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Art teachers were STEAM-ing before STEAM was cool!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Paper Mosaic Skull

Here's a quick little project that can be used in a variety of ways. These are 1/2" paper squares, but you could scale the pattern down to use 1/4" squares for a smaller skull. Mosaics have a definite art history link, but also tie in with math. This might be a good project to create when you have a couple of free minutes of downtime in your classroom or in your day (pack a less messy version of the project for your child to do at the doctor's office or in the car).

This skull was cut out and glued to two pieces of background paper--
a torn-edged orange and a black for a bit of contrast.
Here are the basic instructions followed by a couple of variations.

Skull Mosaic

Supplies Needed (for very basic version):
  • Graph paper
  • Pencil
  • Sharpie
  • Paper grid/pattern printed on copy paper
  • 1/2" construction paper squares in white and black
  • 1/4" strip of white construction paper
  • Glue stick
  • Scissors
  • Piece of construction paper (or patterned paper) for background (your choice of color(s))
Directions:

1. Using my example as a guide, create the skull "pattern" on graph paper. I made my squares 1/2" for my 5-year-old. Darken the grid lines with Sharpie so they will reproduce well. I used an ultra fine tip to show the division of the squares, but then a regular sharpie to bold the edges of the different sections of the design (edge of skull, eyes, nose, and mouth). Slightly shade the areas of your design that you would like to be black, so the children know to place black squares on those areas. I cut the skull pattern out and glued it to black construction paper so the children would know where the edge of the skull was and disregard the background.

The larger image in this photo is the pattern I made on graph paper,
cut out and glued on a plain black background so I could photocopy
it for the children. This keeps the background plain so they can focus on the skull.
The smaller image is a copy of my skull pattern, copied at 50% to make 1/4" squares
in the mosaic (good for bookmarks or a pin or something).
2. Photocopy the grid onto plain white copy paper.

3. Use glue stick to glue construction paper squares directly onto the photocopy paper. Light areas of the grid get white construction paper squares glued to them and shaded areas get black squares glued to them. Cover the entire skull pattern on the copy paper, but leave the negative space (background) around the skull blank.

4. When all of the squares of the skull are glued down, you can use the 1/4" strip of white paper to divide up the mouth area so that it looks like the skull has teeth. We just eyeballed this part. Attach the pieces with glue stick.

5. When all of your gluing is done, use the scissors to cut around the outside of the skull, cutting away the extra copy paper. Flip the skull over and put glue on the back. Place the finished skull on the background paper (this gives the piece a more finished look).

Other variations:

I used 1/2" squares for my 5-year-old to do this project, but you could use 1" squares and make a bigger skull (or increase the square size even LARGER and make one for the wall). Another option for older children, is to decrease the size of the squares to 1/4" to make smaller skulls to create a pin, bookmark, or to use as a decoration for a candle. 

If you want to create the mosaic to Mod Podge on a clear glass object (for a candle holder, etc.). Use your paper grid pattern as a guide, but layer some tracing paper on top of it and glue the paper pieces to the tracing paper. Then trim the excess tracing paper and Mod Podge the tracing paper (with attached paper mosaic glued to it) to the glass object you want. This is a process I've used a lot in my teaching, you can check out a similar post where we use tracing paper as a substrate for the paper mosaic pieces but we Mod Podge it to wood.

I hope you enjoy this quick little project with its many variations! If you use this project, be sure to send me your thoughts and photos so I can post them here--I'd love to see how YOU used this idea!

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