While living in Paris, France for two years, I was very lucky to be able to learn printmaking at the Ateliers Beaux-Arts. I wanted Adèle to try it one day, and it happened when one of our picture frames broke. We were left with a piece of plexiglass which needed to be up-cycled or repurposed, so it was the perfect time for printmaking.
WHAT IS PRINTMAKING? AND WHY IS IT IMPORTANT FOR YOUR CHILD?
Printmaking is the art of making art on something (usually paper). In today’s digital world, we see and make printed images every day. We use printers, read newspapers, look at ads and flyers as we walk around cities, etc. Something which is important or something which needs to be distributed, can be printed over and over again using various printing processes. The art of printmaking is a way to introduce your child to the idea of image reproduction in a simple, creative way.
STEP-BY-STEP MONOPRINTING FOR BEGINNERS
While there are numerous printmaking techniques which exist, I find monoprinting to be the easiest to set up and execute at home, especially for younger children. Monoprinting is a printmaking technique in which an image can only be made once. The best thing is that, unlike other printmaking techniques, with monoprinting you don’t need a printing press nor any expensive tools! As you set up this activity, your child will experiment and understand by themselves what it’s about, just by doing it. The great thing about printmaking is that it’s surprising and fun. Just look at the photo above and see how surprised Adèle is when seeing her first print! So, let your child play and get lost in the activity, and maybe try it out yourself as well. It’s a great way to connect with your child through art ;). Here is what you will need, including instructions:
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- Plexiglass or any other smooth, glossy surface – You can use plexiglass from old frames or an old placemat. Even if the surface is not smooth, it will still work. You can even use a cardboard. The advantage of plexiglass is that it can be wiped clean and used over and over again.
- Paper – Make sure it’s smaller than the plexiglass. You don’t need anything expensive, but make sure that it’s thick enough so that it doesn’t buckle when wet with paint. Technically speaking you could use computer paper, but then the artwork won’t look as good and that might discourage your child from trying the activity again.
- Organic Paint or Printing Ink.
- Paint Brushes (if not using Organic Finger Paint).
- Huck towels or microfibre cloths for wiping off the paint.
- Place plexiglass on a clean, plain colored surface or a large piece of white paper.
- Allow your child to paint on the plexiglass.
- While the paint is still wet, hand them a piece of paper and have them put it on top.
- Show them how to press on top of the paper with their hands.
- Show them how to rub the paper all over with the palms of their hands.
- Show them how to, gently and slowly, lift up the paper.
- Voila, it’s finished.
To repeate the activity, have your child wipe off the glass and repeat all the steps above.
MONOPRINTING WITH OBJECTS
Another way to do this activity is to paint a flattened object and press the paper on top of it. Here is one I made using an aluminium soda can found on a busy road. It was flattened by car tires and had beautiful textures. So, instead of throwing it out, I decided to see what it would look like as a print. This is what came out of the experiment:When you go out for walks with your kids, collect things of different textures (plastic, tree bark, nails, rocks, etc.) and then try using this printmaking technique. I am sure you will be pleasantly surprised. 😉 You can also try drawing/making marks on a styrofoam plate (or use these pre-cut Inovart Presto Foam Printing Plates which we use in our studio).
Please note that in order for the foam plates to work well, one must press a bit with a pencil to make deep marks. When Adèle used them for the first time when she was two, it was too difficult for her to press hard enough. At three, as she gained more arm and finger strength, she was able to do it well.
WHAT IS THE ADVANTAGE OF USING FOAM PLATES FOR PRINTMAKING?
The advantage of this technique is that it can replicate more intricate drawings. Foam plate can also be used over many times to make the same print (although individual prints will not be identical); and while I do not recommend it due to loss of quality, you can use both sides for printmaking. This would make them quite economical.
STEP-BY-STEP INSTRUCTIONS FOR USING FOAM PRINTING PLATES
- Draw on a styrofoam plate or a foam plates with a lead pencil. Press hard enough for groves to appear in the foam.
- Use a roller to roll paint (we use acrylic or tempera-like paint) over the drawing.
- While the paint is still wet, turn it over and place on top of a clean sheet of paper.
- Press gently and rub the paper all over with the palms of your hands.
- Gently and slowly, lift up the paper.
- Repeat and experiment. You can use different colors on the same plate, etc.
Have you tried printmaking with your kids yet? What surface did you use? Remember to tag me on Instagram as @Rainy.Day.Sunny.Play and use the #Rainy.Day.Sunny.Play hashtag. We love seeing your creations!