Friday, September 23, 2011

Art Project #2 - Dyed Rice Flag

Project Title: Dyed Rice Flag
Materials Needed: white poster board, crayons (red and blue), ruler, pencil, 4-5 cups rice, food coloring (red and blue), rubbing alcohol, school glue, mini marshmallows
Purpose: To teach students to explore different textures in art.
(I chose to do an American flag with this project since we studied it in history class and also since this art class closely followed the tenth anniversary of September 11th. The technique in this project however would be perfectly suited to any design or shape.)
First, gather your materials. You will also need two bowls and spatulas for the dying of each color of rice.
Then, dye your rice. For the red rice, we put two cups of rice into a large bowl. We added two teaspoons of rubbing alcohol and stirred it until all the rice looked wet. Then we added several drops of red food coloring and stirred until we were happy with the red color we achieved. For the blue rice, we used one cup of rice, one teaspoon of rubbing alcohol, and considerably less food coloring.
Spread each color of rice on a cookie sheet or pan with edges to dry. I put our trays on top of the stove and turned the oven to low to speed the drying process. The color on the rice dried very quickly.
While the rice was drying, I had the Drama Queen color the red stripes and blue field on the poster board flag I had drawn up the night before. The flag I made measured 13 inches by 22 inches. Each stripe was one inch wide, and the blue field measured 7 inches by 9 inches.
Now, it was time to add the rice. I squirted some school glue onto the blue field first and spread it into an even layer with a paint brush. Then we took handfuls of the blue rice and pressed them into the glue, covering as much of the area as possible.
We did the same thing with each red stripe. We found it was important to press the rice in firmly and put more rice on than you would think was necessary.
As the blue and red areas dried, I used another clean paint brush to carefully sweep away any rice that had fallen into the white stripes.
Finally, we added the white rice in between the red stripes. Don't stress if some white or blue rice makes it into the red stripes - you can remove those later with tweezers or just let it be. :)
When the project was completely dry, I tilted it up on one end and let all the loose rice fall off. ( I saved it all in a container for my autistic son to use in his sensory activities.) The Drama Queen helped me arrange the marshmallows on the blue field before I hot glued them in place. Before I could get the camera to take this last picture, however, the Spud managed to swipe a few marshmallows from the flag.

I haven't decided yet how we will display our flag - I probably will spray it with some sort of adhesive to make it more durable and then hang it in an area where a few grains of fallen rice here and there don't really matter.

The Drama Queen's favorite part was dying the rice*; so we plan on dying more colors of rice and making a big sensory box for the kids to dig and play in.

*You can also use this dying technique with any kind of pasta. Just be aware that the pasta takes much longer to dry than the rice does.

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