Printmaking. Yes, I can.

Tons of printmaking supplies.  Zero knowledge.  Art teacher gets schooled. 

In the Spring of 2016 I decided to take an online art class.  I have tackled clay, collage, and weaving with reckless abandon.  There was one area I continued to shy away from – printmaking.  Just couldn’t figure it out.

Turns out there’s a lot to figure out.  Printmaking is huge.  You could have an entire yearlong class for printmaking techniques alone.

Someone at our school must have loved printmaking because we have tons of stuff for it. I didn’t actually know what half this stuff was for until I took the class.  If you ever get a chance, take an Art of Ed online studio course.  It is well worth it.  My teacher, Timothy Bogatz, is amazing.  He is kind, punctual with feedback, and really knows his stuff.  He posts videos and gives you time to experiment with the techniques.  I felt completely comfortable taking this class, even though I was working with well-seasoned art teachers who had done printmaking before.  My colleagues were amazingly supportive as well, providing great feedback and resources.  I loved this class!!!

Figured out I love printmaking too.  So many ideas, so many layers.  Gelli prints are a lot of fun, and can be a good way to get your feet wet in this medium.

Pretty much anything goes with gelli plates.  You can purchase one from Amazon or try to make your own.  You just slap on the paint, spread it with a brayer, and then either add stencils, or bubble wrap, or scratch a design into the paint. Then press your paper on top and whala, you’ve got yourself a print. img_7192Please visit YouTube for more ideas about gelli plate magic.  Like I mentioned, there are tons of ideas out there.

In addition to gelli plate printing, I worked with collagraph printing techniques (beginner).

Collagraphs are super fun.  If you want to get rid of some stuff, just slap the goods on a board with some glue, add paint to it with a brayer and proceed to print.  The above prints were made with shredded paper, cardboard, string, and bunched up tin foil. (Again, beginner level, go on Google Images, and you will be amazed).


Linoleum techniques are a fave. I would recommend using Soft-Kut printing blocks first.  This experience was a game changer.  Reduction prints are a must in any art education curriculum.  You really have to figure out positive and negative space because you have to cut away what you don’t want to print.  Use a pen to draw everything out first!

My favorite technique though is working with a mirror or gelli plate and then styrofoam on top.  I found a very large mirror is the supply room (2 feet by 2.5 feet) and wanted to just paint all over it.  I then brayered the paint to spread it.  I placed a large paper on top of my mess. I loved pressing the paper on top of the paint, and the satisfaction of peeling off the paper, the slurpy sound it made, the anticipation of seeing what was created.  Pure joy.


I call this “Ice” and it reminds me of what it must be like to climb ice.  This is something I’ve always wanted to do.  It just looks cool, and I need cool in my desert. It’s 107 degrees outside and it’s 5:00 pm people!

Okay then, once you’ve made a few prints like this, you get to add another layer of fun.  Styrofoam cutouts.  It just doesn’t stop….



Same cutouts but in different places.  I called these prints “Jellyfish Family.” I was obsessed with jellyfish for a bit because every time we went to the beach, we’d paddle-board with tons of them all around us.

Last one, I promise:


This one is called “Ghosts of the Sea.”  We are killing our oceans. I wanted to convey what will soon be memories, hence the transparent effect on the fish.  This was created with the gelli plate and one large piece of carved styrofoam.

So, can you tell I like printmaking?  Lots of adventures to be had and lots to pass on to my kiddos.  Good times ahead!

Author: Sonia Chapman

I am an art teacher, living in the Middle East, following my passion for art, teaching little children about the finer things in life, and loving every bit of it.

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