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    Block Printing


    I have a vivid memory, from 7th grade art class, of carving a block with special tools and seeing my pattern come to life. Amy at The Creative Mom Podcast did a block printing project at her sons' pre-school a while back and it sounded fun and do-able, so I added it to the summer art project list.

    To get started, you need some art supplies. The paint needs to be thick, as it is applied with a brayer (roller) so I picked Speedball thick bodied acrylic tubes in 5 colors, along with two 2" brayers to apply the paint. In retrospect, it would be better to have the same number of brayers as paint colors so that you don't have to clean the rollers to add a new color. Since the kids are too young for regular lino-cutting tools, I found a cool printing material called Invoart Printfoam (available at Dick Blick) that doesn't require sharp tools to cut. It feels like the foam that comes under meat at the grocery but stronger, and can be molded with a little pressure.

    To make their designs, my daughters used a fork, a metal nail, and a pen. We learned that you can make straight lines by pressing down firmly with the edge of a ruler. After completing the design, we applied paint. Usually their love of multiple colors are a bonus, but in this case made it more complicated - 2 brayers, 2 kids, and 5 colors plus mixtures thereof. My older daughter applied 3 colors to her sheet of printfoam. I put a sheet of ic office copier paper on top, flipped it over, and rubbed thoroughly with the back of a wooden spoon. Peeling the paper off, the design appeared - but the first color she had used had already dried so it was very light.

    The paint dried FAST and we had to work FASTER. We stuck to 1-2 colors and worked quickly and the next prints turned out better. My youngest was less than enthused with the results. The oldest wished she could place colors more precisely but enjoyed the project. Block printing is more about design than color. Next time, I'll cut the printfoam into 4"x 4" or 6"x 6" squares and repeat patterns in different colors.

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    Reader Comments (2)

    Those prints look great! Three colours, WOW!
    I've just done some printing with polystyrene (styrofoam) - please visit my blog and have a look. I'll let my kids have a go soon ;-)
    But reading this, I seem to remember buying something like that foam block, years ago. I'm going to have a rummage.

    02.4.2009 | Unregistered CommenterSam

    I wonder if you could do something similar with the floral foam they sell at the dollar store? not that I have any objection to another trip to the art store ;) but it's fun to experiemnt

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