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Updated: Sep 17, 2021

noun : a person who practices any of the various creative arts, such as a sculptor, novelist, poet, or filmmaker.

My family belongs to a home school co op group. There are lots of different groups out there, and they all function in different ways. The group we attend is one where the families come together about 3 times a month and different moms prepare lessons for different classes and grade levels.

This school year, I’ve been co-teaching an art class with students between 4th grade and 12th grade. I certainly wouldn’t consider myself an artist, but I sure am crafty and have thoroughly enjoyed tapping into a more artsy-fartsy side over the past few months! We have explored figure drawing, watercolor techniques, dabbled in acrylic painting, and the older students tried their hand at screen printing thanks to the Cream City Print Lounge.

My favorite art project so far this year has been linocut block printing. My biggest challenge was the budget constraint of providing supplies to 50 different students. Our budget has to stretch the whole school year, so a one day project has me putting on my DIY thinking cap.

Traditionally, block printing would require (per student) a linoleum block, a carving block, and a lino handle with different cutting/gouging attachments. Our DIY solution? Styrofoam plates and pencils!

We used rubber brayers and speedball brand block printing ink to roll the ink onto our carved foam plates, then used a kitchen rolling pin to apply even pressure when pressing our blocks onto paper.

If a student wasn’t happy with their print, it was super easy to wash the ink off the foam with water and add definition to their carving. It was also completely within our budget to hand them another plate if they wanted to start again.

My 6th grade son is not always confident in art class, but this project was one he asked about trying again at home. The high school age students seemed to really enjoy it as well, creating logos and as intricate of designs as possible with thin foam plates!

My hope is that this little introduction to a DIY version of linocut printing will inspire them to try the real thing, probably surprising them with how much easier it is with the right tools! I know I’m inspired and heading to the craft store to pick up my own supplies soon!

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