Thursday, April 28, 2011

Relief printmaking using styrofoam

This is a continuation of my last entry regarding earlier works not seen before.
The following prints were created by drawing into the surface of 1.27 cm (1/2 inch) thick blue dense styrofoam from a building materials supply shop. This is generally used for insulation of walls during home construction or renovation. It is not that expensive and can be easily cut into blocks from the main sheet with a ruler and utility blade.
I used ball point pen primarily as the drawing tool as it tends to score the surface much better than pencil (which catches a lot in the material). Some of the finer lines were created using a compass point needle tip but again took a bit of effort dragging this through the styrofoam.

These were all example pieces created as part of demonstrations for relief printing with styrofoam lesson I have to elementary school children during the past several years.

Dog portrait

two block study of flower forms
 printed in a light blue waterbased ink over a solid black square

songbird on tree branch

simple sunflower form (slight dot detail in the blossom) against a dark background

white ink printed on black paper
the hockey game
tan ink on black paper
Light comes through
two block colour winter woods study

the key block (black)
notice how the styrofoam has been flecked away to reveal a loose type of surface


  1. Very impressive work Brian! I know from experience how difficult polystyrene is to work with - remarkable subtlety.

  2. Really nice work! Not only beautiful but can also help with saving the environment.

  3. Lovely prints! very inspiring :)…and thanks for your advice on barens ;).

  4. Hello there!

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  5. You're really good! i 've a question, how do you cut the styrofoam? because it's hard to make the texture.

    bye! keep on working like that.

  6. to cut this type of styrofoam I use surgical scalpel and also rough the surface with a sharp etching needle. I draw into the surface using ballpoint pen.