Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Printmaking with Shapes: Spooky Haunted Houses

Cue the scary music! It's time to get spooky! In my after school class we talked about silhouettes and nighttime and fall. Although we don't usually walk around outside at night--we may be doing that soon if we Trick-or-Treat at Halloween. Halloween can be lots of things: scary, exciting, spooky, cold, dark, and tingly (I love that one!). I had the idea to create a spooky neighborhood and I asked the students to help me by creating their own Spooky Houses.

We had tried another way of making printmaking plates the week before, but the students were struggling a bit and I knew the final results might be "eh" instead of "WOW!" The class is made up of first- through fourth-graders and since they were all struggling with the media, I realized I chosen the wrong way to go about this project! So I rethought the project over the week and this is what I came up with...

We used sticky back foam shapes to create the "silhouette" or outline of our houses that we could then print onto different colors of paper. That's the cool thing about printmaking--you make one plate and you can re-ink it and print it multiple times! Below are the directions for the project. We did it during one after school class period, but I would do this over three regular art classes (to also include a basic writing component--more on that later). Anyway, this will get you started:

On the left: Printing plate example
Middle: The print
Right: The haunted house print embellished with details.

Spooky Printmaking Nighttime Houses

Supplies Needed For the Printing Plates:

  • Sticky-back Foam Shapes (I bought larger sheets and cut my own shapes from them--squares, triangles, long, skinny strips, rectangles, etc.). 
  • Mat board or foam core cut into rectangles for the printing plate (ours are 5 1/2" x 7" because that's what I had).
  • Scissors
  • Pencils
Directions to make the Printing Plates:
  1. Arrange the foam shapes onto the plate to create the silhouette or outside shape of a spooky house. I had the students arrange the pieces first, then when they liked what they had created, they could peel the paper off the back of their shapes and attach them to their plates.
  2. Add elements to the background: bats, ghosts, etc. Attach those to the plate as well. Younger kids may need help cutting out complex shapes such as bats.

Supplies Needed For the Prints:
  • Your completed printing plate (from above)
  • Newspaper for covering surfaces
  • Solid colored papers (We used orange, 2 shades of purple, and lime green cut to 5 1/2" x 8 1/2" rectangles)
  • Washable printmaking ink in black
  • A soft rubber roller
  • A piece of plastic-coated butcher paper (maybe 14"x 17" or so)
  • Masking tape or painter's tape
Directions to make Prints:
  1. Before you begin, set up your work area by taping the butcher paper (plastic-side up) to the work surface on all four sides with tape. This will be the area you'll use for the ink and roller. Squirt a bit of ink on this area and use the roller to spread it around and load the roller. Also, place newspapers on the rest of your work surface.
  2. Ink up the plate, and place a sheet of paper on top of it, rub and press gently & remove. Ta da! A print. Move it to a drying area (that has been covered with newspaper) and let dry.
  3. Repeat to create more prints. I had the students make three to take home and one for me.
  4. Let the prints dry before moving on to the next step.

Supplies to Embellish and Complete the Spooky Houses:
  • Glue sticks and Elmer's glue
  • Large sheets of black construction paper (12 x 18"), 1 per student
  • Scraps of yellow, orange and red paper for windows and moons
  • Scissors and pencils
  • Sharpies (thin and thick)
  • Googly eyes (optional)
  • Halloween stickers (optional)
Directions to Embellish and Complete the Spooky Houses:
  1. Have students glue three of their prints to the black construction paper sheet using a glue stick.
  2. Have students draw and cut out windows and moons, etc. from the yellow scraps of paper. They can trace their pencil lines with Sharpie, if they like. My students also used Sharpies to add cracks to their windows, spiders, and scary phrases to the doors like "Keep Out!" and such.
  3. Glue the windows, doors, and moons, to the prints using glue sticks.
  4. Add goggly eyes to any critters on their prints, if desired: ghosts, cats, bats. Use Elmer's glue for that.
  5. Embellish with stickers, if desired.
Close up of my trial print.

And now you are ready for a Spooky Fall Night! ENJOY!


  1. These are great! What a cool way to do printmaking with the foam sheets- I've got to buy some soon! Thanks for sharing all the steps :)

    1. Hi! Another fun projects with older kids using foam sheets is having them do a mandala or using the foam to make letters to use for a favorite short quote. For those, you can use plexiglass as the plate and it makes it easier to make sure the letters are going the proper way. :-) I'll need to post about that someday soon too...Thanks for stopping by! Mrs. P


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