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Prints Charming

June 27, 2017

With the opening of Visions of America: Three Centuries of Prints from the National Gallery of Art, we’re completely and utterly in love with a new Prints Charming—the art of printmaking! Printmaking is an artform that is easily accessible to even the youngest children. All you need is paper, some kind of ink or paint, and a surface that “holds onto” your print.

Here are some of our favorite ideas you can try at home!

Monoprinting

We tried monoprinting with the Toddler Art class, and the kids loved the “magic” that appeared before their eyes as their prints were lifted off the inked surface. All you need at home is a cookie sheet or even a piece of waxed paper taped to the table. Completely cover the cookie sheet or waxed paper with a layer of paint, and then have your child “draw” a design in the paint using a Q-tip. Gently press a piece of paper on top of the painted drawing, and watch the image transfer from the cookie sheet to the paper. Then do it all again!

Styrofoam Printing

Styrofoam printing allows you to make multiple prints from a single image. For this process, any Styrofoam will do–a plate (with the ribbed edge trimmed off to create a flat surface), a recycled foam tray from a grocery purchase, or a sheet of foam purchased at a craft store. Children can draw their image into the foam using a dull pencil. Special Note: if they add any letters, numbers, or symbols into their drawings, they’ll need to write them backwards, as their image will be reversed when printed. Once the drawing is complete, cover the entire surface of the foam with ink or paint, then press the inked surface onto a piece of paper. For an extra challenge, older children can try to print layered images by drawing and printing in one color, then drawing additional details on a second sheet of foam, covering the sheet in a different color, and then printing onto the original piece of paper.

veggie printmaking

Fruit & Veggie Printing

This is one of my most favorite printmaking projects to do with kids! Many children have probably done the classic stamping-with-an-apple project. But have you tried printing with celery, okra, or onions? Fruits and veggies have beautiful hidden patterns that make for really fun (and smelly!) printmaking. For this one, cut up fruits and veggies and have your child dip them into paint and then stamp onto paper. I experimented with cutting several of the produce–particularly apples, oranges, onions and bell peppers–both lengthwise and widthwise so that we could create different patterns with each.

For even more fun printmaking ideas, check out these posts on some of my favorite blogs:

Happy creating!

Leah Hanson
Manager of Family and Early Learning Programs

 

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