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de Youngsters Studio: Pirate Paper Inspired by Peter Coffin

Collection Connection

Situated just outside the museum, Peter Coffin's Untitled from 2009 strikes a defiant pirate pose. With Halloween upon us, what better time to look closely and think about how a costume can tell a story?

Watch How to Make Pirate Paper

Materials

 

de Youngsters Studio: Pirate Paper Inspired by Peter Coffin

Questions to Consider

  • We assume pirates lead lives full of wild adventures.
  • What adventures left this pirate with two of everything? (Note the parrots, eye patches, swords, hooks, and peg legs.)
  • What’s the pirate’s name?
  • Did the pirate get a nickname from his adventures?
  • What do you think is in the barrel?
  • Will you make a treasure map, riddle, or pirate story on your pirate paper?
  • How long do you think it will take to turn the paper brown?
  • What tool will you use to write or draw on your paper?

Steps

1. Pour fresh coffee grounds and water into the dish and stir gently. The water should look brown.

de Youngsters Studio: Pirate Paper Inspired by Peter Coffin

2. Dip the sheet of paper into water, rolling up paper ends if that fits better. Try a couple of different papers to see which works best.

de Youngsters Studio: Pirate Paper Inspired by Peter Coffin

3. Let paper soak for at least 1 hour or up to overnight.

de Youngsters Studio: Pirate Paper Inspired by Peter Coffin

4. When the paper is sufficiently “dirty,” hang it up with clips to dry.

de Youngsters Studio: Pirate Paper Inspired by Peter Coffin

5. On your dry paper, use markers or a pencil to write a story or riddle or draw a treasure map!

Extra Tips

Practice your writing on scratch paper before writing on your pirate paper. Roll up and wrap the paper with a ribbon for that extra pirate look.

de Youngsters Studio: Pirate Paper Inspired by Peter Coffin

Reflect

After creating your paper, consider the following questions:

  1. Was it hard to wait for your paper to be ready?
  2. Does creating your own paper make you more careful about how you use it?
  3. Does the look of the paper influence what you put on it?

Writing a story

  • When developing your pirate story, think about the following:
  • Who are your central characters?
  • Can you describe these characters in as much detail as Peter Coffin shows us with his pirate?
  • Where does the adventure take place—aboard ship or on land?
  • Does your story include any mythical animals?
  • What’s the purpose of your story?
  • Is it a thrilling tale or does it teach a lesson?

Use these sentence starters to get your quill started.

  • Finding myself the youngest member of the crew, I quickly learned . . .
  • Land ho, me hearties, and raise the flags because . . .
  • We had just cleared the last treasures from the wreck as the ship sank below the ocean surface when . . .

Share

For a story or poem: how about dressing up like a pirate and having someone record you reading your story or poem in your best pirate voice? For a map or riddle: perhaps you could share your map or riddle with a sibling or friend so they can find a special treasure treat!

We would love to see what you make too, so please tag us on any social platform using the hashtag #deyoungsters or email families@famsf.org.

Image credits:

  • Peter Coffin, Untitled (Pirate), 2007, cast in 2009. Cast aluminum on a painted concrete base. Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, Gift of Maria and William Bell, 2016.61. © Peter Coffin Process
  • photographs by Raphael Noz