These are my ruminations on life, design, and the pursuit of happiness…


Printing with kids


This is a super fun reduction printing project I did with my son Theo’s 4th grade class.

All you need is a foam sheet,
(I cut the bottoms out of foam trays from Smart & Final)
A brayer,
And yellow, red, and blue water-soluble inks.

You start by simply drawing the outline of the image you want on the foam, pressing hard enough so it indents, but not so hard it tears. (I gave the students a little cut off strip to practice on, to see what it felt like.) then the adults came around with the yellow ink, and rolled it on. (It would have been nice to have the kids do this, but we only had 2 hours, and 35 kids, so we had to be speedy.) As soon as they turned the inky side down to the paper, I had them trace around the bottom edge of the tray with a pencil, so they could register the later colors. Then they carefully pushed the back side of the plate down with the heel of their palm to transfer the image.

Here is a yellow print:

Students were asked to print each color twice on the same paper.

After printing the yellow, they cleaned off their plate at the sink. Then they added more detail to their fish, or to the background. Whatever was drawn now, would stay yellow in the final print. (This was a bit confusing for them, because they knew they were printing red next.)

Printing the red ink:


After the plate was cleaned again, the final details were drawn, and the blue ink was printed. Here is my son printing blue:

I think the best part of this project was hearing all the “Oohs” and “Aahs” when the kids made their prints. Also, the prints weren’t always inked or transferred the same, and the variation in color I found wonderful.

Here are Theo’s prints:
And a couple of the others:

I feel so blessed that my son has an awesome teacher who appreciates art and ASKED ME to spend my volunteer time teaching printing projects. She is truly amazing in many ways, you’ll see what I mean if you check out her blog.

This was a great way to play with reduction printing, I will definitely be doing more prints like this at home.
If you decide to give it a try, I’d love to hear about it!



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