Relief Prints Activity

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Updated on Jul 24, 2012

Traditional relief prints are made using a block or woodcut, but it's easy to make your own at home using recycled cardboard. The sky's the limit when it comes to what you can print—try making exciting jungle or space scenes, homemade stationery or even a cool printed T-shirt.

What You Need:

  • Squares of cardboard or a gift box
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • Newspapers to cover table
  • Liquid tempera paint in shallow pan
  • Paintbrush
  • Brayer, print roller, child's rolling pin or dowel paper or cloth

What You Do:

  1. Help your child draw a design to cut from the cardboard or gift box. Have your child create simple cardboard shapes like triangles, rectangles and circles to help him learn some basic geometry. Or help him cut out shapes from favorite themes such as planets, stars and spaceships for a space theme, or farm animals for a country theme.
  2. Have your child cut out his design from the cardboard. Cutting cardboard can be very hard for small kids, so offer help as needed.
  3. Glue the design to a cardboard backing.
  4. Place the cardboard design on the newspaper covered table, design side up.
  5. Apply tempera paint over the cardboard design with the paintbrush. Your child can use just one color, or he can brush different colors onto specific parts of the design for a multicolored print.
  6. Place a piece of fabric or paper over the design.
  7. Roll the brayer or rolling pin over the paper or fabric to make a print.
  8. Peel the paper or fabric away from the cardboard. The design will transfer to the fabric or paper. Note: Sometimes the paper folds over and sticks to itself when it is peeled from the design. Be sure to use two hands when peeling.
  9. Let the project dry completely.
Adapted with permission from "Preschool Art: It's the Process, Not the Product." Copyright 1994 by MaryAnn F. Kohl. Used by Permission of Gryphon House, Inc., Maryland. All Rights Reserved.

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