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Projects for Teens

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Foil Painting

Using different surfaces is a great exercise for learning new techniques and provides opportunities to use untraditional materials to create beautiful work on a simple everyday material.

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Minecraft Selfies

With some graph paper and a little bit of math you can make your very own Minecraft Selfie!

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Leaf Prints

Try your hand at printmaking with this fun activity! It only takes three materials to create vibrant prints of your own.

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Marbled Coasters

Create one of a kind coasters to add flair to your favorite summertime beverages!

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Pulled String Art

Create mesmerizing visuals with this fun activity that uses string and watercolors!

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Stained Glass Art

These baskets are great for decoration, gift baskets or for storing art supplies. It only takes a list of five supplies to make your own unique basket!

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Tin Can Lanterns

Keep the summer night mosquitoes away with your own citronella candle lantern!

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Calder-Inspired Paper Sculptures

During his career, Alexander Calder created some of the most well known public artworks around the country. Create your own mini Calder sculpture with simple craft supplies to brighten up your bookshelf, desk, or coffee table!

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Stained Glass Art

Who would’ve thought you could create cool artwork with just food coloring and glue?!

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Slotted Building Discs

Fidget spinners and stress balls can be helpful activities when you get writers block, but so can building things! Check out these great templates to create your own building discs for your home office or work table!

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Painted Potted Cacti

Plants can do wonders for any room, but some can be tricky for those without a green thumb. Take your worries out of the equation with this fun painting activity!

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Pounded Flower Art

Flowers are a great way to brighten up a room but they never last as long as we’d like. By using this simple technique you can transform your bouquet into more permanent works of art!

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Paper Boats

Dip your toes into the world of origami with this fun and simple craft! Make a couple for the tub or a whole fleet for the swimming pool!

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Marbled Pencils

Have you ever thought about other things you could tie-dye that arent’ t-shirts? Why not brighten up your desk with some marbled pencils! By using simple household items like nail polish, tupperware, and water you can have your own tie-dyed pencils in no time! Check out the link below for a helpful step by step guide.

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Macrame Keychains

Update your dull keychain or add a fun zipper accessory for your beach bag with your own macrame designs!

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DiY Cornhole Bags

Cornhole can be a great addition to any backyard barbeque, especially after a long day working indoors. The link below provides helpful step by step instructions and notes to help you get ready for your next game. 

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DiY Sharpie Mugs

With Father’s Day right around the corner, DIY Sharpie Mugs can make for great personalized gifts for dad or for yourself! 

View Sharpie Mug Instructions

Garden Markers

Do you ever get so excited about prepping your garden that you forget which plants are which? Making garden markers is a great way to recycle materials, provide helpful reminders, and add a custom look to your garden. The link below shows a number of different options to get even more creative in the garden this season.

View Examples & Instructions Here

Natural Dyes & Shibori Folding Techniques

Tie-Dye is a summer staple! But also something we know you may not always have readily on-hand. No problem! Learn how natural dyes can be combined with shibori folding techniques to create gorgeous bandanas, t-shirts, and linens. Use onion skins, turmeric, hibiscus tea, avocado skin and pits, blueberries, red cabbage, beets, and many more items found in the produce aisle to dye textiles. Use an old stainless steel pot to make the dye in and use cloth made out of natural fibers (like cotton). Learn more about both natural dyes and shibori folding techniques using the links below! This activity involves the handling of very hot liquids and adult supervision is advised.

View How To Make Natural Dyes

More Information on Shibori Folding Techniques & Natural Dyes

Colored Pencil Cosmic Cat Drawings

If you love creating with colored pencils, these cosmic cats will really be up your alley! Check out these clear, easy-to-follow instructions that will guide you in creating your own unique version. When you are working with colored pencil, especially as a beginner, you may want to initially keep your drawings small and then make larger drawings as you grow more comfortable with colored pencil techniques. We strongly encourage checking out the “Basics of Using Colored Pencils” post below.

View Step-By-Step Cosmic Cat Drawing Instructions

Basics of Using Colored Pencils

Are you new to using colored pencils? Here are some quick tutorials on a variety of techniques. Learn how to blend, hatch, cross-hatch and more. Also included is a lesson on the basics of shading and information on several types of colored pencils and how they differ.

View Basic Colored Pencil Techniques

View Basics of Shading with Colored Pencils

View Types of Colored Pencils

Watercolor Popsicles

With these 80 degree days coming up, who can’t help but think about some tasty, cool treats?! If your are new to watercolor, learn how to create a simple series of popsicles with wet-on-wet gradients. If you are a teen, adult, or a youth who has worked with watercolors before, learn how to create watercolor popsicles that have a more sophisticated look and that use a combination of both wet-on-wet and wet-on-dry techniques. Grab a little sun and enjoy experimenting!

View Watercolor Popsicle Instructions- Beginner/Kids

View Watercolor Popsicle Instructions- Teens & Adults

View More Watercolor Popsicle Examples

Pen & Ink “Weirdos” by Alexander Gordon

Do you or your child love sci-fi and/or character design? Check out the work of the very talented artist, Alexander Gordon. Alex titles his characters “weirdos” and finds inspiration in the everyday items around him- pencils, toasters, appliances, etc. He starts out by drawing symmetrical shapes in pencil and using the shapes as inspiration for the rest of the character. Next, he imagines what the eyes will look like, and then adds in details, textures, and lots of personality before inking them in. When he inks them in, he uses a combination of both heavier outlines and finer lines for the details. Check out the many, many weirdos he has created over time- all of them completely different! View them for inspiration, but then try making a few of your own completely unique weirdos and share your pics of them to artpix@annarborartcenter.org . We’d LOVE to gather enough “Weirdos” to share with Alex and everyone else!

View MORE “Weirdo” Examples

T-Shirt Yarn Rugs & Crafts

As you tackle this year’s spring cleaning, don’t throw away those old battered t-shirts! Learn how to upcycle them by turning them into t-shirt yarn and transforming the “yarn” into rugs and other easy crafts. That old “Hanson” or “98 Degrees” t-shirt will find a new life (and maybe a better life?) as a colorful and stylish floor covering.

View T-Shirt Yarn Making Instructions

View T-Shirt Yarn Rugs & Crafts Examples

Symmetrical Name Creatures & Designs

Make a great sign for your door or your room with your name on it! The image on the far left is an example of bilateral symmetry. If you were to draw a line down the center of the name design, the right half would appear to be a mirror image of the left half. The image on the right is an example of radial symmetry. It’s symmetrical in multiple directions around the center of the page. In that particular version of the project, if you were to draw a diagonal line between two corners and through the center of the page, the drawing on one side will always be a mirror image of the other side. When you apply color to either your name creature or name design, make sure the colors are a mirror image of each other as well!

View how to make a Name Creature with Bilateral Symmetry

View how to make a Name Design with Radial Symmetry

View Symmetrical Name Design Examples

Bleached T-Shirt Designs

Put some life into your old colorful t-shirts. There are a number of different ways to create bleached t-shirt designs using different proportions of bleach to water or cricut cutters (which are cool, but not vital) or reverse tie-dye techniques, but we love this basic version listed in the link below. A little freezer paper to make the iron-on stencil, a spray bottle, and a dash of bleach/water mix can do wonders! This project should be done in a well-ventilated space, ideally outdoors on a non-windy day while you are wearing old clothes and gloves. This is a great project for teens and adults. Children should not attempt this project without adult supervision and assistance.

View Bleached T-Shirt Design Instructions

View Bleached T-Shirt Design Examples and Variations

Freezer Paper Stencils

For an easy way to decorate t-shirts, tote bags, and more, check out these easy iron-on freezer paper stencils! Use them with regular paint, fabric paint, spray paint or bleach spray (see the Bleached T-Shirt Designs post). We are really digging this star wars t-shirt!

View Freezer Paper Stencil Instructions and Examples

DIY Screenprinting

Screenprinting is crazy fun and a great way to make multiples of your artwork or fashionable designs. The materials you typically need to screenprint are not necessarily items most people would have at home. Fear not, here is an easy screenprinting hack. No- it will never give you the same result as using a fine mesh screen and screen filler, but will it do the job- absolutely! A nylon stocking will work for the mesh screen, but if you happen to have a stronger, finer sheer fabric like organza or an old sheer window curtain around, give that a go. A tighter, stronger weave will serve you well.

View Screenprinting Instructions

Oil Pastel Landscape

Learn how to use blending techniques with oil pastels to create a colorful masterpiece. We encourage you to watch the tips on how to blend oil pastels before moving onto the landscape video. The landscape video will give you some ideas on how to make one, but use it as inspiration to come up with your own version that may include hills or mountains, valleys, ponds, rivers and fields, etc.

Tips on Blending Oil Pastels

View Oil Pastel Landscape Video

Mindbending Op Art

Op Art is short for “Optical Art”. It is abstract art that uses patterns to trick the eye into seeing movement, hidden images, warping, or vibrating imagery. Learn how to create your own mindbending images!

Op Art Examples & Instructions

Drawing Emotions & Facial Expressions

When we express an emotion, what changes in our facial expression? Our eyes, eyelids, eyebrows, mouth, nose, and facial muscles all work together to create a picture revealing how we feel. Try the exercise below and view how a few different artists visually exaggerate their character’s facial expressions to communicate emotions.

View Examples of Facial Expressions

Envelope Design

Discover the lost art of snail mail. Snail mail doesn’t have to be a snooze. Give your reader something extra special to look forward to by manipulating or illustrating the exterior (or even the interior!) of the envelope. This project can be done in a number of different ways that appeal to kids, teens, or adults.

View Envelope Design Examples

Accordion Books

Accordion books can be made in a myriad of ways and you can fill them with written stories, illustrated images, scrapbooked photos, and more. They can be the size of a matchbox or large enough to serve as a small, portable sketchbook.

View Accordion Book Examples & Instructions

DIY Planters

In between snowstorms, we know you all are ready to get out in the sun and start gardening. Transform your tin cans, popsicle sticks, plastic bottles, clothespins, old toys, and more into a beautiful and useful planter! Check out a variety of options using the link below.

View Planter Examples

Easy Friendship Bracelet Loom

Add some bling to your wrist with this super easy friendship bracelet loom. Once you start going, it will be hard to stop!

View Bracelet Loom Instructions

Upcycled Fashion

Even while we’re indoors, it can never hurt to dress your best! Check out the link below for instructions on how to make candy wrapper bracelets, newspaper hats and outfits, recycled t-shirt headbands and bracelets, a superhero jet pack and duct tape mask, easy fabric scrap tutus, no-sew t-shirt bags and more!

View Upcycled Fashion Examples & Instructions

Teen & Adult Sketchbook Inspiration

If you have a quiet moment in the day, or many of them, take a minute to cut loose and sketch. Check out the link below for some sketching inspiration.

View Sketchbook Inspiration

Paper Marbling

Add a little zip to your paper scraps with a variety of different paper marbling techniques! Try one or try them all. From our experience, we love how well paper marbling with shaving cream comes out. The colors are usually vibrant and crisp, the leftover shaving cream is fun to play with, and it leaves a pleasant smell in the air… for a very long time. So you might want to do it outside. Our summer campers adored this activity. Be sure to check out some of the other paper marbling methods that use oil, milk, and more. You can use the marbled papers you make to create cards or other projects.

View different paper marbling methods

Pop-Up Cards

Bring your cards to life with some 3-dimensional elements! Make a cute chick, like in the picture, or a scary monster! Are you a little older and up for more challenge? Try out some of the more complex examples of pop-up cards show in the link below.

View Pop-Up Card Examples and Instructions

Zentangle Drawings

Zentangle drawings are an easy, meditative project. You can keep things simple or get very elaborate. There are no mistakes. The more patterns you add, the better it looks- okay, there’s a limit, but it’s really hard to surpass it. Even better, add some color. If you are sheltering-in-place with other people, you could each draw one, swap them, and color in the page.

View instructions on how to make a very BASIC Zentangle

View Zentangle Examples

View pattern ideas

Typography & Illustration

Find a favorite quote or song lyric and use typography to illustrate it. Typography is arranging and styling type to make it appealing to read. You can illustrate your quote using just typography or add images as well. It’s your choice!

View examples of typography

View Hand-Lettering Tutorials

Fabric Mache Bowls

Put some of your nicest fabric scraps to work and make a dazzling fabric mache bowl. We tested this out with our youngest group of Art Campers (5-7 year olds) and they made some great pieces. In that case, we had solo cups on-hand and used them instead of bowls to make fabric pencil holder cups. Feel free to experiment with different shapes and vessels beyond bowls. Narrow strips of fabric work well and they shouldn’t be too long- no more than 6 inches. It may take more than one layer of fabric mache. Let each layer of fabric dry before you add another. Thinner, natural fabrics, like cotton work best. If you have old cotton shirts or clothes, this is a great way to repurpose them.

View Fabric Mache Bowl Instructions

“Taste Buds” Pairings

Designer and Illustrator Philip Tseng created a series of “Taste Buds” Pairings- food characters that have found their better half. His fun kawaii-style characters brightened our day. Some things are just better when they’re together. Try your hand at creating your own favorite food pairings!

View examples of “Taste Buds”

Torn Paper Collages

Torn paper collages are a great activity for kids, teens and adults. Magazines, newspapers, junk mail ads, paper remnants from craft projects, etc. work well for this project. You can make up your own design or work from a reference photo, but it’s always helpful to first sketch out the image on your paper before starting your collage.Tear up bits of paper by hand or use scissors if you prefer. You may choose pieces of paper that only contain color or you can compose with papers that have both color and writing or patterns on them to give your artwork more texture. This is an easy way to relax, enjoy, and unplug!

View examples of simple collages

View examples of advanced collages

Blackout Poetry

Create a stunning visual poem by singling out and visually highlighting words or phrases on a page from an old book or newspaper. These poems can be deep and meaningful or light-hearted and fun. Your illustrations can be literal or abstract, simple or complex. You choose!

Learn how to create a blackout poem

View examples of blackout poems

Calling All Pancake Artists!

Wondering what to have for breakfast? Dial up your first meal of the day with some color and creativity! Add a little food coloring to your pancake batter. Pouring each color of batter into a squeeze bottle is great if you have them, but you can also use whatever containers you have at home- a liquid measuring cups, empty-clean-and-repurposed condiment squeeze bottles or water bottles, a turkey baster, etc. No food coloring on-hand or prefer not to use it? No problem! The link of examples also features some images of pancake designs made without food coloring. We hope you will share with us your culinary creativity and send pics of your pancake art to artpix@annarborartcenter.org!

Learn how to make pancake art

View examples of extra cool pancake art