Posts Tagged 'DIY'

DIY Photo Transfer

Spring is (finally) here, which means that many of us in the education department are gearing up for Summer Art Camps! The best part of teaching a summer camp is getting to experiment and explore with materials to devise fun and engaging art projects. Jessica Fuentes and I are teaching a summer photography camp for 6-8 year olds, called Developing an Eye for Art. In this camp we are going above and beyond the simple point and shoot aspect of photography, and urging our students to explore this artistic medium through many different avenues. A favorite exploratory activity of mine is photo transfer, because it is a fairly straightforward project that invites loads of experimentation.


What you need:

  • Photograph to transfer (higher contrast photos are best)
  • Light colored piece of wood (5×7″ is what I used)
  • Matte gel medium (found in the acrylic paints section of art & craft stores)
  • Scissors
  • Paint brush (can be foam or bristle)
  • Mod Podge (I used matte finish)
  • Access to a laser printer or copy machine

Step 1

Print your chosen photograph from a laser printer, or make a copy of the image on a photocopier. Do not use an ink jet printer, as it will smudge the image. Make sure the printed or copied image is the same size (or smaller) than your piece of (5)

Step 2

Cut out the laser print-out of your image, making sure you do not leave a border around the image.


Step 3

Use a foam or bristle brush to place a thin layer of matte gel medium directly onto your image, which will make the image opaque white.

Brush gel medium directly onto image.

Step 4

Before the gel medium dries, place your image face down on your piece of wood. Be careful with placement as you will not be able to move the photograph once it dries.

Once your image is in place, smooth out and flatten any air bubbles underneath your photo. You can use your fingers or anything with a stiff edge (like a ruler) to smooth out any bumpy places. Make sure not to push too hard and rip your image.sandwich

Step 5

Let your photo transfer sit and dry for at least 8 hours.

Step 6

After your photo transfer has dried, get a wet rag and lay it on top of the image, making sure to get the paper nice and soaked. Next, use your fingers or a rag to carefully rub off the fuzzy white paper fibers, revealing your lovely photo underneath.

It is best to let the transfer dry in-between paper rubbings, to make sure that all the bits of paper are removed. This make take time and multiple drying and re-wetting sessions. Be patient 🙂


Step 7

Once your photo transfer is dry and to your liking, brush a layer (or two) of Mod Podge on top of the image to seal the work.

That’s it! Your photo transfer is done and ready to be shown off! This simple project can be modified to give a more or less distressed look to the finished work, experiment and see what you can do!

Finished transfers.

Finished transfers.

Danielle Schulz
Teaching Specialist

Close to Chuck Close: A DMA DIY

After attending the Philip Glass and Tim Fein concert at the Winspear Opera House this past Monday night, I was excited to discover that the DMA’s collection includes a lithograph of the composer, completed by his long-time friend Chuck Close. Close is known for his innovative approaches to representing the human face. All of his works explore this theme, depicting his subjects, generally friends and family members, in intimate, large-scale portraits of their shoulders and head. His portraits begin as photographs, which he then carefully transfers to a canvas. Close has experimented with various techniques and materials, including finger-painting, graphite, conté-crayon, pastel, oil and watercolor.

Chuck Close, Phil/Fingerprint, 1981, lithograph, Dallas Museum of Art, Mr. and Mrs. Jake L. Hamon Fund

Chuck Close, Phil/Fingerprint, 1981, lithograph, Dallas Museum of Art, Mr. and Mrs. Jake L. Hamon Fund, (c) Chuck Close

Over the course of their four-decade-long relationship, Phil has been the subject of many of Close’s most iconic works; in fact, his image has been used more than any other subject. According to an article published by W magazine in 2007, Close estimates that he has repurposed a 1968 photograph of Glass “150 times or something.” Glass returned the favor in 2005, unveiling a striking and beautiful composition entitled “A Musical Portrait of Chuck Close,” intended to encapsulate the artist’s persona and work. The DMA’s Close work is a 50’’ by 38’’ lithograph of a fingerprint Close completed in 1981. I have always admired Chuck Close’s work, and I recently began to explore my own talents for photorealism. I decided to experiment with Close’s gridwork series, having read that Close used this approach “to break things down into a manageable and solvable problem.” For me, as an amateur artist, this statement provided the confidence I needed to begin my project. Follow my progress below to create your own Close-inspired work.

Step 1: Choose a photograph
As mentioned, all of Close’s portraits depict only the subject’s shoulders and head. This tight cropping helps to focus the piece and also encourages closer consideration of the subject’s individual features. I chose the photograph below for my image.

Step 2: Crop your image
While this project works best with an up-close photograph, do not hesitate to crop or enlarge an existing photograph. Since I knew this artwork would be given as a gift, I chose an image with two subjects, rather than one. After cropping, however, my photograph becomes a manageable project.

Step 3: Divide your image into a grid
Measure the length of your photograph. You want to make sure that the length and width of the photograph is evenly divisible by the size of each unit. For instance, my photograph is 14.5 cm by 10.5 cm so I chose to use 1/2 cm as my base unit. Use a ruler to divide your photograph into units of equal size. I recommend using a pencil so that you can correct a line if need be; graphite also shows up better than other mediums on glossy photograph paper.

Hint: The larger you make your squares, the less time your project will take. Larger squares will make for a more abstract image and smaller will create a more precise, accurate image.

Step 4: Transfer your grid to your canvas or paper
To determine the size of your project, first decide on the size of your new base unit. For my project, I transferred the 1/2 cm units from my photograph to 1 cm on my drawing paper. In total, my final project will be approximately 8.5 by 11 inches. Be sure to consider your dimensions carefully, especially if you plan to frame your final composition.

Step 4: Start your drawing!
I used colored pencil and drawing paper for my project. These materials are easy and user-friendly. If you are familiar with another medium, feel free to use it. After all, Chuck Close likes to experiment, too!

When selecting your colors, you can opt for accuracy or choose a unique theme or palette of your own. This decision may also affect the style of your portrait. You can use the lines to help you create an accurate, photorealistic transfer of your photograph; or you can use a more interpretive, abstract coloration (see Phil above). I chose the latter process. For this process, color each square as an individual unit, independent of the units around it. Don’t worry, it will all add up in the end!

It is easiest to begin in a corner and then work your way up, row by row. You may also want to start with something easy, like the shoulders or clothes before attempting to work on the face. Be patient. You do not want to rush and accidently transfer the wrong section of your photograph. If you get lost, count your square units to get you back on track.

Step 5: Don’t give up
Depending on the number of squares in your artwork, this may be a long process. My picture took me about 16 hours to complete. If you are frustrated, step away and come back to your work tomorrow.

This activity can also be simplified for children. You can choose a simpler subject and/or divide the paper into larger squares. Either way, it is a good way to encourage “close-looking” and practice experimenting with colors.

Step 6: Step back, appreciate your work, and put a frame on it
Great work! I hope you enjoyed this project. If you made an artwork of your own or used this activity in your classroom, please share your creations with us below! Also, if you have suggestions on how we can improve this project, we would value your feedback.

Hint: Adding a frame or border to your artwork can really enhance the overall effect!


Hayley Prihoda is the McDermott Education Intern, Gallery and Community Teaching, at the DMA.

DIY Treasure Jars

I love collecting treasures–sparkly buttons, keys, postcards, rocks, shells, ticket stubs…and the list goes on! However, at a certain point, I run out of room for these special mementos and they end up scattered about my living space. I discovered that treasure jars help to both organize and beautifully display my favorite objects. These adorable jars can be used to decorate your home or office and they make excellent gifts as well. It’s a fast, easy, and fun project, perfect for kids too!

What You Need:

  • Mason jars (or any glass jars with lids)
  • Found objects able to fit inside the jar
  • Modeling clay
  • Floral wire
  • Scissors
  • Clear tape


Step 1

Choose your special treasures and divide them up into small groups. You can divide them by theme, by color, by the time or place you received them–whatever you like.


Step 2

Adhere paper and other delicate treasures to a piece of floral wire with clear tape. You can also wrap them if the object allows (children may need help with this).


Step 3

Gather as many mason jars as you would like to use, making sure they are clean and dry. Remove the lid and press modeling clay firmly into the center, making sure to leave a little bit of space on the outer edge so that the lid is able to be screwed on.


Step 4

Press your items on floral wire into the clay.


Step 5

Press any other objects you would like to use into the clay, again making sure not to block the outer edge of the lid.


Step 6

This part is a bit tricky! Turn your jar upside down and guide your items inside. Slowly screw on the lid.


Step 7

Decorate the outside of the jar with stickers, ribbons, or other materials. Voila! You’ve just made your very own treasure jar!


Use your treasure jars however you like! I used mine to decorate my desk at the DMA–they bring a pop of color and remind me of the magic behind each object.


Amelia Wood
McDermott Intern for Family and Access Teaching

Move Over Hercules – A Greek Hero DIY

We invited DMA Friend and DMA Partner Breanna Cooke to give us the inside scoop on how to quickly and easily transform ourselves into Greek heroes for Friday’s Late Night on May 17 celebrating The Body Beautiful in Ancient Greece: Masterworks from the British Museum. You might remember Breanna from March’s “Wizard of Oz” Late Night when she arrived as a flying monkey. Come dressed as a Greek hero this Friday to earn the May Midnight Masquerade Badge and 450 bonus points in the DMA Friends program!

Flying Monkey

How to Create a Greek Hero Costume

Need help creating a Greek mythology costume for the DMA’s Late Night this Friday? Below are some simple steps to make your own costume without sewing or spending a lot of money. We’ll start with making a chiton (pronounced khitōn), the draped garment typically worn in ancient Greece.

White sheet OR 2 yards (approx.) of white or cream fabric: It should be long enough to hang from your shoulder to the floor. If you want it to be knee-length, you’ll only need about 1.5 yards or less.
Safety pins: We’ll be pinning the fabric together, but you can also sew it together.
Gold rope, belt, or ribbon
2 brooches (optional)


Making a Greek Chiton

1. Cut the Fabric
Cut the fabric lengthwise so you have two long rectangles. One rectangle is the front, and the other is the back. If you’d like to have a knee-length chiton (more common for men), this is a good time to cut it shorter. (Bonus: If you don’t like the frayed edge at the bottom of the fabric, you can glue gold ribbon along the bottom edge to cover it.)


2. Pin the Shoulders and Sides
With safety pins, fasten the top corners of the front to the top corners of the back. You’ll want to bunch the fabric together a bit as you pin it. Be sure to tuck in the edges of the fabric if it’s fraying. Next, pin the sides of fabric together along your ribcage. It doesn’t have to be perfect, this is to help keep the fabric from blowing open.


3. Tie on Your Belt
Tie your belt around your waist or rib cage. You can use any kind of belt, rope, or ribbon. You can even paint something gold if you don’t have anything.


4. Add the Brooches
Pin your brooches to your shoulders. You can use them to hide the safety pins. I didn’t have any brooches, so I bought some earrings at a thrift store, glued them together, and added a pin to the back. You could even make your own out of cardboard or craft foam and paint them. Get creative!


Accessories and Props for Your Specific Greek Character

It’s time to customize your outfit with some props. They don’t have to be complicated in order to be effective. Below are some simple ideas to help identify yourself as a specific character:
1. Lightning Bolt and Beard = Zeus, King of the Greek Gods
Lightning Bolt: Draw a lightning bolt on foam board or poster board; cut out the shape and color with silver paint.
Beard: Paint on a beard with face paint OR purchase a beard from a party or costume store.

2. Laurel Wreath = Apollo, God of Music, Arts, and Enlightenment
Laurel Wreath: Create a headband with poster board. Draw leaves and cut them out. Use hot glue to stick the leaves in place, overlapping as you go. Color with gold spray paint.


3. Feathery Wings = Eros, God of Love (Cupid!), or Nike, Goddess of Victory
Wings: Purchase wings from a costume or party store OR draw wings on poster board. Cut out the shape of the wings, attach elastic straps with hot glue, and loop over shoulders.

4. Shield, Spear, Helmet = Athena, Goddess of Warfare
Shield: Find a large plastic platter or cut a circle out of foam board. Glue on a handle made of foam board or cardboard; color with gold spray paint.
Spear: Use a broom handle or dowel and color with gold spray paint. Draw a spearhead on craft foam. cut out two spearheads from the craft foam. Glue the craft foam together at the edges, and slide the broom handle into the pocket formed by the two pieces.
Helmet: Purchase gladiator-style helmet at a costume or party store; color with gold paint OR get creative with craft foam and hot glue to make your own!


4. Shield, Spear/Sword = Hercules or Achilles, Hero of the Trojan War
Shield and Spear: Follow steps above for Athena.

6. Gold Tiara/Crown, Veil = Hera, Goddess of Marriage and wife of Zeus
Tiara/Crown: Make a crown out of poster board; color with gold spray paint.
Veil: Take a piece of sheer fabric or leftovers from your chiton; attach to tiara/crown with staples.

7. Roses and Scallop Shells = Aphrodite, Goddess of Love
Roses: Purchase some fake roses or flowers from a thrift store; color them with gold spray paint.
Scallop Shells: Draw some shells on poster board; color with gold spray paint and add the shells to your flower bouquet.

Need to look up some other characters from Greek mythology? Check out this list on Wikipedia for more ideas.

See you on Friday at Late Night at the DMA!

Breanna Cooke is a Graphic Designer, Costume Creator, and Body Painter living in Dallas. To see more of her work, visit Check out progress photos of her latest projects on Facebook.

The DIY Teleprompter

At the DMA, we have a studio set up for video production, and we’ve recently started using a teleprompter for many of our announcement-based videos. Using a teleprompter makes it easy for the video subject to read his or her lines and still look into the camera, giving the video a natural feel and flow.

The first time we needed a teleprompter, it was a last-minute request, and we didn’t have time to order one (not to mention they are extremely costly!). So a trip to Home Depot, a cardboard box, a pair of scissors, and an iPad app later and we had a working DIY teleprompter.

How a Teleprompter Works

Angle of Incidence Equals Angle of Reflection

A teleprompter works by using a bit of optical illusion. A piece of glass is placed at a 45-degree angle in front of the camera lens. A computer screen (in our case, an iPad) is placed under the glass. The text is reflected off the glass and is readable by the actor while the camera does not pick up this reflection.

In terms of physics, this is based on the fact that the angle of incidence is equal to the angle of reflection. This means that if light strikes a surface (in our case the glass) it reflects off the opposite direction, but at the same angle as it was hit. So as long as the screen is on a flat surface, and the glass is at eye level to the actor, the actor will see the text but the camera will not, since its not on the same angle of incidence. This also relates to the Fresnel Effect (pronounced fray-nel), which is the observation that the amount of light visible is dependent on the viewing angle.

The material you use will also have an effect on the quality you get. Real glass works much better than Plexiglas. You also need to get the thinnest piece of glass possible. If the glass is too thick, the actor will see two reflections and the text will appear blurry. The actor will see reflections on the front of the glass and also the back. The glass I used here is 3/32 inch thick, which works great.

Setting Up the Teleprompter

DIY Teleprompter

First you have to get something to hold your glass at a 45-degree angle. I used a simple cardboard shipping box and cut both sides to just under the width of the glass. This will hold it in place and allow room for adjustment. A more permanent solution would be to build a wooden box with slots to hold your glass, but try the cardboard first so you’ll get a feel for how the glass needs to sit.

The next thing you’ll want to do is get the reflecting glass to the height of the actor. This isn’t that difficult, but do this first and it will save you a headache later. I have a rolling kitchen cart, and I’ve used some apple boxes to get the height up to eye level. You’ll need to experiment a little and have some extra “shims” on hand if there is a height difference with your actor.

DIY Teleprompter

Go ahead and set up the iPad app, and place the iPad in the bottom of the box facing up—remember you’ll need to tell it to mirror the whole display since it’s being reflected. The app I’m using, Teleprompter+, lists this as a setting. When you start the script, it will mirror all of the text for you automatically.

Set the camera up on the other side of the glass. Once the subject is in focus and you start recording, you’ll want to use a piece of dark cloth to cover the back of the camera. I actually use my sport coat, which has a dark lining. This will block out any back-lighting, so the actor only sees the text. Before you start recording, make sure your subject knows where the lens is so he or she can make a mental mark of where to place his or her eyes. You are ready to record.

The iPad App—Teleprompter+

One thing that’s really nice about Teleprompter+ is that it allows you to set up your iPhone to control the text scrolling on the iPad on either a wireless or bluetooth connection. This allows the subject to scroll the text with the iPhone off-camera. In newscast setups, this is usually done with massive pieces of equipment and is controlled by a teleprompter operator. This setup using a separate operator often drives talent crazy because this person needs to be really good at the pacing and understanding where the eyes are. It’s an art to get this right. By using the iPhone app to control the iPad, we eliminate this need, and if your talent is good at this it works much more smoothly.

Final Touches

I’ve given you all of the technical explanation and instructions for putting a teleprompter together, but I would be remiss if I didn’t say that the lynchpin for success is the talent you have in front of the camera. Reading pre-written text and making it sound natural is an art unto itself. News anchors all use teleprompters and you can tell the difference those who are dynamic and interesting and those who sound like they are reading.

The other skill that is extremely important is knowing how to “read” off a teleprompter. Naturally when we read our eyes drift around to collect information to give to our brain. Unfortunately this motion is clearly visible when using a teleprompter. The talent must have a clear understanding of where the lens is and where his or her eyes should be. Moving the camera back further seems like a good way to make eye motion less obvious, but then it is harder for the talent to see and read.

The subject of most of our teleprompter usage has been our director, Max Anderson, who has had considerable television and teleprompter experience in the past. This makes the whole thing go very quickly, and we can get everything in one or two takes. If you’re dealing with someone who doesn’t have this experience, you’ll want to build in some rehearsal time.

DIY Teleprompter

So it doesn’t look as nice as the ones used on news sets or at press conferences, but those could run you close to $5,000. Here are the costs for our DIY Teleprompter:

11 x 14-inch piece of 3/32-inch-thick glass: $3.28
Cardboard box: Free
Apple boxes and cart: Free (already had them lying around)
Teleprompter+ app: $14.99

Total costs: $18.27 + tax

Ted Forbes is the Multimedia Producer at the Dallas Museum of Art.

Do-It-Yourself Stickley

“When we come to make things ourselves . . . we should not only find more pleasure in making them but we shall take more pleasure in possessing them.” —Gustav Stickley, The Craftsman, March 1905

Early 20th-century designer and businessman Gustav Stickley believed in the do-it-yourself movement. His magazine, The Craftsman, provided readers with step-by-step instructions on making household objects such as side tables, clocks, embroidered pillows, and even birdhouses.

In just a few months, the Dallas Museum of Art will host the exhibition Gustav Stickley and the American Arts & Crafts Movement. We’re inviting people to produce objects inspired by Stickley’s designs, document their process, and share their experience with the DMA. These videos and photographs will be displayed in the exhibition’s education space. Our deadline is January 5. Learn more about the DIY Stickley project on the DMA website.

A few weeks ago, my husband, John, and I thought it would be fun to take up Stickley’s challenge and make one of his simpler designs with our kids, Aiden and Rowan.

After some debate, we decided to make the doghouse for our two dogs, Sampson and Beasley.

Building the structure moved along pretty quickly thanks to John and Aiden. By the end of day one, we had framed the structure and attached the walls and floors.


Day two included attaching the roof, painting, and trying to get the dogs to go inside the doghouse.

Apart from adjusting the measurements and the paint, we stayed close to Stickley’s original design. This was a fun weekend project for our family and a great way to make Stickley’s designs come to life in the 21st century.


Gustav Stickley and the American Arts & Crafts Movement will be on view at the Dallas Museum of Art from February 13 through May 8, 2011. To learn more about the do-it-yourself Stickley project and discover how you can participate, visit the DMA website.

Guest blogger Laura Bruck was formerly Manager of Gallery Interpretation at the Dallas Museum of Art and is currently an education consultant.

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 1,605 other followers


Twitter Updates

Flickr Photo Stream