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Art teachers were STEAM-ing before STEAM was cool!

Saturday, January 9, 2016

You Gotta Try It! Super-Easy Monoprint Foam Plate Printmaking

I love printmaking and can't believe that I didn't take printmaking in college (my art program was so full--I barely had any electives). I'm a self-taught printmaker, and since I don't have a printmaking press, and I have four kiddos around, I like to find easy ways to create prints that they can do too. This here project is definitely one you have to try--either by yourself, with your children, or in the classroom. It is that fun and easy and uses supplies you already have on hand...

Look at this beautiful print created by my five-year-old! Love it!
And this one was done by me showing a more abstract possibility...
perhaps exploring line.
According to DCimPRINT, what we are doing here is a monoprint (versus a monotype--different thing--read more about this here). With a monoprint, a plate is incised, color applied, and a print is made. They say:

"Monoprints are the outcome of matrices that have permanent features, and can be considered variations on a theme.  The theme is the result of permanent features of the plate (such as a silkscreen template or etched lines). Variations on the theme are made when the plate is inked differently prior to each print. Possibilities for variance are infinite, and include monoprints of different color, ink density, or even size, but certain permanent features on the plate will always carry on 
from one print to another." --DCimPRINT

Because the plate is colored by hand before each print, prints can vary greatly; that is truly the fun of this project...check it out...

Supplies needed:
  • Foam tray from the supermarket (I use the green ones from veggies--not meat). These can be purchased in bulk from some nice supermarkets for pennies a piece.
  • Scissors
  • Crayola washable markers (I didn't use the ultra washable ones--just the ones you see in the photo)
  • A dull pencil
  • A sponge and a bit of water
  • White paper (I used some cheap-o paper I had, you should use drawing paper that can handle ink--DO NOT use construction paper, it won't hold up to the water).

Directions:
  1. Remove the rims from the edges of the foam tray using scissors. Our finished piece of foam was roughly 3 1/2" x 8," but you can use any size for this).
  2. Use a dull pencil to draw a design into the foam plate. A simple activity would be to draw different types of lines (straight, curved, zig zag, etc.), but you could draw a recognizable image. The dots you see on our designs were done by poking the plate with the dull pencil.
  3. Use the markers to apply color to the plate between the lines you created. Cover the entire plate with color. Older children can experiment with layering colors within sections.
  4. Prepare your paper: Cut the paper to size (a little larger than your plate). Use a slightly wet sponge to dampen your paper. You don't want the paper too wet, so you'll have to play around with this a bit. 
  5. Place the dampened paper onto the hand-colored plate and press gently, using your hand to smooth the paper onto the plate. I also use the damp sponge to smooth the paper onto the plate--don't scrub the paper or it will shift (and create a blurry image) or the paper will tear.
  6. Remove the paper and let dry.
At this time, you can recolor the plate to make another print. Try changing your colors this time or swapping plates with a friend and coloring their plate. You can keep the print as is (a nice work of art on its own) or use your print to create a card or bookmark (like we did).

Have fun with this easy and fun printmaking project!

Thinking of warm weather and our favorite pastime... 
And a minion card for a friend
(this one was colored by my five-year-old).
And the finished prints can be folded in half, glued and laminated
to make bookmarks. These were some of the ones we created.
The tassels are "Loops and Threads Craft Thread"
which is a bit thicker than embroidery floss.

And here's a close-up of one of the finished bookmarks.
This would be a fun project for a month when your school
celebrates reading.

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