Thursday, June 21, 2012

A Rainbow Curtain

We've been working down this huge roll of industrial waste for a couple years now and I keep thinking I need to find a source for more because it's not going to last much longer.  It's a spool of crude lace made from what's left over after coffee filters have been stamped out of it.

We've tried using it in lots of different ways, but by far the best is to hang a curtain of it outdoors and turn the kids loose with squirt bottles loaded with liquid water color. The end result might be more brilliant with undiluted paint, but the process is just is good (and significantly less expensive) with the paint mixed with water.

We go through a lot of paint when we use the squirt bottles, especially since I've finally found bottles with triggers built to last. I buy a lot of our supplies from Discount School Supply, but their squirt bottles typically only last a couple goes around before they stop working -- at least based on the way we put them through their paces.  We now use the Ace Hardware brand. Not only do they last, but even the youngest kids are able to pull the triggers.

A great cross-section of kids like squirt bottle painting, but this is definitely one of those that draws those boys who are often reluctant artists. I have no illusion that it isn't at least in part the gun-like action of the trigger, but I didn't hear any weapons conversation yesterday, perhaps because they were far more focused on hitting their targets. 

Many years ago, I read a piece claiming that this whole domain of hitting targets is one of the few developmental areas in which boys tend to outpace girls during the early years. This theorist speculated it had to do with the way males urinate, which provides boys, from a very early age, a very personal connection to trajectory, distance, and hitting bullseyes. I don't know if this is true, although as Stephen Colbert might say, it smacks of "truthiness," and may even in part explain why boys, across cultures, gravitate to gun play and sports/games that involve targeting. I don't know, just throwing it out there.

Whatever the case, the boys do tend to descend on any art project involving squirt bottles, and this was no exception.

Even with the step stools and other ways to challenge themselves in targeting the fluttering ribbons of filter paper, with the predictability of clockwork the kids started looking for "what else" to target, which is why I had regular coffee filters on standby, which provide a better medium for experimenting with absorption.

Of course some of them were just as happy squirting the table tops, and eventually chose a plastic toy to turn into a painted pony.

Yes, we do all try to squirt our bottles in the same directions, but the kids, both boys and girls, young and old, tend to go home be-freckled from errant sprays. 

By the end, we were mostly playing in the water bucket, which was another convenient target, making it "beautiful" . . . 

. . . and sort of mucking around in the preschool gray puddles we'd made on the table tops, which is where all preschool art projects should end.

Ah, but the rainbow curtain we made hung up above the gray and at the end of the day was a beauty, something to keep for awhile.  

We hung it up behind the workbench, under the cedars. Even so, once the rains return it'll eventually be washed white again, giving us a fresh canvas upon which to deploy those squirt bottles. And that's how we've managed to make this one huge roll last more than two years: that's right, we're re-using our industrial waste.

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Cave Momma said...

Wow. That is gorgeous. Where might one find a roll like that? My kids LOVE to spray paint and I would so love to hang up something like that in our backyard.

Bek said...

So creative and beautiful. I can see my boys getting a kick out of that sort of activity.

Stephanie said...

Excellent way to reuse! I love doing spray bottle painting with preschoolers. We also have a lot of fun filling them with plain water and spraying the concrete on the playground on a warm day.