tomorrow Ana at Babble Dabble Do will share these lively painted rocks. I can’t wait to learn how they’re made!

Nature crafts for kids

Thanks for joining me today, and, if you enjoy Nature Crafts like these, be sure to check out all of the other posts in this series of 20 ideas.  Or simply pin the next image so you can come back and check them all out later.

20 Creative and Fun Nature Crafts for Kids

Wishing you a week filled with creativity, Rachelle

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Camouflage Coloring Pages | A Creative Table Prompt http://tinkerlab.com/camouflage-coloring-pages-creative-table-prompt/ http://tinkerlab.com/camouflage-coloring-pages-creative-table-prompt/#comments Fri, 17 Jul 2015 17:17:29 +0000 http://tinkerlab.com/?p=19842 My older daughter and I gathered up crayons and colored pencils to play around with camouflage designs the other morning. I shared an image of our progress on Instagram and Facebook, and asked if anyone would like to play with some camo images. The answer was “yes,” so I  pulled a printable together for those who are interested. Coloring...

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Camouflage Coloring Pages on TinkerLab

My older daughter and I gathered up crayons and colored pencils to play around with camouflage designs the other morning. I shared an image of our progress on Instagram and Facebook, and asked if anyone would like to play with some camo images. The answer was “yes,” so I  pulled a printable together for those who are interested.

Camouflage Coloring Pages on TinkerLab

Coloring in Camouflage

The idea is simple.

  1. Collect 4 or 5 colors from the same hue together. These can be colors from the red family or green family, for example. Seen below: turquoise, light blue, grey-blue, royal blue, and blue.
  2. Fill in the bumpy sections with your choice of color.

Camouflage Coloring Pages on TinkerLab

My daughter had fun sorting all of our crayons and colored pencils into families of colors. Once she saw what we had to work with, she could see what colors she wanted to use. Camouflage Colored Pencil combinations

And then we just had fun with it, relaxing with the colors. Not worrying too much about it. It was a great activity for the morning, and could be a nice drawing prompt for a lazy afternoon.Camouflage Coloring Pages on TinkerLab

Why I like this project

  1. Children learn how to group colors by hue
  2. It’s a relaxing drawing activity
  3. The result is fun to look at
  4. It teaches an aesthetic appreciation of camouflage

History of Camouflage

Camouflage painting of uniforms unofficially launched during the Spanish-American war when troops smeared mud on their blue uniforms to become less obvious targets. This article form USA Today, A brief history of U.S. Military Camouflage, will tell you more about the evolution of camouflage.

Camouflage Coloring Pages Printable

This printable is on sale for a limited time. Print yours here today!

Camouflage Coloring Page Printable on TinkerLab

 

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The Best White Pens for Black Paper http://tinkerlab.com/the-best-white-pens-for-black-paper/ http://tinkerlab.com/the-best-white-pens-for-black-paper/#comments Sun, 28 Jun 2015 21:02:12 +0000 http://tinkerlab.com/?p=19751 Writing and drawing with white pens on black paper is a fun way to add some pizzaz to a drawing practice. In our traditional black on white world of mark-making we’re accustomed to putting dark marks on white paper, and perhaps it’s the tonal reversal that’s compelling and unique about white on black drawings. However, finding a...

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The Best White Pen for Writing and Drawing on Black Paper

Writing and drawing with white pens on black paper is a fun way to add some pizzaz to a drawing practice. In our traditional black on white world of mark-making we’re accustomed to putting dark marks on white paper, and perhaps it’s the tonal reversal that’s compelling and unique about white on black drawings. However, finding a good white pen that will show up on black paper can be a challenge. At least it was for me, and I wanted to spare you the hours and expense of trying and testing a ton of pens that might prove disappointing.

A few months ago we invested in a big roll of black paper to cover our art tables. This paper is fantastic. It’s heavier than wrapping paper and thinner than Kraft paper, so it does a nice job covering the table without being too difficult to secure with tape.  With the tables covered, we were itching to draw on it with opaque pens, and white ones in particular. Check out White Drawings on Black Paper to see the drawing prompt that kicked off our search for the best white pens.

After a few false starts with pens that faded against the bold black backdrop, I picked up some white pens at the local craft store. Unfortunately, these pens didn’t cover the paper well and one skipped spots as I wrote. Hmmm. There must be a better pen out there!

It turns out that not all white pens are created the equal.

This prompted to me to do a little digging to find the best white pen for black paper.

The best white pens | TinkerLab

The Best White Pens: The Testing Pool

Here’s what we worked with:

Craftsmart White Paint Pen (Michael’s Craft Store)

Recollections Signature Broad (Michael’s Craft Store)

Sakura Pen-Touch 1 mm Fine Point (Amazon)

Ranger White Opaque Pen (Amazon)

Signo Uni-ball (Amazon)

I brought my 4-year old into the decision-making process since she’s the one who actively uses the table as her own personal scribble zone.

white pen on black paper drawing

Signo Uni-ball (Amazon)
Our hands-down favorite. Since doing this test I have since ordered three more, and frequently travel with one in my bag. There’s a reason this pen gets 5-stars on Amazon. The ink runs consistently and it’s thick and opaque. It also writes like a regular pen, meaning that it’s not bulky like a paint pen. (3 for $7.50)

Ranger White Opaque Pen (Amazon)

This was our least favorite of the group. With the ball-point system, the ink came out in chunks and wasn’t smooth at all. Pass. (2 for $5.89)

Sakura Pen-Touch 1 mm Fine Point (Amazon)

This pen has to be primed by pumping the nib and up and down, to get it going. Not as bright as the Recollections pen (below), but it works. ($6.49)

Recollections Signature Broad (Michael’s Craft Store)

This pen was a favorite. It’s easy to write with the color is opaque. It’s perfect if you’re looking for something broad and thick. ($1.99)

Craftsmart White Paint Pen (Michael’s Craft Store)

This is one of the first pens we used. The ink flowed well and it was easy for my daughter to use. The only complaint is that the color wasn’t hyper-opaque. ($0.99)

the best white pen

child drawing white pen

If you come across a particularly fantastic pen or have an opinion on this topic, I would love to know about it. Share a link in the comments below.

Happy drawing!

the best white pens for drawing and writing

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Phonebook Art: A Painting Meditation http://tinkerlab.com/phonebookart/ http://tinkerlab.com/phonebookart/#comments Sat, 13 Jun 2015 00:58:50 +0000 http://tinkerlab.com/?p=19793 “When there are thoughts, it is distraction: when there are no thoughts, it is meditation.” -Ramana Maharshi When I was cleaning out my studio last week I came across a few phonebooks. I occasionally use them as scrap paper or throwaway sheets for printmaking, and decided that my 4-year old and I could have some fun...

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“When there are thoughts, it is distraction: when there are no thoughts, it is meditation.”

-Ramana Maharshi

Phonebook Art | TinkerLab

When I was cleaning out my studio last week I came across a few phonebooks. I occasionally use them as scrap paper or throwaway sheets for printmaking, and decided that my 4-year old and I could have some fun painting on them.

We cleared some room on the table, took out our watercolors, and got busy.

Why Phonebooks are Great for Painting

  1. They are free! Woop!
  2. Because they’re free, they aren’t precious. And that’s great because it frees us up to go hog-wild and not worry one iota about ruining expensive paper.

For more videos like this, be sure to subscribe to the TinkerLab channel.

Why this is a Meditation

I’m trying to get into the practice of waking up early and taking in some quiet time to reflect, journal, and exercise. Today’s phonebook art project is an extension of that practice. Why? Meditation is the act or process of spending time in quiet thought (source). If you can turn off the inner critic, get into the zone of making, and have fun, this phonebook painting project can serve as a meditative act.

I’m a fan of Lou Reed, and I really like how he describes it:

Meditation doesn’t have to be complicated. What I do is about as simple as you can get. You could just count the beads, one, two, three, with your eyes closed or open, whatever makes you happy.”

Using phonebooks, a free, disposable medium, gives us the freedom to create without adding too much value to the end product. This allows us to consider the process more deeply and get into the moment of creating.

How to set this up

  1. Clear a large work space: a table, the floor, whatever works
  2. Rip a bunch of pages out of your phonebook and spread them around the table.
  3. Set up your materials: watercolors, a water jar, a rag (for cleaning/drying the brushes), brushes
  4. Turn on music (optional)
  5. Surround yourself with inspiration. Place inspiring photos or images nearby that can act as inspiration
  6. Paint! Be free, be quick, don’t worry about perfection

Recommended Paints

Pelikan Paints OpaqueWe used our Pelikan watercolor set (affliate). It’s a double-decker box with 24 colors. The colors are bright and the variety of hues is thrilling to me. And, bonus!, it’s currently 31% off.

See it in Action

Lovely idea for relaxation through art! Paint on phonebook pages. They're free, plentiful, and free you up to experiment.

 

Join me!

Do phonebooks still get delivered to your address? It surprises me that we get them, but I’m seeing it as a bonus. If you get phonebooks, join me by setting aside a few minutes to make some Phonebook Art.

Ideas:

  • Paint on it
  • Collage with it
  • Use it for paper making
  • Cut it up and sculpt with it
  • Use it for papier mache
  • Fold it into paper airplanes that go far.
  • Look on Instagram for #phonebookart and you’ll get some ideas

Lovely idea for relaxation through art! Paint on phonebook pages. They're free, plentiful, and free you up to experiment.

Other Things you can Make with Phonebooks

Make a beautiful garland with your kids, as seen on Art Bar Blog

Turn them into sculptures as Jonathan Callan did

Take a cue from Alex Queral and draw portraits on them

Make a wreath out of the pages, as seen on A Little Tipsy

Turn it into a Pencil Caddy, as seen on Chica and Jo

Make Paper Bows, as seen on How About Orange

After you make your phonebook art, post it to Instagram with the hashtag #phonebookart.

Join the TinkerLab Community

If you enjoyed this post, sign up for the weekly TinkerLab newsletter. It’s free and we often send exclusive content and opportunities that are only available to our subscribers.

In case you blinked and missed it, TinkerLab rounds up all the great stuff on the internets on keeping you and your critters creative and wraps it up for you in a tidy newsletter! (And throws in some secret giveaways for good measure!)  – Yuliya P., San Francisco, CA

Join our community and you’ll learn:

  • How to simplify your life and make more room for creativity
  • How to make hands-on making a part of your everyday life
  • Easy, actionable ways to raise creative kids

TinkerLab Newsletter

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Art Tips and Tricks: Paint Brush Deal http://tinkerlab.com/art-tips-and-tricks-nail-brushes-painting/ http://tinkerlab.com/art-tips-and-tricks-nail-brushes-painting/#respond Sun, 31 May 2015 07:21:26 +0000 http://tinkerlab.com/?p=19765 This is the first of a new TinkerLab Video series called Art Tips and Tricks. In this episode I share my favorite deal for detailed paintbrushes – you won’t believe how inexpensive these are and what they were originally intended for! Art Tips and Tricks I’ve been sharing art tips and tricks on my blog...

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This is the first of a new TinkerLab Video series called Art Tips and Tricks. In this episode I share my favorite deal for detailed paintbrushes – you won’t believe how inexpensive these are and what they were originally intended for!

Art Tips and Tricks: Amazing Deal for Detail Paintbrushes (plus, the source of these brushes may surprise you)

Art Tips and Tricks

I’ve been sharing art tips and tricks on my blog for some time, such as 24 Ideas for Cleaning up Art Messes with Children and How to Recycle Boxes into Art Panels. After a bit of brainstorming, I thought it would be fun to turn these art tips and tricks into a new video series.

You might know that I’m messing around with video. It’s been an enormous leap into the unknown, with an even bigger learning curve, but I’m having fun with it.

And isn’t having fun the point?

If you haven’t already subscribed to my YouTube channel, you can follow me here where you’ll get at least one new, inspiring video each week.

Paint Brushes from a Surprising Source

Grab this DEAL on Amazon (affiliate) here.
*Note, at the time of filming, these brushes are $3.78, which includes free shipping. These brushes ship from China and may take a week or longer to arrive.

MORE ART TIPS AND TRICKS:

7 Tips for Setting up an Impromptu Garden Art Studio

Art Tips: The Bits and Pieces Box

Art Tips: What to do with Leftover Paper Scraps

Tips on How to Clean Up After a Creative Session with Kids

Catch the next Episode

Check back next week for the next episode in the Art Tips and Tricks series: How to Store Tempera Paint

Art Tips and Tricks: How to Store Tempera Paint to Save Paint

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June TinkerSketch Sketchbook Challenge http://tinkerlab.com/june-tinkersketch-sketchbook-challenge/ http://tinkerlab.com/june-tinkersketch-sketchbook-challenge/#comments Wed, 27 May 2015 18:03:47 +0000 http://tinkerlab.com/?p=19734 After taking a short break from the TinkerSketch Sketchbook Challenge, I’m ready to try another round in the month of June. Are you with me? After the last Sketchbook Challenge, I received so much encouraging feedback. Here’s a sampling of what people like you had to say about their experience: I can’t thank you enough for the challenge. I quit...

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After taking a short break from the TinkerSketch Sketchbook Challenge, I’m ready to try another round in the month of June.

Are you with me?

TinkerSketch Drawing Challenge

After the last Sketchbook Challenge, I received so much encouraging feedback.

Here’s a sampling of what people like you had to say about their experience:

  • I can’t thank you enough for the challenge. I quit my job as a designer to be a SAHM and even when I love it, I realized I needed to have a project for myself, something that the kids could see me working on, and this has been a perfect “excuse” to set some time aside for myself to do that. I like doing it alongside my oldest, sometimes he is painting with me, sometimes h is just playing – but he sees me being creative, and I fell it’s very important. Thanks again!
  • I’ve really enjoyed the discipline of finding time everyday for bits of creative time. Some of the hardest prompts have been the most interesting. Quite often I’ve started the day with one thought and by the end of the day I’ve arrived at something quite different. It has made me much more observant too.
  • My favorite part was connecting with people around the world and trying to think of creative ways to execute the prompt of the day. Thank you!!!
  • My favorite thing is connecting with others. My second favorite was thinking about each prompt every day. I like to turn ideas around in my mind. Also, I have added drawing prompts for my upper level high school art students as a result of this – with good success. Thank you.
  • Thank you Rachelle. I certainly sketched and painted more than usual thanks to your great prompts.
  • Loved the challenges for ideas to stretch my mind and try new things. I can no longer say, “I can’t draw” because now I know I can! Thanks for encouraging a safe place for a non-artist to get artistic. I also loved the idea that it was just supposed to be a quick project each day. That really took the pressure off.

And this makes me feel great!

I firmly believe that we all have creative ideas inside of us, and that drawing skills are not a requisite for creativity. Challenges such as TinkerSketch celebrate processes of creativity and a spirit of trying new things.

It’s not the product, but the process that’s important.

Here’s an example of my interpretation of the one-minute drawing prompt from the very first TinkerSketch Challenge. I set the timer for one minute, and created one drawing – this set of nine drawings took nine minutes.

For more on how to do this, you can see my post about it here. Fun bonus, day 19 of the upcoming June challenge poses a similar prompt and you can give this a try.

 

One minute drawing on TinkerLab

So here we go… Let’s tackle June gloom (that’s a weather phenomena in Southern California) with our brushes, pencils, and notebooks.

Are you in?

June 2015 Sketchbook Challenge

TinkerSketch Sketchbook Challenge for drawing experimnets. Join Anytime!  This is such a fun drawing challenge. All welcome.

Share it!

If you know anyone who might like to join, feel free to screen shot any of these images, pin it, tweet it, and pass it along.

Print it!

For anyone who wants to print this in Black and White, here’s a list for your convenience:

instagram tinkersketch challenge june 2015

 

Get the Sketchbook Challenge FAQ’s

Next, you’ll want all the details. Read here for more.

Sketchbook Drawing Technique | White Pen on Painter's Tape

Won’t You Join Me on Instagram?

If you’re new to the TinkerSketch Sketchbook Challenge, this challenge takes place on Instagram, so you’ll want to start by following TinkerLab over there.

If you’re not on Instagram, but like to call Facebook home, join our closed Facebook group, Club TinkerLab, where you can also play.

If you want to jump-start your creativity and start your art journal practice, join us for the FREE TinkerSketch Sketchbook Challenge in February 2015 at TinkerLab.com

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