Press Print

HandsOnApr15-8A fun tutorial for at-home printmaking, from the makers at Vibe of Portland.

Here is a simple way to make prints at home with supplies that you probably have on hand. These prints are a great way for kids to make homemade holiday or birthday cards and learn about printing technique along the way.

What You’ll Need:

  • Styrofoam or foam plastic meat trays (recycled, cleaned and with a smooth surface on at least one side)
  • Scissors
  • Ballpoint pen or dull pencil
  • Paint brush
  • Tempera paint (or printing ink)
  • Cardstock
  • A spoon (optional)


  1. Using the scissors, cut the edge off the Styrofoam meat tray so there is a flat piece of Styrofoam with which to work. If the piece is large enough, cut the rectangle in half.
  2. Cut the cardstock so that it is at least half an inch bigger than the piece of Styrofoam on all sides.
  3. Choose a paint color that contrasts with your card stock.
  4. Using a ballpoint pen or dull pencil, lightly sketch out your design on the smooth side of the foam plastic, making a rough draft. *Remember that a mirror image of your design will be printed on the paper. Words will have to be written backward to print correctly. Avoid small details on your design, as they tend to get lost in printmaking foam as the medium.
  5. Deepen the lines of your design by applying more pressure on your pen or pencil while being careful not to push all the way through the foam plastic. (By using pressure, you will be creating an indent in the foam. Your design will print more clearly by making your indented lines deeper and wider.)
  6. Apply a smooth layer of paint to the entire surface of the foam plastic from edge to edge. (You will have to work quickly at this point before the paint dries on the foam.)
  7. Carefully center the foam plastic face down on top of the cardstock and press down, making sure not to let it slip. Press with your fingertips or the back of a spoon on all four corners, edges and center with equal pressure.
  8. Lift the Styrofoam off the card stock so you can see your print!
  9. The Styrofoam can be repainted to do multiple prints or washed and dried to change colors.

Vibe of Portland is a 501c3 visual arts and music nonprofit with the mission of “empowering Portland’s underserved youth through art and music; inspiring the next generation of creative leaders.” They offer programming during and after school at a variety of K-8 schools in the Portland metro area where little to no arts education is available. In 2011, Vibe opened up a children’s fine-arts studio located at TaborSpace in SE Portland to offer arts education classes to children ages 3 and up. Check out Vibe’s website for more information:

Laura Streib and Leslie Tucker
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Laura Streib and Leslie Tucker

Laura Streib is the executive director and Leslie Tucker is an art teacher at Vibe of Portland.
Laura Streib and Leslie Tucker
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