I started painting coffee filters a few weeks ago just for fun. I saw them in my supply closet and I love painting anything round so it was the perfect thing to do on a snowy Sunday. After I painted about 15, I decided to make a little mobile with them using a stick from my thousand sticks collection that my husband just doesn’t understand.
A week later a friend sent me an email with an application to submit artwork to our local High School art show featuring alumni. (I live in the town where I was raised.) I am not a working artist, but I decided this might be a good push for me. I sent in this photo below and said that I was working on something bigger. They accepted and yesterday I hung my big piece and I’m so happy!
But first, let me tell you how I made this smaller wall hanging and the supplies you will need.
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Supplies Needed for Coffee Filter Wall Hanging
~ Watercolor paints (I used whatever was on the shelf for the kids: OOLY watercolor palette, OOLY Chroma Blends pearlescent watercolors, Richeson fluorescent tempera cakes, and random set of opaque watercolors that I’ve had for years which doesn’t have a label, but these are very similar.)
~ Markers (I used Zig Brushables for this project, but any markers will work)
~ Stick / branch
~ Yarn (optional to make a hanger)
~ Scotch tape
Making the Coffee Filter Wall Hanging
1. First, cover your table with some paper. I actually used some large 12 x 18 sulphite paper (I love the way the paint went through and created it’s own painting) but you can use newspaper or even cardboard. The paint will seep through the coffee filter so you definitely want something underneath to soak up the extra water.
2.. Next, paint the coffee filters. This is obviously the main objective. You don’t even need to make anything with them, they are just fun to paint! I used mostly monochromatic colors with each new circle, but truly anything goes here – and it almost always looks good.
3. Lay them out on a clean spot to dry. I covered my table with a canvas tarp so they dried within 10 minutes on there. Once dry, you can go back with the white chalk marker and other markers and even more watercolor paint to make some dots and lines in clusters or however you choose. This mark-making gives these paintings a little more interest and depth and it’s just really fun to think about the contrast of colors and design elements.
4. Once you’ve made about 12-16 you can lay them out and decide how you want to hang them. There is no right or wrong way to do this. I did 3 rows of 4 because of the size of my stick, and I wanted the wall hanging to be a bit longer. But you can do anything you want. You can add beads or pom-poms, use a long stick and just hang single coffee filters at different lengths, or punch holes and make a garland. Anything is possible!
5. When you find a layout that you like, flip the coffee filters over. I used Scotch tape and clear fishing line to hold the coffee filters together and attach them to the stick. I really wanted the assembly to be invisible as much as possible, so that the mini-paintings took the spotlight.
6. For the hanger I made this twisted rope from yarn which is really easy and fun to make! See more details here.
Voila! The finished piece makes me happy. Little did I know I would be making 90 more paintings!
I sketched some loose ideas and decided on a rainbow/ombre layout for the bigger piece rather than random color placement like the smaller version.
I started with the blues, then purple, pink, orange, fading into cream and then just the white filters. My thought was to show the starting point with the plain filters, to give a hint of the material.
In my brief artist statement that I wrote when I submitted the piece, I expressed my intention for making art with what you have:
This wall hanging is made with simple, inexpensive materials that you can find at home. Art should never feel unattainable because everyone is creative whether they believe it or not. My piece is meant to awaken the inner artist and inspire people to make something. The use of repurposed materials is important to me, as I feel that we don’t need to buy new and expensive materials to make art. I also love the idea of art being temporary – that it’s not too precious and can be disassembled and used again in a different way. This piece is lightly assembled and not meant to be permanent. It will be taken apart and used in a different way for another piece. Art is for everyone!
With these, I also aded a fair amount of gold watercolor mark-making along with the chalk markers and regular markers. Together with the pearlescent paints, they really have a fancy / shimmery quality which I love.
I laid out the final pieces on my floor at home to figure out the best layout before heading over to the gallery.
Here I am at the gallery using the tape and fishing line to assemble the finished wall hanging.
The lighting was very bright so it’s hard to see the detail in this photo, especially on the white coffee filters. But I drew on those also, using gold paint and even the white chalk marker.
I hope this piece inspires you to make some art!
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