DIY Foam Sugar Skull Stamp by Lizette Guzman
*Note* This content was created for Bee Creative Swaps which is no longer active and has been moved to The Morose Bee blog for archiving.
Foam stamps are great for quick projects, especially when you don’t have time to carve out a stamp or work with sharp carving supplies. This tutorial is a great introduction to printmaking for kids (with adult supervision) and adults.
I used a foam stamp to make sugar skull printed leggings for my daughter for a Day of the Dead race we participated in.
The material you would like to print on: fabric, cloth napkins, clothing (ex. leggings)
2 printmaking brayers (second roller not pictured)
Speedball oil based block printing ink (or water based ink if printing on paper)
Thick piece of plexiglass (you can get it a Lowe’s or HomeDepot)
Baby oil (a non-toxic cleaner for cleaning your material)
Paper towels and rags for clean up
Thick plastic from toy packaging
Tacky glueCuticle scissors and small scissors
Pen and paper to sketch your designInk pad (not pictured)
Step 1: Draw your design on paper or freehand it on your foam. Keep it simple. I’ve learned that the more complicated your design is the harder it is to cut out, at least when using foam to make a stamp.
When it comes to printmaking, your print will be a mirror image of your design/drawing. The mirror image “rule” doesn’t apply if your stamp is symmetrical; however, if it is NOT symmetrical or cutting/carving out letters it does. For example, if you cut the letter L like it looks it will look backwards when printed. So you need to cut it backwards to look right when printed. Since the letter A and O are symmetrical you can cut those like they look originally.
Step 2: Cut the outline of your skull design out and trace it on a piece of foam. Freehand the rest of your design onto the foam or you can cut each facial feature out and trace it onto the foam.
Step 3: Tricks to cut your skull’s facial features: Fold the foam and snip a small cut into the skull’s eye. This snip helps you insert the scissor and cut the eye out.
Cuticle scissors are slightly round at the end. Use that to your advantage when cutting out the skull’s eyes out. Cutting with the round part of your scissors facing down.
Open your cuticle scissors and insert one blade into the skull’s forehead design. Now you can begin cutting out that piece. The hardest part to cut out was the skull’s teeth because they were small and grouped close together.
Step 4: Test your foam stamp using an ink pad. This helps you see if you need to make any changes to your stamp.
Step 5: Cut your thick packaging plastic. This will be the block for your stamp. I get my thick plastic for projects like this from toys my daughter gets, like dolls.
Step 6: Glue your foam stamp to your plastic block. Let it dry overnight.
Step 7: Set up your printing table. I either use newspaper or tablecloths for the 99 cent store to cover my table.
Step 8: Put some Speedball ink on your plexiglass and spread it out with your brayer by rolling it back and forth over the ink. Ink your stamp by rolling your inked brayer back and forth on your stamp until it’s evenly covered with ink.
Carefully place your stamp face down on your desired printing material. I’m using some white scrap fabric because I’m going to make embroidered sugar skull ornaments. Use the second brayer that has no ink and place it over the block side of the stamp rolling it back and forth while pressing down. Now you have printed your stamp on your fabric.
If you get ink on the block, you can swipe it off with a paper towel.
I hate wasting ink so I use an old plastic card to scrap the ink towards the center.
I usually use this ink to print on paper, like I did with on these envelopes.
Step 9: I used an old stamp and the new one I made for this tutorial on my scrap fabric. The old stamp was made 3 years ago and didn’t print as dark as the newer stamp.
You can see some of the white fabric through the printed old stamp and the new stamp print is much darker
Step 10: Use paper towels and baby oil to clean the ink off your plexiglass, brayer, plastic card, and hands. When you’re done wash your hands with soap and water. You can’t really clean your foam stamp but you can print sugar skulls on your newspaper or some scrap paper to remove the excess ink off your stamp.
Step 11: If you printed on fabric, wait 2 days for the ink to air dry. After the ink has dried, place it in the dryer for the ink to adhere to the fabric. Dry the fabric in the dryer especially if you plan to wash the fabric/clothing.
I hope you enjoy this tutorial and can find a way to incorporate it with the art medium you use. Foam stamps would make great Christmas tree ornaments for kids. You can print the tree and have your kids glue pom pom as ornaments on the printed Christmas tree. Bee Creative. The creative ideas are endless!