If you haven’t heard about Swatch: The Girl Who Loved Color, then you probably haven’t been within direct contact of me in the last six months or so. I’m ridiculously in love with Julia Denos’ fabulously vivid and wildly amazing story. It delivers a stunning picture page after page, a great story about letting things be free, and encourages so much creativity it seems to just drip off the page. We love it. And to celebrate that we spent this last weekend being color tamers just like Swatch. Now before we go any further I should probably give a brief synopsis so that this whole activity makes sense.
Swatch is a color tamer. She can track down the most elusive colors and teach them but also capture them in the ever dreaded jam jar. After tracking down most of the colors, Swatch discovers Yellowest-Yellow. But when she goes to trap him, she realizes that colors are wild and deserve to be released to soar across the world making magnificent masterpieces.
We sat down and read the story. Bug loved tracing the colors with his fingers. And then we got down to the business of being crafty and having fun.
- Poster Board
- Small Jars (we used 6 but the number can be flexible)
- A Plywood board
- 2 Yard Sticks (I used two because ours were metal and a bit bendy)
- Binder Clip x2
- Popsicle sticks
- Small balls (we used a paper version of a ping-pong ball but I think a bouncy ball would be better. Something with a bit more weight)
- A foam tube (This is just for helping stop the balls when they get to the end of the paper. You can use whatever you have handy: a couple rocks, some small boxes, your foot, your neighbor’s foot, etc.)
I should begin by saying this is not a project that should be focusing on the final product. This is all about having fun and enjoying the journey. We LOVE messes. Well, maybe messes in moderation. I take precautionary measures but overall we welcome it with open arms, whether we’re baking or crafting. And so our first step is to always put something on our face. When we bake we put flour on our noses and so it was only applicable to smear paint on our faces in the true Swatch fashion.
- The first thing you’ll need to do is prep your color jars. We taped two metal yard sticks together but plenty of things can substitute for this. These are just what I had handy. I taped the sticks together and proceeded to tape the jars on, making sure they were mostly centered. One piece went underneath to attach the jar to the stick and then an additional piece went round the jar itself to make sure it was firmly attached. As you attach more jars you’ll need to tape the jars together or spend a ridiculous amount of time sliding tape through small gaps. Don’t do it. It’s just as secure otherwise. Bug helped cut the tap and seal it down on the jars.
- Our next step was to capture the colors. Bug filled the jars himself and we mixed the colors we didn’t have. We added the balls and then completed the capture by sealing the jars. Next, we shook the jars to make sure the balls were completely covered. Our paint was a bit thick so we added some water to make the paint a bit easier to spread.
- We then clipped the poster board to the plywood with the binder clips and then folded the last 3-4 inches up to create a small paper wall to help catch the balls at the end.
- We then created a ramp by propping it up (ok, yes, with a beer crate. Please remember we live in Germany where people buy drinks, alcoholic or otherwise, by the crate) and creating an additional barrier of rags and a lovely foam tube to help cover the side lines.
- Remove the lids and let those babies roll. Or if you’re using balls that have no weight like we did just sit there. We used the popsicle sticks to help encourage the balls to be free.
- Use the tongs to pick up the balls and return them to their jar and roll it again! We rotated the yard stick 180 degrees to get some more interesting paint streaks.
- Have fun color tamers! We also ended up playing Swatch hide-n-seek later. The seeker is Swatch and the hiders are colors.
- Hand-eye coordination (tongs, adding paint to jars, unscrewing and screwing lids, tape application)
- Color Theory (mix your own in the jars or just practice naming colors)
Messy Play Hints:
- Wrap the table in saran wrap. These took me years to think of but it’s crazy easy clean up and total coverage on the table.
- Have a set of messy play clothes. We get almost all our clothes second hand but for messy cloths I go for the cheapest thing at a second hand shop that’ll fit. We’re going to make it amazing anyway.
- Or no clothes. Straight into the bath after. Done and done.
- Or a full coverage smock.
- Do it outside. Being able to just spray it down after your done or in our case through a bucket of water on it makes clean up crazy easy.
- If you are going to do it inside use a shower curtain. Mine also moonlights as my drop cloth in my workshop.