Thursday, March 8, 2012

Printmaking Test

"Inked" plate ready to go...
I've just started a printmaking project with 2nd grade, using foam printing plates from School Specialty. With Spring Break just a day away, our minds are on the beach, so our theme is folk art beach houses. I stayed after a bit today to do a few test prints, and WOW, I'm so excited to share this process with the kids!

I've used markers to ink plates before, but I just got a set of Mr. Sketch watercolor markers. And after all the great things I've read about them, I couldn't wait to try them out. They work beautifully for inking foam plates! The trick is that you have to print on damp paper (NOT wet...see below). It took me a few attempts to figure out exactly how damp the paper should be to yield successful results. (Note: Lay printing plate flat and lay damp paper on top of plate, pressing gently all over without moving the paper.)

Here are a few photos showing my experiments with various degrees of wet/damp paper.

Print #1: On dry paper, just for comparison.

Print #1: I dipped the paper in the sink, let it drip
a bit, laid it on newspaper to soak up a bit of water,
then laid it on the plate. Didn't work so well.

Print #3: I laid dry paper on the inked plate, then
sprayed water on the paper. Again, not so good.
Print #4: Woohoo! Success!! I dipped the paper in
the sink, then pressed it between newspaper until it
no longer dripped. Then I laid the damp paper on
top of the inked plate, pressed gently to transer the
image, and lifted the print.
Note: I just checked the print, and as I've been typing the edges of some colors have bled just a tad. I'm thinking maybe I'll do one more test (tomorrow...time to go home!) with paper that is just a bit more dry. I think I'll bring in a couple of towels tomorrow and see if that helps. I'll add an update after the adjustments are made.


  1. This is genius! I amusing it with my second graders this week for a styrofoam print inspired by the Hokusai Great Wave

    1. I wish I could take credit for figuring it out! By the way, I've been printing all week with my 1st and 2nd graders, and the dampness of the paper is vital to getting a good print that doesn't blur. I've found that the paper has to be just barely damp to get best print. I do this by wetting my paper (regular drawing paper or construction paper) the afternoon before the day I'll need it, then layering it in newspaper and dish towels to help it dry overnight. The best paper I've used so far was wet in the morning and used the next morning (it was left over from a class), so it sat in a stack wrapped in newspaper for about 24 hrs. The prints were nice and crisp! I'm still trying to test for the best process of wetting time and layering method for drying. If you work out a process that's reliable, please share! :)