Coffee and a bowl of cherries, a slingshot of birch, farm eggs, a quick trip to Vermont and . . . carving stamps with my co-maker & 11-year-old niece. So many pleasures during a busy and un-busy July. Our printing project was surprisingly rewarding. We weren’t so sure we’d like the results because we thought our carving was clumsy and far from perfect. Luckily printing is a forgiving craft–lopsidedness and splotchiness only add to its charm.
This is how our project went:
- We sketched our designs on paper. Then simplified, simplified, simplified when we realized how tricky the carving would be.
- We transposed our designs by drawing directly on our Speedball 2 3/4 x 4″ Speedy-Cut carving blocks.
- We carved with Speedball linoleum cutters. Number 2 and 3 cutting blades made easy, chunky lines. A number 1 blade makes a delicate line but we learned not to carve deeply with it because pressing it too far into the block shreds and rips the surface a bit.
- We used a brayer (the rolling thing) to apply the ink, rolling the ink on paper first to distribute the ink evenly before applying it to the block.
- We placed the paper on top of the inked block and rubbed with the back of a big wooden spoon.
We were delighted & made a bunch of prints for cards and postcards!
This is such a fun, easy craft for kids–and it’s doubly rewarding because you get to use something from your recycling box! You know those little foam trays that your grocery store uses to keep your veggies comfortable? Trader Joe’s, in particular, seems enamored with the excess packaging. Anyway, wash that foam and save it because now you’re going to need it.
Zeke and I spent a happy morning making prints. Make sure to cover your work space (I used paper bags–more recyclables!) because kids love to roll the paint around, and things can get messy. Also, if you want to write words in your design, remember to write your letters backwards. We actually used a hand mirror to make sure we were successfully mirror writing.
DIY Easy Printmaking
Recycled foam trays
Washable block printing ink (you can substitute acrylic paint, but the block printing ink is thicker and works better)
Blunt-ended pen or paintbrush
Step 1: Cover your work area. Printmaking gets messy!
Step 2: Trim off the curved edges of your foam trays so you have a flat surface.
Step 3: Plan your design (remember words need to be written backwards). Draw your design, pressing into the foam with the a blunt end of a pen or paintbrush.
Step: 4: Pool some paint and run your roller through it a few times so that the roller has an even coat of paint. Now roll paint over your design.
Step 5: Invert your design onto a piece of paper. Roll the back of the foam, evenly pressing your design into the paper.
Step 6: Gently lift your design. Voila! The roller and the foam should easily wash off with water.