For many children printmaking is one of the most mysterious and magical art techniques. It’s results are often surprising as well as rewarding. One printing techniques that can be mastered easily is styrofoam printing. Smaller children will enjoy manipulating the foam and especially seem to like the kinesthetic feedback they are getting from rolling paint with the brayer while older children will be able to work on more complex designs. Whether you want to make marks or print a complex design, styrofoam printing is open-ended fun for everyone and lends itself perfectly to making holiday cards.
- Scratch Foam (or any other styrofoam e.g. white foam take out containers or foam plates from the grocery store), cut to your desired size (4.5″ x 4.5″ )
- Tempera paint (for a clearer image use real printing ink)
- Brayer (or your rolling pin, a foam brush or thick paint brush)
- Tray or plate for rolling out the paint
- Paper (cut an inch bigger on all sides than the Scratch Foam)
Step 1: Draw your design
Draw your Valentines picture or design onto a sheet of paper cut to the same size as your Scratch Foam. Avoid drawing very small details that might disappear when printing. Young children can draw their marks, dots and lines directly onto the Scratch Foam using a dull pencil or the back of a paintbrush.
Step 2: Transfer your design
When finished drawing, tape your drawing to either side of the Scratch Foam and retrace your drawing using a dull pencil, pressing down rather hard.
Remove the drawing and retrace it once more directly on the Scratch Foam, creating deep grooves. Some children will need help with this step. Point out where they have to trace the lines once more to make them deeper (so they show up in their prints) or do it for them.
Step 3: Print your design
Squeeze a small amount of paint onto your tray or plate and roll it back and forth using your brayer. Once your brayer is evenly coated with paint, roll it over the Scratch Foam.
When working with a large group of children show the printmaking process first, set out papers and a few trays of paint with brayers for printing. Ask a small group of children at a time to come join you for printing.
Position your Scratch Foam over a piece of paper and press down firmly to print. Gently rub over the foam with your fingers to transfer your design onto the paper. You can also position your paper over the foam, press down and rub over it to print.
Pull up the paper to reveal your print.
Repeat. If you are printing with multiple colors wash the Scratch Foam in between prints.