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The Corner Toolkit  >  Themed activities  >  The Corner goes Strait Home  >  Make  >  Artwork using natural materials

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Artwork using natural materials


This activity will see children creating their very own rubbings using a few simple instructions and natural and contemporary materials sourced from the park, backyard or around their house.


Many Traditional Torres Strait Islander artefacts and artworks are made from natural materials and are reliant on what sort of natural materials are available on the island. This activity will see children using the same concept of making artwork using natural materials such as leaves, ferns and other natural materials that can be sourced from their very own backyard or even contemporary materials around the house.

Key Concepts

Design/drawing, collage, natural materials and art

Key Language:

Texture, pattern, colour


Coloured pencils
Sticky tape
Glue stick
Rubbing materials

Rubbing materials: can be basically any materials from your garden, the park, the bush, anywhere around the place. Thick-ribbed fig-leaves work really well, though some leaves have too little texture, others too much [thorns!] and are not so much fun to rub. Succulents should be avoided, though other flat objects can be used such as: string, paper shapes, stickers, shed palm-frond bits, squashed (chicken) wire-mesh, etc...

Paper: Sizes are up to your discretion. For first-timers, and for individual take-home artworks A5 works well, enthusiasts can do larger, and A3 or larger is great for collaborative artworks. White paper is fine, different colours will make the difference between the two sides more striking.

Activity Steps

Step 1: Introduction

Using the rationale, explain to children the concept of this activity. Many Torres Strait Islander traditional artefacts and artworks were made using natural materials or other materials that were sourced around the island.artwork

Strategic questions:

Step 2:  Designing

Look at the materials that you have and talk about the kind of artwork that you are going to make.

Strategic questions

Make sure you give children enough time to answer these questions and experiment with design before moving on to the next step.

Step 3:  Making

Select two pieces of paper and materials for your artwork. Using only one piece of paper create the collage using glue and collected materials.

Step 4:  Designing 

Once you are happy with your design, cover the entire paper sheet and collaged objects with glue. Then carefully line up the 2nd paper sheet on the short side of the paper, corner on corner, as exact as you can. Using the palms of your hands gently press the 2nd piece of paper onto the leaf collage sandwiching together.


artwork rubbing
rubbing rubbing


Strategic questions:

Step 5:  Decorating 

Ask children to think about what colours they would like to use in their artwork.  It is important for children to understand that they are making individual artistic decisions and not just following a process.

Talk about the colours that they are using

Strategic questions

Using wax crayons lightly colour over the top of the paper – do this to both sides, you will see the difference in texture from side to side.


Side 1 Side 2
rubbing rubbing
rubbing rubbing
rubbing rubbing
Look at both sides of the artwork

Strategic questions:

Now your Artwork is complete!


rubbing rubbing

Strategic questions:




Last updated: 23rd September 2011

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