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.

Birds on a Wire: Thumbprint Art for Kindergarten

Looking for a quick 40-minute project? Get out your stamp pads. Kindergarteners used crayon, stamp pads and ballpoint pens to create these cute thumbprint birds on a wire.



And just for fun….look how Ryan signed the back of his art! He must be very proud of his writing skills. These kids have come so far since the fall. What a joy!


Inspiration came from Mrs. Weber’s Art Class blog via Pinterest.

Eraser Stamps for Sixth Grade: Abstract Design

Sixth graders carve erasers with their own abstract design and use them to print individual and group artworks.

Sixth grade is making eraser stamps.

I learned the method from Geninne’s Art Blog. Geninne has a fabulous tutorial on stamp-making including an instructional video. This assignment has two parts….1) create an abstract design stamp and 2) create a stamp based on your initials.

Part 1: Abstract Design


  • Magic Rub vinyl erasers
  • Pencils
  • Paper (copy paper is fine)
  • Tracing paper
  • Popsicle stick or ruler
  • Lino cutter (student grade – we used the ones from this Soft Kut class pack)
  • Stamp pads
  • Watercolor markers (we used Crayola)

I teach this assignment with a packet of handouts…

Explain to students we will be cutting away the white portions of their design…..since they are beginners, the design should be fairly simple. No letters, no words, no numbers!!!!

Here are some sketches…I have to approve their final designs before they cut.

After approval, students transfer design to eraser. Placed traced design ‘dirty side down’ on the eraser and rub with edge of Popsicle stick to transfer.

Carve eraser:


  • Stay seated.
  • Keep eraser flat on the table.
  • Grip cutter as if it was a pencil.
  • Make shallow cuts, not deep.
  • Your cutting hand should stay low, close to the table. Your wrist can go up about an inch above the table.
  • Direct cuts away from your body.
  • Rotate eraser so that cuts are directed away from your hand.
  • Cut away white portions of design.


Time to print! Students could use a stamp pad or color their erasers with watercolor markers (we used Crayola markers). The stamp pad method is quick, but the marker method allows more variety.

Instructions on the board.....

Student Results:

Carved eraser stamps inked with watercolor marker.

6th grade artist thought overlapping colors 'looked 3D'

This student hand-colored her stamp with markers.

Group project with three stamps (hand-colored with markers).

Student hand-inked design inspired by Nike logo and colored negative space with marker.

Many students said this was their favorite project ever!!!! They are clamoring to go on to part 2, a design based on their initials. To be continued!

It is also a special joy for me to see the 6th graders complete the project – I have had about 25% of these kids since they were 5 years old and learning how to write their names.

This printmaking project is also great opportunity to discuss art principles and elements: repetition, unity, and variety. It is appropriate for grades 6-12.

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