Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Can I pick your brains?

Do you have this?
Buckets of caps from dead markers of all shapes and sizes, and
Endless piles of strips of paper, from paper that was cut-to-size for various projects. There's colors, and LOTS of black and white.
I'm looking for great ideas for how to use these leftover materials. Please don't say "paper weaving" - been there, done that. Many of the paper strips are big (cut from 18 x 24" paper). I'm looking for NEW ideas. I tried imbedding marker caps into some plaster of Paris a while back, but it wasn't a great idea. So put your creative brains to the test: what ideas can you suggest?


  1. I use the caps as stamps for clay or for gadget printing.

    Maybe you could use them for an outdoor sculpture, such as the artist Michelle Stitzlein:

    The bright colored paper strips are used for various projects, such as Matisse paper cut outs, Mondrian collages, masks, and Laurel Burch Animals.

    The black and white strips are put on the Free Time shelf and the kids make bookmarks or headbands with it.

    Hope that helps!


  2. Paper strips are easy for the kids to cut into square/rectangles for paper mosaics. Also - you can use them to create paper sculptures. Demo how to curl & fold accordion-style for kids to build 'playgrounds' for a bug. Use a piece of tagboard/file folder as a base...
    Marker caps are great for printing circles - compare & contrast symmetrical/asymmetrical/radial balance in a composition using variety of colors. Caps are also great for making textures in clay.
    Wasn't there something out here in blog-world about using plastic caps in a mosaic? Thought they hammered or screwed them onto a wood base - looked great!
    Hope this gets your creative juices flowing...

  3. Love what mrspicasso suggested for all those extra caps. Michelle Stitzlein has some really great examples!

    For the strips of paper what about paper roller coasters. I have done this with my son's art class (he is in kindergarten - so the age range could be limited). He named his "dead again" it was a scary roller coaster! Anyway they colored the "tracks" and added coaster cars, people, etc. and then looped the strips and glued them down. The students were incredibly creative and it was fun.

  4. I was totally going to suggest Michelle Stitzlein - glad I read other posts.
    The caps could make a cool 3D mosaic

  5. I have my students tear the scrap papers, or in your case the paper strips, into small pieces, soak the paper in water and using a blender, make paper pulp. Then using cookie cutters as molds, we make ornaments with the paper pulp. You can also create larger paper coil projects, and really play with depth. Good luck!

  6. I have a bucket with colored pencils that are too short to sharpen and to hold.
    I can't get myself to just throw them away ... we art teachers are real hamsters, aren't we ;-)

  7. I save all my "too short to sharpen" pencils and as soon as I have enough, I am plotting a large quiltlike assemblage made of only pencil nubs. Also plotting a huge radial symmetry design with my marker tops. Both of these would be a large group activity where everyone could put on a few. I, of course, will be doing the glorious job of hot-gluing : )

  8. I like the idea of using the marker lids for sculpture, but could you attach them using hot glue instead of a drill? My room is always covered up with old markers and marker lids. I did figure out what to do with the markers once they're dried out:

  9. I use the paper strips for line sculptures. First the kids draw all the lines we've learned on cardstock then they try to make them 3D and glue them on the cardstock. Sometimes we make it a "line jungle" "line playground" etc. Kids can connect the lines to make their sculptures taller or more stable with glue sticks and secure to base with glue sticks. I'm SURE you've done this.

    Once we made a recycled paper chain with the "green team" and each kid wrote on a link how they were going to help the environment. We linked all of them together as a visual symbol of how little actions can lead to big changes.

  10. You could use the strips for quilling.

  11. Markers:
    -punch holes in them for funky beads
    -make a color transitional mosaic
    -make a garbage sculpture and utilize these.
    -use em like legos and make a city

    -Frank Stella Inspired Project
    -Color transitional strip work
    -paper quilts for one big quilt
    -papier-mache (Know YOU've already thought it!)
    -Paper sculpture trees -Seuss themed.

    That's all I've got right now! Keep us posted on what you think up! I know it will rock!!!

  12. I use the strips for a Quilling project. 5th grade! They roll them and pinch them and glue them together to make a design! Always gorgeous!

  13. You can use the caps of the markers in mixed media projects. Creating a relief sculpture by arranging a number of caps on the cardboard in intersecting ways. You can also create interesting flowers if you have enough caps to go around on a circle.

    With your paper strips, I would cut them shorter and roll them, then tape the two ends. You can create 3-dimensional art projects by arranging the rolled up paper.
    I did a flower project this week using rolled paper with my younger students and the flowers came out really beautiful.
    I will post the pictures next week.

    I hope this helps :)

  14. So, I have no ideas beyond your's, but thanks so much for asking. Look at all these great responses! jan

  15. Here is what you can do with all of those tiny pencils!!

  16. So many great ideas! I'm not sure about quilling - these paper strips are mostly BIG and not skinny like quilling strips, but I supposed an oversized quilling could be interesting.

    My big problem with the markers is finding a glue that holds them well besides hot glue. I've seen the Michelle Stitzlein stuff before, but I'm not going to bold down all those caps. So if you know of an inexpensive practical glue for them, let me know. I'd love to make a mural.

    Amy, I like the idea of making marker caps into beads, if I can find a speedy way to make the holes!

  17. This has nothing to do with this post, BUT I wanted to share. I'm not much of a basketball fan, but couldn't resist a little March Madness tonight, as Jimmer Fredette, hometown boy has been making waves for Brigham Young University's team. They won their game against Wofford tonight. Even president Obama commented on his shooting skills yesterday. Jimmer graduated high school with my son, and as they both are graduating college soon, Jimmer's employment prospects (in the NBA) look a lot better than my Ben's prospects (somewhere, doing something?)...

  18. I use the 2 inch wide paper strips to create accordian fold books. Take and even length and accordian fold them down into two inch squares. Glue 3 or more trips together, create little "origami-ish" folded covers for each end. They can be drawn on, colored on, collaged on, or written on. The latest idea used was to select a poem and illustrate it with a partner...turned out fun!

  19. Another idea for paper strips is to weave them into a loom made from painted vylene ie stiffening used in dress making. Cut squares and have students paint them in either warm colours or cool colours. Cut them into looms and weave coloured paper, ribbons etc, felt strips- these are then mounted onto a backing of a felt square. They do look fantastic Phyl. Will try to find a left over from a couple of years ago.

  20. Robin emailed me the following because her comment didn't post, so I thought I'd add it for her (hope that's OK, Robin):

    Hi Phyllis: I am really enjoying your blog and learning lots of new things from you! I had an idea for your marker caps - my suggestions are op art relief sculptures (caps lying down or standing up or a combination of both), or Chuck Close style portraits. There’s an artist named Tara Donovan who does wonderful sculptures/installations with repetitive forms – if you google her you can find lots of images. As far as glue, maybe mosaic glue would work with the plastic caps.

    Thanks, Robin. My big problem with the glues is that I want to find something permanent, safe for around kids, that also doesn't cost an arm and a leg. ha ha... Phyl

  21. Hi Phyl - funny how we just can't throw those beautiful marker lids out! My 4th graders made some nice relief sculptures with them:

    We glued the markers & lids down with Renkly paint - kind of like puffy paint, comes in a squeeze tube. Not sure if you can still buy the stuff; I had some donated to my class. I wonder if Aileen's Tacky glue would work? -josey

  22. For the marker caps I use them to imprint clay, they make great eyes, then we use wooden stylus for the pupil. We also just make patterns in the clay. I also use them for printing, I like to use both sizes, and paper tubes, each in a differ primary color then some mixing happens when overlapping occurs. I played with the idea of have the student create, "Art Land Game" and they could use marker caps as game pieces.

  23. First, I would like to commend your for collecting those marker lids and strips of papers. You're doing your own share of reducing garbage and instead recycle them to create new items. I suggest that you place the marker lids in a jar according to their color to make a decorative jar display. As for the paper strips, try turning them into paper 3d stars. You can check the instructions on how to make them at I hope that helps.

    John Briner Art

  24. Oh my gosh, I feel so guilty right now...I just throw away (AHHHHH) the markers! I am so into the environment, believe me, but I am not one of those art teachers who save stuff just in case I may need it one day. That is way too unorganized for me! I have been saving water bottles, though, so that we can create flower arrangements out of them. I can't wait to see what fun and crazy project you come up with with these caps, Phyl!!