I've designed this simple and fun project simply to get some ink (paint) on your fingers. Printmaking is not an art that is suitable for those who really love their manicure; my nails are short, my fingers are constantly covered with ink, and I wash my hands and tools all day long. And, I love every minute of it!
It's important in any printmaking project to gather all of your supplies ahead of time. You don't want to be hunting for things once your fingers are covered with ink. For this project, you will need some paper. I am using a roll of kraft paper, but the inside of a brown paper bag would work, or even some printer paper. You also need a couple heads of lettuce or celery, something to put your paint on (*see note below), a rag to wipe your hands, and a sponge (you can either cut a piece off of your kitchen sponge or use a sponge stencil brush). You also need some water-based paint. I am using my kids' tempera paint, but even some interior house paint would work. Just make sure it's water-based so that clean-up is easy.
Now for the fun part! Simply cut the ends off of your heads of lettuce or celery, trying to create as flat a surface as possible. Then, use your paint and foam brush to dab ink all over the surface of your printing 'blocks'. Make a couple of test prints by placing your blocks on the paper and pressing with the palm of your hand. Experiment a bit with how much pressure it takes to achieve a print that you like. The celery above was much sturdier and took more pressure to print than the lettuce. When, you are happy with your prints, start printing all over the surface of your paper in a random pattern, and...
...you will have created a lovely piece of wrapping paper. Have fun!
PS - If you are trying your hand at printmaking or already are a printmaker and would like to share your work, please join the new Printmaking 101 flickr group!
*you can use a paper plate or plastic tray to put your paint on, but the next time you are in your local, friendly hardware store, ask if they have any small remnant pieces of plexiglass (tell them you are a local artist). This is what I use for all of my printmaking projects and they usually give it to me for free, or charge a couple of dollars.