Monday, May 16, 2011

Aztec Sun Stones

This art project is based on the Aztec calendar stone or sun stone. 

We are finally getting some warm sun around here.  The grass is green the leaves are popping out so I thought the Grade 2's could make some extra sunshine for the hall display.

We are going to use a neat printmaking technique to achieve a nice old worn look to our "paper" sun stones.


- brown kraft paper
- sheets of craft foam, about 1/3 of a long sheet per student
- liquid tempera paint, black, yellow, orange
- paintbrush
- dull pencil
- scissors
- clear plexiglass printing blocks, optional
- scraps of corrugated cardboard
- fine sharpies, pencil crayons
- gold metallic paint

Now I am not usually a fan of craft foam, at least not all those "kits" that seem to be everywhere.

But it does have a great possibilities as a material you can manipulate into your own stamps.

Take a sheet of foam.  I'm using a thin sheet fact it's thinner than normal, must be some real cheap stuff I picked up!

Using your dull pencil draw your design into the foam.  Go over any lines you want to be thick and color in areas.

Take your scissors and cut around your design.

Now these are clear plexiglass blocks you can get at Michaels.  Normally you use them with the clear sticky stamps that are available now.

Lately I have found lots of these blocks in the dollar bin so I have been accumulating a class set.

Now you don't have to have these blocks to do the printing but if you do there are some advantages.

The clear blocks allow you to make multiple prints quite quickly and because they are clear you can exactly see where you are positioning the stamp.

I use good old masking tape to adhere my foam stamps to the block.

Now paint your stamp with some liquid tempera and then turn over and press onto paper.

I find that I often like the second impression better better so I have some scrap paper around to take my first stamp.

If you don't have the clear block just paint and use your fingers to turn over and then just as well.

When you are done with the stamp wipe it dry with some kleenex and then store for future use.

For this project you want to make a few designs.  If you wish to stamp the face you can use a circular object to trace around.  I used a funnel.

You can use traditional designs or come up with your own.

Take your brown Kraft paper and trace a big circle.  I used the lid from a small garbage can.  Cut out.

You can also distress your paper a bit by crumpling and smoothing it out a few times for some wrinkles.

Using liquid tempera paint on some bright warm colors.  I wanted to create some motion so I have painted in a circular fashion.  I have also dry brushed some layers of color.

Using your foam stamps start making your sun stone starting in the center and working out.

I am loading my stamps by brushing on black tempera.

You can also use some scrap pieces of corrugated cardboard in different widths to make line designs.

When you have your design all stamped out you can add some fine lines with sharpie or pencil crayon.

Lastly you can take your gold metallic paint and add a few touches to make it sparkle and you're done.

Mat on some black or white paper.

Hope you are getting lots of sun your way!


  1. Those are really beautiful! Sounds like a good art project for me and my man to enjoy, after the kids have gone to bed. You know, just to test it out before I try it with them. :)

  2. Fabulous tutorial!I love the aged effect of the prints. Thanks for a great project idea.

  3. These are awesome. What a fun project. Loved your little tutorial and the DIY stamps. Awesome!!

  4. Thanks for taking the time to make such a detailed tutorial. Although it is RAINING here today (ugh) I may head off to Michael's in search of the clear acrylic blocks!

  5. Those are very cool. I like the printmaking using the foam. I think I have some cheap-o foam to make use of myself. We could use some sun around here!

  6. You are simply amazing. Great tutorial and wonderful way to introduce Aztec art.

    I LOVE these.

  7. I love this process. Using the clear blocks is a great idea. I'll have to keep my eye out in the dollar bins at Michaels.


  8. This is beautiful! Your steps are so clear and every part of the project looks like fun :)

  9. I'm impressed with your ideas with the process of this aztec sun shield painting and printmaking lesson. This is an idea I want to be sure to try in my next year! Thanks for posting it on your blog.

  10. Brilliant! I'm doing lots of art cloth for quilting and this is perfect for embellishing fabric that I have already under dyed and played with a little! thanks Gail for such a great blog.

  11. I just tried this technique and it works great. Better with the regular pencil than the pencil crayon I tried first. I'm thinking of fossil images ...Thanks