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The Eric Carle Museum
of Picture Book Art
  • 125 West Bay Road
  • Amherst, MA 01002


  • Thursday, Friday10 am-3 pm
  • Saturday 10am – 4 pm
  • Sunday 12 pm - 4 pm

Closed Monday,Tuesday, Wednesday

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Visit the carle


Making Art Together

Printing with Found Materials

To prepare for an upcoming printmaking workshop for teachers, I recently created a visual example of printing with found materials to hang in the Art Studio.  Once I got started it was clear that there is an unlimited combination of interesting patterns and shapes you can make with surfaces of recyclable plastic containers.

I printed with black and red washable tempera paints onto white Smart-Fab™ Disposable Art and Decoration Fabric but you could use any color ink or acrylics and any fabric or paper.  Smart-Fab™  is available in several different colors and three roll lengths at a very reasonable price.  It's a great alternative to printing on paper.

The first found material I experimented with was a regular 1-liter plastic seltzer bottle after seeing a pin on Rosemary House's Pinterest board "Prints and Printmaking."  One of her pins lead me to the popular blog post by Inner Child Fun about making flower prints with bottom of soda bottles.  Using their idea as inspiration, with a foam brayer I inked up the bottom with red tempera paint and stamped the bottle across the fabric.

If you can use the bottom of the bottle, why not the sides too?  So using a sheet of adhesive foam, I cut a variety of shapes and wrapped them around the flattest part of the bottle.  When inking up the foam try not to get any on the plastic bottle or your print will not be as clear.  The tapered neck of the bottle made a good handle as I rolled it across the fabric.  When I ran out of ink half-way across and needed to reink, it was easy to look through the clear bottle and line up the shapes to keep the pattern continuous.

Other found materials you could print with:

Candy packaging

The packaging we get from glue stick 12-packs

The side of a tofu container

Berry containers

The bottom of a salad to-go lid

What found materials have you tried printing with?



We enjoy exploring materials and ideas in the Art Studio, and we’re excited to share our process with you! Please consider the following factors when adapting these posts for your learning environment: 

We facilitate a variety of programs within the Art Studio for a wide range of age groups. Please carefully consider the age appropriateness of each individual activity in your own learning environment.

Our projects are always done with adult supervision and proper safety precautions. Be sure all of your projects are overseen by adults who likewise follow proper safety precautions. The adults overseeing your project must also be responsible for handling or assisting with any potentially harmful equipment or materials. 

The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art is not responsible for any damages, injuries or liabilities that result from any activities contained within this website, and we expressly disclaim any responsibility or liability therefor. From time to time, we reference materials that we have found to be particularly important in our projects. We do not receive any monetary compensation for recommending materials. 



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