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Kelly's Special Friday: Experimenting with Shaving Cream

Recently one of the Art Studio’s Summer Interns, Kelly Niland, designed a special Friday project for museum guests. She planned the event, prepared the materials, and introduced visitors to the project throughout the day. The following is her description of that process and the day:

When thinking about my special project, I was not dedicated to a specific medium or method. What I knew for sure was that I wanted to create a project that felt magical and instilled wonder in our guests. I spent time reading through some of the books the Art Studio has, and I also spent time discussing my ideas with Art Educator Sara. Originally inspired by the process of painting with oil, which can be found in the book Tinkerlab: A Hands-On Guide for Little Inventors by Rachelle Doorley, I wanted to use an unconventional medium to inspire our guests. While discussing my ideas with Sara, we came to the decision to substitute shaving cream for the oil in the project. This was for a few reasons. First, allergies are always something to consider when deciding what kind of medium to use and we wanted to make sure the project was safe for all guests. Second, we decided that using the shaving cream would just be more fun! It expands really quickly while also being soft and fun to play with. I knew that shaving cream would be a huge success and exactly the type of medium I was looking for.

Next was the decision of what type of paint to use. I experimented with food coloring, liquid watercolor, and acrylic paint. All three were exceptional choices but in the end I decided to use the acrylic paint because the end result was more pigmented and exciting.

Lastly, I had to decide what kind of paper I wanted to be used in this project. I tested the results between student-grade watercolor paper, heavy-weight watercolor paper, and Hygloss Dippity Dye Paper (also known as color diffusing paper). The student grade watercolor paper ended up being my choice as it was very durable and helped accentuate the paint designs.

For the set-up, I created five stations with five trays at each station. Four of the trays were to be filled with shaving cream and used for the actual painting while one tray was for the excess shaving cream when finished. At each station there were five squeeze bottles of acrylic paint. Each station had access to the three primary colors (red, blue, and yellow) and two more non-primary colors (varied). Each station also had access to wooden tools for swirling the paint and a squeegee. As you can see below, once a guests’ tray was filled with shaving cream, they would use their acrylic paint to create different swirls and shapes in their shaving cream.

Once a guest finished making their swirl creation, it was time to create a print. The guest pressed their paper, either a full or half sheet, on top of the shaving cream. A guest is seen below pressing his paper into his shaving cream creation.

Once the paper was pulled up from the shaving cream, stiff peaks formed above the paper. This essentially hid the marble design from view and the squeegeeing process became an unveiling of the finished work. Guests were encouraged to wait at least five minutes before using the squeegee in order to allow the acrylic paint to dry and the marble designs to set.

Another guest is shown during the process of squeegeeing off her excess shaving cream.

The guests were bursting with excitement, the shaving cream painting appeared to be a huge hit!

Below, a guest shows us their electric creation!

While facilitating this project, I learned about how exciting it was to not only inspire our guests within the Art Studio to experiment, but also how exciting it was to inspire our guests to go home and replicate a project.

Relatively inexpensive and all around fun to play with, painting with shaving cream is easily replicated at home or in a classroom. Almost every guest took their creation home with pride and I was ecstatic to see how I helped inspired our guests to keep creating and making magic even after leaving the Art Studio.