Thursday, June 7, 2012

Lesson: Book of Secrets (with Packing Tape Transfers)

I totally snagged this project from my colleague, Matt Milkowski.  So- HEY!  Thank's MILKO! (Though, I think he snagged it from another art teacher- that's how we roll!  I mean, isn't that the whole point of this blog, anyway?)
The giant Secret Book on display at our
Kenwood Academy Art Show!
In this project, the students illustrated a secret they had.  Some found this difficult... although, we all know that we ALL have secrets, right?  (Except me, of course.)
Students drew ideas in their sketchbooks, then received a "page" to illustrate their secret.  They had to use the skills we had already learned from class like compositional techniques, a unique font, borders and outlines to emphasize something important, and of course, excellent craftsmanship.  

(On a total tangent, a bellringer I had put up one day was this:  "Do you think that QUALITY and TIME are related?  Explain!"  And most students wrote that it takes a lot of time to have quality work.  Seems like a pretty easy concept, yet, so many students rush through to get the job done.  Clearly, they are choosing less time over quality work. But anyway...)

The new part of this project was including a Packing Tape Transfer.  Students use packing tape to transfer images from magazine, SOME printouts, newspaper, or even pencil drawings.  This was super cool because it would create a transparent layer on their page.  They could choose this as a texture or as the object, or even as text!  This is done by sticking clear packing tape to an image, then letting it soak in a bucket of water.  Then, the paper softens, and you can rub the paper off of the packing tape, leaving just the ink attached to the tape.  You DO need to use a SMALL amount of elmer's glue to glue the tape to the paper when it is dry (the tape is no longer sticky enough to hold on itself).  Don't use too much glue or it will dry white.

When students were finished with their pages, we "laminated" them with clear packing tape and added hinges to the edge.  Later, we assembled the pages into a giant Book of Secrets including students from all 4 of my art survey classes (about 100 students).  I tried having two of my best graffiti artists design the cover for our book, but unfortunately neither pulled through.  I guess it will be a design I can work on over the summer. 


1. I had to glue AND tape on the paper hinges because the glue just came off once it was dry.  The glue acts like a temporary tack until the book is all together, then I went back (had a student) and added tape in spots to reinforce the hinge/page connection.  
2.  Some types of printing worked as the transfer- I think it is laser, but NOT ink jet?  I want to say this is because the ink on the inkjet is absorbed in the paper, whereas the laser printing is sitting on top of the paper?  Honestly, I can't say this for sure, because some of my students who brought in print-outs were able to make it work, and some were not. 


  1. Yeah, I believe it twas Burstein at Payton who did a digital version of this project. But we thieve on!


  2. I happened onto your blog when checking a student's sources of Picasso portraits, and found your lesson plan- it will now be morphed with mine and go into next year's file.

    The best stuff for collage, adhering in general, and even as a clear topcoat is ACRILIC GELL. You can also make transfer skins with it. It will attach packing tape and stay clear.


  3. Funny, I did acrylic gel transfers this year... I mention it in my post about the Mixed Media Bad Hair Day Self Portraits. If you have any pointers on it, I'd love to hear...