Printing is a wonderful world of opportunity, full of ideas to explore! I love learning about new materials, and trying out new ideas. One of the most simple and accessible materials for me to print with are styrofoam plates. These can either be found in your local grocery store – you know, those plates that corn or meat come in?
You could either ask for a clean one to play around with, or wash a used one, but I have to admit that after trying both, I resorted to buying them online! I use them with my students, they’re not expensive,and they come nicely cut to rectangular shapes, which is worth the money for me. I buy them here.
These plates are made from polysterene, a soft material you can press your pattern into with a pen or pencil. I like to use the back of a paint brush, just because I always have those lying around! I’ll draw whatever it is I want to print, onto the plate, and then roll some acrylic paint on it with my brayer, and print it on to paper.
I’ve used these plates in my workshops, and city tours. These are pictures from a city tour I took my students to. We went for an art tour in San Francisco, and made art on the go!
Both sides of the plate can be used for printing, which is kind of nice. I’ve used these plates with kids too, in ,my kids’ school, where I volunteer to teach art. These are some of the plates they made. In this picture, they have already drawn their pattern onto the plate, by pressing down with a pencil. Don’t press too hard, the material is soft, and you don’t want to break it!
Once you have the pattern drawn out, you need some acrylic paint, and a brayer or paint brush to paint the plate.
I roll the paint on the plate –
And then “stamp” the plate onto my paper. In the sample below, I wanted to make a border, so I cut my plate. You could cut it into any shape you wanted.
Last year, my son was in third grade, and I taught his class about radial symmetry, using this fantastic class. We cut the plates into small squares, and stuck them on sticks, to have a nice handle.
The idea was to create a pattern by turning the printing plate 90 degrees each print. This is what the cool result looked like.
The kids loved it! They enjoyed the process, and made awesome prints! Have you ever tried this? I’d love to see what you made!