Today my Mom taught me how to monoprint. She is such an expert when it comes to painting, colours, technique, tools, and she’s absolutely fearless when it comes to experimentation. It was raining today so it was the perfect opportunity to have a little art workshop together. There are many different types of monoprinting (for instance, my Mom has made plexiglass monoprints), but I chose to go with a woodblock technique because I wanted to print one of my drawings. I had so much fun learning how to do this that I wanted to share it with you too!
-flat craft foam (found in the craft section of the dollar store)
-ball point pen
-block of wood (that is roughly the size of your drawing)
-blockprinting ink (any colour of your choice!)
-2 rollers (one to paint with, one to press with)
-a palette big enough to roll paint on (like a sheet of mylar or a plastic plate)
-a basin of water
-dry paper (newsprint paper works well)
1) First I sketched directly on top of craft foam with a ball point pen (it doesn’t matter what colours you use, it will be painted over anyways.). The foam is kind of squishy and it will easily take the impression of the pen if you press firmly while drawing. I started with the cats, and then decided I would prefer to draw foxes (I used the fox drawings I did in February as reference). Then I cut around the foxes, leaving a border. I used white glue to stick it to a block of wood that was about the same size as the foxes, and waited for the glue to dry.
*Tip: Press hard while drawing as if you were etching the foam, even if it looks like there’s too much pen ink on it. The drawing will be more defined and transfer better this way.
*Tip: You can use a blow dryer to quicken the drying process.
2) I grabbed a sheet of watercolour paper and let it soak in a basin of clean water for about 10 mins (which is the time that it takes to do Step 2 & 3).
3) Next I put a glob of black Speedball blockprinting ink on a sheet of mylar, and used a roller to roll the ink out to an even consistancy so the ink covers the roller evenly. If you don’t have mylar you can also use a plastic plate.. or basically something that is big enough to roll ink onto.
*Tip: Make sure there is an even amount of ink on the roller for the next step…
4) Then I rolled the ink directly over the foxes and wood. Bye bye foxies….
*Tip: make sure the glue is dry by this stage.
5) I took the watercolour paper out of the water and put it between dry sheets of newsprint paper and pressed them down with my hands on a flat surface to remove the excess water.
*Tip: The watercolour paper should be damp for the next step. Make sure it’s not shiny because then it means it’s too wet.
6) Then I placed the damp sheet of watercolour paper on top of the foxes & woodblock (while trying to centre the paper with the woodblock as much as possible.) I held down the paper firmly with my hands and using a clean roller I rolled the paper across the foxes & woodblock many times, making sure the paper didn’t move or slide. Then I slowly peeled the paper off starting with the right side.
*Tip: You can first ‘peek’ at your print by pulling up a corner to see if you need to do more rolling.
7) Voilà… a finished monoprint! As you can see, the areas I drew with the pen resisted the ink (because they were pushed lower than the surface of the craft foam). I discovered that areas which looked ‘shaded’ with the ball point pen actually ended up looking like highlights after it was printed. (It made me think about how I would approach the next piece I make.) Overall I really like how the print has a ghostly feel to it, and I like that the texture of the wood was printed too.
*Tip: If you are printing letters or words, remember to draw them backwards so they print the right way.
8) I made 4 monoprints in total, experimenting with different types of paper, and adding different amounts of ink. After experimenting I prefer using more ink (so it prints darker), and I like it when a lot of the wood block texture is transferred to the paper (which you can control when rolling).
*Tip: You can continue to use your woodblock print over and over again! Try making 2 prints without adding more ink. The second print is called a ‘ghost print’ and will be lighter and ‘softer’ looking.
*Tip: Remember to clean the foam print with water & paper towel after you’re finished because ink dries fast, and could dry in the etched lines after many uses.
*Tip: You can also cut shapes out of the craft foam (like stars, hearts, etc) and glue them to the wood block… it doesn’t have to be a drawing.
*Tip: Try experimenting with different colour inks and paper for different looks. See what works for you!
9) Treat yourself to a nice snack after all your hard work. ♥