Printmaking seems to be an intimidating art form for people. They assume that the whole process is too difficult or they even just have no idea what the process is, so they back away. That’s why I wanted to share with you a simple way you can do printmaking at home with only a few cheap materials!
What you need:
- A thin piece of smooth styrofoam – you can buy this, or you can use a piece of a take out food container! Just make sure it’s clean.
- A pen or a dull pencil
- Printing ink and a print roller (go with Speedball, it’s worth the slightly higher price)
- Inking plate (optional)
What you do:
Design your image. NOTE: If you are trying to print words, you need to design them with the letters backwards and the words spelled backwards (like looking in a mirror) so that when you print it, they’re correct.
Place your sketch on top of the piece of foam and use a pen to press firmly into your original lines. This process leaves a small indent on your foam of your design. Take the paper off and use the pen again to deepen the lines on the foam and fill in any extra details. REMEMBER: Whatever you carve will actually remain white when you print, like a negative.
Now you’re ready to print! On an inking plate (or just any smooth surface you can easily clean), put a line of ink near the top and use your roller to spread it out on the plate. Get your roller entirely covered by rolling the ink up and down and side to side. TIP: You know you have even coverage when you can hear a sticky noise the whole time you’re rolling. You don’t need tons of ink!
Roll the ink onto your foam. If you’re using multiple colors at a time, you may need to keep the roller only going up and down (how I made the big blue feather below), but if you’re just using one color, you can move the roller in any direction. You want a smooth application over the whole surface, and you don’t want to see through the ink anywhere. Add ink until you’ve achieved the right amount.
The fun part! Set your foam on a clean surface. Carefully place the paper on top of the foam (no sliding!). Gently press down and use the palm of your hand to join the paper and the foam together. Use enough pressure to transfer the ink from the foam to the paper, but not too much that you spread the ink to the carved spaces. When you think you’re ready, you can lift up one corner to check how the ink has transferred, and then pull the paper off!
NOTE: Printmaking involves trial and error. You may print one and realize you need to use more ink, or deepen your lines, or fill in a space to create a more interesting design. Be flexible and see what happens!
The best part of printmaking is you can use your design over and over again. Just clean the foam and tools off with warm water and dry thoroughly before using again. Foam doesn’t hold up quite as long as a linoleum block or a wood block, but if you’re washing it carefully you can easily make lots of prints!
Have you ever tried printmaking? How was your experience? Please share!
Don’t think I forgot the giveaway! Follow the steps to enter below and you can win the blue feather print (in a frame!). It’s made and signed by me, and could be a really cool addition to the artwork in your space! (Measures 12″ x 18″) The giveaway will be hosted on Instagram and here’s how you enter:
- Follow @artfulattempt on Instagram HERE
- Find the giveaway image (look for the feather) and comment on it by tagging a friend!
That’s it! Comment more than once to receive multiple entries, just tag different friends! Giveaway will run until Saturday, May 14 at noon (central time) and winner will be announced by the end of Saturday! Good luck!
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