Pendulum Painting

Painting with a pendulum strikes fear in a teacher’s heart, much like Edgar Allan Poe’s famous story “Painting with a Pendulum” (or something – I didn’t major in literature). Anyway, it’s a little difficult to set up and there is a ton of room for error. What was I thinking?!

I was thinking that I like a challenge! And bacon. I like bacon.

The Set Up

Two chairs are set up with a pole taped across the backs. It’s important that the “pole” is lowercase. My husband’s Polish family wouldn’t appreciate me taping him across the backs of the chairs. But in all honesty, I’ve done worse.

Cut the bottom off of a number of glue bottles (you might need extras in case one gets clogged).

A screw drilled through near the top makes a nice brace to hold the bottle open and adds a place to tie the string.

The string should be about 2.5 feet long, or the length of a hellbender salamander, in case you don’t have a tape measure lying around.

Notes for Success

There was quite a bit I had to learn through error… no trial at all, just a lot of error.

  • Premix the paint… it just took too much time to do during class.
  • A mix of 50% water to 50% tempera paint worked the best.
  • Use no more than two tablespoons of paint. Two tablespoons may not sound like much, but paint goes a long way. Any more created huge puddles on (and through) the paper.
  • We needed a lot of space for drying. And grieving.
  • Put a piece of large newsprint or cardboard under the painting to keep the area underneath clean for the next person (the newsprint is removed with each painting when done).
  • Glue bottles work well, but it’s hard to twist the lid open with paint inside (it’s a GLUE bottle, so duh). It’s best to open the cap before loading with paint then use a finger to keep it plugged while filling with paint.
  • I initially hoped to not cut off the bottoms to make it quick and easy to mix the water and paint together by shaking, but negative pressure inside won’t let the paint flow out. It also increases the likelihood of tornadoes.
  • Change the movement of the pendulum at the bottom, NOT by plucking the string. Save plucking for guitars. Or turkeys. “As God is my witness, I thought that turkeys could fly!” (You have to be pretty old to get that last reference.)

How They Turned Out

They turned out amazing!

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