Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Printing with Foam Plates

This is just a super casual tutorial for using foam printing plates. I first came across these plates in collage, as a kid friendly introduction to printmaking. The brand I'm using is Inovart and you can read more about their Presto Foam Printing Plates here. What I love about them is all you need to make your impression is a pencil. I even tried using the handle of a palette knife, so you don't have to worry about sharp carving tools. 

I'm using water soluble print ink from Blick and Speedball. Water soluble ink makes for easier clean up and a faster dry time than oil based printing inks. Besides the drawing utensils you'll also want palette paper, to roll my ink out on, brayers and some paper to print on. A scissor is also good to cut down the plates and even cut them into shapes. 

I started by first brainstorming some shapes that I might want to "carve." Think about repeated symbols that show up in your work. This would be a great way to make a plate that you can reuse with those images. Also magazine images of faces are great too.




For using the magazine image, the carving process is basically just tracing. You can see my first tracing in the middle and I just decided to retrace it to thicken and deepen the lines. This step may have been unnecessary because you'll see that even the slight crease in the foam ends up getting printed, so you really just need the lightest indentation.

Since I have two brayers, I made sure to use one for ink and the other to burnish. 

And here's the first print!  You can see that all the details come through and honestly I was surprised with how clean the image came out. 

I made three more plates and this time I drew directly into the foam with pencil. I also used the handle of the palette knife on the eye, and you can see the lines are thicker, but also not as clean when printed. But I ended up going back over that one to deepen the lines. 

These plates are also great for making collage elements as they are great to print on a variety of paper. Here I printed on tissue paper, marbled paper, old book paper and some mixed media paper that I had color swatches on. 

And again because the ink is water soluble, the plates are easy to clean and reusable. 

Also don't forget to print directly into your journal! This is a great way to play with layers and repeated imagery. 

I'd even try this technique out with kids fun foam, which then might be printable with stamping ink. 

I'm so glad that I held onto these foam sheets. I can see myself making a lot of theses plates. They are easier to carve than stamps, but can be thought of the same way. I love how imperfect the line quality is versus manufactured stamps. And more importantly, how personal they can be. 


  1. Thank u so much I so enjoyed doing this at a festival and wondered how I could do it at home And I found my prints and they were amazing just the other day. And u were sent to answer my wish 🎨🌈❤️

  2. This is awesome! Thanks for this idea!!