When I teach children printmaking, I always start by asking who has done printmaking before. Rarely a hand goes up. Then I ask who has made art by using a print of their hand or foot … and almost all the hands in the class shoot up.
“Well,” I say, “then you’ve done printmaking!” I go on to explain that some of the earliest art was made when humans made prints of their hands in caves.
This is still a fun way for children to make art today — the hands (and fingers) can be a great tool for creating works of art.
I was reminded of this when my two pre-teen boys got out our Christmas craft book yesterday. The activity they selected was making snowmen pictures out of white finger prints. We spent about an hour and ended up with some creative art for the fridge and some Christmas tags for our gifts.
Do try this at home
Here is what you need: some acrylic paints (preferably water washable), a black pen or sharpie, some colored construction paper and paint brushes. All items can be purchased inexpensively at the dollar store.
Start by making oval-shaped prints with your thumb or finger. Use the tip of your finger for the rounder heads. Make a number of these on a sheet, then it’s best to wait for this layer to dry before decorating with hats, scarves, etc. (so the colors don’t mix). Although acrylics dry pretty fast, you can use a hair dryer to blow-dry the artwork if you are in a hurry.
Next, dress up the snow people with scarves, hats, mitts, coats, carrot noses, and anything else you can think of. Be creative! Anything goes.
Once this layer is dry, use a black sharpie or a dark pen to create the facial expressions, and add the stick arms. A sharpie works fine, but we found that drawing on the paint also tended to dry out the sharpie quickly. We had more luck with a black ball point pen.
Once the creations are done, display them on the fridge, or cut the art into small squares and use as gift tags by adding a little ribbon to each.
My ten-year-old added little sayings to his snowmen, and we had a good laugh at his cartoon approach. My eight-year-old made a simple label of “down” and “up” on his, which also made me smile.
This is was a fun craft that didn’t take long, and also had us experimenting with printmaking. Good on both counts!