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Monday, February 3, 2014

Making Valentine Cards With Kids

 This year I have two children in school which means we need 40 valentine cards ready by the 14th. So I figured we'd better get a little head start on the card-making. I gave the girls some sheets of paper cut to the size of the cards we'll be making and a pencil. They drew a few card designs and picked their favorite. 
 Isla drew a picture of the mysterious "creature that eats ghost candies." I added Be Mine and traced over the drawing to make the pencil marks darker and easier to transfer onto a Speedy-Carve rubber block.

Speedy-carve is great because, not only is it much easier to carve than linoleum, it's very easy to transfer a pencil drawing to the block. Just put the drawing facedown on the  block and use a bone folder or back of a wooden spoon to rub the back of the paper.

I wouldn't use Speedy-carve for a block with a lot of detail, but for something simple like the creature that eats ghost candies, it's just fine. 
 Using a craft knife, I cut out the piece of block with the design on it. Then I used a Speedball carving tool to carve out the design.
 I used block printing ink, a brayer and plate to roll out a thin, even layer of ink. If you've never done this type of print before, you'll probably need to practice on some scrap paper before printing on quality paper. Even if you're a pro, it's always a good idea to do a proof first. Of course, if you're a pro you already know that. 
 Using the brayer, I inked up the block. You can see in the picture below that I forgot to carve out a few areas around the letters. It's no problem to go back in with a craving tool and do some touch ups before printing. Just do it quickly before the ink starts drying. Or better yet, wash off the block before you carve.

When you're inking up the plate (could be a sheet of glass, plexiglass or a plate specially made for this kind of thing) start with less ink than you think you need and add a tiny bit more at a time as needed. Listen for a sound sort of like tape being pulled off a sheet of paper as you roll the brayer through the ink. That's when you have the right amount. 
When I make art prints or stationery I always use a baren for transferring the image to card stock, but this construction paper is so thin. Sliding a bone folder over the paper, which is placed on top of the block, worked very well. You can also use the back of a wooden spoon. I would have let Isla have a go at the printing process, but by the time I'd finished carving the block she'd run off somewhere. 
 Water-based block printing inks are great because they dry quickly. 
 And there we have Isla's work of art. 
Supply List:
block printing ink
brayer
inking plate (glass or plexi sheet)
bone folder or wooden spoon
Speedy-carve
Craft knife
Linoleum cutter
construction paper


 
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