Wednesday, March 9, 2011

A Rainbow Of Your Own

A pot of gold at the end of the rainbow- what a great find that would be. Well, instead of fighting over the gold with a leprechaun, let's just go ahead and make our own pot of gold. And if the gold wraps around some chocolate- even better!

Rainbow photo via Alaska-In-Pictures

This activity is a fun way to introduce (or review) the color spectrum of visible light. The color progression of a rainbow is the same as the color progression around a color wheel.

You may want to begin your session with an enlarged photo of a rainbow, a color wheel, and finally your paints lined up in a rainbow. That moves the discussion from "theory", of sorts, to real life- we've all seen rainbows and there is a rainbow lined up right in front of us. I'm sorry I don't have photos that you can print from this blog today. I'm working on developing printables so that sort of thing is coming. Remember, we just built the Greenhouse.

Discuss a couple of tricks for remembering the order of the colors in a rainbow.


You could even make up a mnemonic about someone or an event in your facility. Fun way to get another aspect a creativity thrown into the day.

Rhonda Ain't In No Backwater Office Now

OK, let's try to start.

4" terra cotta pot and tray (also 4")
Acrylic craft paint- go cheap
Shamrock foam cut outs
Glue Stick
Paint brushes

Don't forget the gold!!
Hmm, there appear to be a couple gold bricks missing...

A note before we start:

  • We have a dishwasher in our Great Room (Activity Room) and have just gotten a load of hand-me-down plates from the cafeteria. As a result, I have switched from using paper plates to using the glass plates as a palette to dispense paint. It works for us and they are re-usable, which I'm really into as a cost saving measure. Paper plates work fine as does a square of wax paper, even med cups that have fallen on the floor and cannot therefore be used to dispense meds. But for this craft you'll want to make sure you have plenty of room to squirt out a puddle of paint since there are so many colors.

  • For a good way to contain all those colors, save up those Styrofoam egg cartons (not the cardboard ones) and squirt your colors in each egg place. These can be washed, with care, and re-used several times. Styrofoam plates can also be re-used several times.

 OK, let's try to get started again.

Each person will need one pot and one tray. I place items to be painted on wax paper. First of all it protects the table and secondly, things like paint and Mod Podge (which we'll see plenty of here in The Greenhouse) won't stick to it like it will to newspaper.

We've eliminated Indigo from our palette for this project. Sorry. We have plenty of color happening already and it's sometimes harder for older folks to make the distinction  between the closer shades of greens and blues. And another stripe of color may be too much to deal with for a good many of our folks.

So that there is time for the paint to dry between colors, if possible have everyone start at the same time and work through one color at a time in the order I have given here. Yes?

1- Paint the inside of the tray violet. Be sure to get the lip around the top but it's OK if some of the paint gets brushed over onto the outer edge.

Encourage your folks to get the paint on very smoothly (right?). Acrylic craft paint dries pretty quickly but glops will dry more slowly and slow the process down.

Set the tray aside.


2-  Turn the pot upside down. It may be helpful to have marked off the pot into sections. We'll paint four colors on the pot but the rim will act as a dividing line so mark the body of the pot into three sections.

3- Paint the bottom of the pot, which is on top right now (I know, could be confusing) green. It is helpful to start by painting the sides so our folks can hold on to the top/bottom to keep it still. Then do the top/bottom, where the hole is. Many folks will worry that because their lines are not straight, they are not doing a good job and are therefore not creative enough. There is no  "not creative enough". Please stress from the very beginning that straight lines are not necessary for this project. I like to say "It's an organic project."
Set the pot aside.

4- Turn the tray upside down and paint it blue. It's OK if paint splops over onto the wax paper. Turning the tray upside down will cover the rim around the inside of the tray and make a fairly nice line. It still won't be perfect and it doesn't need to be.

Set the tray aside.

5- Now add a yellow stripe of color. It's OK for the colors to overlap, in fact that will keep the clay pot from peeking out between the colors.


6 & 7- (I know, that's cheating)- Add orange and then red.

You can skip back and forth if your colors are drying slowly: green then down to red then up to yellow then orange. You can wait to paint the blue on the outside of the tray if you think you'll need more drying time on the pot. Or you can take a little break between colors and share the ballad of Roy G. Biv. Click here to go to the sheet music for The Ballad of Roy G. Biv, written by Greg Crowther. Mr. Crowther is a research scientist in the Department of Medicine at the University of Washington and I have a feeling it would be fun to take a class from him. You or someone could play the ballad if you have a piano or keyboard available (honestly, you really should) or you could just read the lyrics.

So far so good. See how nicely the edges come out. Organic.

8- Using the glue stick, glue your shamrocks to the outside of the pot. If you're really lucky you'll find the foam shapes that have the adhesive backs.

Looks pretty nice.

You can simplify this project by using only three colors- say red, yellow, and blue. Paint the whole tray one color. Then introduce your green with the shamrocks.

Let's talk about paint brushes for a minute. This project is pretty color intensive (love it!) and there is the logistical problem of cleaning the paint brushes between each color. My groups tend to be fairly small so that isn't normally too big of an issue. I partially filled wash basins with water and two or three folks shared to swish out their brushes between colors. Change the water after everyone is finished with the cool colors (the G.BIV part of the rainbow). Or... if you have a larger number of participants get a boat load of foam brushes- smaller sizes work great- and each person gets six or however many paint colors you are using. Place a couple wash basins or other big container with some soap and water on the table and once a color is done, throw the brush in and move on to a clean brush. Then you can have a really fun and colorful time rinsing out all of those foam brushes. Because we all know that disposable foam brushes can be used FOREVER!

The day I did these with my patients I couldn't find the shamrocks so we went with dots using a sponge stencil brush. Some added the glitter glue but everyone made the pots their own. Love the birds. One fella got away before I could get a picture of his very tribal looking pot- he had all sorts of lines and colors and glitter going every which way and it was fabulous!!

If you think that you will be using these pots for plants you'll want to make sure that you have a sealed liner- one that won't leak into the pot- as water will make the paint peel.

Yea, but ...

I know-- your calendar had to be turned in by the 15th of last month. Due to the technical difficulties I was experiencing with Blogger, this project is late. My sincere apologies for that. But that's one craft for next March that you've already gotten lined up.


Easter is coming!!

If you try this project I would love to hear your comments or see your pictures.

Thanks for stopping in today and watch out for those Leprechauns!

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