Shaving Cream Art

As we wind down with another school year of art classes (I teach in my home), I like to surprise the students with a different type of art project for the final session. Last year they created some abstract art by spattering paint using several different methods; this year, we’re making marbled paper using…shaving cream!

I have three classes that meet every other week — one of the classes finished up a week ago, while the others will conclude on Wednesday. I tried the project with the first class, made up of boys ages 9 – 13, and it went great!  I figured it would, though; after all, we were using shaving cream.

There are some good sites online explaining the history of marbling, which we talked about before getting to work. Here’s how we did it:


  • Cardstock
  • Shaving Cream
  • 9″ x 13″ Pan
  • Tempra paints or food coloring
  • Paper towels
  • Toothpicks, combs, skewers

 To prepare, I purchased one can of shaving cream and a disposable 9″ x 13″ foil pan for each student. After reading more about it online, I probably had way too much shaving cream. One teacher recommended using only a few cans for a class of 20. I saved our extra for my next class, though.

 Then I had each student squirt out a layer of shaving cream about one inch thick in the bottom of their pan (Fun!).

 Next, the students painted the top of the shaving cream with tempra paints. Food coloring worked just as well but was more expensive. We also tried watercolors, but the finished pieces didn’t seem as bright as those with the tempra paints. Craft acrylics didn’t work at all.

 Before painting, we added water to the paints to make them more fluid. As the students painted, they tried to cover most of the surface of the shaving cream with color. This usually results in a more interesting final product.

Using a toothpick, comb, or skewer,  the students  then ran the object through the color, creating swirls and other patterns in the shaving cream.

Next, they carefully placed the paper directly on top of the shaving cream. We patted it down gently so that the entire sheet came in contact with the shaving cream. Then we pulled it up gently again.

I wiped off the paper using a paper towel (a bit of a mess). Even though the shaving cream surface was smudged, the design had transferred nicely to the paper.

 We then set the paper aside to dry, and the students tried again. To do so, we simply mixed the used paint into the shaving cream until there was a “clean” surface again.  We were able to use the same shaving cream for all of their projects that day — about four to five pieces of art each.

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