Back to school activities are a great way to get kids excited about starting school! So why not start the year off right by making a few school supplies with your children? DIY erasers are an easy back to school activity that combines art and design and results in a useable end product. As a designer you gotta know I love that! I could see kids using these little erasers to fine tune a story, maybe composed in the Recycled Journals we made last week…..
When I was poking around the Internet looking for a recipe for DIY erasers I stumbled across eraser clay by Sculpey. I do like to make things on my own but this looked so easy that I couldn’t pass it up. Sculpt, bake, erase! I also make exceptions to my “DIY rule” when there is an art material I want to expose my kids to, in this case, modeling clay. Bright colors are hard to achieve in homemade materials and I couldn’t pass up the day-glo colors of this clay! Anyhoo, the eraser clay was as easy to use as promised and my kids enjoyed sculpting with bright colors so here’s how to do it!
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Age Appropriateness: 5+ with adult help when baking
- Sculpey Eraser Clay– Can be found online or at Joann Fabric
- Baking sheet & aluminum foil
- Step One Preheat your oven as directed on the clay package.
- Step Two Open the clay and knead each of the colors.
- Step Three Sculpt away! You can use the tools provided with the clay or your hands.
- Step Four When finished sculpting it’s time to bake. Place your finished erasers on a cookie sheet lined with aluminum foil. The clay package directs you to bake your erasers 20 minutes for each ¼” of thickness.
- Step Five Remove the baked eraser from the oven and let cool.
- Step Six Erase away!
The final erasers are a little harder than rubber erasers but work just as well. My kids really loved the idea of including their homemade erasers in their pencil boxes. My son especially loved the “creeper in a costume” eraser he made and my daughter called hers the “snowman with holes.”
Tips and Ideas
- Swirling the colors makes for some great effects, just be sure to stop before the colors get too muddy.
- We enjoyed making long strands of clay and then twisting them together. Once twisted you can flatten and fold the strands into a rectangular “eraser” shape.
- Have fun with shapes! We baked a long strand of clay and it still hardened enough to make a useable eraser. Remember though, that thin shapes are more brittle and can break under pressure when used to erase.
- Use this activity as a design lesson illustrating why standard erasers are typically shaped as parallelepipeds (I never ever thought I would use the word parallelepiped in a blog post; my brother the math teacher would be proud….) Once kids start using the erasers they will see why certain shapes make better erasers. I am constantly fascinated with how basic objects used in daily life evolved into their current shape and form. You can see that rectangular erasers with pointed edges are easier to control. Round shapes are harder to grip and with a sphere shape it’s hard to limit the area being erased.
- If your child is old enough you can piggyback the shape discussion with a talk about the ergonomics of erasers, yes, even the humble eraser has an ergonomic component! How easy is it to hold and use certain shapes. Are there any forms that might make an eraser that is easier to use?
With many of the projects here on Babble Dabble Do I like to talk about the artists, designers, and scientists who have inspired me! This project made me think of Jorge Pardo. He’s a Los Angeles based artist whose work is part art, part design, part architecture and usually extremely colorful! So of course when sculpting useful objects of out of day-glo clay he came to mind. What I love most about Jorge Pardo is the way he combines multiple disciplines in his work. He makes anything from lights to lobbies to lounge chairs as well as paintings and sculpture. Be sure to check his work out here and get inspired.
Back to School Activities!
So before starting school this year round up the kids and make a few school supplies! DIY erasers are an easy art project to include on your back to school activities list. Just think, each time your child makes a mistake their eraser can remind them of their inherent creativity. Am I reaching? I do love a little philosophical thinking with my coffee and art! Ha!
If you enjoyed this idea hop on over to our Recycled Journals project for more back to school art projects.
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