While this activity focuses on Mother's Day, students can use this printmaking method to create Valentines or greeting cards for other holidays, too. Knowing how to make prints is especially helpful when it's necessary to create lots of images.
Printmaking is a method of making art which allows you to make copies of original designs. In making a print, an artist covers printing blocks or plates with special ink and presses them onto paper. To make more prints, he or she just re-inks the plates and repeats the process.
There are many different ways to create prints, but engraving is most like the method we'll use. In this type, the artist cuts a design into a metal, wood, or plastic plate with a tool called a graver or burin. Rather than using these materials, however, we can reuse polystyrene trays from the grocery store or supermarket.
Polystyrene is a type of plastic which is commonly used in packaging meat, produce, and baked goods. Using it as an art material helps conserve the natural resources and energy needed to make new art supplies. Not all recycling centers accept polystyrene, so making art with it helps save landfill space, too.
You Will Need:
* Polystyrene tray
* White water-based block printing ink
* Scrap paper
* Construction paper
* Scraps of gift wrap or wallpaper
* Dull pencil
* Glue stick
* Scissors or utility knife
* Masking tape
* Scrap plastic like Plexiglas
Make the Design:
* Cover the work area with newspapers.
* Tear or cut off the sides of a polystyrene tray.
* Use a paper cutter or ruler, pencil, and scissors to make it square.
* Cut a piece of scrap paper the same size as the polystyrene block.
* Make a simple drawing on the paper.
* Tape the drawing to the block, and trace over
all the lines.
* Remove the drawing, and carefully go back over the lines, making them a little deeper.
Apply the ink:
* Squeeze out a small amount of printing ink onto the plastic.
* Use the brayer, a hard rubber roller, to spread the ink.
* Continue rolling until the ink makes a "sticky" sound, letting you know that you've evenly spread the ink.
* Roll the ink onto the block, being careful to cover the corners.
Print the block:
* Center the block, facedown, onto the construction paper. Turn the block and paper over.
* Remove the paper from a dark colored crayon. Using it flat, rub it over the paper till the design appears. Be sure to rub the corners.
* Carefully remove the print, and set it aside to dry.
* To make additional prints, just repeat the process.
* When the print is dry, you can color the inked areas with dry media such as colored pencils.
Make a Greeting Card
You can combine a print with some other materials to make a greeting card.
* Cut and fold a piece of construction paper to fit the envelope.
* Cut a scrap of gift wrap or wallpaper smaller than the cover.
* Make the drawing for the print slightly smaller than this cover sheet.
* Cut the block the same size as the drawing.
* Transfer the drawing, and make the print on construction paper. Set it aside to dry.
* Color parts of the print with colored pencils or other dry media.
* If you wish, cut a plain, white sheet for the inside greeting.
* Glue all the pieces in place with a glue stick.
You can print a message on your greeting card, but you must make the letters in reverse for the words to read correctly on the finished print. An easy way to do this is to draw the picture or design, including the greeting. Then, working at a window, turn the art so it faces out, and trace it. Attach the paper to the block with the backwards letters up, and transfer the lines as described above. When you print the block, the words will be readable and in the correct order.
Tips and Tricks:
Use a cookie sheet or reuse a piece of Plexiglas for an inking tray. The material is ideal, because it's smooth and will clean easily. Ask for a scrap at a window replacement company.
It's preferable to use a polystyrene tray from the bakery or produce department, because a meat tray can contain bacteria. If you use a meat tray, be sure to wash it in hot, soapy water before working with it.
Experiment with other colors of ink and different kinds of paper to see how they print. You can get preconsumer waste in the form of end rolls of newsprint from your local newspaper, and try using postconsumer waste such as brown grocery bags, the classified section of the newspaper, gift wrap scraps, and wallpaper from sample books.
When restocking card racks after holidays, the clerks remove the unsold cards and return them to the manufacturer for credit. Usually, the envelopes are thrown away, but sometimes employees will share them with customers. Try to recycle envelopes for your greeting cards. Using envelopes in this way is recycling preconsumer waste.
Watch for these colors after the holidays:
Purple, lavender, and yellow-Easter
Red-Christmas and Valentine's Day
Green-Christmas and St. Patrick's Day
Blue-Chanukah, graduation and Father's Day
Yellow and orange-Halloween and Thanksgiving