Guest blogger series | Printmaking For All Ages: Yarn Block Prints

by Admin on 27/10/2011

in Guest blog series2 2011, Kids Crafts, Paper+Mixed Media

Steph is the founder/managing editor of Modern Parents Messy Kids and mom to a 2 year old son and 1 year old daughter. She started MPMK as a resource for helping parents to engage their kids, organize their life, and add a little style to their home. For more inspiration on things to make and do, check out MPMK’s newest feature – The Make & Play Vault.

Hello there Whip Up readers, thank so much for having me today! I’m excited to be here sharing with you a new technique I recently discovered via (where else) pinterest. Once I discovered this method, I was immediately drawn to it.

It’s a very easy way to produce the type of modern prints you might find in my favorite stores (West Elm, Anthropolgie, Crate and Barrel, etc.). When done on paper and mounted in a frame, these prints make fabulous wall art for a variety of room styles.

Check out the example above here (also seen on the set of the Nate Berkus Show).

Options really start to open up when you apply this method to fabric. I’m considering a table runner, cloth napkins, or some tea towels in fall colors. And the pattern on a large throw pillow would add a great pop of color to a neutral chair or couch.

What I love most about this project is that it can be easily adapted to kids of all ages. To illustrate this, I’ll be sharing with you how I made a print for our play space as well as how I let my 2 year old experiment with the process. Ready to get started? All you need is some yarn, paint and brushes, and a few blocks.

I began by wrapping a small wooden block with yarn. Then I knotted the end and used some tape to secure it in place. If you don’t have a block, not to worry. All you really need is anything “wrappable” in a shape of your choosing. We made Easter prints earlier this year by cutting egg shapes out of cereal box cardboard and wrapping them with yarn.

Once your printing block is ready, take a brush and apply your paint. The yarn can be pretty absorbent at first so you’ll need to experiment with how much paint to apply on a practice sheet of paper. It’s also a good idea to brush on the paint in only one direction so the yarn fibers lay flat.

Once you have your technique perfected, start stamping. I made my pattern by stamping, turning my block 90 degrees and stamping, returning it to the original position and stamping, back to 90 degrees and so on and so forth. The process is a surprisingly cathartic way to spend nap time.

To add interest, I layered on some orange paint for a few of the squares. It’s a little difficult to see the effect here but it gives the print some nice depth in real life.

Here’s the finished product. I like the look of the pattern running off the borders so I made my print larger then the matte of my frame. A grouping with an odd number of prints made in the same way but in different colors would be a nice solution for a large empty wall.

This project is a great introduction to printmaking for school aged children because it’s simple enough for them to have success. You can also do a more free-form version with toddlers. One of my mantras over at Modern Parents Messy Kids is that beginning art is all about the process, not the product. With that in mind, I wrapped a circular block in yarn for my son and let him loose with a large sheet of craft paper.

At first he used so much paint that the yarn acted more as a relief. Eventually he refined his technique applying the paint and was able to make his own version of a block print.

That’s it, thanks again to Kathreen for having me! I hope you enjoyed this project and that you’ll try it soon. Please also stop by Modern Parents Messy Kids and say hi!

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For more kids craft, creative ideas and activities go to the Action Pack website

{ 28 comments… read them below or add one }

1 HollowSquirrel October 27, 2011 at 7:49 am

I love your red print! It’s beautiful! I’ll try it with my 3 year old!


2 amy October 27, 2011 at 8:23 am

I love printmaking, and so do my kids. So many ways to do this with children, and it’s very accessible. That pin you linked to is a photo from the book Print Workshop, which is not always identified on the pin. It’s a great book and I highly recommend it.


3 Nic @ Yardage Design October 27, 2011 at 11:09 am

This is the best thing I’ve seen in ages – LOVE IT and going to try it for sure! Thanks for sharing!


4 Lori October 27, 2011 at 11:29 am

Oh wow! what timing! Just yesterday I was thinking about printing with yarn patterns on blocks but hadn’t really worked out any of the specifics.

I *love* the red framed print and I also think I may need to give this a try with my nephews & niece this weekend. Thanks for the how-to & further ideas!


5 Jenna October 27, 2011 at 12:19 pm

Absolutely love this idea! So fun and clever!!!


6 Sonia October 27, 2011 at 5:36 pm

What a terrific idea! And having it framed looks so great! Thanks for sharing :)


7 Maya October 27, 2011 at 7:28 pm

Gosh! How come I didn’t think of this?!!


8 Maureen October 28, 2011 at 4:00 am

Came across your blog purely by chance and found this great post!

Thank you


9 Ayana October 28, 2011 at 8:12 am

Clever Idea! :) I love printmaking! Thanks for sharing :)


10 LilMissRedTShirt October 28, 2011 at 2:28 pm

Cool idea! Looks easy yet refined at the same time.


11 shawn October 28, 2011 at 6:01 pm

This is such a COOL idea!!! Can’t wait to try it in my art journal :) Thanks for sharing!


12 Mandy Behrens November 1, 2011 at 3:07 pm

WOW! I must try this with my daughters over the holiday breaks. Great tutorial! Cheers!


13 hilke November 2, 2011 at 7:14 am

Really nice!! I am impressed!


14 kendall November 8, 2011 at 7:14 pm

Awesome! Pretty sure I’ll find a way to work this into my preschool lesson plans!


15 Deceptively Educational November 14, 2011 at 10:45 am

I love the yarn-block stamps!!! Thanks SO much, Steph, for inspiring what become a beautiful art (and math) activity that my son and I did last week!! Stop by my site to check our Kente cloth-inspired pattern practice and the amazing art that resulted:


16 Alixton January 28, 2012 at 6:15 pm

merveilleux !!


17 Angela February 6, 2012 at 11:39 pm

I love this – this is going on my list of things to do the next time it’s a snow day!


18 Carol Anne March 27, 2012 at 1:30 pm

Hey there! Love this idea! It’s so cute.
I actually wanted to let you know that your post has been copied on another site and you’ve not been credited though. I’ve seen a lot of posts on this particular site that are stolen content. I’ve got way too much time on my hands today, but wanted to let you know that this post had been lifted. Here’s a link to the blog that’s stealing your content.
I used to blog and I wouldn’t have liked this at all!


19 kath_red March 27, 2012 at 4:49 pm

thanks Carol for the heads up


20 bonnie July 21, 2012 at 1:45 pm

Great idea. I have two sons that would love to do this.


21 Cynthia October 9, 2012 at 2:31 pm

Thank you for this great idea. It made for a more pleasant school holiday on a rainy day. Our results are here:


22 Susi February 4, 2013 at 7:03 am

Hello and thank for this nice idea!
Last year I found this and made it with my 3rd grade pupils.
Look here for the results:

Greetings from germany,


23 Laura February 16, 2013 at 4:14 pm

Muchas gracias por compartirlo, esta hermoso.


24 catherine June 21, 2013 at 9:32 am

Super!love the idea, so creative, will try this with my daughter. thanks


25 Christiane June 29, 2013 at 5:06 am

On y pense pas mais avec peu de chose on peut faire une oeuvre d’art, merci pour l’idée, c’est super beau


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28 Megan November 12, 2014 at 10:37 am

What type of paint do you recommend using for this?


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