Meet Rebecca Picker of Studio Sprout!

Rebecca Picker is a mother of 3, performer, costume designer, and founder of Studio Sprout, a children’s art studio and discovery garden in Santa Cruz, California. Rebecca and I have been friends since first meeting in college at UC Santa Cruz. When we re-connected at a college reunion a few years ago, she was super excited to hear about how I had started a toddler art studio out of my back cottage.  This got her thinking…
With a little encouragement from me and a lot of talent and drive on her part, she too was able to start a successful children’s art studio at home. I recently spent a morning at her art studio enjoying her amazing program and finding out a little more about how she managed to follow her passions and create a fulfilling business as a stay at home mom.

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Spiderweb Printmaking

For some creative Halloween decorations, we decided to try out these styrofoam spiderweb prints, seen over at Tinkerlab. We started off by cutting out two circles of foam from our Scratch Foam Boards (affiliate link), but you could also use a Styrofoam plate.
Karuna and I weren’t sure exactly how to draw a spiderweb, so we looked up a photo of one online and talked about the lines and shapes in the web. Then we each took a stab at it, and drew our version of a spiderweb and spider onto our plates.
Next we used a ball point pen over our drawings to make deep grooves in the foam. Here are our finished printing plates:

To make a print, we used a brayer (affiliate link) –a foam paint roller would do fine as well- to roll out paint onto the foam plates. In addition to black paint, we were excited to try our glow in the dark paint left over from Karuna’s birthday. We had fun swapping plates to ink and print over and over again.

After rolling out the paint, we pressed a piece of paper onto the plate, rubbed it carefully, then peeled it up to reveal our print. For an added pop of color, we used a small paint brush to paint in the spider with the opposite color.

And here are some final prints, taped to our doorway for Halloween! I haven’t yet seen whether the glow in the dark one actually works, but the yellow looks pretty cool anyway.

Happy Halloween!

So Many Ways to Make Prints!

Here are some fun photos from our last two weeks of the Winter session. Both weeks were dedicated to a variety of print-making techniques (because there are so many great ones to try for young children!) I would like to go into detail about each of the techniques, but I am on maternity leave and trying to take it easy. Our healthy baby girl, Ora, was born March 11th. She’s adorable, full of love, and sleeps really well :)
Enjoy the photos and I’ll be back with more documentation from the new session next week.

Check out our Make+Believe Magnificent Monoprint! Supply Kit if you want to try scratch foam print-making at home.

Gluing Collage and Sculptures

Last week in our art classes, we focused on gluing collages and sculptures. The 1s and 2s classes experimented with collages using an assortment of items and colored glue.

The 1s class was working their fine motor skills just trying to squeeze the glue bottles! I love how this age group is fascinated with what the other kids are doing. They learn so much by watching their peers.

We also experimented with a sticky collage, using clear contact paper and lightweight items. At the end of the week, the collage was full and we hung it in the window!

The 3s/4s classes worked on 3-D collages and sculptures. They were each given a sturdy base, glue, and a variety of natural or recycled objects (sticks, cardboard, wood scraps, old toy parts, etc.).

Some kids enjoyed stacking flat objects or filling their entire base, while others opted to build tall sculptures.

The tricky part was how to make something stand up if it wasn’t very sturdy. The kids began to figure out how to stand a piece up by placing other, sturdier items next to it.

 Towards the end of class, some of the kids worked on print-making at the acrylic wall panel. They rolled out paint…

 Drew a picture into the paint with a Q-tip…

 Pressed paper onto their design…

 …and peeled up their print! This was the perfect introduction to our next project, printed holiday cards!

Clay Exploration, Leaf Prints, and Sculpture

For our week of clay exploration, some children worked with clay for the first time, while others re-visited this fun medium, experimenting with new techniques. The 1s and 2s classes began testing out a few tools to manipulate the clay.

After a bit of exploration with only the tools, the children were offered decorative objects to use with their clay (popsicle sticks, buttons, glitter, and paint).

The older twos classes tried out our new plaster molds. They pushed clay into the mold, rolled over it with their rolling pin, and then peeled it up to see detailed designs appear- So exciting!

The younger classes were eventually given water to add to their clay for a super sensory (and messy!) experience.

Window painting was also a hit this week!

The 3s/4s classes first were introduced to resist leaf printing. They chose leaves to press into their clay, painted over the entire thing with tempera, then peeled up the leaf to reveal their print.

After peeling up the leaves, you can see the veins printed into the clay. The leaves also acted as a resist to the paint, allowing the outline of the leaf to show when peeled up.

After leaf printing, the kids began to add to their work with more clay and decorations.

Some kids also decided to pick out items from the recycled materials bin to use with their clay.

 A couple of the finished sculptures…

Printmaking and Open Studio

For the first class of our summer session, we worked on mono-type printmaking and stamping. We started off rolling out paint onto acrylic boxes and then using a cotton swab to draw a design. The mixed-age open studio class used large acrylic boxes as a base, while the 1s/2s class used small boxes to print fathers day cards.

We continued the theme of printmaking by using a variety of stamps. Some children used cookie cutters to stamp out shapes, while others used the letters DAD to add to their fathers day cards.

We also experimented with bubble wrap printmaking. The children painted the bubble wrap (which was taped to the acrylic easel) then pressed paper against it to make a print.

The 1s/2s class moved on to painting with fun tools and gathering new supplies from the shelf.

For the mixed-age class we had a large group of 11 kids, so while some children worked on printmaking inside the studio, others were busy at the five outside stations. These stations included a floor mural with gross-motor tools for painting…

ball painting…

easel painting…

a bleeding tissue mural collage with water spray bottles…

and a mixing table with sand and powered tempera paint.

And of course the studio eventually turned from a print-making station into a messy, fun, free-for-all!

Foam Scratch Prints

This week the 3s/4s class worked on printmaking using styrofoam scratch boards. This foam is similar to the type that often comes with pre-packaged meat. If you have any at home, you can give this a try!
The children first used ball point pens to draw a design in the foam. I had to encourage them to press hard so their drawing would be indented into the foam.

After drawing, they rolled paint onto their foam, flipped it over onto a piece of paper, then peeled it up to reveal their print.

They tried this in a few different colors to see how they could create the same print in a different color using their foam drawing.

The children also worked on the second phase of their clay etching projects from last week. Now that their clay has dried, they painted it, making sure to get the paint deep into the scratched drawings. Next week they do the final step!

A couple of the painted projects…

So many kinds of Prints!

This week we worked on various print-making techniques. In the older classes we began with a scratch foam activity where the kids used toothpicks to scratch a design into a piece of foam. After making marks with the toothpicks, they rolled paint onto their foam and flipped it onto a piece of paper to make a print. We used basic craft foam that I had in the studio, but next time I’m going to try scratch foam boards that are softer and easier to scratch a design into.

After printing with foam, we moved on to try many other printing materials like leaves… 

textured rolling pins…

woodblock stamps… and more!

The kids loved the wood block stamps, dipping them into the paint and banging them down onto the paper.

The 1s classes started off using cookie-cutters to make prints, then moved on to leaves, sponges, and rolling pins.

The kids began to combine all of the techniques and, of course, decided to add glitter as well!

The easels were popular with the 1s classes as they moved around the studio.

The weather was hot and beautiful this week so I decided to bring some of the print-making outside for the last half of class. We first tried out the techniques on a longer scale!

Then I brought out some warm weather fun like ice painting for the 1-yr-olds and water balloons for the older kids. We also tried out some nylon bean bags that make interesting prints when bounced like a yo-yo.

Outdoor messy exploration… so fun!

Valentine Printmaking

While I focused on finger painting with the new classes, the returning students began the session with Valentine printmaking. The 3s/4s class used heart shaped doilies and foam rollers to make stencil-like prints. After covering their rollers in paint, they carefully held the doilies down onto paper and rolled over them.

After rolling out the paint, the children peeled up the doilies to find their print! This one was done on a folded piece of paper to create a Valentines card.
The 1s class tried out monoprinting for the first time. They first rolled out paint onto an acrylic box, then used a Q-tip to draw a design into the paint.


Once the design was drawn I showed the children how to press a piece of paper (folded in half to make a card) down onto the design.
When they peeled it up, they found a print!
After experimenting with the printmaking the 3s/4s group began to embellish their valentines with glitter, markers, glue and collage items.
We also explored cutting out hearts by folding paper in half and drawing a half-heart along the edge (I first did this step so they could understand the concept and practice their cutting skills, then I offered them plain paper to try it out themselves).





After working on monoprints, the 1s class worked on bubble wrap printmaking and painting at the easels.

After a while this group was eager to get outside, so I moved an easel to the yard for painting, water, and sand play!


Outside, the 3s/4s class tried out jumping prints with bubble wrap, paint rollers, and paper. Jumping on the painted bubble wrap not only makes a print, but it makes a great popping sound as well!

The feeling of paint squishing around toes… soooo worth the clean up!