This was our second attempt at styrofoam printing — this time we were much more successful! The materials make all the difference!
We used printing ink instead of tempera paint, a proper brayer instead of a paint roller, and thicker styrofoam (from a meat tray) instead of a thin styrofoam plate.
How to Do Styrofoam Printing with Kids
- Thin paper, such as copy or printer paper, for the initial drawing
- Styrofoam (we used pieces cut out from the bottom of meat trays, but you can also buy styrofoam sheets specifically for printmaking)
- Water-based printing ink
- An acrylic box frame or a plate (for spreading ink)
- A hard rubber brayer
- Sturdy paper, such as watercolor paper
1. Cut the thin paper to the same size as the styrofoam sheet you’ll print with.
2. Draw a picture on the thin paper first. This step is optional, but it means you can draw the a few different images before choosing which one you want to print. It also makes it easier for younger children to transfer their image to the styrofoam.
Maia made a couple of small drawings to use for her prints, a sun and a “Christmas octopus”.
3. Hold the drawing in place over the piece of styrofoam and trace the drawing with a pencil or (as in the photo above) with the pointy end of a paint brush or a chopstick or something. Press down firmly but evenly while tracing the image.
4. Assemble your printmaking materials. the brayer, an acrylic box frame (same one we use for monoprinting — these are so useful!), two colors of block printing ink, our blank cards (watercolor paper folded over), a spoon, and Maia’s styrofoam drawings.
5. Squeeze some ink onto the plexi frame and spread it around with the brayer. Once the brayer is coated with an even layer of ink, roll it over your styrofoam drawing.
6. Position the styrofoam on your paper or a blank card and use a spoon to rub over the paper to help transfer the design.
Et voila! Many styrofoam printed suns and Christmas octopuses (octopi?).
This was so gratifying and fun that I wish we had learned how to do styrofoam printing long ago! With the right materials.
Our brayer is an old that one my Grandma passed on to me, but you can buy them at art supply stores or on Amazon. Here’s a 4 inch hard rubber brayer. And here are the Speedball water-based block printing inks that we used.
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