One of the projects we made to send to our Picture Pals in Haiti were these fun craft stick puzzles. We started the year by making a lot of art that our picture pals could look at. I thought that it would be even better to make a game to send them that was both visual and fun to play with. This would be a good project for any kind of penpal exchange, in which you want to introduce yourself and show your penpal what you look like.
I started by introducing stick puzzles to my students. There's something intriguing about solving these little puzzles! I let them try out sick puzzles that I made out of postcards. I looked at many tutorials on how to make stick puzzles, and I found this one from Skip to my Lou to be very helpful.
The day before we made the puzzles, I took pictures of the students. They posed in front of something interesting in the art room, which created interesting backgrounds. I then printed out a picture of each student in a 4" x 6" format. We used a rainbow assortment of craft sticks, which added another visual element to the puzzles. Each student chose 16 sticks and laid them out as neatly as possible. Try to line them up between two rulers. Also, try not to use any warped sticks.
We took a strip of fat painter's tape and taped the line of sticks so that they would stay together. We then flipped that over. Using a sponge brush, we applied Mod Podge to the sticks. We then brushed the backside of the photo with Mod Podge.
You then flip the photo onto the sticks so that both sticky sides meet. Then press out all of the air bubbles with your fingers. Using an old credit card would work well for sliding over the sticks and making the picture lay flat.
For an extra coat of protection, you could spread more Mod Podge on top of your glued photo. The next step is to let it dry for a while. I let them dry overnight.
Our students enjoyed the surreal qualities of making crafts with their own faces. It was going to get even more jarring once the pieces were cut apart and scrambled!
I did the cutting of the puzzles, using a rotary cutter. It's a good idea to put the name of the student on the back of each stick. Once they are all cut apart, I put them into small baggies and they looked so intriguing with eyes and noses peeking out. The students enjoyed both making and solving their portrait puzzles. The hardest part was convincing them to give them away to their penpals!