recycle printmaking with styrofoam boxes

The clean ink slabs...before the children descended...
I started a new after school workshop with Arts Outreach two weeks ago, Upcycle and Recycle Art! An entire class about what I love doing already! I'm so excited about this class, I've been gathering ideas for quite some time and I'm happy to finally be able to try all these projects with the kiddos. 

The first week with the kiddos we made/bound cereal box and paper bag notebooks. I was unable to get any photos from this project but it was a combo of this project I found for the covers/binding with my paper bag notebooks from last year for the insides. I chose this project to gauge the level of the kids...luckily I did too. Turns out my class consists of 14 kids, with about half of them being 6 or 7 years old...with one 5 year old. This isn't to say I don't have a very talented bunch of kids, because I do! This is a fantastic group. But...it does mean that there's a lot of kids that need help/assistance every step of the project...which makes my one hour with them very hectic and in constant motion...

So this week I wanted to try some recycle printmaking using styrofoam to-go boxes!  I may have looked like an absolute fool hauling around 3 dozen styrofoam to-go boxes but it was completely worth it. I was inspired by this post from Alisa Burke's amazing blog! She used scratch board for her project but I thought styrofoam boxes would be a perfect substitute. 

To make these, all you need is: a styrofoam to-go box, an exacto blade, a pencil or paintbrush, paper to print on and ink/supplies for printing (paint would work too).

Cut out the large flat square piece from the base and lid of the box, these will be where you'll be making the designs to print. Using a dull pencil or the non brush end of a paint brush, draw your designs on the styrofoam. The opposite end of paint brushes worked best for my kiddos, it was big/strong enough to make a deep impression but not pointed enough to poke through the foam. Remind your kids that if they want to write anything that it must be backwards ...which can be used as inspiration I guess...
My favorite from the whole day! 
Time to print! I set up ink slabs like I did last summer for my printmaking workshop using foil and tape but paper plates of paint with brushes would work just as well. Ink up the designs enough so that the whole thing is covered but not so much that all the grooves from the designs are filled in. Then flip it over, center it on the paper and rub evenly across the back of the foam. Then slowly remove the foam and voila! A print! We had enough time for the kids to print 2-3 designs and it seems like they really enjoyed it! 


  1. okay.. that last one.. really looks like one I did at ricks studio.lol

  2. okay, this is such a stellar craft idea to do with kids and a great way to demonstrate the letterpress process. i absolutely love this.

    1. It was a ton of fun! And there's a lot of potential for it, even for adults. And the best bit is that it's super cheap!


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