The Education Department is hard at work creating “tactile books” for children on the spectrum to enjoy when they visit the museum. Here is a small “Thanksgiving” style example of how we create our tactile artwork.
I started with a simple coloring page downloaded from the Internet. This is the one I used. Next, I picked out the tactile materials that I would be using: colored felt and glossy design paper. There are numerous other materials that can be used such as glitter, yarn, beads, puff paint, modeling clay, foam, pipe cleaners, etc. Placing varying textures next to each other within the composition helps the child delineate the differences within the work and create a more stimulating experience. For example, in the Tactile Turkey Artwork, the glossy design paper contrasts nicely with the thick felt.
Once the materials are picked out, trace the outline of the coloring page using tracing paper, and then cut the individual pieces that you will replace with tactile materials. Using these cutouts as a pattern, trace and cut the shape out of the tactile material. Once your artwork is arranged, glue the pieces down using Tacky Glue. You might choose to color in any spaces that were too small to make tactile.
Many children on the spectrum, and even those not on the spectrum, may find it difficult to trace, cut, and glue little pieces. Having your child pick out the materials and make decisions on where each material will go will help them to feel involved in the process while leaving the fine cutting and tracing to an adult. Leave white spaces within the composition so that your child will be able to finish the piece using markers or crayons.
Experiment with different compositions and materials with your own Tactile Artwork. Let us know how it goes!