Monday, January 28, 2013

A Game of Artists' Dice

One of my favorite introductory classroom activities to kickstart a writing process or bookmaking project is to make artist's dice. We might do a short writing exercise first. Or talk about words that have been important in our lives. Or tell a story about a word that came up in conversation this week. We make lists of words. Each person picks six of his or her personal favorites and gets a wooden cube*. We use sandpaper or an emery board to sand off the corners and edges, then write or paint one word on each side. If the wood is absorbent and the pens bleed, we can paint the cube with gesso or watercolor ground. 

Now you are ready to roll.

Introduce yourself to a classmate. Roll together, and while doing so, make a list of the word pairs. Roll around the room. You now have titles for many, many books. At home, take a second cube, give it to a friend, family member, or significant other, and ask them to write their six words. Roll together. See how the conversation turns.

*I get the cubes in bags of three 1 1/4" (31.9 mm) in the store at Jo-Ann Fabric and Crafts, but I don't see them online and this vendor looks cheaper.

For this post I got fancier than usual and painted the block with white and black gesso so it would look worn or, perhaps, happily played with.

Round off the corners and edges.

Paint white gesso on the entire block. 
Let dry.

Leave as is or, for a worn look, 
paint the edges with black gesso or acrylic paint.
Let dry.

Paint over the entire cube with white gesso again.
Let dry.

Sand randomly.
Use a Sakura Pigma Micron Pen to write one word
on each face. If you don't like something
you can always re-gesso it or sand it off.

I wrote to two close friends, one far, one near.
They sent me their words
 and I wrote and rolled theirs with mine.




Three words make a nice title, I think!


Velma Bolyard said...

ooohhh, good one!

Janel Gradowski said...

I have a couple set of plastic story cubes to use as writing prompts. I love your homemade version. So much more fun and personal. I want to make some of these for my writer friends!

Paper Chipmunk (aka Ellen) said...

Love this! I think I'm going to be acquiring some wooden cubes...