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Printmaking with Kids

Printmaking involves making a plate of a design or image and using that plate to create a print. Printmaking is a great project for kids who love art, because it's a little different from typical kid crafts. Kids get to use a new tool (the brayer) and the moment when the finished print is revealed is always a thrill. Printmaking is fun!

There are many ways to do basic printmaking. The method I'm going to share is easy enough for even very young children to do. It results in a bright, modern looking print that is often suitable for framing.

For this project you will need wax paper, plain drawing paper, pencils, a brayer, water-soluble printmaking ink, and masking tape. You can find the brayer (it looks like a miniature paint roller) and the ink at craft stores. The ink is available in several colors. You can stick with one color, or use several together.

You will start by making a plate from which your final print will be made. To begin, cover your work area with newspapers. Tape a sheet of wax paper to the newspaper. This ensures that it will stay in place while kids work. Squeeze a small amount of water-soluble ink onto the center of the wax paper. Use the brayer to roll the ink around until you've created a rough square or rectangle. It should be about half the size of a sheet of drawing paper. This doesn't have to be done perfectly; ragged edges only add to the charm. The ink should look smooth and even when you are done. You don't want puddles of ink, but you don't want the surface to be too dry either. If you are using different colors of ink with more than one child, wash the brayer off before each child's turn to keep the colors bright.

Next, draw a design or image directly on the inked wax paper. Keep in mind that the actual print will be a mirror image, so writing will show up backwards unless you write it backwards to begin with!

When you are finished, take a sheet of drawing paper and press it firmly on top of the inked wax paper. Rub the paper hard with your fist, being sure to cover all inked areas. Adults may want to do this part for young children. Gently peel away the drawing paper to reveal your transferred design.

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