Aug 8, 2015

Clay Imprint Art for Kids

We've been interested in monoprinting ever since we tried it out ages ago while cardboard comb painting and painting on a mirror. The reveal that you get when you peel back the paper is fun and exciting as you never quite know what is going to appear and no two prints will ever be the same!

This clay imprinting art is a fun activity for kids of all ages with just a few simple steps.
1) Making your design by imprinting your rolled clay, 2) painting over the design, and 3) printing the design off the clay.

Ages: 2-3+
See the bottom of the post for handy tips to extend or simplify for your child

  • Clay (we used modelling clay)
  • rolling pin
  • imprinting tools (knife, pencil, patterned things, kitchen tools, etc.)
  • paint (we used Micador's easy wash, water based paint for easy cleaning)
  • paintbrush
  • paper for printing on
  • towelling paper for cleaning the clay for multiple use

Roll out your clay to about a 1cm thickness to give a nice smooth surface area to do your imprinting and printing off. If the clay is quite hard, mould it in your hands until it softens and you can roll it out.

Use your tools to make various patterns and designs in your clay. Play around with varying thickness and depth of lines to get the best results. (Generally the thicker, deeper imprints make the most dramatic prints.)

Paint over your design.

Carefully place your paper on top of your painted clay and press and smooth all over the paper before carefully peeling back to reveal your design.

The peel and reveal is always the favourite bit here!

To reuse the clay over and over again, simply wash the wet paint off the clay under cold water (hot water will soften your clay and if you allow the paint to dry before washing off, it won't be as easy). Pat any remaining paint off and dry with your towelling paper. Once the clay is clean and dry again you can scrunch in a ball and start the process again.

Note: we did this activity months ago and the clay pictured here is still in great condition and regular use at our place.

Warning: Monoprinting imprinted clay can be addictive so be sure to have plenty of paper!

Handy Tips:

Simplify this activity for younger children by assisting them with the trickier bits like rolling the clay out flat and laying the paper over their painted clay. Encourage them to make deep, wide grooves for dramatic prints and supply materials that will make imprinting the clay easier such as various kitchen tools, eg. fork, potato masher, etc.

Extend this activity by:
  • allowing children to experiment with the clay and materials to get the best prints,
  • encouraging children to play around with various designs, layering of prints, patterning of colours, using different paints, etc.,
  • having children find natural materials outside to make different imprints in the clay,
  • using the fun of monoprinting off clay to work on various learning areas like letter recognition, name recognition, sight words, number learning etc.,
  • having children draw or paint a portrait or object first and then use clay printing to make the background

Take it further by using books and the internet to research origins of print making and the various ways and techniques accomplished by different artists. Give some of these techniques a try. 

Mix it Up. Use the clay to make little stamps by imprinting a pattern on a disk of clay and printing it down onto paper instead of pressing the paper onto the clay. Repeat over and over again, pinching and pushing in your clay design to alter the image every time. (Even if you don't physically change the design on the clay, the prints will always still come out a little different)

Creating works of art that are aesthetically pleasing can give children a real sense of pride and accomplishment. Pop a series of pictures made using this method in a frame and all of a sudden you have a fabulous original artwork worthy of display.

Talk with your child about what they are doing while they are creating. This will help them understand the physical and mental processes they are going through as well as giving them the vocabulary to describe it. While children are being creative and focused,  it can be a great time to talk about sensitive issues and their feelings.

- Use new language and descriptive words like, "monoprinting," "imprint," "grooves," "design" etc. This will help with their language development and increase their vocabulary.

- Still feeling creative? Here are some of our other arty ideas for kids. You can see more in our Arts and Crafts category in the sidebar on the right-hand side.

Happy creating,
Debs :)

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