These pop-y halftone leaf and gourd collages offer a new way to look at highlights and shadows (through the eyes of a graphic designer) while celebrating a few of November’s natural beauties and the joy of handmade art!
Over the past couple of years, one of the things I’ve had the MOST fun exploring is how to bring some of my fav graphic design processes into projects for kids.
Back when I went to school, computers & software were still shiny, new and *expensive* so we did a lot of our work by hand. We’d hand-ink designs, take them into the darkroom for a photograph with the crazy huge stat camera (google it!) then develop the final posters. Its was…a lot.
Halftones (the patterns of dots you see in everything from Roy Lichtenstein’s artwork & modern design to printed pizza boxes) were especially excruciating to ink by hand. Which is why, when I revisited halftones to try this interpretation for kids, the art student in me jumped for joy over BUBBLE WRAP. All those dots, done in an instant!
Using a stamped halftone pattern is a unique way to explore highlights & shadows, as well as negative and positive space. AND…one of my very favorite things about this particular project is that, through the printing and collaging process, you use the ENTIRE piece of paper – twice! Hurrah for low waste art-ting!
To make your own halftone leaf and gourd collages you’ll need:
- A piece of cardboard, cereal box or heavy card stock
- 3-5 sheets of colorful paper
- A glue stick
- Paint in assorted colors
- A foam brush
- A square or two of bubble wrap
- Our Leaf and Gourd Printable Templates
- Tape or a hot glue gun (for hanging)
- Wire, string, twine or a ribbon (for hanging)
*Note: For those concerned about the use of bubble wrap (a non-recyclable) I recommend washing and reusing – just as you would paintbrushes or other art supplies. If you’re working with temperas or acrylics, the paint comes right off with a quick soapy sponge scrub and rinse.
Halftone Leaf and Gourd Collage Instructions:
- Draw gourd and leaf shapes on to paper or use our templates
Grab a few different colors of paper and sketch out a gourd or leaf (or any shape you want!) in the middle of the paper.
If you’d prefer, you can also use our templates (see examples below). Download and print on to a piece of copy paper or cardstock, cut out and trace.
- Carefully cut out your shapes
Being careful to follow the pencil line, cut one continuous line around your shape.
Save the large pieces you cut your shapes from because you’ll be using those as stencils when it comes time to stamp our halftone patterns.
- Arrange your gourds and leaves on paper or cardboard
Using a piece of cardboard, cardstock or construction paper as a background, create a composition with your gourds and leaves.
We added a couple of strips of colored paper to create some contrasting areas of color.
- Use a glue stick to glue down the background of your composition
Glue all the background pieces of your composition down with a glue stick.
Once finished, trim any excess paper from the edges of your project. Before you begin stamping, think about what colors of paint you’ll want to use. Would you like to create a lot of contrast, subtle patterns, or use a monochromatic color palette?
- Begin creating halftone patterns with painted bubble wrap
It’s time to start adding halftone patterns! We began by adding a large strip of halftone pattern to the middle of our composition.
I’ve found it’s easiest to apply the paint to the bubble wrap using a foam brush. It doesn’t take a thick layer of paint – just a couple of brushes of color to add enough paint to print!
Once painted, carefully turn your bubble wrap so the painted side is facing your project, and gently lay it over the area you want to stamp. Rub across the top of the bubble wrap firmly a few times (being sure to get all the way to the edges) then pull back the bubble wrap to reveal your printed halftone pattern!
- Use your paper stencils to create gourd and leaf-shaped halftone patterns
Grab the leftover paper scrap you cut your shapes from to use as a stencil that can help you create halftone patterns in a gourd or leaf shape.
Cut out a piece of bubble wrap roughly the same size as your stencil. Lay your stencil down first, then stamp the bubble wrap on top of it. Gently pull back the stencil & bubble wrap together. (Note: If printing with younger kids, you might find it helpful to secure your stencil with a small piece of tape before printing).
This part of the process provides a wonderful opportunity to discuss positive and negative shapes, as well as shadows and highlights.
- Glue your gourds and leaves down
Once your printed halftones have dried, use a glue stick to glue down your gourds and leaves.
- Add small decorative details to finish your collage
To finish off your project, you can add some small details as we did, with scraps of cut paper, the gourd “stems,” and some bubble wrap stamped highlights.
You can recycle the stencils you stamped on by flipping them over to the blank side and using it somewhere on your composition.
We created a halftone highlight on our squash by cutting a small half-circle shape out of bubble wrap and using it to stamp a white “highlight”.
Now, how beautiful are those? I’m planning on stringing a few of these beauties together to drape across the wall behind our Thanksgiving table.
You can create a lovely kid-made gallery wall by grouping a whole collection of these together – totally suitable for framing! Or form a little hanger out of a piece of copper wire (as we did for our larger gourd collage) for an instant touch of November anywhere!
However you decide to display your completed collages, I hope you have the MOST fun making them – the heart of the project is all in the process. Happy half-toning, future designers!
With a passion for cultivating imagination, Amanda aims to help families discover their creative potential and be inspired to make the world a better place through art, play, adventure, activism, conservancy, and community.
When not playing with ideas, designs and projects for barley & birch, Amanda enjoys working as a modern art curator and managing her own small design business.