Materials: Craft foam; scissors; glue (Elmer’s or tacky); sturdy cardboard cut to size slightly smaller than paper; brightly colored construction paper*; block printing ink or tempera paint; brayer; glass or Plexiglas for rolling out ink. *I really like the Tru-Ray paper; it’s smooth and sturdy feeling.
I love printmaking, and I wanted to make sure to incorporate it into the preschool art explorers class I’m leading at our homeschool co-op this session. This activity was inspired by “Playful Prints” in What’s the Big Idea? by Joyce Raimondo, and it’s perfect for this age group, because it also involves cutting, something my preschoolers love to do. (Although I think it would work well for all ages. I enjoyed making a sample!) The steps are simple.
1. Cut out shapes from craft foam. Make sure they’re large enough that they won’t be too difficult to either glue down or ink. That was the only parameter I gave the kids; they cut out whatever shapes they wanted.
2. Glue the shapes down onto the cardboard, making sure to leave some negative space. Don’t overlap the shapes. Again, the kids glued them down whichever way they wanted.
3. When the glue has dried (at least enough so the shapes won’t wiggle on the cardboard during inking), ink up the brayer and apply ink to the foam. Try not to get it on the cardboard.
4. Lay the paper on top and smooth over the back of it to make the print.
That’s it! Depending on the age group, this technique could be used to make patterns, designs, or to depict a simple image or scene…or it could be kept abstract. Choosing brightly colored paper and black ink made for a really vibrant and striking print. This is deceptively simple, with fantastic results.