Ink Block Printing for Children

Ink block printing is ridiculously fun and easy, specifically foam board printing. It's great for play-dates, classroom art, or one-on-one projects for your children. The results are stunning. I use them for homemade cards, gift tags and framed 'Grandma gifts' with a personal touch from children. 

This project is appropriate for children ages 5 and up and is something you won't be able to resist trying yourself!

Ingredients:

These are available at Dick Blick for about $40 without a coupon. It will provide you with several printings for home use or will cover a class of ~20 students for one group project. Your local arts & crafts store will have these materials as well.

  • Canvas paper: ~$6 for a set of ten 9x12" sheets, about 2-4 'pulls' (prints) per sheet
  • Basic red, blue, yellow and white water-based ink (2.5oz each) or the Speedball starter kit for ~$17
  • Brayer (Roller): ~$9 or if using for a class, check to see if the school already has several functional brayers in their art closet
  • Scratch Foam board: ~$6 for a set of twelve 9x12" boards (cut down to smaller pieces). 
  • From your home: several non-textured & non-porous flat surfaces (cutting boards or plates), paper towels, scissors, dull pencils (or a mechanical pencil with the graphite pushed in), surface protection, and aprons.
Key ingredients 

Key ingredients 

I learned the hard way that letters need to be backwards. 

I learned the hard way that letters need to be backwards. 

Too little ink. Try again! 

Too little ink. Try again! 

Daughter's signature drawing

Daughter's signature drawing

The paper texture adds visual interest.

The paper texture adds visual interest.

Cut fun edges

Cut fun edges

Green & blue with yellow added in at the end.

Green & blue with yellow added in at the end.

Instructions: 

  1. Cut your foam board in to smaller pieces, large enough for a child to draw a picture on, but small enough to fit in to a future frame of your choice. 
  2. Put your foam board on a flat surface. With the dull pencils, draw your image on the piece of foam board. Note: Letters needs to be engraved backwards to print forwards - a fun challenge for older children (including you.) You want a deep groove - it's hard to punch through these foam boards. 
  3. On the flat, non-porous surface, squirt out a good smidge of ink (1/2 teaspoon). If you want to mix colors - put them all on at the same time. Roll it out with your brayer: right, left, up, and down. It should have that sticky sound and make sure the brayer rolls. For swirly color interest (see above), finish by squirting a tiny amount of another color and roll the brayer a couple more times before inking your piece.
  4. Roll the inked brayer over your art - full coverage; corner to corner, edge to edge.
  5. Pick up your foam board from the edges and lay your inked foam board, ink side down, on your canvas paper. Place a paper towel over it. With your fingers, rub and apply a medium press all over; corner to corner, edge to edge. Give it a good press, but don't press so hard you dent the foam.
  6. With your fingernail, grab a corner and peel it up! 
  7. Set aside to dry.  Trim your prints down. I prefer a 1/4" margin.
  8. Mount on museum-grade mat board then frame your work or mount on cards.

There you have it!

Have a lovely...

I learned to write backwards! 

I learned to write backwards!