With a host of spring birthdays coming up, I like to have a supply of cards printed and ready to send. Much as I love lino printing, it can be a bit of a faff to transfer the design, spend hours cutting and then trying put back the bits I shouldn’t have cut before doing test prints until the design is just right. It’s so much easier to cut out a few shapes from a piece of craft foam, stick it onto a piece of cardboard and start printing.
The prints are basic but colourful and simple enough for children to produce good results. They’d also be perfect for Mother’s Day or Easter.
Foam sheets are easy to cut with scissors or a craft knife and the foam holds the ink well to make very satisfying prints. There are detailed instructions for cutting, inking and printing with foam sheets in our Relief Printing section. You can buy self-adhesive or plain foam sheets in craft shops, often in the children’s section.
Both designs are printed onto cards 10cm x 10cm and use a cardboard block made from three squares of corrugated cardboard cut to the same size to make it easy to line up the print accurately. The best printing ink to use is water based block printing ink, though I’d give acrylic paints a try if that’s all I had.
Make your cardboard block
First make your block by sticking the cardboard squares together in a stack using a glue stick, making sure that the corrugations on the middle layer run at right angles to the outer layers, which will make your block firm.
Pot of Flowers Card
To make a card similar to the Pot of Flowers card, cut out your chosen shapes from a foam sheet and stick them onto your cardboard block. Use a glue stick if you don’t have self-adhesive foam.
Dab the ink onto the foam with a small sponge, paintbrush or combination of both. Try thinning the ink with a little water for a slightly looser feel.
Then carefully pick up your inky block, flip it over, line it up with your card and press it ink side down firmly onto your card.
Remember that only the raised areas of foam will print. You can always add a little detail later with a paintbrush, like the green amongst the flowers.
Garden Tools Card
The Garden Tools card is made by cutting the foam shape to 10cm x 10cm and using an artist’s 0.2 pen to draw the outlines of the tools. Use different pointed tools, like a biro or pencil, to make different width lines that indent the foam and won’t get inked by the roller.
If you aren’t confident enough to draw straight onto your block, work out your design and when you’re happy with it, go over the outlines with a permanent marker pen (like a Sharpie). Take your piece of foam, press it down onto the design and the marker pen lines should transfer onto your foam. Now go over the lines with your chosen point.
Stick the foam square onto the cardboard block and apply an even layer of ink with a roller. Pick up your block – hold it at the sides so you don’t put your fingers in the ink – flip it over and press it firmly, ink side down, onto your card.
When you can’t decide which you prefer, print one on top of another.
- Read Printing with Craft Foam Shapes for more tips and ideas.