Jul 30, 2011

Stamping with Lego and craft foam

Hello! Long time no blog! Delyth is six weeks old now and we've been enjoying both the scrummy new baby and the summer vacation. I have got plenty that I want to get up on Filth Wizardry in the next month, even a book giveaway, which I've never done before. It's a cracking book, so that'll be coming soon (a month after I intended, but you know... baby, so bear with me), but in the mean time, here's a simple craft we came up with, that you've likely got all the bits to do already, and if you don't then they are nice and cheap.

You will need:
  • a stamp pad. If you've got more than one colour, all the better.
  • Craft foam sheets
  • Random bits of Lego
  • A roll of clear contact paper (sticky back plastic if you are from the 1980s Blue Peter generation like I am)
You've probably noticed that we like playing with Lego in ways other than it was intended. For example, here, here, here and here. I'm also a big fan of making art projects be open to creative diversity, so although the kids love stamping things with stamp pads, we don't have many store bought rubber stamps. If you've been reading Filth Wizardry for a while then you might remember the stamping with plasticine that we did last year. That is still a very popular way to use the stamp pads with the kids, mainly because the possibilities are limitless with it, but it's a very organic, fluid kind of art that you can create in that way.

In contrast to that, I've wanted to find a way that the kids can experiment with the geometric shapes of the bases and tops of various Lego pieces. Lego blocks are already designed to fit together, all measuring multiples of a unit length, so constructing art with them should be interesting. Back in October last year we tried it on paper, but with a silicon baking sheet under the paper to give the needed "squidge" for the solid plastic Lego to make good contact for a decent looking stamp. It was ok, but not brilliant and I never got around to blogging about it. You can see the result in this picture. The good thing about this method was that the kids could colour in their creations with pencils after if they wanted.

This week I remembered that we had some craft foam that hadn't yet been chopped up and used in the bathroom like this, so we tried stamping directly onto the craft foam and it worked beautifully. Just the right amount of squidge for the ink to make really good contact and print cleanly. The other great thing is that it's very easy to clean the water based ink off the Lego pieces after you're done. We just wiped ours clean with a baby wipe.

We had a handful of stamp pads from the dollar store and a roll of clear contact paper to cover the artwork and make useful items from it such as coasters, place mats, book marks and picture frames. The Dollar Tree by us sells stamp pads, packs of craft foam and rolls of contact paper, so if you have some Lego you could do this with a bunch of kids for as little as three dollars.

My six year old was into using the pieces to make representations of objects like flowers, butterflies, people and clouds, but my five year old seemed to enjoy a more abstract approach. They made themselves place mats, but you could easily make a mouse pad as a gift in this way.

You do have to cover the printed foam with the clear contact paper though, because although the stamps take well to the foam, the foam is not going to hold a water based stamp permanently, so the sticky back plastic over the top protects it from getting smudged. I was worried that the contact paper might not adhere well to the craft foam, but it actually sticks to it really well.

You don't have to just do dark coloured stamps on light coloured craft foam either. I had a white stamp pad that we tried on black craft foam and that worked really well too. While the kids were making their place mats, I made a couple of coasters. The large circle was made by dabbing the stamp pad around the rim of a cup. I couldn't resist the urge to see if I could make a millenium falcon coaster, and I think it worked out reasonably recognisable, at least to Star Wars fans anyway.

The kids also made some bookmarks to give to grandma and grandpa.

It's an easy way to decorate a little craft foam photo frame too.

If you've given me enough of your time to get this far down a rather lengthy post then let me reward you with a photo of a cute baby!

I'm sure we'll be having more fun with this way of stamping in the future. If you don't have stamp pads or Lego handy, you can also make all these things without the stamping, by just using Sharpie markers to draw on the craft foam and covering that with the contact paper.

I've got another Lego craft option to blog about, but if I add it onto the bottom of here it'll be the world's longest blog post and I may never get it finished, so hopefully I'll get to that another day (if I can stop staring at my baby long enough)

Can you think of anything else that we could use besides Lego to make interesting stamps with on craft foam?