Paper Marbling Drop-In Workshop

Photo credit:  This image of marbled paper is from Marble Art.

 Paper Marbling is a form of surface decoration with a rich history.  The technique has been developed over several centuries in Asia, Europe and the Middle East.  A marbled image is created by first floating color on water or a similar substance.  After the color is manipulated with simple tools, paper or fabric is pressed onto the surface to capture a monotype print of the pattern.  It’s called marbling because it can produce patterns similar to marble or other types of stone, and is often used in calligraphy, bookbinding, and as stationary. 

DIA Art Studio Marbling WorkshopVisit our Art Studio on Saturdays in April from 12-4pm to create your own sheet of marbled paper using our simplified version of traditional paper marbling techniques.  The workshop is free with museum admission and is for ages 5 and up (children under 12 must be accompanied by and adult).

Drop-In Puppet Workshops

Holiday Week Puppets

Visit the museum any day this week between noon and 4pm and make a different puppet in our art studio!  All workshops are free with museum admission.

12/26 – Tongue Depressor Puppet
Use a tongue depressor, felt, fabric and googley eyes to make a simple puppet.

12/27 – Felt Spider or Snake Marionette
Use ribbon, felt and a tongue depressor to create a simple marionette.

12/28 – Rod Bug Puppet
Create fantastic bug puppets on a stick using foam core, markers, beads and pipe cleaners.

12/29 – Glove Finger Puppets
Use a finger from a glove along with felt, fabric, yarn and markers to create a one-of-kind finger puppet.

12/30 – Model Magic Pencil Puppet
Create your own puppet character from self-hardening clay, beads and wire.

12/31 – Sock Puppets
Turn an ordinary sock into a fabulous puppet when you use felt, yarn, beads, buttons and googley eyes.

The DIA’s Art Studio @ Children’s Hospital!

This week marks the two-year anniversary of a special outreach program in which our Art Studio participates at Children’s Hospital – a wonderful neighboring institution just a few blocks away from the museum.

If you ever find yourself at Children’s Hospital in the Detroit Medical Center to visit a patient or receive care on a Friday, there is a chance you will run into staff from our studio and have an opportunity to work on an art project with them.  Each Friday afternoon, an artist from our staff visits the hospital to offer a free art workshop to patients and young visitors.

Each month we set up a different project on a cart with which we travel to individual rooms and clinics – working with kids from preschool to high school and from diverse backgrounds from all over the state.  Some young people we work with are visiting a friend or relative who is receiving care and some are patients themselves who are in the hospital for an afternoon or for many weeks.  Some of the most popular projects with our participants have included puppet-making, watercolor-painted postcards and making simple folk toys.

Working with the young people at the hospital has been an extremely rewarding experience for our staff involved in the program.  Patrick Wise, one of our staff artists explains “I receive twice the amount back as I give to these kids. I feel honored to be able to spend some time with them.”  Another staff artist, Jen Garrison adds, “I love having the opportunity to help a patient or visitor take a little mental break from being in the hospital.”  These staff members and others involved in the program are grateful for the opportunity to work with children in this setting and the wonderful feedback we receive from patients, families and hospital staff indicates that the experience is really valued on their end, too.

This past summer we began a new program on Wednesdays called “Art in the Garden,” when we had the opportunity to work with kids in the garden outside of the hospital on projects such as making cyanotypes (a fun photographic process that uses sunlight), pinwheels, and kites.  The Wednesday program is just for the summer months and will resume in Summer 2011.

We look forward to working with Children’s Hospital and the DMC for many more years to come!

Elephant Project Progress

We had a lot of enthusiastic visitors collaborating on our two elephant sculptures this past weekend.  Take a look at the photos, below, to see the great progress we made together.  If you missed this past weekend, there is still a lot of work to do – please join us in the Learning Center at the Museum this Friday from 6-9pm or Saturday from 12-4 to learn how to work with papier-mâché and wood and to contribute your mark to this exciting community art project.  The workshop is free with museum admission.

The Elephant Project

We’re excited to be participating in The Elephant Project, taking place at cultural institutions and venues across metro-Detroit and around the world!  Here in Metro-Detroit, it’s hosted by Marygrove College.  Here is a little information about the project from their website:

“In specific response to pressing local and global issues involving environmental sustainability and earth care, Marygrove College, with funding support from DTE Energy, will host Nomkhubulwane (Nom-koo-bull-WAH-nee, Zulu for Mother Earth), an elephant sculpture created by South African sculptor Andries Botha. This life-size sculpture, made of galvanized steel and recycled truck tires, is traveling around the world to raise awareness about how people can creatively address issues caused by the expanding human ecological footprint. Nomkhubulwane is one of 17 elephants on display globally by the Human Elephant Foundation (”

Here is a photo of Andries Botha’s sculpture (from his website):

On 10/20, Nomkhubulwane will migrate to our neighborhood to the Charles H. Wright Museum where you can see it in person.

In conjunction with Nomkhubulwane’s visit, here at the DIA we’re building some elephants of our own, and you are invited to help!  Join us in the Learning Center on Fridays 10/22 and 10/29 from 6-9 pm and Sundays 10/23 and 10/30 from noon-4 pm.  You are welcome to drop in to any or all of these sessions led by DIA studio artist Vito Valdez, and help us build two life-sized elephant sculptures out of wood and paper-mâché.  The workshop is free with museum admission.

Sugar Skulls at the DIA!

One of our favorite annual traditions in the Art Studio is our free Drop-In Sugar Skull Workshops every October.  On Fridays 10/1 – 10/22, join us in the Studio between 6 and 9 pm to make your own version of this  traditional decoration for Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead), a Mexican and Mexican-American holiday which occurs on November 2 each year to honor and celebrate family and friends who have passed away.

In preparation for the workshop, we make all the blank skulls by hand here in the studio.  Below is a photo of some of the many hundreds that we’ve made.   They’re drying on our shelves in preparation for next week.

During the workshop, participants will access to have icing, sequins and other items to use to decorate the plain white sugar skulls.

Please note:  While the supplies we provide for our Sugar Skull workshop are non-toxic, they are also not edible.

We hope to see you in the studio in October for one of these popular workshops!

Check out our new colorful hallway!

We’re so excited about the new paint colors in the hallway in the Learning Center!  Below is a preview – come check them out in person soon!

Summer Camp is Here!

Our first sessions of 2010 Summer Camp began today!   Check out photos from our first day on our flickr page.  There’s still time to register for our July sessions!  Find out more and register online on the DIA’s website.

Summer Adult Studio Classes: The Potter’s Wheel

The DIA’s One-Day Potter’s Wheel Workshops are for anyone interested in trying the potter’s wheel, whether you’ve never touched clay or have taken many classes before!  Though the wheel takes years to master, an afternoon in the DIA Art Studio allows a great hands-on learning experience while exploring simple shapes.  Students get to decorate their work with underglazes and pots will be clear-glazed and ready for pick-up at a later date.

This June we’re offering weekly wheel workshops, with a special offer of buy 3 classes, get one free!  Students taking several classes can explore the interactions of color more as they experiment with different glazes.

The next Potter’s Wheel Workshops are scheduled every Sunday in June, from 1-4 pm. Read more information and register on our website by clicking here.

Professional Development for Teachers

We’re offering two exciting workshops especially for teachers in the Wayne and Joan Webber Education Wing this summer, for CEU credits or simply for personal enrichment.   Each workshop is $120 for members, $150 for non-members and $75 for student teachers.

Imaginitive Classrooms (Tuesday – Thursday, July 6-8, 9-3:30) will be taught by Art Curriculum Specialist Lisa Blackburn.  This workshop is for classroom teachers who are looking for ways to incorporate art into their curriculum. Through thought provoking discussions and hands-on activities participants will discover new ways to encourage the creative expression of each student. Teachers will leave with project ideas and resources applicable for all ages.

Teaching Higher Thinking Skills (Tuesday-Thursday, July 20-22, 9-3:30) will be taught by the museum’s Executive Director of Learning and Interpretation, Nancy Jones.

* Learn an effective model of promoting critical thinking and language skills through looking at art
* Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS) method has been proven to increase test scores and writing skills
* VTS is useful for teachers of all subjects
* Class will cover theoretical background and train you to use this method with students
* Supports English Language Arts and Visual Arts Standards

Visit the DIA’s website for complete information or to register online.  You may also register by email (, or by phone (313) 833-4249.