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Stuffed Fish Project

August 6, 2008

Since I’m making an effort to encourage creativity in my children, we bought some bigger paint brushes to do art projects like these stuffed painted fish, a project we did on Sunday. Even with the big paint brushes my daughter got tired. She said it was a lot of work. I got the idea from The Artful Parent and I remember doing something like it when I was a child. When we picked up our ceramic projects from the pottery studio, the owner wrapped them in paper and put them in a paper bag. In order to reuse that paper, we tore it into strips and crumpled it. Then when the paint was dry on the fish, we glued the edges and stuffed them with the paper from the pottery studio.

I also bought a roll of white paper for this project. Sitting on the kitchen floor, I folded a large section of the paper and used a pencil to make an outline of a fish with one fin. Then I asked my daughter to help me hold the paper (it was curling from being on the roll) and I cut around the outline, cutting out both sides of the fish at once so that the edges would match. I did that twice so that both of my children would have two sides to paint.

I taped the first side of one fish to the kitchen table for my son, and I taped the first side of the other fish to the table for my daughter. When they were finished with those, I carefully pulled the paper up and set them on the floor to dry. Then I taped the second sides of both fish to the table. At this point my daughter wanted to take a break. She was already “exhausted” and didn’t think she could paint anymore. My son started painting his hand instead of the paper, which was fine. The project was supposed to be fun, and I don’t care about messes that can easily be cleaned later.

To serve as a reusable palette, my mom gave them a plastic container designed to hold eggs. It works really well. She also gave us five jars of powdered tempera paint to use in future projects. The paints are at least 20 years old, so we’ll have to see if they are still usable. I’ll have to make a trip to the dollar store to get some shaving cream.

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painted stuffed fish project

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painted stuffed fish project

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painted stuffed fish project

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painted stuffed fish project

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When both sides of both fish were dry, I matched up the edges and glued them with Elmer’s multipurpose glue. Clothespins helped hold the edges together as we worked our way around with the glue. We left the fins unglued so that we would have openings to stuff. We also crumpled up the pieces of paper left over from cutting out the fish. Only at this point in the project did my children understand what we were trying to do. I must not have explained it very well when we started.

We stuffed the crumpled strips of paper into the fish until they looked puffy, and then we glued the fins and sealed them shut. I connected them with string and screwed a small hook into the ceiling. Now they hang together in a corner of our living room.

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painted stuffed fish project

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painted stuffed fish project

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7 Comments
  1. August 6, 2008 5:22 pm

    LOVELY!

  2. August 7, 2008 1:59 am

    Aw man! Reading your post and seeing your pics makes my mommy DNA tingle! Very, very sweet…

  3. August 7, 2008 9:22 am

    I started to comment yesterday FW & I was all excited to be the first one! But then life happened and I was helping a crabstained, sick boy with something and Emma stole the computer out from under me LOL. What can you do?

    I love these! I’m such a not crafty person and I can only copy what other’s do so I might have to do this with the kidlets myself. It looks so fun! Even if your daughter was getting tired, it taught her a good lesson to finish even when you are tired of it. And I love that picture of your son painting his hand. He seems so intently watching the brush place paint on his palm. Love it!

  4. August 8, 2008 12:16 am

    aaaaaaaaaaaaawwwwwwwwwwww, what a great mommy you are πŸ™‚

  5. August 8, 2008 9:51 am

    Curious C, thank you!

    teeveebee, that’s an awesome description. I’ve definitely felt that tingle when I read other mom’s blog posts, and it’s neat that you felt it because of this one. Thank you!

    Chris, thanks! It was fun and rewarding. I am just copying what I saw, too. There’s no shame in copying ideas for art projects. You are so right about the lesson to keep going when you are tired. She was proud of finishing. My son was very intrigued by the paint drying on his hand. It made his hand feel stiff and he was trying to figure out what was happening.

    Sky, thanks so much for saying that. You are too!

  6. August 16, 2008 8:48 am

    This is awesome! I have told another co-worker about your project! She loves it! Are you an art teacher too? Hehe!

  7. August 16, 2008 12:15 pm

    Thanks, Mere! I am getting a lot of great art ideas from The Artful Parent blog and also from Soule Mama’s book The Creative Family. For me, an important part of being a mom is being an art teacher.

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