Sometimes the very best projects come out of having no plan for the project at all. I’m all packed up for a move, surrounded by cardboard boxes with limited access to art supplies, but still in need of fun creative kids’ project. After surveying the supplies I had (and have to use up!) I decided the best option would be to lay out paper, paint, scrap supplies, some odds & ends, and see where the supplies could take us.
After an afternoon of trial & error-style experimentation, these playful process art shape collages emerged! One of the joys of open-ended creation is that there isn’t a defined end goal, allowing for so much imagination and creativity. When we’d get to a natural stopping point, it was fun to take it one step further. From simple square collages to interesting geometric shapes that could be used to build illustrated stories (like this neighborhood scene above). Can’t you suddenly picture covering a bedroom wall with these beauties to a magical Mary Blair-like castle?
Whether you need a last-minute afternoon art activity for one or plan on decorating a whole school hallway with these, they never fail to entertain and impress. And because you can stop anywhere in the process you’d prefer, these are easily adjusted to work as an art lesson with kids of any age. The inexpensive supplies are a major recycling (and budget!) plus too!
To make your own scrap stamp shape collages you’ll need:
Note: We prefer to shop locally or use what we have at home, but this list contains a few affiliate links from Amazon and/or Woodpecker Crafts for reference. As Amazon Associates, we make a small commission on qualifying purchases.*
- A couple sheets of heavy cardstock
- Scrap paper in assorted colors
- Bubble Wrap (we used two different sizes)
- Acrylic or tempera paint in assorted colors
- Bottle Caps
- Plastic Containers
- A glue stick or craft glue
- A foam brush or ink brayer
Scrap Stamp Shape Collage Instructions:
- Gather up scrap supplies
Gather your scraps and supplies! Heavy cardstock makes a nice solid backing that will hold up well to layers of glue and paint.
Pillaging the recycling bin for simple shapes is a great exercise in repurposing! Plastic lids make the perfect fill-ed in circle stamp ( you probably even have lots of different sizes to choose from). A square plastic take-out food lid makes a great open rectangle stamp. Bubble wrap and mesh can be used to add patterns and textures. What can you find to stamp with?
- Make a homemade stamp from scrap cardboard
You can make your own simple shape stamps with cardboard. We cut a rectangle and half circle
shape, then hot glued lines of cardboard (trimming off the excess) for a set of unique homemade patterned-shapes.
- Begin by gluing down paper scraps
Start by laying down a simple layer of paper scraps. You can mix & match geometric shapes, organic shapes or even torn paper. Glue down using a glue stick or craft
- Trim edges
Trim off any excess paper that goes beyond the edges of your cardstock and grab your stamping materials!
Note: One of the things I love about this project is you can stop whenever you want. Working with younger kids? You may want to spend more time on the fine motor skills of cutting and gluing or focus on shape recognition. These collages we achieved by step 2 have a minimal style that I find particularly beautiful!
- Experiment with adding patterns by printing and stamping
We used a mixture of printing and stamping techniques. You can use a foam brush to apply paint to large pieces of bubble
wrap,or cover smaller squares by pressing them directly in paint.
- Try using your cardboard stamps to add textures and shapes
We also brushed paint onto our cardboard stamps (an ink brayer works well for these too if you have one!) You can use one color paint on them as we did or experiment with different colors or blending paint on the stamp.
- Continue to stamp and print until you’re satisfied!
One of the best parts of creating these collages is experiementing with layers of colors, and observing how the stamps, prints, and papers overlap. There are no mistakes – it’s all about the process!
- Let dry for 5-10 minutes
Once you’re happy with the patterns you’ve made, let your collages dry for about 5-10 minutes.
- Add dimension with paper cutouts
While your collages are drying, you can start working on the next step – another layer of shapes. We used scrap paper to cut
circlesand create accordion-folded rectangles to add some dimension to our collages. You can lay outyour shapes then glue them down using craft glue or a glue gun. We also added some plastic mesh we had painted for another texture.
- Cut collages into simple shapes
Our collages are already looking SO lovely! If you’re happy with your squares, stop at step 5 – they look fantastic grouped in small sets! OR you can add ONE more shape element by trimming your collage into a circle, triangle, or similar geometric shape.
These shape collages are so whimsical and fun, and a wonderful way for kids to explore new printmaking or collaging processes and tools. For more ways to make your scraps into recycled art, be sure to take a peek of our scrap paper quick collages, torn paper landscapes, modern cardboard geometric necklaces or easy DIY melted crayon art (always a favorite around here!).
*A note about affiliate links: We strive to use simple, earth-friendly supplies that can be purchased locally whenever we can, but sometimes we find the best universally available options, a rare eco-friendly find, or a niche product only available on Amazon or Woodpecker Crafts. When included in our supply list, these products are affiliate links, and if you click-through to make a purchase, we receive a small commission that helps us re-order these supplies!