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.
First Maia made a couple of small drawings to use, a sun and a "Christmas octopus". Here she's tracing her sun drawing into the styrofoam with the pointy end of a paint brush while I hold the drawing in place.
Then we went back into the studio and assembled our materials: the brayer, a plexi 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.
Maia squeezed some ink onto the plexi frame and spread it around with the brayer. Once the brayer was coated with an even layer of ink, she rolled it over her styrofoam drawing.
Then I helped position the styrofoam on a blank card and she used a spoon to rub over the paper to help transfer the design.
Et voila! Many suns and Christmas octopuses (octopi?).
This was so gratifying and fun that I wish we had tried this long ago! With the right materials. Our brayer is an old one my Grandma passed on to me, but you can buy them at art supply stores. Here's an inexpensive one online at Dick Blick. And they also sell the Speedball water-based block printing inks that we used. Only $2.99 each for the small size. I think this is so worth it! I can see years of simple printmaking ahead…