High School Printmaking Projects

By Erica Loop
Your teen can create imaginative art with printmaking projects.
Your teen can create imaginative art with printmaking projects.

While you may have limited your printmaking projects with your child when she was younger to simple stamping activities, your teen is ready for a more advanced artistic process. High school printmaking projects can help your adolescent to explore an array of media and techniques, all while making multiples. From basic ink and paper prints to more advanced projects using wood or fabric, printmaking is a creative way to get crafty with your child.

Woodcut Relief Prints

Relief prints include a subtractive process in which your teen can cut or carve away parts of a piece of wood or other substance, in order to create an image. It is best for your teen to draw a picture or design on the top of the wood block before starting to carve. When she starts printing the ink will stick to the raised parts of the wood, making it necessary for her to carve away only the parts that she wants to appear paper-colored. Your teen can roll printing ink over the woodcut with brayer -- a printmaking-rolling tool -- covering the raising surfaces. She can then use the ink-covered block to create her prints by pressing it on top of a sheet of paper. Use construction paper, drawing paper or even a fabric scrap for the prints.

Polystyrene Foam Prints

If you are looking for an easy-to-make printing project that your high schooler will enjoy, try a polystyrene foam print. Start with a sheet of craft polystyrene foam or cut the bottom off a reused polystyrene foam fruit or veggie tray. Do not reuse meat or poultry trays due to the risk of spreading harmful bacteria. Your teen can use the edge of a craft stick, a toothpick or a wooden stylus -- this tool looks like a pencil, but does not have any color to it -- to carve a picture in the foam. Avoid poking through the foam or drawing too lightly, as these will both cause problems during the printing process. The carved areas will appear paper colored, while the rest of the polystyrene foam will have the ink's color. Have your teen roll over his drawing with an ink-covered brayer. Turn the printing plate over and press it firmly onto a piece of paper. Remove the polystyrene foam to reveal the print. For a unique option, use colored acetate instead of paper to make an almost stained glass-type project.

Acrylic Glass Prints

Acrylic glass is an art item that allows your teen to make different prints from one plate. Instead of using a base such as wood or foam, that you cannot reuse, acrylic glass allows your teen to make a print, clean it off and create an entirely new piece of art. Use a 5-by-7-inch or larger piece of acrylic glass making sure that the surface is clean. Have your teen coat the surface by rolling water-soluble non-toxic craft paint or ink over the glass. Your teen can draw a design by carving away some of the paint with a cotton swap or craft stick. Apply a piece of thin, damp paper over the plate and press down firmly. Remove the paper to reveal the print. Your teen can then wash off the plate and reuse it, making it a match for your eco-conscious adolescent. Add an extra layer of earth-friendly crafting to this project and choose a reused paper source instead of opting for a new one. Try out lightly printed newspaper, gift wrap scraps or even a piece of fabric cut from an old T-shirt.

Mixed Media

Unlike younger kids who may only have the attention span to tackle one type of material or one process at a time, teens can try a multi-technique or mixed media project. For example, your teen can collage together several different prints that show off differing techniques, onto a piece of cardboard. Add another layer of artistic expression and have your teen drizzle paint splatters on top of the collage or add other pieces of decorative papers. Another option is to use one technique, such as wood block printmaking, to print onto different materials -- or media. Your teen can take the multiple prints, of the same image, and mount them onto a piece of poster board to make a series of designs.

About the Author

Based in Pittsburgh, Erica Loop has been writing education, child development and parenting articles since 2009. Her articles have appeared in "Pittsburgh Parent Magazine" and the website PBS Parents. She has a Master of Science in applied developmental psychology from the University of Pittsburgh's School of Education.