Matte Medium & Tape Transfers

Teaching Art

From journaling to mixed media art, transfers are a great way to add text, texture, and images to your artmaking. I learned several techniques in my papermaking course at university and have recently incorporated some of these techniques into my lessons. The students were amazed that they could ‘make stickers’ and transfers images to surfaces ‘like tattoos’. Below are some easy ways for you to add transfers into your art as well as how to teach transfers to your students.


InkJet Printer Images

For transfers explained in this is post, the images that are used need to be printed from an inkjet printer as opposed to a laser printer. The matte medium and the adhesive of the tape stick to the printed ink from the paper leaving the transferred image. High contrast black and white images and text work best. Because the images are transferred background, any words, characters or symbols must be reserved on a computer program before printed to ensure the when transferred they can be read correctly.


Tape Transfers

Using adhesive clear packaging tape, apply the image sticking the image on the adhesive side. Then, wet the back of the paper with a wet cloth or rage or run under water. Once the paper is slightly transparent, begin rubbing the paper off the tape. The white paper rolls and rubs away relieving just the black ink image sticking to the adhesive. Continue to rubbing until all of the white paper pulp is off the tape. Use a clean dry cloth or rag to pat dry the tape. The tape is still slightly sticky allowing it to stick to surfaces.




Matte Medium Transfer

The matter medium acts like the adhesive of the tape and created a thin layer of medium for the ink to adhere. Brush on the matter medium unto the surface you are placing the transfer on. Place the paper ink side down onto the medium. Be careful not to get the matte medium on top of the white backside of the paper. Although it to dry and use a wet cloth to wet the paper until it is transparent and you can see the images beneath. Then using your fingers or gentle with the rag, begin rubbing the paper away. Often some of the images rub away which creates tarnishes, antique effects. Rewet the surface to continue to rub gently until all of the paper pulp is rubbed off. The technique also works on cardboard and most surfaces however because you need to wet and rub the paper using a heavier weight paper for the background is important.

Latex Glue Varnish

I often use a latex glue to varnish the surface of a collage or artwork with transfers because it helps to seal the collage items, gives a slightly shiny surface finish and also helps to intensify the black of the transfers.

For the artwork below, students began by making backgrounds with watercolor. Then they added cut out collage items from lai see packets. Lastly, they added matte medium transfers before putting a coat of latex glue on the top.

Day of the Dead Inspired Pumpkin Artwork & Display

Teaching Art

Because we are such a large school and lack permanent space to exhibit students’ work, I have had to get a bit creative on how to share our students’ art within our community. Therefore, I have hitched my wagon to our school’s annual Pumpkin Festival and this year it was another wild ride!


Wanting to recycle the same lessons, planning and logistics from last year, Grade 2 students made papier-maché pumpkin sculptures, Grade 1 created oil pastel and watercolor resistant pumpkins and Reception 2 collaborated to make a large banner that tied in their learning from their color theory unit. Last year students pulled inspiration from the art and life of Yayoi Kusama, whereas this year students looked at the imagery, colors, and designs from Dia de los Muertos to influence their art.

Reception 2: Painting Pumpkins using Tints & Shades

After learning how to mix secondary colors as well as how to lighten and darken a color by adding white or black, Reception 2 students painted pre-made pumpkin templates demonstrating their ability to create two tints and two shades. Once we had all two hundred painted, I cut them out and glued them to a banner that I painted and prepped prior.  I painted latex glue onto the back of each one and then flattened them with books while they dried.


Grade 1: Day of the Dead Inspired Oil Pastel a Watercolour Wash Pumpkins

Students began the unit by creating observational drawings of pumpkins. Once they had the outline of the pumpkin traced in marker, we looked at images and videos from the Day of the Dead celebrations in Mexico. Students then created posters to have as reference later.

Students practiced drawing Sugar Skulls in their sketchbooks before transferring their designs to their pumpkin drawing. After tracing the rest of the designs in marker, students added oil pastels and then painted a watercolor wash over the top. for the background, I taught a step-by-step lesson on how to draw a web with rulers also using oil pastels and finishing with a watercolor wash. Lastly, pumpkins were cut-out and glued to their background.

Grade 2 Day of the Dead Inspired Pumpkin Sculptures

Grade 2 students began by applying several layers to a balloon. After the form was solid, they added a stem using rolled newspaper and masking tape. Then applying a final layer of papier-maché to connect the two forms. A layer of black or white gesso was applied to create a smooth surface.

The Day of the Dead celebrations were introduced and students learned how to cut a symmetrical paper skull to which they then glued onto their pumpkins with latex glue both under and on top of the skull. Before drawing directly on to their sculpture, students practiced different patterns and designs in their sketchbook first. Posco paint pens were used to build color, shapes and lines to make their skulls unique and their own.

When I first began visualising this display, I knew I needed a cohesive color scheme to help tie the three different art forms together. I made sure to stick with the same colors for each project as well as using black and white to ensure the artwork looked both stunning on its own and as a collective.


I enjoyed my second ride through the pumpkin patch and the students felt excited and proud showing off their pumpkin paintings and sculptures. It made the prep, planning and pungent smell of papier-mache in the art room all worth it! cheers to another wild wagon ride in 2020!

Want to Teach Art at an International School?_Part 1

Teaching Art

So, you want to teach art abroad, eh? These five tips can help you take the first steps toward making the big leap.


Mosaic mural at my school’s Lower Primary Campus.

1. Pay Your Dues

Large, well established international schools will not consider any candidate without at least 2 years of full-time teaching experience within the grade, department or subject matter that you are applying for…period. I learned this the hard way. After driving 16 hours to Philadelphia in the middle of February to an International Recruitment Fair, I was told by every school from across the globe that I should, and I quote, ‘save myself the paper and the ink’ because they wouldn’t even look at a resume without at least 2 years of teaching experience. Because international schools are private, parents pay tuition, therefore, schools are not willing to spend the time nor money to help new teachers cut their teeth.

Art Shed

I taught art in a shed at one point in my career as well as art from a cart.

2. Do your Homework

An international school is a school that promotes international curriculum, in an international environment, either by adopting a curriculum such as that of the International Baccalaureate, Edexcel or Cambridge Assessment International Education, or by following a national curriculum different from that of the school’s country of residence. A good place to start when researching international schools is looking for schools that are connected to your home country i.e. American International Schools. Experience gained within your home country will be seen as valuable and sought after when applying to such schools. If you are interested in teaching within a particular country, then research what international schools are there and begin viewing their websites and application requirements.

IMS was the first international school I ever worked at. I am glad they took a chance on me as I had the bare minimum experience when I started.

3. Make What You Do Visible

The international teaching realm is competitive. Bigger packages mean greater expectations of teacher’s experience, education, and influence. It is very important to have an online presence when applying for international schools to be able to show who you are, what you do and what you’re all about. Be a brand and promote your self as such. This does not mean having a public Facebook account with your weekend exploits, it means having social platforms such as Instagram, Weebly, WordPress and/or Facebook devoted to documenting your teaching. This is on top of your school’s required blog page for your class or subject, this is an account that can go with you if and when you move on.

When I was at IMS I began building my brand and generating new content. I then created my Instagram account devoted to documenting my art teaching and posted art education videos on Youtube.

4. Make a Plan

Make a plan and work your plan. International school begins recruiting as early as September for the start of the next school year. Therefore, planning ahead is crucial to help your chances in being offered a contract. There are recruitment fairs in many large East coast cities in the United States every January and February as well as International Teacher Recruitment fairs in London and Bangkok around the same time. The goal for most schools is to secure all teacher contracts before the end of April for the start of school in the fall. Search Associates and CRS are two large international teaching recruitment companies and are a good place to start your search regarding job opportunities and recruitment fair listings.

Student Teacing

After my student teaching in Perth, Australia, I knew I wanted to teach abroad. It took me years to land a job at my dream school in Hong Kong but every journey starts with a single step.

5. Once you go abroad, it’s hard to go back

Once you have taught in at international school with ample resources, your own art room, small class sizes, and parent communities that support what and how you teach, many of the institutions that you have come from are going to seem less appealing. So, be prepared, this decision to go abroad might be the beginning of your life abroad for a decade or more. Venturing into the unknown with clear eyes and an open heart will help you take full advantage of the opportunities that lay ahead.

Hong Kong Inter

Me in my brand new art room at HKIS! Hong Kong International School is one of the biggest and most reputable international schools in Asia. Planning, preparation, resilience, and determination got me to where I am today.

Space Invader Pixel Art

Teaching Art

Invader, is a French urban artist, is known for his ceramic tile mosaics modeled on the pixelated art of 1970s–1980s 8-bit video games. His creations can be seen in highly-visible locations in over 65 cities in 33 countries. 


As a massive fan of Invader, I have been dreaming up a unit to incorporate and connect Pixel Art with the Lower Primary Visual Arts curriculum. So when I wound up with a crazy amount of small papercraft tiles, I pinned down a unit that combined art, math, and spatial planning. WINNING!


To introduce the concept of a pixel, Reception 1 students practiced using grids and pom poms to make simple pictures. Learning that a pixel is a small part of a bigger picture, students practiced following a template as well as planning their own picture using the grid and pom poms.

After making a grid that matched the size of the paper pixel tiles, I drew different colored Space Invaders on the grids to match the color paper tiles I had. Students then glued the tiles to the grid using glue and Q-tips.

Students then created their own Space Invader grid template by using colored pencils, colors that matched the paper tiles and then gluing the paper pixels to their grid. The photos below show the grids before and after the pixels were placed.

The unit totalled six, 30 minute lessons. Two lessons were spent on practicing with large girds and pom poms, the next two lessons, students glued pixels on to a pre-made template and the last two lessons students designed their own template and finished gluing.


Students worked on a large Invader at the early finisher corner each week to help create large pieces of pixel art to use for the display as well as hide and hang-up around the school.

Pixel Art Space Invader Template_RainbowIMG_0593

I also printed 20 pictures of Invader’s Pixel Art and put them in various places around the school. This created intrigue from other grade levels who spotted them and wondered what they were. Despite only facilitating this unit to Reception 1, the entire school, including teachers and staff, learned about the art of Invader. The hope is that students continue to try and spot Invaders around the world, wherever they go!

Pop Art Patterned Puzzle Portrait Prints

Teaching Art

When I left for maternity leave (3 weeks earlier than expected) one of the units I had loosely proposed was further planned and facilitated by my teaching partner, Augustine Tse and my maternity leave substitute, Kim Campbell. Combining the styling of Andy Warhol’s Pop Art Prints, printmaking vocabulary and processes, portraiture and pattern building, these Pop Art Patterned Puzzle Portrait Prints produced by our second graders are positively…phenomenal.


After discussing the life and art of Andy Warhol, students began by taking selfies using the iPad. Their photos were then printed out, in black and white, on A4 cartridge paper. With their picture on top of thicker weight paper, students traced over prominent lines of their face. The pencil marks push enough through and into the paper beneath to act as a guide for them to then trace over in black marker. Students then added other hatching lines to add value and details in their face, clothing, and hair. This traced portrait from a picture acted as their template to transfer to a foam printing plate.


Once engraved into the printing plate students cut around their head and torso then glued their portrait print plate to a cardstock weight paper backing to help make printing easier for them to align their edges (an ingenious move by Kim and Augustine).


Students used four different ink colors on four different pieces of colorful paper to pull their prints. The prints were them clipped together with a binder clip and students followed guiding instruction to cut around the outline of their head and torso, cutting the background pieces into two parts, then cutting out their hair, dividing their torso as well as their face. Students were left with puzzle pieces of their portraits which were then put back together varying the colors in the four different portraits glued to an A2 dark colored base paper.

Lastly, students drew from prior knowledge to add pattern using only line and two colors to the background and highlighted areas of their face and torso. The final product truly pops and students were pretty proud of their pasted portraits.

This unit is an example of three art educators working together on various parts and pieces of the lesson plan to provide a uniquely punchy piece of…GOLD, PURE GOLD!

Indian Woodblock Printing

Teaching Art

My former art teaching partner, the fabulous and ever talented Claire Kirk, dreamt up this richly layered unit ladened and linked with many different levels of learning.


With our Kindergartners participating in a unit centered around the Hindu Festival, Diwali, in their Kinder classroom, The Indian Woodblock Printing Unit was designed for students to then further explore how art is influenced by and connected to culture. Students are introduced to the intricate and symmetrical designs synonymous with Indian textiles and learn about how to create artifacts that celebrate the traditional arts and crafts of India, specifically woodblock printing.


The unit begins with inquiry about how patterns are transferred to cloth and fabric. Students are then introduced to the idea of woodblock printing with a focus on the designs and techniques found in India. Students learn about symmetry and how to create a symmetrical design. The first lesson is devoted to practicing and creating symmetrical designs in pairs using paper shapes.

In the following lesson, students begin by planning designs in their sketchbook based on the adhesive foam shapes provided for them. Once they have created a successful symmetrical design, students transfer the adhesive foam shapes to the surface of a woodblock. The shapes are cut from larger shapes to ensure a variety of sizes are provided to make a developed design.

Ink trays are prepped by soaking felt squares in salt water before ringing them out and putting them on a plastic try. The salt helps delay the felt pads from drying out so the pads can be covered and used over and over again. Water-soluble printing ink is painting on the felt ink pads and are reinked twice within a lesson by students or the teacher.

Students practice printing on paper before they print on fabric. A great emphasis is placed on ‘hovering’ over the spot they want to print on to ensure they are being mindful about each print’s placement. Once the fabric dries, it can be used for a variety of things. From gluing it to a bag or sewing two printed pieces together, the results are luscious and lend themselves to lots of variations for creations.


This unit is one of my favorite for its integration of culture, math, the design cycle, and printmaking. It gives a great foundation to show young learners that art is more than painting and drawing but a part of many different aspects of life and learning.

Dafen Oil Painting Village

Seeing Art

There is a magical place just beyond the border where the streets and alleyways are lined with colorful canvases, peppered with thick pallets of paint, teaming with tall handled brushes and abuzz with wizard-like artists honing their craft. Dafen Oil Painting Village, twenty minutes outside of Shenzhen, is a mecca where the paths of perseverance and practice cross making painting religion.

To journey to this magical place from Hong Kong, you can either day a bus or the MTR. The below information is how to use the MTR to reach Mecca. Take the MTR to Lohou Station where you will cross the border. American can get a VISA on arrival which takes about an hour and cost slightly less than a 10 year VISA. Once you exit the station make your way to the taxi queue. Make to get a metered taxi as many will offer a hire car in which you will be overcharged. Most taxis know Dafen and will know where to go. The journey will take roughly twenty minutes and cost 60 RMB.

Dafen village covers a larger area and there are multiple entrances. You could spend the entire day there as there are an Art Museum and other areas of interest. The actual painting village is a network of alleyways and small lane houses with individual artists painting on commission. There are also art supplies store selling everything and anything painting related.

From Starry Night to pet portraits, anything and everything can be painting by these masters. The cost of a commissioned painting varies on size, style, and detail. Dafen painters will specialize in certain styles of even artists. Your best bet is to make an exact replica or copy of something you want. Due to language barriers and the exactness in which the artists work, giving creative licenses may result in a painting that may not meet your expectations. Therefore, the more specifics, visual examples, and references you provide more likely you will be happy with the end result.

If you find yourself there around lunchtime, there is an excellent Muslin Resturant that has streetside seating and menus in English. Try the hand-pulled noodles and watch as they make the next batch and don’t miss roujiamo which is spiced lamb with coriander in warmed buns.

After your visit, you will be left with wonder as well as some deep questioning. Are the Dafen masters proof that if you send 10,000 hours doing anything you will become an expert? Or, what would Van Gogh think of artists copying his works and selling them for profit? Whether you walk away with a painting, philosophical wonderment or you simply visit it as you would an art gallery, this colorful corner of the world is definitely worth a visit.

Baby Belly Painting

Being Art

As soon as I found out that I was pregnant, I started dreaming up different baby belly painting ideas. However, I did not consider the difficulty of putting on my shoes while preggers let alone painting my own belly! After a little encouragement, my husband agreed to paint the baby bump and it turned out to be a beautiful bonding experience between me, my beau/bae and our baby.

The first belly painting was a design by the artist, Lisa Junis, a multidisciplinary artist, illustrator, and designer born and raised in Luxembourg. Because it was a body painting, I assumed I would use body/face paint. Although it worked, it was difficult to blend and layer. The results were still bold, blue and beautiful. With my husband’s new found baby belly painting skills, we began planning our next bump painting.


With my love of Yayoi Kusama stronger than the force, I had hubby paint a yellow polka dotted pumpkin on my bumpkin for Halloween. This time, we tried using acrylic paint and it worked like a dream! Cheap, easy to find and fast drying with the ability to layer, the painting went much quicker and lasted a lot longer. In fact, I was able to peel the entire pumpkin off my bump like a sticker and have actually saved it in a scrapbook! WARNING: It was painful as it acted like a wax strip and removed much of my baby belly fuzz.


For our third baby belly painting, our theme referenced a bit of popular culture. With the movie, Bohemian Rhapsody playing in theaters and my husband sporting a mustache for Movember, my belly was Queen (later we learned it was more like King). Little did we know that our baby boy would break free three weeks earlier than anticipated fulfilling this painted prophecy! We had planned to do one more baby belly painting but bubs had other plans.


The baby belly painting allowed my husband and I to spend hours looking at our baby. Albeit, a flesh barrier between us but it allowed us to spend time with the baby before his arrival. As the paintbrush painted a polka a dot, a little kick. When a gem was applied, a hiccup. These moments, although small, made beautiful memories before our bump became baby.

Shibori Baby Shower

Making Art

As an art teacher, I could not settle for a brunch or a high tea for my baby shower. If I was gathering some of my closest family and friends to celebrate Baby Lang we were going to make art together, gosh darn it! Hence the Shibori Baby Shower was born!


Guests were provided with baby onesies, blurb towels and muslin blankets to dye at the party. I demonstrated four different folding and binding techniques; Triangle fold, Sprial Bind, Scrunch Bind, and Square/rectangle fold. Guests than wet their bound bundle in water to aid in the dyeing.

Once wet, guests could begin dipping their items in the indigo dye vat. For the dye vat, I used two large plastic storage containers with lids. The lids are needed to cover the vats before and after. The items needed to be dipped at least twice to ensure the indigo colors are dark and the dye can soak into the areas that are not bound creating contrast in the dyed designs.

Twenty minutes between each dip need to allotted to allow the dye to oxidize. The items will initially look green as the indigo color or appears when it reacts with the air. SCIENCE!

Plastic bags were used to contain the wet items between dips. After the final dip, the items were unbound and rinsed in cold water until all the water ran clear. Once rung out, the items were hung to dry.

I ordered the Shibori Dye Kit from Amazon and used 3 kits total to 30 guests and dye roughly 60 items. By the end of the shower, the dye baths were exhausted. Below is a list of items needed in addition to the dye kits.


Shibori Supplies & Materials:

Rubber bands, binder clips, latex gloves, large containers for dye vats, plastic bags for storage, natural fibered clothing or fabric (100% cotton absorbs the dye the best,  dying of synthetic fibers do not yield as bright an bold color contrast)

Everyone had a wonderful time, the cost to host and for guests to attend was minimal and the afternoon was spent celebrating the arrival of a baby by making art.