I have dabbled with magnetic art in the past (see one of my early posts for junk magnetic art) – I love the simplicity, flexibility and infinite possibilities of magnetic art, and it is so easy to make your own unique sets at home.
For this project I used my stash of painted papers, and purchased some thin self-adhesive magnetic sheets, which can be cut quite easily with sharp scissors. As an alternative to painted paper you could recycle some decorative wrapping paper, or images and textures from magazines. All that was required was to stick the sheets of paper onto the magnetic sheets and cut out whatever shapes I wanted. It’s also worth protecting the sheets with a coat or two of spray varnish if you want the finished set to remain in good condition for as long as possible. A further alternative which makes things even easier, is to print out directly onto magnetic photo paper.
Once you have cut out your shapes, you also have the option of further embellishing them. I used black, white and metallic silver pens to draw further details onto the shapes, all of which stand out well against the brightly coloured paper, but you could also add pieces of metallic foil to add some extra bling.
I chose to make 2 sets, one which was made largely using simple shapes, and another small set which I created digitally with an Amsterdam Houses picture theme. I have added this as a free downloadable PDF template (2 sheets). Just stick the printed sheets onto the magnetic sheet, cut them out, and you have your magnetic art set ready to go! Please note that this is offered for personal use only.
Magnetic Art Sheet1
Magnetic Art Sheet2
The choice of themes is of course unlimited – I quite fancied creating a decorative Mandala type theme with additional doodled embellishments, a seaside theme, or a series related to great artists. Matisse style cut outs lend themselves particularly well here, and you can purchase ready made digital sets of Matisse style collage elements which are ready to print and use in your project. Kandinsky is another artist whose work lends itself quite well to a magnetic art set, while I think a Surrealist set could also be successful, using cut out images from photographs and magazines. Or you could create a very personalised set by adding photographs of pets, and people or buildings you know.
As an activity, younger children can embellish their own sets, while older children (old enough to be trusted with sharp scissors) could also cut out their own shapes, especially simpler ones.
While not suitable as a toy for the youngest of children (magnets are not the best thing to be swallowed), a magnetic art kit is a simple gift idea which makes a great travel toy – all it needs is a storage tin of some kind, whose lid can also be used as a canvas for the artwork. Large flat tins work best for this. In the absence of a tin lid, a baking sheet or the fridge will work just as well for use at home. If you want to add further potential for creative expression, place a piece of paper on the tin first as a background, so that any scene or composition created, can be added to with more drawing. Take a photograph of the finished composition if you want to keep it or use it for further inspiration.
Regardless of whether children enjoy playing with the set, I found playing with the abstract one especially, pretty addictive – it was a great way to easily play with different shapes, colours and compositions in a very physical sense and to stimulate creativity.
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