Read on for a list of materials and step-by-step instructions:
Photography by Justine Hand for Gardenista.
Above: Any project that starts with “Step 1: Head to the beach” is A-okay with me. Here my little helpers (Oliver and Solvi) are finding seaweed specimens, which we carried home in a bucket of seawater.
- 140-lb Watercolor Paper (76 cents a sheet from Dick Blick)
- Weedblock Fabric ($9.97 a roll from Home Depot), or other mesh fabric
- An Artist’s Brush (prices range from $5.50 to $16.64, depending on size and shape, at Utrecht)
- Two pieces of wood
- Something heavy (like a stack of books) to weigh down the prints
Above: Once your specimens are home, place them in the sink or a white bucket filled with seawater.
Above: Fill another bucket with 2 inches of water. (I used the other half of my double sink.) Slide a piece of watercolor paper into the water and arrange the seaweed on top, keeping both paper and seaweed submerged.
Above: Carefully lift the paper out of the water, tilting it this way and that so the water drains away but you still maintain your design (more or less). Use a small brush to reposition the seaweed into the desired composition and to sweep away unwanted bits of seaweed or sand.
Above: Place your arrangement on a piece of corrugated cardboard and gently position a piece of mesh fabric on top. If you want, you can layer several prints this way.
Above: Put all your prints between the two flat boards and weigh them down with something heavy, like a brick or your Art Through the Ages book. Let the prints dry for several days, depending on the relative dryness of your climate. A fan will speed the process.
Above: After several days, remove the weights and layers to reveal your prints. (If they’re still damp, just put them back under the weight.) I Googled the names of my specimens and wrote them on the paper in pencil.
Above: Two framed prints now grace my mantel. The most delicate specimens and simplest compositions turned out to be my favorites.
Above: After my experience, I have one addition to Karen Robertson’s directions: Choose the more translucent and delicate seaweeds; they make better (and less messy) prints.
We also made summer art with our collection of sea glass, shells, and driftwood. If you too brought back treasures from the beach, see DIY: How to Turn Flotsam and Jetsam into Wall Art.
For another kid-friendly DIY project, see my DIY Leaf Prints.
N.B.: This is an update of a post originally published on June 14, 2013.