Tag Archives: printing

Beautiful Prints

This week’s class for little ones is called First Impressions and it’s all about print making! This week I am trying to structure the class so that each day we work on a different “piece” using a variety of techniques and media. Obviously, with a lot of printing and stamping. Today was found object printing.

First, I taped a grid pattern on some fantastically large pieces of watercolour paper using painter’s tape.

I let the kids loose on these with watercolours to create a background for our prints. The tape acts as a resist and when it was removed the white lines add a bit of visual interest. (In retrospect I think it also helped them cover the page)

Then the printing began. We used a variety of found objects pressed onto homemade print pads (felt covered in paint) in gold and black. The gold didn’t show up much but the black was great. The results are quite beautiful.

Children always enjoy printing with found objects and discovering what marks they make, but the results are sometimes slightly underwhelming. Of course, exploration is very important and  it is good to value that without feeling the need for a finished product. But all that being said, there are also times when “framing” exploration in a way that will make a “piece” is worthwhile as it encourages excitement and helps peopled realize that what is going on is special. This experimentation is quite striking and it feels important because of that.

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Good Cheer Print

Print of Good Cheer. It’s a work in progress as I don’t have any proper printing paper and am having a little trouble pulling a good print on computer paper, but you get the gist! I have to post something as I’ve been away all week (you can probably guess where) and this space has been pretty quiet.

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Discovering Spoonflower

I don’t have anything hand-made to share with you today, but thought I’d share something I am quite excited about. And that thing is SPOONFLOWER!

This seems fantastic! You can design your own repeat patterns or illustrations or designs and have them printed on to a variety of cloth and mailed to you. Oh, the possibilities! I don’t have the equipment/space to get back into screen printing, so I love the idea of being able to send of my designs and have them printed.  I’ve also got an idea to print a pattern/illustration for a stuffed toy directly on cloth, so that all that needs doing is to cut out and sew. This may be premature, but I’m imagining making up little kits….

Now of course, the nature of the website requires a good design relationship between the computer and myself – something I’m going to have to work on a bit I think. Still, it is all inspiring and I’m excited to get going!

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Printed Fruit Trees

Yesterday I taught an art class to 5-7 year olds while being filmed for a kids TV show. I was asked to prepare two activities based on Natural Printmaking. It was a little tricky at first because….well, it’s March, and much of what I would normally like to use for natural printmaking, such as plants, leaves and flowers, are not available. What I came up with is a project that involves two separate printing techniques.

Behold my Printed Fruit Tree!

Of course, I forgot my camera so I don’t have pictures of the lovely Printed Fruit Trees that were created in the class. It’s a shame, because it was wonderful to see all the different approaches to creating the tree form. Mine is an apple tree, but for the class we had pears, apples, oranges and lemons growing on the same branches! I have to say that though I love the look of printed fruits, I found it a little hard to contemplate the waste. I’m sure this is mainly because we still try to get most of our produce locally, and though during the winter we buy oranges and even bananas, it still feels quite “luxurious”! But I’ll set that aside for a moment. Anyway, it is possible to do this project with just one apple!

I admit, I’m pretty happy with this, so I wrote out a little tutorial in case anybody is interested. Here it is:

Printed Fruit Trees



Piece of wood with a pronounced grain pattern. Test it by doing a pencil rubbing.

Brayer (roller)

Block printing ink or paint in brown or black

smooth surface for rolling ink – glass, Plexiglass, plastic


glue stick

Shallow container and thin sponge for print pad in as many colours as paint, or paint brush

Fruit (apple, pear, orange, lemon) cut in half

Wood Grain Printing

Step 1: Use the brayer to spread a little ink on a piece of Plexiglass. Listen for a “tacky sound” to know it is at the right thickness. Roll ink all over the piece of wood.

Step 2: Place a piece of paper ON TOP of the inked piece of wood. (Many children are familiar with stamping and I found even after demonstrating  I needed to remind them to do it this way, instead of trying to  stamp the wood on paper, which does not give a good print.) Rub hands all over paper in a circular motion. Lift paper off and check out the wood grain! Repeat this several times with the same, or a different piece of wood until you have enough “wood” for a tree. Let it dry.

The Tree

Cut out a trunk and branches from the wood grain prints and glue them to a large paper in the form of a tree. With younger children you could easily assist by cutting strips of different widths and lengths while they arrange and glue them on. (but do make sure they are in charge of that process – that’s how you get such beautiful and unique work)

Fruit Printing

Step 1: Place the tree paper on an old, folded towel. This soft surface makes it easier to get a good print. I skipped this step with the kids, and it was ok, but while doing my own I found it really was better. If working with a small group or single child it’s worth doing.

Step 2: Put the sponge in the shallow container and add a few tbsp of paint. Press half a piece of fruit, cut side down, on “print pad” .  Alternatively, with a small group, paint can be applied to the fruit with a brush.

Step 3: Press fruit firmly on paper. Another option, particularly with little ones (and I’d probably do this in a REAL class)  is to let the kids experiment with fruit print on a big piece of paper where they can just stamp away and figure out how it all works. Then bring out the tree. Having done some experimenting they may have a more “compositional” approach to adding fruit.Use many different fruits to create a “Crazy Fruit Tree”!

I felt my tree needed a little something more so I cut a simple leaf shape out of a quarter apple and printed some leaves. In the summer or fall I think it would be great to experiment with printing using real leaves. This would be yet another printing technique and perhaps more in keeping with the rest of the project. Printing with real wood, printing with real fruit and then printing with real leaves. Oh, or even doing some leaf rubbings and furthering the collage element by gluing them on!


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Valentines for Haiti: A Success!

The Valentines for Haiti Project has reached it’s completion and I’m pleased to announced that thanks to everybody’s support I raised $528! That’s 128 cards sold (and printed – oh my!) and a $5 donation minus the cost of the cards, ink and the block. Many more that I thought when I started the project, and I’m very grateful for the support and encouragement I received. According to UNICEF Canada’s website, $500 can provide 16 emergency first aid kits, $100 can provide a basic family water kit for 10 households. Realistically, of course, I know they will just use the money where it is needed, but it is sometimes nice to get a feel for what the money can do.

I’m very happy with how the thing went and I don’t think I would do anything differently. The cost of the cards was higher than I would have liked, and obviously it is better to buy in bulk or maybe even wholesale, if you know you are going to make a large number. But….I didn’t know, and really had no way to predict so I just had to buy the cards in boxes of 20 as I went. On the positive side, printing from a single block meant that when it comes to the block, my expenses would be the same with a small number as a large number so the more I sold the less I would have to keep back per card for expenses.

And on a personal creative note, this was a wonderful project to work on. I got lots of printing practice and it helped get me used to printing on a larger scale. And every time I set up a table to sell or asked somebody if they wanted to buy a card I would have that little pang of nerves…. To be honest it didn’t really go away, but I got used to it, which I guess is means I’m growing a little bit of confidence.

So I think we can call this a success! Thanks very much for all the support!

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The Valentines for Haiti Project

Introducing my Valentines for Haiti Project! (I know I already mentioned it but I didn’t make a formal announcement!)

These Valentines are hand-printed from hand-carved blocks on high quality, acid free paper and come with envelopes. They also have lovely blank insides for your very own words of love. The cost $5.00 each and net proceeds (proceeds minus cost of materials) go to UNICEF Canada. Cards are labeled on the back so your family, friends or sweetheart will know about the project. To everybody in my area: I’m going to have cards with me wherever I go, and as every card counts let me know if you are interested and I’ll find a way to get one to you! This Valentine’s Day you can let somebody know you love them and give to a worthwhile cause – What’s not to love about that?

Since I last posted, and after some careful consideration, I picked UNICEF as the recipient of the project. I looked at several organization that are doing great work and settled on UNICEF because, along with believing they are very experienced I particularly appreciated their comments about the need to protect orphaned or unaccompanied children from exploitation and trafficking. I know. It’s pretty horrible to contemplate but I’m glad they are working on that. We just need to support them.

To date I have sold 30 Valentine Cards – that’s one selling session and one generous cousin!  I really don’t have a clear goal of numbers and am just printing as I go, hoping to sell as many as I can. Hope this is just the beginning! I’m also gaining the confidence to engage in some pretty shameless self-promotion because I feel it’s for a good cause!

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The Valentines for Haiti Project: Work Progesses

Work is progressing on my Valentines for Haiti Project.  This is a grand sounding name for what is essentially me carving and hand-printing a bunch of Valentine’s Day cards and hopefully finding people to buy them. Proceeds will go to Haiti earthquake relief, although I still haven’t settled on an organization. When I began my first attempts at designing I found myself worried a fair bit about my “audience”, and trying to design something that would appeal, but then I reminded myself that I do my best work when I am pleasing myself and creating something unique!  So after a bit of deliberation, I chose as my subject “Cupid the Honey Thief”. This is an obscure story about cupid stealing honey and being stung by a bee.  Albrecht Durer’s representation of the scene is perhaps the most famous. It isn’t overly romantic, so I’m hoping people could use a card like this for, well, anybody they love, not just their”significant other”. And it’s still the quintessential Cupid valentine, but with a little twist. So here’s my valentine:

Cupid the Honey Thief

This morning, after performing a few tests, I printed my first 11 cards. (11 fit nicely on my make-shift drying line) I think the red looks nice but I’ll probably print some pink and gold too. I’ll be spending a fair bit of time on this so I’ll probably be blogging more about the project, including a step by step printing tutorial. And of course, I’ll be pushing the cards!


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