We’ve noticed that some parents are apprehensive about printing at home with their children, so we’ve put together some tips for parents and some printmaking activities you might like to try.
Tips for Parents
Printmaking is messy, so make sure the worksurface, floor, you and your children are appropriately protected. Set out all your equipment, paper and paint before you start and have a bowl of water and towel or pack of wet wipes ready for the inevitable. Have a quick go on your own beforehand if you’re unsure of the technique you’re going to try.
LET THE CHILDREN GET ON WITH IT
Young children just want to get stuck in and enjoy the process. They might ignore the tools you’ve chosen or use a slightly unorthodox technique but that doesn’t matter. Be close at hand to help when asked.
It’s very tempting to tell children to make a certain picture or even join in yourself to improve the picture. Put that block down! It might look like a man who needs another leg to you, but it might be a spaceship. Or a horse. Or nothing at all. Children have wild imaginations unlike the prescriptive ideas of adults so let them do what they want and find a quiet corner to make your own prints.
Instead of a bland “That’s lovely darling” discuss their artwork. Was it fun? Tell me about your print? Do you like the noises the ink makes when you roll it out? Do you really think the cat’s tail is the best thing to spread paint?
WHEN IT’S DONE, IT’S DONE
It’s important that young children feel their creation is enough, so don’t point out the mistakes or suggest tweaks and improvements. You might want a lovely print to put on the fridge door, but your child may simply want to put as much red colour on the paper as they can manage. Having fun is far more important than the result.
Our Five Favourite Printmaking Activities for Young Children
1 FRUIT & VEGETABLE PRINTING
Potato printing is a perennial favourite for any age and potatoes are easy for very young children to hold. Experiment with fruits and vegetables for different effects. You can get good results with children’s premixed paints.
Read our guide to PRINTING WITH FRUIT AND VEGETABLES
2 RUBBER STAMPING
Use a craft knife to carve a simple shape from a rubber (eraser) that the children can press onto an ink pad and stamp away. Alternatively, buy ready made rubber stamps for more detailed printing.
3 PRINTING WITH FOAM SHAPES
Buy foam printing blocks for easy printing or make your own blocks by cutting a shape from a sheet of craft foam and sticking it onto a cardboard base. An ink pad (for stamps) is slightly less messy than using paint or printing ink and is very fast drying.
PRINTING WITH FOAM SHAPES explains how to make your printing block and print onto fabric or paper.
4 FINGER PRINTING
Who doesn’t love finger printing? Or hand printing? Or foot printing?
Make a footprint trail on an enormous piece of paper and transform hand, finger and thumbprints into birds, animals, leaves or mythical beasts with a gel pen. Use ready mixed children’s paints for hands and feet or an ink pad for fingers and thumbs.
5 JELLY PRINTING
Grab some packs of gelatine powder and make your own jelly plate. Then roll out some block printing ink and make prints with leaves, flowers and feathers. Young children will need a little help lifting off the plants and feathers. Paint pictures onto the jelly plate and then press paper on top to make a print.
Our BEGINNER’S GUIDE TO JELLY PRINTING explains how to make your first jelly prints.
Most of all, just have fun!