Make Block Prints... Like Rembrandt Activity

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Updated on Jun 28, 2013

Next time you find an extra foam tray lying around the house (you know, the ones you find under many vegetable, fruit, and meat packages), think twice before throwing it in the trash. With very simple materials, you can use the foam surface to make a beautiful print block art project. Here's how:

What You Need:

  • Foam tray
  • Barbecue shishkebab skewer (or the point of a ball point pen)
  • White construction paper
  • Tempera paint

What You Do:

  1. Make sure that your foam tray is completely clean and dry. (If the tray has held meat, you'll want to take special care to wash with hot water and soap).
  2. Turn the tray upside down, so that you're working with the bottom edge. Support the interior section by placing a couple of old magazines, or folded newspapers underneath.
  3. Now use the ends of the shishkebab skewer (one is pointed, the other blunt), to press out a design on the foam. You may want to make just an outline design; or you can also press whole sections, to create your design.
  4. While your child is working , you might want to take out a picture or two of famous printmakers’ work, or look them up on the internet. Rembrandt and Durer, for example, may not have had foam meat trays at their disposal; but they used wood blocks to create stunning examples of printmaking that endure to this day.
  5. When you've got a design, paint the surface gently with the tempera paint, taking care not to glob it on in such a way that it would fill the grooves you've made.
  6. Grasping the edges of the tray like handles, press the “carved” surface onto a piece of plain white construction paper. Prepare to be amazed!
  7. These art block designs can make gorgeous wall decorations, especially if you decide to make several in different colors, and frame them next to one another. Or try making cards with them. You'll impress your friends…and maybe spark the artist in your child while you're at it!
Julie Williams, M.A. Education, taught middle and high school History and English for seventeen years. Since then, she has volunteered in elementary classrooms while raising her two sons and earning a master's in school administration. She has also been a leader in her local PTA.