Relief-printing tutorial

Our first tutorial is one of our favorite printmaking methods in art class. It allows artists who love to draw to add another dimension to their work, while using the papers made by the artists drawn more towards painting.

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You will need:

recycled styrofoam (clean meat trays, styrofoam plates, the flat lid of used egg cartons will all work)

colored pencils or ballpoint pens (make sure the pencil tip isn’t too sharp)

any color stamp pad

painted or plain papers of any size, but should be thicker than printer paper

Step 1: Make sure your piece of styrofoam is flat and has no raised edges, it can be any size but keep in mind that it’s harder to ink the plate if it’s larger than the stamp pad you have.

Step 2: Once you’ve prepared your plate, draw any design you desire into the surface of the styrofoam. Press down hard enough to make a good impression, but not too hard to make holes in the styrofoam. Also keep in mind that all designs will print backwards, so if you write words remember to reverse them! I often make sheets of paper with squares the size of the styrofoam pieces drawn on them so that the artist can practice their design a few times and choose the one they like most. This takes the pressure off of doing the final drawing right away on the styrofoam.

Step 3: Press the plate with the engraved-side down into the stamp pad. Make sure you’ve covered the styrofoam completely (this is much easier to see on light-colored styrofoam, even though all colors will work).

Step 4: Set your styrofoam plate ink-side up on a table, and place your paper painted-side (or whichever side you want to print on) down. Rub with your palm over the top of the paper, taking care that it doesn’t slide around and blur the design.

Step 5: Lift the paper and admire your design!

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