I once read of someone making prints using the foam trays the butcher uses at the grocery store. I didn’t really want to go begging for trays from the butcher, so I started to brainstorm other materials that might work as well. After several failures trying to carve craft foam with exacto knives I discovered that just about any indentation in craft foam would show up in a print. Using this discovery I made my first successful craft foam print for my luminary project (read about it here), the Jackolantern you see above. I’d like to share with you some of my discoveries so you can make your own Foam Prints.
The nice thing about making Foam Prints:
- Craft Foam is cheap! - unlike linolium blocks, you get a sheet of craft foam for just over a dollar and easily make 4-8 prints from it.
- Craft Foam is easy to work with! - linolium blocks are far easier than wood to cut and craft foam is infinately easier than linolium.
- Super Fast - most of the prints I’ve done so far took only 15-30 minutes to design. You could spend more time if you wanted to try for intricate details.
- Good Resolution - Nothing is going to compare to the detail you can get in a painstakingly carved lino or woodcut print, but the resolution on Foam Prints is far better than I would have guessed.
- Even a Child - This is a great way to introduce kids to printing. All they have to do is draw, you can do the braying and printing part.
You will need:
- Brayer : there’s no getting around it, you just have to have one to make prints of almost any kind.
- Block Printing Ink : you can use acrylic paint, but the ink is well worth the effort of a trip to an art store.
- Thick Craft Foam : you can use the thin stuff (I’ve tested it), but the thicker definately has its advantages.
- Something to Print On : paper is obvious, but you can also print on just about any flat surface.
- Tools for "Drawing" : see below.
Some of the tools I’ve used and their effects.
- Medium Tip Ball Point Stick Pen (the cheap ones that come in a 10 pack) : this is the tool I used the most. It makes nicely defined, thick lines in the craft foam. The drawback is that it has a tendancy to round out any and all points you try to make with it. Stick with the stick pen for children.
- Exacto Knife : used for several things. First, you can cut out large sections in your design. Second, you and poke it into the foam to create a dappled line effect. Third, you can "slash" the surface of your foam without cutting into it to create hairlike effects. You can also draw with it if you want a finer detailed image.
- Other Pokers : experiment with other objects to make impressions in the foam. I tried many of my scratchboard tools, for example.
Making Your Print:
- Cut your Craft Foam to the size you desire for your print. Use the object you want to print on as a guide.
- "Draw" on the Craft Foam with various implements to design your print. See heading above on various tools.
- Trim the Craft Foam to your design if desired.
- Roll ink out with the brayer on a flat, non-porous surface (like glass). Get the brayer coated well and evenly, but not too thick.
- Bray your design with ink.
- Lay the design face down on the object you are printing and press down with your palm over the entire surface (not too hard, just firmly).
- Carefully lift / remove the design.
- There may be enough ink on the design for a second print.
- Repeat braying, inking and printing until you have the desired number of prints.
- Let the prints dry overnight and clean your brayer with water.
The prints are fun on their own or as a part of card making, scrapbook projects, collage etc.. Have fun and post your prints and experiments in our new Thirteen for Halloween Gallery.
Larger versions of all the example prints can be viewed and downloaded in my Blockprints Gallery.
Skull with Bowtie
Spectre | Phantom
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