Art: Painting with marbles

We played again with paint today. I showed the boys how to paint on paper using glass marbles. I remember doing this same activity when I was in Kindergarten thirty years ago. It is actually one of the few vivid memories from Kindergarten that I have.

It is very easy to paint with marbles. The finished pieces remind me a bit of Jackson Pollock’s drip paintings although obviously his technique was quite different.

For this project, you just need paper, a cardboard box slightly larger than your paper and deep enough that your marbles aren’t going to easy roll out of the box onto your carpet, a handful of glass marbles, some kind of dish to pour dollops of paint out onto, and various colors of paint. We used acrylic but poster or tempera paint would likely work just as well. You may also want some newspaper to lay down on your work surface. It might be a good idea to have a plastic bowl on hand to drop your paint covered marbles onto when you are done painting with them.

After gathering your supplies, lay your first piece of paper down on the bottom of the cardboard box. Squeeze small pools of paint out onto whatever you are using as a palette. Dip or roll marbles around in one of the pools of paint. Drop the marble onto the paper in the box and start shifting the box around. Roll a few more marbles into different colors of paint and drop those into the box as well. We started out with just a few marbles at first, but we quickly found that if you have at least 10 or 12 in there, the marbles run into each other and create a better effect.

Rolling around several paint covered marbles in the box

Rolling around several paint covered marbles in the box

Partly finished marble painting

Partly finished marble painting

Once it seems like no more paint is coming off your marbles onto the paper, you can take the marbles back out of the box and roll them around in more paint. When you think you’ve got enough paint on the paper, you are done. Just take your finished piece out and lay it somewhere to dry.

Tobin showing off one of his marble paintings.

Tobin showing off one of his marble paintings.

Steve showing off his marble masterpiece.

Steve showing off his marble masterpiece.

It only took a few minutes for our finished pieces to dry completely using the acrylic paint. I am not sure about the drying time with other kinds of paint. The finished pages would make nice wrapping paper for small gifts.

Tobin wouldn’t touch the marbles once they had paint all over them. He is very against getting his hands dirty. As long as he had a dry part of the marble to hold onto when he was dipping them into the paint, he was okay though. Steve and I, however, had paint all over our hands when we were through.

We had a lot of fun with this project. It was a little messy, but not too messy. Next time we do this, we plan on getting out some black construction paper for the project.

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