Learn how to do Styrofoam Printmaking (or block printing) with a styrofoam produce tray and a paint roller. With this fun and easy technique, you can make multiple prints of the same image and use them for homemade greeting cards or art that can be framed and given as a gift. Great art activity for kids of all ages, from preschoolers right through to teens.
My daycare kids have enjoyed various forms of printmaking since they were toddlers. When they were young, we made prints with homemade stamps, corks, flowers, apples and leaves, and they always loved the process.
Recently, however, we tried block printing (also known a monotyping) for the first time, and oh my goodness, I don’t know why we waited so long to do it.
The process exceeded all of my expectations. It was so fun, and the results were beautiful. It’s so exciting to transform a simple pencil drawing into a beautiful, colourful print, and know that you can do it over and over again!
We first tried styrofoam printmaking last month to make Christmas cards (see image below), and last week, when we were crafting for Valentines Day, we made Valentines cards using the same process.
If your kids have never made prints this way before, you have to try it. It’s such a fascinating and gratifying process.
No Brayer, Ink, or Special Plate Required
The great thing is, there’s no fancy equipment required to make prints this way. You don’t need an ink brayer or ink or even a special plate for your template.
We used things we already had around the house: a styrofoam grocery tray, a dense foam paint roller and acrylic craft paint, and they worked beautifully!
High Density Foam Roller
You’ll want to choose a high density foam roller like this (affiliate link) for printmaking. It’s firm and will allow you to apply the paint to your styrofoam “master plate” evenly. If you use soft, spongy roller or a fuzzy microfibre roller, it will hold too much paint, and it will be too “squishy” to apply the paint evenly.
What’s really fun is that you can make countless prints from the same template, so you can switch up your colours and make a bunch of cards in different colours. You might also want to experiment with multiple colours or with layering your colours to make each print unique.
I’ve made a video to demonstrate the process from start to finish, so you can watch that, or if you’d rather, you can skip to the written instructions below.
Styrofoam Printmaking – Video Tutorial:
I hope your kids have as much fun with this activity as we did!
For your conviencience, this post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.
- Styrofoam Produce Tray (wash in dishwasher first)
- High Density Foam Roller
- Acrylic Craft Paint (or Tempera Paint)
- Paper Plate
- Blank Greeting Cards (I get mine from Michaels Crafts when they’re on sale)
Note: If you don’t have blank cards, you could use card stock or watercolour paper folded in half.
Time needed: 30 minutes.
How to Make Prints with Styrofoam
- Prepare your styrofoam tray
Wash and dry your produce tray and cut off the curved edges of the tray so you’re left with just the flat bottom.
Cut the bottom to fit the card (or paper) that you’ll be printing on.
- Draw your design
Using a pencil, draw your image on the styrofoam, pressing firmly to engrave your image into the foam.
Alternatively, you could draw your image on a thin piece of paper and then trace it firmly on to your styrofoam
Note: Remember to write any letters/words backwards as the finished print will be a mirror image of your styrofoam design (see image).
- Gather your printing materials
Place the following on a flat, even work surface: blank greeting card, your styrofoam image, paper plate, paint roller, paint.
- Load roller with paint
Squeeze a good amount of paint on to a paper plate and roll the roller back and forth through it until it’s completely and generously covered.
- Make your print
Roll your paint roller back and forth over your styrofoam design, making sure the entire surface is covered with paint.
Flip the styrofoam over and press it down on your card. Continue to press and rub the styrofoam firmly with your hands, taking care not to disturb the placement of the styrofoam.
Carefully lift the styrofoam off the card to reveal your print!
- Repeat to make more prints
Allow your styrofoam template to dry for a minute or two and then repeat the process with a different colour.
How fabulous (and easy!) is that?
Block printing is such a fun art technique to experiment with and a great way for kids to make sets of greeting cards for all occasions.
You may also like:
- Making Flower Prints with Corks
- Homemade Christmas Cards for Kids to Make
- Homemade Valentines Cards for Kids
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Jackie is a mom, wife, home daycare provider, and the creative spirit behind Happy Hooligans. She specializes in kids’ crafts and activities, easy recipes, and parenting. She began blogging in 2011, and today, Happy Hooligans inspires more than 2 million parents, caregivers and Early Years Professionals all over the globe.
As a former home daycare provider (37yrs!) I applaud your fun activities and comments – I just retired 1yr ago (at 71yrs old) but still keep in touch with many of my families and have become the Grandma to two of my last daycare children that had no living Grandparents – I’m blessed daily for doing a job that I loved so much for so long – may your rewards match mine
Your message warms my heart, Linda. Your kind words about our activities means so much to me, and I am so happy that your career was as rewarding and joy-filled as mine has been. I often say I have the best job on the planet. I wouldn’t trade it for the world.