Etching Art

What You Need:

  • Flat styrofoam sheets, which can be found at any craft store or recycled from plates or vegetable trays
  • Construction paper
  • Etching tool such as a wooden stylus, toothpick, white colored pencil, or the side of a popsicle stick
  • Tempera paint or water-soluble block printing ink
  • Paint roller or brayer

What You Do:

  1. Discuss pattern with your child. Take a nature walk and find patterns in trees, flowers, or even animals. Then take a look around the house. Are the stripes on your daughter’s favorite sweater arranged in a colorful pattern? Is there a pattern to be found on the wheels of your son’s jumbo fire truck?
  2. After discussing patterns, start the art! Have your child use an etching tool to firmly draw a pattern onto the styrofoam. This may take several tries to get the right pressure. Allow experimentation. If a hole accidentally gets pushed through the styrofoam when etching, encourage your child to try again. If she can not see her drawing because she did not press hard enough, ask her to retrace it.
  3. Cover the styrofoam etching plate with either paint or ink. It is preferable that your child use a brayer or other roller. If this is not available, a paint brush can substitute. Make sure that the paint or ink is not pressed directly into the etched lines, or else there will be no patterns in the print.
  4. Place the painted or inked plate face down onto the construction paper. Ask your child to firmly rub the back of the plate to transfer the print.
  5. Pull the plate from the paper to reveal the image!

When printing with your child, try to emphasize the idea of creating multiple images from one picture. Use the plate over and over again. Try printing on different colors or sizes of paper.

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