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NEW: Thong Print Cockatoo

Create this sulphur crested cockatoo with some fun printmaking techniques

Easy Peasy Level:


Lesson Focus:

  • Printmaking - printing and stamping
  • Other living things - Birds
  • Australian animals


How Australian is this lesson? Creating a print of one of our native birds using our national shoe, the humble thong! Around the world these comfy summer shoes are known by many names including flip-flops or jandals. No matter what you call them, they also make a useful stamp for creating a print that we can use to create an artwork of a bird.

You will need:

  • a pair of old thongs / flip-flops
  • brightly coloured A4 paper
  • newspaper or table cover to protect your work space
  • white and yellow acrylic or poster paint
  • paint tray for the yellow paint
  • foam paint roller
  • roller tray or foam/plastic tray for the white paint
  • oil pastels - grey, black, yellow and a lighter or darker value of your background paper.
  • access to clean up materials once completed

Easy Peasy Tips:

  • When choosing a pair of thongs, try to use an older pair that has worn down their tread or choose a pair with minimum tread.
  • If you clean your thongs straight away after printing, there's no reason why you cant keep on wearing them.  A scrubbing brush and a little soap will help.
  • You will need to be patient with this lesson and allow time for the paint to dry.
For The Teacher:
  • If you are concerned about hygiene, you could always get students to print using their hands rather than stepping on the thong.
  • Think about classroom management with this lesson. What will the rest of the class be doing while small groups print? The printing will need close supervision by the teacher.
  • Printmaking is a great way to teach students about critical reflection in art. After they create a print, ask the students to think about what did or didn't work and what they could do to improve the print.

Lesson Plan:

Creating Your Artwork:

Place your coloured paper portrait style.
  1. In a wide, flat paint tray mix a little white with yellow paint and spread in a thin layer. The white paint will help the yellow paint stand out more on the coloured paper.
  2. Place your fingers flat in the tray and wiggle about until they have a good layer of yellow covering them. Try to keep your thumb and palm out of the way. We want just your fingers used here.
  3. Towards the top, middle of the page, create a print of your fingers by pressing firmly. Repeat steps 2 and 3 until you have created the crest of your cockatoo then set aside to dry.
  4. Once your  crest is dry, use a foam roller to apply paint to the bottom of one of the thongs. Use plenty of paint so that the bottom of the thong is covered.
  5. Now place your coloured paper on newspaper. If you are planning on standing on your thong, place it on the floor (make sure it's a hard surface and not the carpet.) If you are using your hand you can place your paper on the table. Then carefully lower your paint covered thong onto the paper so that it just overlaps the crest. Notice how the lower part of your thong will be off the page. That's why we have newspaper underneath.
  6. Now carefully step inside the thong. It might even be a good idea for a friend to hold the thong so that it doesn't move.  Put all of your weight on the thong and try to move your weight around so that you press the whole thong onto the page. You can also do this with your hand. Then carefully remove your foot from the thong. Tip: Its very hard to put weight on the arch of your foot. So press down on this area of the thong with your hand before you remove it from the page.
  7. Carefully remove the thong from the page. How did it go? If you are not happy with the print you can always repeat step 6 over the top.
  8. Once your paint is dry use a black oil pastel to draw and colour an eye. Leave a small white circle as a refection on the pupil. Then begin drawing the beak as shown.
  9. From the top of the beak draw a large curved line as shown. Think of it as 1/4 of a circle and also notice how it lines up with the bottom of the beak on the left. Then complete the remainder of the beak as shown.
  10. Colour the beak using grey. If you don't have a grey oil pastel shade lightly with black first and then colour over the top firmly with white. You may need to re-trace your beak if you have smudged the lines.
  11. Using yellow, add some short strokes next to the eye and some thin yellow feathers to the crest. Then lightly add some grey circles around the eye to add texture.
  12. In this step we add some interest to the background. Using a lighter or darker version of the background, shade around the cockatoo using light strokes of the oil pastel. Hold the oil pastel so that you are shading using the side instead of the tip.
  13. Your sulphur crested cockatoo is complete.
What do you like about your artwork? What would you do differently next time?

Other Ideas:

If you liked this lesson, why not try some of our other bird themed artworks?    
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