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    Block Printing II

    We enjoyed a morning of block printing.

    For my 6 yr old, I prepared a grid to contain small doodles. Using a Papermate pen, I drew lines on Inovart Printfoam. My daughter doodled lines, butterflies, suns and swirls, applying just a bit more pressure than used to write.

    Meanwhile, my 8 yr old practiced carving on flexible printing plates with #1 and #2 V-cutters, making wavy lines, words and other marks. We used Speedball flexible printing plates ~ soft, flexible vinyl sheets 1/16" thick. They carve like butter. This was her first experience with lino-cutting tools. Be careful to evaluate whether a child is ready to use lino-cutting tools, which are extremely sharp. My daughter is almost 9, with good hand control, but I worked closely with her. Always carve away from your body, apply pressure on the plate with the other hand, and keep it behind the lino-cutter, should it slip.

    We mixed Speedball heavy bodied acrylics with the brayer and rolled it thinly onto the carved surface with the brayer. In the past, we applied several colors separately, but the layers dried before making the imprints. We placed a sheet of copy paper on top, gently pressed with hands or a wooden object, and carefully peeled the paper off. Be sure to have a stack of paper and a clean flat surface to put the prints after you separate them. The first print of each series was heavy on paint, because the paint seeped into the shallow lines. The second print was often better. To try a new color, we rinsed the Printfoam, flexible printing plates, brayer and tray in water and dried them thoroughly.

    Using just one color at a time made us focus on the design rather than color combinations. This was a great chance to talk about the art ~ we looked at the prints side by side to see the color variations, areas of shading, areas of thicker and thinner paint, sharper and softer lines. Each color gave the pattern a different look and feel. Could you make a similar piece of art with different tools? What about applying paint to a stencil with a sponge? Using handmade eraser stamps?

    To display block prints, try framing a series of block prints with white mattes. Repeating the same pattern provides unity; while differences in shading and color provide interest.

    Supplies: Speedball thick bodied acrylic tubes, 2" brayer to apply paint, v-tip lino-cutting tools, Invoart Printfoam (a cool material that can be molded with just a bit of pressure), Speedball flexible printing plates, white paper.  All supplies are available at Dick Blick.

    Find gorgeous block prints at the Block Print Group at Flickr and check out our first adventure in Block Printing!


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