Japanese Marbled Paper

Looking for a fun printing project? Want to try a Japanese technique? We made suminagashi marbled paper mono prints at my Japan-themed art camp this summer. The project was easy and very successful. No two prints were alike, and my campers loved the process.

Please see the Blick video tutorial at the end of the post – it shows the entire process.

You will need a special marbling kit for this project. It costs about $15. You can use it to marble paper or fabric.

Aitoh Boku-Undo Suminagashi Marbling Kit – $14.98

from: Blick Art Materials (note: this post contains affiliate links)


  • Basins for water
  • Suminagashi Marble Print kit (available at Amazonand Blick)
  • paper** to fit basins
  • small brushes
  • palette with wells
  • thread
  • newspaper to project tables and skim surface of water after printing
  • horizontal drying space
  • smocks or aprons

(**Note: The best paper has little sizing. I didn’t want to buy expensive paper for art camp. We experimented printing with different types of paper. We tried copy paper, recycled drawing paper, and thin Japanese calligraphy paper (ugh – too thin. It ripped).

We tried two types of printing: alternating concentric colors (I call them ‘tree rings’) prints, and float paper prints (intense colors).

Concentric ‘tree rings’ prints

I was inspired by this EXCELLENT post from Julie Voight’s  Art for Small Hands blog. Julie has ALL the instructions and lovely student examples for creating the beautiful concentric prints. You will need the palette and tiny, thin paintbrushes for this. Dip the brush in dye, and barely touch the water with the brush tips. Alternate colors. (NOTE: SEE THE BLICK VIDEO AT THE END OF THE POST). This is a very neat process, and you only use a little bit of color (your $15 kit will last a very long time).

We created single and double prints.

‘Float paper’ prints.

Bold! You need the reusable coated paper circles that come with the kit. You float the circles on the water, then aim drops of color at them straight out of the bottle.

To swirl and marble the ink, we experimented with blowing the floating ink, and dragging a single thread through it. We also tried second ‘ghost prints’ after our initial prints.

We also printed onto some yellow paper stars I had left over from another project. The colored background looks great!

This used more dye than the concentric ring project. It can be a messier option. The kids had to squeeze the dye straight from the bottle, then recap the colors and put them down. Soon there was bright color on the outside of the tubes. Next time I will arrange some sort of stand so the tubes can stay upright (and uncapped) for the printing process.

Video tutorial

Here is a great 10 minute tutorial from Blick.

Give suminagashi a try. It truly is a no-fail project.


This project was part of my ‘Let’s Go To Japan’ art + cooking camp. Here are our other art and cooking projects:

Plus tons of kids books about Japan!

Thanks to Dahra and Ilana, our fabulous teenage helpers for all their assistance at camp.

Monoprinting with Shrinkable Plastic

mono printing with shrinkable plastic pin

Isn’t it wonderful when you have time to make your own art? I experimented with mono printing this week as part of my homework for the Artsy Book Club. I used Shrinky Dink shrinkable plastic for my printing plate. It worked beautifully as a plate, plus I got to shrink it in the oven after I was done!


You'll need wax pastels, frosted Shrinky Dinks, watercolor paper, and an oven.

You’ll need wax pastels, frosted Shrinky Dinks, watercolor paper, and an oven.


  • Make a sketch on copy paper
  • Place the shrinkable plastic (AKA the printing plate) on top of the sketch
  • Trace sketch with wax pastel, then color background/negative space
  • Brush plastic with wet paintbrush to blend colors
  • Dampen paper in dish pan of water, blot in towel
  • Place dampened watercolor paper on plastic
  • Rub
  • Pull the print
  • Add more wax pastel (in select areas) to the wet print.

You can re-use the full size shrinkable plastic plate over and over; just re-color for every new mono print.

1. Monoprint onto watercolor paper. 2. Rework wet print with wax pastels 3. Rework plastic plate and shrink in oven.

1. Monoprint onto watercolor paper. 2. Rework wet print with wax pastels 3. Rework plastic plate and shrink in oven.

Shrink the printing plate

Ready for even more fun? When you are done printing, re-color the Shrinky Dink printing plate and shrunk it in the oven.

Yes, that’s right: I shrunk my printing plate in the oven. It’s beautiful! The colors are concentrated and rich. Just follow the directions on the Shrinky Dink package.

This mono print was made with watercolor pencils onto a scrap of dampened mat board.

This mono print was made with watercolor pencils onto a scrap of dampened mat board. Time to shrink the printing plate!

Monoprinting with watercolor pencils

I used Reeves Watercolor Pencils to trace an impressionist painting onto my frosted Shrinky Dink plate. Then I printed onto a scrap of dampened mat board.

The printing plate started as a 1/4 sheet (4"x5") of Shrinky Dink plastic. After printing, the plate shrunk to 1.5"x2"

The printing plate started as a 1/4 sheet (4″x5″) of Shrinky Dink plastic. After printing, the plate shrunk to 1.5″x2″  Student work.

Try a mini monoprint with the kids

I used a full 8″x10″ sheet of Shrinky Dink plastic for my architectural mono prints, and I had to shrink each plate individually. This is not practical at school. Instead, try a 1/4 sheet of shrinkable plastic for the printing plate. I can shrink about 7 at a time on a full size cookie sheet. This is also a great way to use up scraps of watercolor paper.

Relax and enjoy the process…

These mono prints are somewhat experimental. You never know exactly what you’ll get. Try not to get caught up in perfectionism. If a print is less than perfect, rework it.

Thanks to Col Art for the samples of Reeves Watercolor Pencils and Reeves Wax Pastels. Thanks to awesome art teacher/blogger Cassie Stevens for creating our Artsy Book Club!


What is the weirdest printing project you’ve ever tried?

note: this post contains affiliate links.

Wyland Ocean Mural

Inspired by aquatic artist Wyland, our fourth graders recently completed a great big ocean-themed mural. We recreated the California kelp forest for the Wyland Foundation’s ‘Water is Life’ Mural Challenge.

Our entry in the Wyland mural challenge

The completed kelp forest mural. Dimensions 5’x10′

Who is Wyland?

Wyland Whaling Wall in Detroit.
Photo source: Wahkeenah via Wikimedia Commons

Wyland is an American artist best known for creating life-size whale murals. He painted 100 of these ‘whaling walls’ around the world, as well as many more paintings of  aquatic life. As seen in the whaling wall photo, Wyland often paints a ‘two worlds’ view of the ocean (both above and below the sea). Wyland’s art is very popular and he is commercially successful.


The Wyland Foundation provided us with a free kit, containing instructions, acrylic paints, brushes and a 5’x10′ Fredrix Paint It Yourself Classroom Mural Cotton Canvas Roll. We also used acrylic house paint and rollers. Blue painter’s tape was essential for getting a clean horizon line. We used Sharpies to sign the artwork and to add small details. We used soft-kut blocks and lino cutters to create fish stamps for our school of silvery fish. Tip: I matched our background paint to an undersea photo with the free Color Snap app.

The free Color Snap app is great for matching paint to a photo.

The free Color Snap app is great for matching paint to a photo.

Mural Process:


Students used their iPads to research the kelp forest and Wyland’s art. Students posted their  favorite images, plus  suggestions to an online board on Edmodo.


We painted the mural in stages. Day 1: background, days 2 and 3 were for sea life and details.  A maximum of eight kids painted at one time; the rest made sea creature drawings at the adjacent lunch tables while they waited their turn to paint. We used several tricks to create the illusion of space in our mural, including size, placement, value, warm/cool colors and (most especially) overlap. This video shows six tricks artists use to show illusion of space.

We also had small teams of students on special assignment: team seal, team sea otter, official photographers, and fish stamp carvers.

Fourth graders add marine life to the kelp forest mural.

Fourth graders add marine life to the kelp forest mural.

Each student stamped a fish on the mural, creating our own school of Pacific Jack Mackerel.

Each student stamped a fish on the mural, creating our own school of Pacific Jack Mackerel.

Although we didn’t win the Wyland Challenge, we created a beautiful mural.  Everyone is so proud of it! We learned about the kelp forest, and how to create depth in art.  Thanks so much to the Wyland Foundation for all the art materials, and to our parent volunteers for all their help.

Want to learn more about Wyland? Watch 2007 video from the CBS Early Show.


The mission of the Wyland Foundation is to help children and families around the nation rediscover the importance of healthy oceans and waterways through public art programs, classroom science education, and live events. Click here to see the winning 2013 murals and to find out about the 2014 Wyland ‘Water is Life’ Mural and Art challenge.

Art + Cooking Camp: Madeleines and the Eiffel Tower

Today was Day Two of my Paris-themed art and cooking camp. We made lemon madeleines and began a ‘Printed Paris’ Eiffel Tower project.


Our lemon madeleines were delicious. CLICK HERE FOR THE RECIPE. I bought my own silicone madeleine pan for this project. It worked perfectly – all the little cakes popped right out intact. The recipe made a lot of madeleines – we put the extra batter in cupcake papers and baked them up as little muffins. The kids doused them in powdered sugar. Really fun cooking project!

Separating eggs.

Separating eggs.

We used silicone madeleine molds.

We used silicone madeleine pans.

The little cakes popped out perfectly. Yum!

The little cakes popped out perfectly. Yum!

Printed Eiffel Towers

We started our printed Eiffel Towers.  The project was inspired by this fabulous post at the Cassie Stephens blog.

We used mat board scraps and white paint to print the Eiffel Tower.

We used mat board scraps and white paint to print the Eiffel Tower.

Tomorrow we will finish up the Eiffel Towers, make meringues, and start on our Degas project.



Are you teaching art this summer?

Printing with Modeling Clay

Would you like to try a creative printmaking project? Something inexpensive, that can be done quickly and easily with no fancy tools or equipment? Try printing with modeling clay. This brilliant lesson from the Filth Wizardry blog was a huge hit with our fourth graders.

Students created printed suns or sunflowers using modeling clay and stamp pads. Allow 2-3 40-minutes sessions.


  • Modeling Clay, AKA plasticine clay (note: I got a pack of 24 sticks of modeling clay at my local dollar store)
  • black stamp pads
  • bamboo skewers
  • paper
  • colored pencils
  • pencil and eraser
  • circle template
  • paper to cover table

Class 1: Experiment with modeling clay stamp printing

Our fourth graders began their printmaking project by experimenting with the clay stamp printing. They made a variety of marks on the clay, pressed the clay onto a black stamp pad, and printed on a piece of copy paper.

They printed clay coils and spirals. One boy took an imprint of the sole of his shoe and printed that! Another created a clay pretzel. They created clay hearts and alphabet letters. After a few prints, they smooshed the clay and started again. It was fabulously fun.

Clean up is easy. Since modeling clay never dries out and is reusable, we just placed the stamp pads, clay balls and skewers in our table bins until next class. We used baby wipes to clean the clay (but not all the ink!) off hands after class, then used the wipes to scrub any clay that might have got on the table.

Class 2: Print a sun or sunflower

We began the session by viewing a brief video of sun art  from CBS-TV Sunday Morning.

Student used the templates to trace a circle in the center of the paper. Then the fun began!

Begin by tracing a circle template. Then use the modeling clay to create individual facial feature stamps.

The fourth graders used the modeling clay to create facial feature stamps, sun beam stamps, petal and leaf stamps.

Fourth grade sun, printed and ready to color.

After printing, they colored their prints with colored pencils.

Coloring in a sunflower print with colored pencils.


Printed sun with colored pencil

Optional finishes:

Class 3:

Paint completed print with tempera cake:

Completed prints can be painted immediately with cake tempera.

This example is printed with ink pad, colored with colored pencil, then immediately painted with tempera cake. The sheer paint looked great over the print but did not cover stray ink fingerprints. And some had A LOT of stray fingerprints.

If you want a clean look to ALL the finished artworks, you may want to have students cut out their colored work and mount to colored paper.

Have fun! Your students are guaranteed to love printing with modeling clay!

Thanks for visiting! Don’t forget to please vote for 2012 Art Ed Blog of the Year, which you can do by clicking this link and voting for K-6 Art! Voting open through December 14, 2012.

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