Turn trash into art by making pencil shaving art! Use the colorful curls leftover from sharpening pencils as inspiration for drawing.
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We love a craft that uses everyday household items. And it’s even better if we can reuse or repurpose things that would otherwise end up in the trash. If your pencil is wood, the shavings can be composted. Many pencils have a plastic coating that can’t be composted or recycled. Either type can be used to make this art project!
Pencil shaving art uses an unexpected material that is tons of fun for kids and might get adults trying it too. All you need are some colored pencils and a handheld pencil sharpener that’s easy to open and remove the shavings from.
Kids will love using their imaginations to turn the unique swirling pieces of pencil shavings into artwork. We’ve included some ideas to help you get started below.
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How to do pencil shaving art
- Set up an art station at a desk or the dining table with plenty of space. This art project isn’t too messy, but you may want to protect your workspace just in case. (Loose shavings can be vacuumed or wiped up and we found the fine bits didn’t stain hands.)
- Spread out paper, colored pencils, and other art supplies.
- Invite kids to come and make designs with pencil shavings. You may want to make one as an example.
- Create the pencil shavings and glue them to the paper.
- Draw additional details with a pencil and go over the lines with a pen if you like.
Creating pencil shavings
Pencil shavings can be long or short, depending on how you want them to look. If you’re trying to make really long pieces, here are a few tips:
- We found Crayola colored pencils were a little more sturdy than other brands.
- Sharpen pencils over a tray or paper plate, or put newspaper down to protect your workspace.
- Make sure your pencil sharpener is clean and doesn’t have any broken bits of pencil jamming the tip. A handheld sharpener works best for control.
- Press the pencil firmly into the sharpener, then turn it slow and steady. Young children may need an adult’s help.
- Some shavings are going to break. Save them too!
- If your colored pencil is already really sharp and won’t sharpen further, switch to the other end. This is a great activity for using up the little pencil ends that are too short to use for coloring.
Pencil shaving art ideas
Your child’s imagination is the limit! Start with a few suggestions, then encourage them to get creative and come up with their own designs. Here are a few art ideas to get you started:
- flowers, trees, and plants
- a lion’s mane
- butterfly wings
- fish scales
- a hedgehog or other “spiky” critters
- dresses of any style
- a person’s hair or eyebrows
- a fan
- fur, feathers, or other texture
- Carefully sharpen pencils to create shavings.
- Apply gluestick to paper and press down pieces of shavings.
- Draw pictures and add details around shavings pieces.
- Outline drawing with pen or color in with colored pencils. Add other embellishments as desired.
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