Homemade Printing Press as a Kid's Craft

Printing presses are a very old invention.

The theory behind a printing press is nothing difficult. A plate containing raised letters is lightly coated with ink, just enough to cover the letters. A piece of paper is pressed into the plate, transferring the ink to the paper. You can duplicate the process easily at home, using colored chalk and coins or leaves, but no messy ink. For the press part, a kitchen rolling pin will do the job. As with any child's craft project, adult guidance is always recommended.

1 Making the plate

Obtain a piece of thin poster board. Cut the poster board 9 1/2 inches by 12 inches, to allow a little extra on all four sides of a piece of copy paper. Using white school glue, lightly glue coins or leaves onto a piece of poster board. The coins should be all the same type, such as all pennies or nickels. Allow the glue to dry.

2 Coloring the Plate

Obtain chalk pastels or colored sidewalk chalk. Rub the chalk across the surface of the coins or leaves, just enough to cover the high points, but leaving the low points bare. This is your prepared plate. Darker colors show up better than lighter colors, so use browns, greens or reds. Refrain from using white or light yellow colors.

3 Setting the Paper

Using cellophane or masking tape, attach a piece of copy paper to the plate. Use tape on the corners only. Center the paper on the plate, so about an inch of the plate is visible all the way around. Lay the plate with the attached paper on a flat hard surface, like a table top.

4 Pressing the Paper

Using a rolling pin, roll across the paper firmly. Do this a few times in different directions. This assures the paper will pick up the image of the coins or leaves. Gently remove the tape, and the images are transferred to the paper from the plate. The plate can be used many times over. Crafters at "the Spotted Canary" do leaf rubbings to pick up the image using a pencil on paper. This process is similar, but only uses a rolling pin in a printing press fashion.

Tony Oldhand has been technical writing since 1995. He has worked in the skilled trades and diversified into Human Services in 1998, working with the developmentally disabled. He is also heavily involved in auto restoration and in the do-it-yourself sector of craftsman trades. Oldhand has an associate degree in electronics and has studied management at the State University of New York.