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Family how-to: adapt your art tools

Published 22 March 2019

Tailor art activities to your needs by adapting the tools you use. Follow our step-by-step way to extend or improve the grip on your pencils, paintbrushes and pens.

    • Family how to adapt your tools materials

      What you need

      • The tools you want to adapt: pens, pencils, paintbrushes

      • Scissors

      • Masking tape

      To improve grip

      • Adhesive foam sheets (A4 works well)

      To lengthen

      • Sticks of varying thickness / length

  • Use adhesive foam to improve grip

    • Family how-to: adapt your art tools pen cutting

      1. Measure and cut

      Take the pen you want to adapt and measure the foam against it. You don’t necessarily want to add foam all the way across the pen or pencil.

      Cut a strip of the foam. We used an A4-piece of foam which we cut into horizontal strips, then used one of those strips to adjust the pen.

    • Family how-to: adapt your art tools orange pen roll up

      2. Roll up

      You may need to try a couple with different length strips of foam to get the one that’s most comfortable once you have rolled it up. The longer the strip, the thicker the roll will be.

      When you’re ready, peel the sticky back off the foam and place the pen at one end. Then, roll it up!

    • Family how-to: adapt your art tools draw with grip

      3. Try it out!

      Once your pen is adjusted, give it a go on some paper. Does it feel easier to use? Need to add more foam? You can always cut another strip and add it on top.

  • Use a stick to extend

    • Family how-to: adapt your art tools stick tape brush extend

      1. Attach your stick

      You can use any stick that is the right length and thin enough. Try a piece of garden cane, a twig or a wooden stick.

      Things to consider:

      • It needs to be light enough to hold.

      • You need it to be smooth and without splinters.

      • If it’s not straight this may affect how it works when you use the brush.

      Use masking tape to secure the end of the paintbrush to one end. You will need to position the brush slightly below the top of the stick so that it sits securely.

    • Family how-to: adapt your art tools roll brush

      2. Add grip

      Follow the steps above to see how to add grip to your extended handle.

    • Family how-to: adapt your art tools reach brush extended

      3. Give it a go!

      Try out your brush. Does it feel more comfortable? Is your artwork easier to reach? You can try a different length stick or add more grip if that helps!

  • Share a photo of your adapted tools @royalacademy on Twitter or @royalacademyarts on Instagram using #familyhowto

    Photography by Simon Pask photography

    • Family workshop SEND

      Students and young people with special educational needs and disabilities at the RA

      We welcome students with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) for workshops during our programme of SEND Schools Weeks. These workshops are tailored to meet the requirements of each group and include multi-sensory exhibition tours, followed by handling and art-making sessions.

      We also offer art-making workshops and exhibition tours for families with children with SEND throughout the year.

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