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Art on Wednesday: Printmaking Fun with The Very Hungry Caterpillar

Many of you have attended the Library’s printmaking classes and used the Gel Press with paint and stencils to make abstract art. If you have a Gel Press at home, you can take a creative break from your homeschooling and create something – but did you know that you can make prints without a Gel Press?

Any glass or metal can be used in the same way! For safety, you don’t want to use your parent’s best cookie sheet because some paints have chemicals that shouldn’t be shared with food surfaces, but you can use an old cookie sheet – or even better, an empty picture frame with a glass or acrylic front.

Let’s make an abstract butterfly inspired by the one at the end of The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle.

Materials: Picture frame; paint (see recipe below if you don’t have paint at home); old gift card, paint brushes, cotton swabs; “mark makers” – old wine corks, plastic fork, bubble wrap, corrugated cardboard, plastic cookie cutters, etc.; old t-shirt or rag for wiping paint; computer paper.

What to do:

  1. Apply a little bit of paint to the glass on the frame and spread it with the old gift card or some other tool.
  2. Use the edge of the gift card to make designs in the paint.
  3. If you have bubble wrap, old wine corks, or corrugated cardboard, use that to lift some of the paint from the glass, which leaves a pattern.
  4. When you are ready – and before the paint dries! – place the computer paper over the glass and smooth with your hands.
  5. Lift the paper and admire your print.
  6. Quick! Do another one from the same glass with a new piece of paper.


  • Cut the paper to fit the size of your frame.
  • Reuse a print with new colors and patterns once it dries to build layers and textures.
  • Go on a scavenger hunt in your house to find “mark makers” – be sure to ask your parents’ permission before using what you find, and remember that once you use it with the paint it may not be usable with food unless you make your own paint from the recipe below.
  • Save the prints and make collages on another day.

Paint Recipe (Chemistry Lesson for the Day)
Materials: Flour, salt, water, food coloring.

What to do:

  1. Mix equal parts flour, salt, and water in a bowl. Use a bowl that has a spout if you have one.
  2. Pour the mixture into separate containers – bottles, jars, plastic storage containers – check your recycling to see if you have some good ones there. If you are saving the paint, it will need a cover.
  3. Add a few drops of food coloring to one container of the mixture.
  4. Shake or stir to mix the color. Add more food coloring until you like the color.
  5. Add a different color of food coloring to each of your containers of mixture in the same way.
  6. Have fun with your paint!

Watch how to make a print here:

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