Time Needed: Approx 2 x 45 minute sessions

Ages 5 – 11

We have made reduction prints previously in our classes and they have been a great success.  For this project I wanted to introduce the idea of the printed image being reversed and using letters seemed like an ideal way to do this.  I used Scola Water Based Lino Craft Block Printing Ink.  It is nice and tacky so the block doesn’t slip but can also be easily washed from hands and clothes.  You can buy it in a lovely range of colours from Amazon.

First the children either drew (older ones) or traced (younger ones) their initial letter onto a sheet of A6 tracing paper using a pencil.  They then flipped it over (this is where the reversing comes in) onto an A6 piece of polystyrene.  Using a pencil they traced over the lines to transfer the image onto the polystyrene.  Then they took off the tracing paper and went over the lines again to ensure there was enough indentation to make a good print.  They inked up their block in the first colour (we found yellow is good for this as it takes other colours over the top well) and made their print onto an A4 sheet of white paper.  I showed them how to press down while making sure the block doesn’t move.  Some younger children will need a bit of help with this.  Then they peeled off the block and were excited to see their letter the correct way round on the page!

I passed around baby wipes and the wiped their block clean, drying them with a bit of kitchen paper.  They then started work on making patterns in the background of the block.  I told them that they could make marks anywhere except the letter itself.  We talked about using a finger to check that they had made enough of a mark to create a clear print.  Once the background designs were complete the children inked up their blocks in their second colour  ( I find it easiest to keep them all on the same colour to avoid mixing up rollers), we used red.  Now for the trickiest bit: The blocks needed to be lined up carefully on top of where they had already printed.  Older children managed this quite well but I would advise helping out younger ones and checking the orientation of the block is correct to avoid any disasters.  Once again, they pressed down and carefully removed the block.  They were thrilled to see their design taking shape!


The blocks were wiped and cleaned again and I showed them how to either cut out the letter itself using scissors or gently ‘pop’ it out by easing it away from the background.  Again, younger children may need a hand.  Once the letter was free they made some marks on it using a pencil and then inked it up in the third colour.  With a steady hand, they placed the letter carefully on top of their print and gave it a careful press.  It is best to use fingers tips for this rather than a whole hand as this can make the existing print messy.  Then they carefully removed the letter to see their completed creations.  They were super proud to show their parents what they had made!


NB – I advise having masking tape on hand for any broken bits of letter!  We managed to patch up a few that had been over-enthusiastically removed from the background in this way.


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