The illustrations for Amos McGee were done with a process called woodblock printing. To make the images, the artist basically takes a block of wood and creates a stamp, carving away the negative space and leaving the image. Once the stamp is complete, ink or paint is applied, the paper is placed over the stamp and the paint is transferred to the paper.
Seeing the video below, featuring the illustrator Erin Stead explaining her process makes you realize how much work is put into each page, and might make you take a second look the next time you read Amos McGee!
Our craft this week is a very basic example of woodblock printing made with an image “carved” into a Styrofoam plate using nothing more than a blunt pencil (you can also use the non-brush end of a paintbrush or even a wooden popsicle stick). Once the stamp is made the image can be printed over and over again, so don't be surprise if your house becomes a printmaking factory!
Styrofoam Plate Printmaking
- Styrofoam plates
- Pencil with blunt point
- Cookie cutter (optional)
- Foam roller brush or paintbrush
- Washable activity paint
- Cover work area with newspaper. We found it to be quite helpful to tape the corners of the newspaper to the work area so it doesn't slide everywhere while making the print.
- Cut the rim from the Styrofoam plate so you have a flat piece to work with. All we had on hand were plates with dividers, so I just cut out one section, which turned out in the oval shape you see in the pictures.
- Using the pencil your reader can draw any sort of picture, pattern, or design on the piece of Styrofoam, or trace around a cookie cutter. The key with this step is for the design to be as deep as possible in the Styrofoam without going through the material.
- Use loops of tape on the back of the piece, tape the Styrofoam to the newspaper to prevent it from sliding.
- Using the foam brush your reader should cover the Styrofoam with a layer of paint.
- Lays a sheet of paper on the painted Styrofoam, then rub the paper the to make sure all the paint is transferred.
- Gently peel the paper away to reveal the print. Lay flat or hang to dry.