Make a Watercolor Monotype from Cardboard, Cotton Swabs and Aluminum Foil

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Make a Monotype from Things Around the House

This was a quick experiment to see if I could pull a monotype print – without a press – from tube watercolor applied to a tin-foil-wrapped sheet of scrap cardboard.

Making fun stuff from what you have around the house was the goal, and it worked, so here’s how you can make one too.

Make a monotype plate from cardboard and aluminum foil with a bit of masking tape
Tube watercolor works well to create a monotype print without a press – as long as you work fast so the pigment doesn’t dry. You could still transfer the pigments to damp paper by hand via rubbing, but it’s a lot of work. 🙂

Make a Watercolor Monotype from Cardboard, Cotton Swaps and Aluminum Foil

I’m using Lunar Black because it’s very granulated. If you’ve never painted with it, see this post about making a monochromatic watercolor with lunar black to explore granulated textures in the pigments.

A scrap sheet of smooth cardboard wrapped in tin foil became a monotype printmaking plate in this experiment. I used a flat paint brush (linked below) to apply a layer of black tube watercolor to the plate in a small square of wet pigment
Using a cotton swab, I plowed through the still-wet pigments to create shapes in a loose suggestion of a figure against a striped wall. It was important to work quickly, so the watercolor stayed wet for the next step.
Using a small, dry piece of Speedball printmaking paper (linked below), I pressed the paper into the wet pigments with a wooden print barn, while holding it steady against the foil with my other hand. You could also do this with a spoon (wooden or metal) too.
Pulling the print – unsure of what to expect, and noticing the ribbing pushed into the foil around the remaining pigment. This suggests that a new piece of foil may be necessary for each print.
But it worked! Waiting for the watercolor to dry on the paper before adding additional media.
After the watercolor was completely dry, I added colored pencil to enhance the tiny image. This was a quick, fun monotype, and the materials to create it were simple and small enough to be used at a kitchen table.

Monotype Printmaking with Black Watercolor

Here are the supplies I used for this fast little print:

  • Loew-Cornell all media Taklon flat paint brush (from this set)
  • Daniel Smith tube watercolor in Lunar Black (available here)
  • sheet of smooth cardboard – or you can use a piece of wood, or a sheet of mat board or mount board (like this stuff, which you can also use to make collagraph prints)
  • aluminum foil (heavy duty – like this – works better than the thin stuff, but if all you have is thin, use it.)
  • Masking Tape or Packing Tape (to hold the foil in place on the card board)
  • Cotton Swabs (if you want lint-free, with a fine-tipped point, try these)
  • Printmaking paper (I uses this Speedball Paper on the demo in this post)
  • Wooden Baren (mine was made by Ian Whyte – here is his Etsy Shop.)
  • Colored Pencils (I just started testing these new Amazon brand colored pencils, and so far, they’re great!)
Stride – 3.75 X 3.5 inch Watercolor Monotype on paper (available here.)

Simple Supplies – Quick Work

If you’re hankering for a speedy little printmaking experiment, I hope you’ll play with some tube-watercolor monotype prints.

If you don’t have black watercolor, use another color, like blue, violet, red or green. And after you pull your pint and the pigment dries, keep in mind that you could go in and selectively re-wet parts of your design with a clean, wet brush – to play with some softened edges, or wispy details.

Let me know where you’ve posted your printmaking experiments so I can see what you’ve made. I always enjoy looking at your creative output.

Until then, thanks for stopping in, and I’ll see you in the next post!


P.S. Check out Emily Harvey’s experimental string prints in this post.

a greyhound dog resting on a carpet with a leopard skin collar and a speech bubble asking if you wish you had more time for art
Click the greyhound to get some free online courses….
Visit my YouTube channel to watch monotype printmaking demos in a series…

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2 thoughts on “Make a Watercolor Monotype from Cardboard, Cotton Swabs and Aluminum Foil”

  1. Genevieve j. Howe

    I love this! Thanks for the how-to video. Always looking for ways to experiment with little or no cost.

    1. Hi Genevieve, I’m glad the post was helpful to you! And I agree – artsy experiments with stuff you already have in the house are always a plus! Have fun with your foil and watercolors!

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