Church Street at Home: Vortex Art Project

Stuck inside as the weather turns cooler with little ones to amuse? At Church Street School for Music and Art, we are all about open-ended art projects that get kids engaged in creative thinking and experimentation while having fun. We call this process-based art and it’s the perfect thing for entertaining young ones on a chilly day.

Today we are going to walk you through the steps of making a classic process-based art project. We sometimes call these vortexes, but you could call them whatever you like because it’s all about the creative journey and not what it’s supposed to look like in the end..

First let’s gather our supplies. For this project, you will need:

2 paintbrushes, one small one large

Craypas or Crayons of varying colors

1 – 3 rolls of tape (not necessary for structural concerns but for options while decorating)

Hole Puncher



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String (old shoelaces or twist ties for garbage bags will do fine)

Roll /sheets of fabric or cloth


Paper (card stock works best but and non corrugated cardboard like material will be great)

Paint and glue


Now were ready to start!

1) Hold your paper longways cut a lowercase letter j (see below).  Start your cut on the lower left corner and finish in the upper right corner. Make sure you don’t cut your paper into two pieces!


2) Turn your paper horizontally so the j you cut is pointing down. The curve of the letter j should be closest to your right hand. Bring the right corner to meet the left corner and staple the new friends into place.


3) Now our journey into the vortex begins. Take your hole puncher and punch holes along any surface you see fit. You’ll be threading string through these holes, so we suggest you punch along the inside of the curved arch allowing for the string to stretch the maximum distance.

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4) At this point the structural components of our project are complete but your creative possibilities have just begun.  From here you can explore the different results of applying any of the art materials that you gathered to this unique surface. You could imagine what the form looks like, if not a vortex, or try to think about how to make it into an animal shape!

Here are some other questions to prompt your child’s thinking and creativity:

What does your shape look like?

What did you make?

What happens if we turn this shape upside down?

What kinds of marks do you craypas make?

What do you think would happen if we tried to paint this shape?

What else could we do with the tape?

We hope you enjoy this open-ended project! Let us know what your family creates and if you’re interested in learning more about process based arts education, stop by Church Street School for Music and Art!

By Azikiwe Mohammed. Azikiwe Mohammed is an interdisciplinary artist who lives and works in New York City. He recently he was awarded a residency at Mana Contemporary Fine Arts in Jersey City and when not teaching at Church Street School can be found painting in his studio. Come say hi!

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