Wood block prints with kids

Here is a craft we did that packs a punch with the finished product, but it is not difficult to set-up.

Get some craftiness on at your house with block printing.
(I promise it is not as intricate, difficult or as messy as you'd think...)

Albrecht Durer (pronounced Der) practiced the art of woodcut printing during the Renaissance period.

Rhinoscerous print by Durer, 1500 in the photo above. Notice all the detail.
You can find wonderful photos of his work, in art books at your library. Durer's Praying Hands is stunning.

I am all about connections, so I pulled out my Jane Eyre copy that sports beautiful woodcut prints.
Not Durer, but wonderful all the same.

For our project, we used

  • pieces of balsa wood (the kind used for model planes and such, it's a soft wood)
  • collection of metal pieces to make imprints in the wood, nails were a simple favorite here, also nuts and bolts, screws, metal shapes from the craft store such as leaves, flowers
  • 2 brayers or cheap foam rollers will work too (like a small rolling pin with a handle)
  • black paint (to be authentic, black ink...but paint worked fine, I used washable paint, and it didn't take me forever to find)
  • paper
  • packing tape (to protect those little fingers, an aha! moment)
  • a hammer. (don't run away..it will be okay, really!)....

Here is Demi-Sky's wood carving. He used the metal leaves and some triangles.

Teddy went the route of simplicity and used nails. He spelled out his name.

  • have the kids arrange the metal pieces/shapes in an arrangement that pleases them
  • carefully lay the packing tape over the top of the creation, sticking the pieces to the wood
  • and then, let them have at it with the hammers. We did this on the sidewalk. Adult supervision and help is a must here. The older kids might try a hand at carving with screwdrivers or chisels.
  • remove the tape and metal shapes
  • roll a thin layer of black paint onto the wood, don't push into all the crevices, you want those to be paint-free
  • carefully lay a piece of paper on top of the wood (lay the wood on a table surface, paint side up) and then use a clean roller to roll along the paper with firm but equal pressure. Your hands will work okay, too
  • carefully lift up the paper without smudging it
  • voila! a work of art!

Here is Amie's finished product.
Doesn't that look like it could illustrate a book?

Discovering Art with Children: Hands on art for children- is genius. I highly recommend you get this book, to do this and other stellar projects.