Kids’ Mixed Media Art :: Creativity Inspired by Fabric Scraps

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Kids Mixed Media Art -- inspiring creativity with fabric scraps!

On Friday, the kids had fun creating mixed media art with autumn-colored fabrics and paints.

I set up a basket of fabric scraps in the middle of the table, along with sharpies, sequins, a few glue bottles, and some paint. A sheet of white paper at each chair and the set up was complete.

Once Maia and her friend Kara were home from school and the three kids ate their snack, did a complete inventory and trading session of their trick-or-treating loot (it was the day after Halloween, after all), and swung on the swings, they migrated to the table.*

Fabric Collage with Kids 02

Daphne came in from playing first and immediately started drawing, painting, and collaging. First she drew a clown juggling (it started out as a portrait of me with my glasses and somehow morphed)…

Daphnes Fabric Collage of a Clown

…then added orange paint and a generous number of colorful fabric pieces.

Besides the basket of scraps, I had cut some into smaller pieces—squares, triangles, and polygons—and scattered them around the center of the table. I knew the older kids could cut the fabric themselves but the fabric scissors were too big, sharp, and tricky for Daphne to manage. So I had some fabric pieces ready to use, which she did quite enthusiastically!

Fabric Collage with Kids 07

After her first collage, Daphne drew "a friendly monster with lots and lots of eyes"…

Fabric Collage with Kids 11

…and started gluing sequins on to the eyes.

Fabric Collage with Kids 20

When Maia and Kara finally came in, they dove right into the materials as well, both drawing people, and adding paint and fabric to complete the collages.

Fabric Collage with Kids 13

Kara glued sequins and a couple of fabric pieces to her paper and worked carefully on painting and mixing colors to suit her vision.

Fabric Collage with Kids 18

Maia drew a girl, painted in the face and hair, then glued on a fabric dress (she asked for some help cutting it to fit) and lace trim.

By using Autumn colors for the fabrics and paints, by the way, we turning this into a fall art activity without so much as a pumpkin or leaf in sight! 

Have your kids used fabric in their art-making yet? Did it seem to inspire them differently?

By the way, if you don't have a fabric stash of your own, either ask any fabric-addict sewer you know to set aside some small pieces for you (believe me, they'll have plenty), or buy a few fat quarters in the quilting section of the craft/fabric store.

*Sooo… I wrote a note here about how I set up art activities for playdates and for my kids but let them notice and come over in their own time, but the little postscript became longer than this post, so I'll save it for a separate post—maybe tomorrow.

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  1. Liz says

    We love the colors and mixed media of Kara’s art and have it prominently displayed on the kitchen table, supported by a votive candle holder! The colors are so very warm and autumnal and it is very fun to see her picture. Thank You!

  2. says

    So fun. I have so many fabric scraps but have never offered them to the kids. Bah! I’m going to. :) My kids, I’ve noticed, love working with different and ‘unique’ supplies rather than just markers or colored pencils all the time, though they do like using those, too. It’s always nice to have a change every once in awhile. We bought some pipsqueaks awhile back on your recommendation and my daughter just loves them. Thanks for the recommendation. I had to buy her a new set because in 3 months she had already completely used them up!
    Sarah M

  3. says

    What fun! Also, I love how the black marker lines show up in those pictures. At my son’s preschool they write in their journals every day, and they can only use black fine-tip markers. It’s not a restriction I would have thought of, but it’s amazing how it focuses the kids on their lines–whether they’re writing letters or drawing pictures.

  4. Suzie says

    Hi Jean! I love Daphne’s drawing style – so expressive! Have you noticed differences between her style and Maia’s? I ask because I have twins and its’s been fascinating watching their drawing and creative style develop over the years. My daughter always draws herself (and a few others if we’re lucky) and is very free-form,quick and has moved onto the next thing. My son always draws houses and then carefully colours them in – I need to give him a lot of time to do his ‘work’. Also – noticed that you use your dining table a lot. Just wondered if you’re still using your studio now the kids are older? (I’ve been following your blog for a long long time.) Thanks, Suzie

  5. says

    Hi Suzie! Let’s see — drawing style differences. Yes, I’m trying to remember Maia’s drawings from when she was four. Hers were definitely different. She drew a wider variety of things with more of a focus on storytelling. Daphne (so far) mostly draws faces and people and talks about them — so there’s a bit of storytelling there, but it’s more of a character description than the often elaborate scenes with multiple characters and elements that Maia drew. In terms of quick vs careful, Maia is much more deliberate now (at 8), but at 4 I’d say she was just as quick and expressive with her drawings and paintings. The differences you note in your two is interesting. I imagine a lot just has to do with personality. Do you see those differences in other areas of their lives?

  6. says

    Oh, and Re: my dining table vs studio. Yes, we do use our dining table a lot for art. We still use our studio, but it’s more set up for doing art as the urge strikes and free access to materials etc. Whereas we do most of our family art activities around the dining table. The set up is more comfortable for a range of ages to sit together and the lighting is better. It’s also closer to the hub of action in our house.

  7. says

    By the way, I’m currently reworking the studio a bit to make it work for our family better now that the kids are getting older. I tried putting a large (dining table size) table in the studio but the space is just too small for that to work well (and still double as a laundry room). So I picked up a couple of fold down tables from IKEA and am planning to mount them against the wall under the windows. Not sure if it’s the best solution, but we’re going to give them a try. And I’m going to try to improve the lighting as well. Wish I could just add more windows!!

  8. sara b says

    I love that you put the paint in mason jars. Where did you get the paint brushes are they using? Also, wanted to say, since it’s my first time commenting (although I have been following your blog for a while), thank you for inspiring me to do more art with my children!

  9. says

    Oh, I love this, Jean! I used to do this with my daycare years ago. Oddly enough we were doing something kind of similar with craft scraps this week too! And oh MY, how I love Daphne’s drawing with all the eyelashes! Precious!

  10. Suzie says

    Yes – must be personality related I think. Daphne and my Emma sounds alike – lots of characters!

  11. says

    Just discovered your website. Thank you for sharing all those wonderful ideas !
    I particularly like this mixed media idea for kids… seams easy to make with kids, but has a lot of impact !
    I will be sharing this idea in my blog very soon (with a link to your website). Hope this is ok with you.
    Otherwise, please let me know.
    Thanks again!