Seaweed Printing

N wanted to try printing with crabs and seaweed, remember? So we gave it a try before the crabs completely decomposed–as it was, they were pretty stinky! (I’m going to repeat this here: The crabs were dead when we found them, I said we shouldn’t bring them home, but somehow, a few ended up in the bucket.). We were using Irish Moss, which has a definite shape which seemed conducive to printing (versus some of the grassy spready kinds of seaweed). I gathered some copy paper, small squares of watercolor paper, and large, heavy drawing paper, so we had some choices. The kids decided on liquid acrylics, and we began to experiment.

Somewhere under G’s hand is a piece of Irish Moss! I was the only one who had consistent success printing the seaweed. V tried printing the crab, but it really didn’t work (and then it began falling apart, ew!). G enjoyed just painting the crab without printing it, and I tried to print the underside of the carapace, but as I was painting it, a leg fell off. (It’s best to be amused by these occurrences…) V continued to work on printing with the seaweed, but N moved fairly quickly into using a large piece to apply paint to the paper.

The end result was very interesting:

V also decided to make some paintings that way:

I had the most luck with making actual prints:

I chose flatter pieces of Irish Moss and, after placing the painted side on the paper, I covered it with a piece of copy paper and smoothed it quite flat. I think we may have more success with this if we press the seaweed first; Action Pack 4 has simple instructions to make a flower press and I think we’ll bring one to the beach with us and see if it works with damp seaweed.

There’s nothing wrong with experimenting to see what happens, and we’re open to trying things out without being sure of the final result. Using the Irish Moss as a sort of paintbrush was satisfying in itself, and we’ll carry over what we learned if we try to make prints with seaweed again. We’ll keep our eyes open for large, flat pieces, too.

Have you printed with seaweed (or any other challenging items)? What did you learn?

6 thoughts on “Seaweed Printing

  1. Mrs. Plum

    We are leaving for the beach this weekend and this will be such a fun project to do. I bet we can find lots of stuff to make beach prints with. I don’t know if ours will be as beautiful as your though.

    1. amy

      Oh, I bet they’ll be just as nice, and interesting for being unique. I actually like the paintings made with the seaweed (they remind me of sponge-print paintings) better than the prints, I think, because they’re more unexpected.

      Enjoy the beach! Our weather has turned; I don’t know when we might get another good beach day here.

  2. Zenobia Southcombe

    Those look really beautiful, Amy! I love the mixture of blues & purples with the seaweed printing. I know you’re more about the process, but isn’t it wonderful when something visually pleasing comes from a process-based art session? Accidental beauty is my favourite 🙂


    1. amy

      Oh, I love a beautiful end result, for sure, and especially for the older kids it’s good when the end result is pleasing. I’m interested in process, yes, but also in open-ended results (so rather than “we’re doing seaweed printing” it’s “what can we do with this seaweed?”) and exploration of materials to give my kids the creative vocabulary they need to realize their ideas! N chose some great colors for that painting, I agree!

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