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Rock The Bike

What do I need for a successful Spin Art station?

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Paper. Paper sized 8.5″ x 11″, 5.5″ x 8″, or 5″ x 7″ works best. For extra branding use paper with the company letter head, or you can place a stamp or sticker with your logo / brand on plain white paper. Save money and the environment by recycling old office paper (one-sided printing only), just be sure not to include any papers with confidential information you wouldn’t want shared. Our favorite paper is 32 lb. Presentation Paper; it’s thicker and can hold up against large quantities of paint, doesn’t curl when wet, and dries in 5 minutes! We’ve noticed that the longer it takes to dry, the less likely your artists will remember to pick it up.

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Paint & Bottles. Tempera paint works best. We recommend thinning it down with some extra water, about 50/50. The water helps the paint move across the spinning paper, and increases the volume of paint you have. Some kids pour a little too much paint, so this will help! We also recommend using small squirt bottles–this will limit the amount of paint your artists can use and keep your supply in stock during the event. You can also vary your ratio of paint to water to get cool effects.

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Somewhere To Dry. After the art is done you will want somewhere to let it dry. A designated table for drying art works, but outdoors it could get blown around. For outdoor drying we recommend string and clothespin. Art should take 5 – 15 minutes to dry, depending on the amount of paint used, the type of paper used, and how much air is blowing on it.

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A Helping Hand. Having a ‘grown up’ or two at your spin art station is best. Some children have never seen a spin art machine, so you’ll have to explain to them how it works, or guide them not to use all the colors (unless they want it brown). This person will need to write names on paper before making artwork, take the paint-covered artwork off and place to dry, refill paint bottles, and get spectators to help pedal. Since everyone wants to watch, the hardest task for this person will be keeping everyone in line. For this, we recommend writing names on individual papers (used for their art) and keeping the papers in line. Please scroll down to read tips on coaching Pedal Powered Spin Art.

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Above: Spin Art Station at Pedalfest in Jack London Square

Coaching Spin Art is an important task for the individual working your Spin Art Station. This is how RTB does it:

1. Person approaches the bike, intrigued. Offer them a chance to make some spin art–they’ll say yes 99% of the time.
2. Ask them to pick 3 colors.
3. Write their name on the paper and put it onto the spin art platter, securing it with the elastic bands.
4. Ask the parent or a friend if they want to pedal. If no one wants to, jump on the bike and start step 6.
5. Coach the pedaler. They don’t need to pedal at a superfast speed, which they’ll want to do. They just need to keep the pedals spinning, slow and steady. I recommend they envision they’re cruising on a beach, not winning the Tour de France.
6. Once the paper goes from looking rectangular to circular, they an begin. I typically give kids a thumbs up when ready.
7. Individual makes spin art. If a youngster is dumping globs of paint, show them how to squeeze lightly or say, “okay…one more color…” I have them give me a thumbs up when they’re done making their masterpiece.
8. Either stop pedaling, or ask the pedaler to stop. Use the handbrake to stop the spinning platter.
9. Remove artwork, hang to dry, and tell artist to return in 5 – 10 minutes to collect their art.
10. Repeat until no more paint, paper, or people! Each person takes about 1 minute to complete a piece.

Have fun, and be sure to save leftover spin art forgotten at your booth; you never know what project may come up where you’ll need some original artwork.