Printmaking with Toddlers

Or, actually, printmaking with a toddler, since I only have one toddler.

Linocut Baby Birds in nestPrintmaking is one of my favorite “Fine Art” forms, particularly block carving. I had two phenomenal printmaking professors in college, to whom I credit my love of the medium. Since my little guy is not even three, it isn’t yet time to pull out the carving tools, but he is always game to try a new art form so I thought it was time to introduce simple printmaking. We’ve been doing rubber stamping for a while, but this was “real” printmaking. For this project we used the print foam you can draw on with a ballpoint pen or stylus, then the foam (your printing plate) is inked up, and you use pressure (in this case your hand, not a printing press) to transfer the image to your paper. G loved this project! Since I try to do projects in tune with the season and we FINALLY got some snow, I had him draw snowflakes (he added in some snowballs, too). I love the results and want to frame one or two.

Supplies NeededSupplies: Brayer (roller), Printing ink (I like Speedball water soluble block printing ink), printing foam (or styrofoam plate with the rim cut off so it is flat), stylus or ballpoint pen, paper

Here are the steps:

Step One: Toddler uses pen to draw design on print foam. In this case, snowflakes and snowballs. Abstract images are lovely (and expected with this age)! You may need to go back over your child’s lines so they are deep enough (but don’t push through the plate).

Step Two: Roll out the ink! This is a fun step (although they are all fun, so what am I saying?) The noise the ink makes when it is ready is this lovely sticky sound that made G ask “what’s that good noise?”

inking the plate

Step Three: Use the brayer (the rolly thing you rolled your ink out with) to apply ink to your printing plate (the foam sheet your tot drew on). Make sure there is ink all over, all the way to the edges. You’ll need to help with this step.

Step Four transferring the imageStep Four: Transfer the image! Put your inked plate face down on your paper, then rub using the base of your hand or a wooden spoon. Even pressure all over is key.Step Five pull plate away
 Step Five: Pull the plate off and enjoy the results! This step is like magic for little guys/girls. There was much oohing and aaahing.Finished Art  Finished Art

Happy artist with goofy smile

My stepson also loves printmaking and participated in a class I taught last summer. Here is his watercolor monotype (a baby chick!) that he made in the class. He is very talented (and not a toddler, as a point of clarification)!Monoprinted Chick made by Talented Super Kid

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6 thoughts on “Printmaking with Toddlers

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    • Thanks, Jenny! I was really amazed with how great they looked at the end. (I know product isn’t what is most important with toddler art, but it was a lovely bonus!) I can see what you mean about him getting to a fun age, too, and am really looking forward to all the projects we will be able to do together.

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