It’s winter, it’s COVID, it’s remote working, classes online, and we’re all stuck at home. My normal letterpress and printmaking workshops have not run since February. I worry that my spring 2021 printmaking classes at Marywood won’t be able to be in the studio. So how can you print at home without a press? Well I wrote a whole book about it, Printmaking, How to Print Anything on Everything that came out in April just in time for pandemic lockdown. I wanted to do demos, workshops and book signings based on it, but that won’t happen until late 2021. So I came up with the idea of a Block Print Kit for home. For all ages, simple and inexpensive.
I’ve been experimenting with craft PVV foam which actually prints pretty well. It’s smooth, takes the ink nicely and you can cut it with scissors or draw right into it with a ball point pen. No need for sharp linoleum cutters and bloody hands (anyone who has ever done a linoleum cut, knows what I mean). You can print it by rolling ink on it and pressing on paper or fabric. But it needs to be mounted so it lasts longer and doesn’t get ink all over your hands. So I created a super simple system with a block of wood you can easily hold in your hand and use it as a stamping tool. Simply glue the craft foam shape on the block, ink it up and press!
In the kit, you’ll find pre-cut foam shapes and some craft foam you can cut into your own shape or draw into. Combine shapes together to make objects, like a triangle and a square to make a pine tree. Or use shapes to make a scene, like a circle for the sun, a rectangle for the ground and triangles for pine trees. Or make simple patterns and overlap printing to create fun designs. As I mentioned before, you can draw right into the foam with a pen. The drawn lines don’t print so the color of the paper shows through.
The block has 6 sides, so you can create multiple designs. Or peel them off and replace with new designs. Michaels, Hobby Lobby, JoAnn fabric and other craft stores carry the inexpensive foam sheets and stickers if you want more.
The kit contains one tube of ink, paper items like coasters, greeting cards and small scrap paper, craft foam, glue stick, wood block, foam roller and instructions.
Helpful inking tips:
- Use a plastic card or putty knife to spread ink out flat on some foil, wax paper, Styrofoam plate or Plexiglas…whatever you can find to use as a smooth roll out surface
- The sponge roller absorbs a lot of ink at first but will need less ink as your work. If you like this process, I recommend buying a soft rubber brayer (like Speedball brand) to use less ink.
- It doesn’t take much ink to cover the surface, so go easy on inking. If you get too much ink, your print will look squishy. If you use too little, it will be a light or broken up image.
- Of course printing will be fun with more colors. You can buy relief ink from most art and craft stores. There is ink for paper only and Speedball makes an ink for paper and fabric, in case you want to print some tote bags or tees.
- The ink cleans up with water and baby wipes are helpful too for cleaning the craft foam. The foam roller can be easily washed out in the sink.
Check back soon for a gallery of projects!
Order your kit here.