Art, Craft, DIY, Drawing, Make, Create, & Share!

Foam Printmaking!

This is an simple project with a lot of variations and you’ve probably got all the items you need to make it on hand! Printmaking is the art of transferring an image from a template or “Matrix” to another surface – typically onto paper or fabric. There are several different types of printmaking techniques like, woodcuts, linocuts, engraving, lithography, screen printing & monotyping. With printmaking you are able to make multiple prints of the same image (with the exception of monotyping). For this project we’ll use a simple process to create your own matrix and original prints!

What You Need:

  • Foam – Like a foam plate or foam food package – I recycled a foam take out container for my examples!
  • Scissors
  • A ball point pen
  • A toothpick
  • Washable Markers (Sharpies or permanent markers will not work for this project)
  • Paper to apply your prints to – I prefer card stock but copy paper or any paper with a smooth surface will work!
  • Paper towels

Step one: First you will need to cut your foam! If you’re using a take out container make sure you cut out a flat area of the container. I find that a piece of foam around 2 – 4 inches works best to get started with! You can make your matrix any shape you’d like!

Step two: Use your pen to draw your design on to your foam – the goal is to make an indent on the surface of the foam, so you need to use a fair amount of pressure, but be careful not to go through your foam! Also keep in mind your design will be reversed once it’s printed – so if you were to do a letter or word it would be backwards when you printed it!

Step three: Adding color! Use your washable markers to color on your foam – you can go right over top of your design you made in the last step. The marker ink stays “wet” on the foam so your colors will also mix if they touch – this gives us some cool effects! Mixing colors on your foam may also make your marker tips dirty – you can scribble off any mixed up colors on a scrap piece of paper.

Step four: Now that you have your foam colored in it’s time to stamp it on your paper! Carefully flip your foam over and firmly press it onto your paper. Being careful that your foam doesn’t move, press firmly with your fingers all over the back of the foam to help transfer your print! Then carefully lift your foam from the surface of the paper to reveal your print!

Tips: Sometimes the first print does’t always work well – that’s okay! You can keep practicing with more prints until you find what works! If you want to change colors on the surface of your stamp without your colors getting mixed up you can wipe off any leftover marker ink on a paper towel or rinse your foam in water (just make sure it’s super dry before using it again). Don’t take too long on coloring your foam – this gives the marker ink a chance to dry up on the foam and it won’t print as well. I find that any paper with a smooth surface works best!

This heart print was made by coloring my foam and printing it several times to create one piece of art. It was inspired by the work of artist Jim Dine – An artist part of the Pop Art movement. Pop artists used images of popular mass culture (‘Pop’ art) in their works and many used printmaking methods to create their works of art. Check out other pop artists like Andy Warhol, Roy Liechtenstein, & Peter Max.

You can also make a more complex and detailed design on a slightly larger piece of foam, and instead of using a pen to create your impressions with, use a toothpick. While you are able to get smaller details with the toothpick the foam itself won’t allow a lot of tiny details close together (it just kind of gets smushed and that won’t make a good print!) so when completing your design keep in mind to make sure your lines are not too close together (notice on my fish print where his body curves that it didn’t print well – too many lines, too close together!). Also be sure that when you color your foam not to take too long as this gives the marker ink a chance to dry on your foam!

Go abstract! If you’re not sure what to do or want to create a more simple print, try some abstract lines, dots or patterns. Here, my foam is a triangle shape, and I’ve just done some squiggly lines and a couple dots with the pen. I printed my foam in a pattern to create a book mark!

These prints are a ton of fun to make and you can use them to create a lot of different finished projects with! Send me pictures your prints and I’ll add them to the follower gallery! Get creative and happy printmaking!

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