another rainy day at the print shop


Print shop à la mudpie, that is. It’s an experiment. And it’s perfectly acceptable to print in flannel pants.

Unlike the Mackenzie’s print shop, there are no machines here. No press. Just me, some cut-up plastic bags, some torn up Styrofoam trays (washed and sanitized), some cardboards, and the trusty PVA glue.


I was hoping to make a background for the plarn betta fish, and what would be better than making it with plastic bags? :D I’ve printed with bags before, at school, on a press. Actually, printing with found materials (i.e. things that people consider trash, like plastic bags, bread tags, and pop tabs) was my favourite thing to do in printmaking class.

I don’t have any of that equipment at home, but I do have a plan. I started by cutting up the bags and gluing them onto a piece of cardboard. That’s plate #1.

For plate #2, I tore up Styrofoam trays (again, washed and sanitized) and glued them onto another piece of cardboard, to resemble river stones.


I don’t have block printing ink, but I thought acrylic would be fine. I brushed it on so it can get into all the crevices.


I always like the test prints on newsprint the best. The feathery details were mesmerizing, like frost.

However, this makes too busy of a background for the delicate plarn fish. So I sprayed water on it to disperse the paint a bit before it dries. But then I got carried away and it got too wet. So rather than patiently wait for it to dry, I laid another piece of paper on it, hoping that if it doesn’t make a half-interesting print, it would at least soak up the watery mess. Kind of like a ghost print, and out came this…

Isn’t that so lovely? Well, at least I think so. Has a kind of smoky quality to it. Reminds me of aquatint

The layered prints didn’t come out so great. But I did salvage this one after reworking it several times.

I’m not in love with it. I thought it needed some red. So when it was all dried I added some watercolour…

Like leaves carried by the current or a school of fish. Still not liking it too much, to be honest, but I think it’s looking a bit better.

I ended up printing the background for the fish on a piece of canvas.


I trimmed it a bit, pinned on the fish (so I can move them to a new background if I ever want to), and hot glued a strip of cardboard on the back so it can stick on the mirror (because one large wall in our apartment is a mirror, and we’ve run out of regular wall space).



I hope they’re happy in their new habitat.

A couple of things I learned from printing with recycled materials:

1) Must invest in block printing ink! I keep putting it off, but acrylic is really too runny for printing.

2) Styrofoam does not stick to white glue! The pieces kept falling off when I rolled paint on it. Next time I’ll use the glue gun.


Will definitely try doing this again. Thank you so much for stopping by!

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