We never like to throw anything away here at Raising Sparks. What is pure junk to other people we squirrel away in our storecupboard where it waits for its moment to arrive, be that a kids’ craft activity or kids’ science experiment. And the moment ALWAYS does arrive!
So next time you are thinking of tucking into a store bought pizza don’t throw away the styrofoam tray it is packaged in. They make for an incredibly fantastic, fun and safe way for Little Sparks to experiment with traditional printing techniques. However, unlike lino printing no specialist equipment is needed!
If you want to produce some incredibly amazing prints you will need to gather together the following:
Styrofoam tray from food packaging. (We think pizza packaging is best but you might find alternatives. Avoid using styrofoam trays that have been used to package raw meat however!)
A sharp pencil
Non-toxic paints (You might choose to stick to black and white for dramatic effect or you can experiment with a whole range of colours as we have done here.)
One of those little sponges you use for the washing-up or a small paint roller
Reasonably absorbent paper in colours of your choice, sugar paper, construction paper or cartridge paper. This last is expensive and you might want to do mulitple prints.
What to do:
To start with you need a design or drawing. There are two ways to approach this:
You can do this freehand by lightly drawing a picture or design onto your styrofoam tray, when you are happy with the design (any mistakes you make will not show up in the final print) use your pencil to gauge out along the lines.
Alternatively you can find an interesting design you like, either photocopy one or print one off from your computer. We looked up ‘Celtic Designs’ to find ours. Place your paper over the top of the styrofoam, hold in in place with bulldog clips if necessary, then using your pencil perforate, making little holes, all away along the lines. When you have done this remove the paper and join the dots with your pencil until you have gauged out the entire design. Keep it simple though, this requires patience!
When you have finished making your styrofoam ‘form’ you are ready to start printing. Remember to cover surfaces with protective covers or newspapers!
Dip your sponge or roller into the paint and use it to lightly coat the styrofoam tray, the trick to successful printing is not to use too much paint! You can use just one colour or several.
Very carefully place your styrofoam paint side down onto your paper and apply gentle pressure all round. The really tricky part then is to slowly lift away the styrofoam to avoid smudging and your print will be revealed.
Your styrofoam can be used multiple times, so experiment with different colours. Let us know how you got on!