Free Family Day: Printing Christmas Cards

December 17, 2012

Free Family Day: Printing Christmas Cards

Unlike most years, we had a pretty quiet Family Day on the 8th of December... it could be because it coincided with probably one of the busiest Christmas shopping days of the year! But those that joined us in our first floor gallery printed some very beautiful cards with the help of our artists Jenny, Deirdre, Gen and Andrew.

If you want to make some printed Christmas cards like these at home, you can make a version of what we did with the help of a bit of recycling! Just keep the polystyrene trays that fruit and vegetables sometimes come in and any wrapping, posters or sheet of paper that have a plastic feel to them that might come in your letter box.

Start by using a pen to draw into the Polystyrene, marking out whatever picture you would like to print. Then roll out some paint- we used printing ink and perspex, but acylic paint would do the job and you could spread it onto the plastic coated advertisment that came through your door. This is so the paint is nice and thin...

Best to get you hands on a roller, which you can get from most art supply shops- but a paintbrush will work too.

Next, roll the paint out on to the polystyrene picture (as shown above), thinly and evenly and then press it down onto some paper.


Give it a good rub, pull it off and hey presto, you have a print!

Another idea is to cut up the polystyrene (or thick cardboard would do), then arrange and glue your cut out shapes onto a square of carboard, in a design you like. Roll over your design with an inked up roller. The paint will attach only to the design, as it is raised away from the cardboard base. You have created a stamp. Place your inked stamp down onto a sheet of paper and once again, give it a good rub. When you take it off, only your design should remain.



You can print these stamps over and over again in as many coloures as you would like. Once the print has dried you can glue it on to some card and discover that you will never have to buy a Christmas card again!


We also improvised & made some Christmas decorations for our tree with the left over print templates…

Any Questions, feel free to give drop me a mail ( or drop into our next FREE family Day on Sat 26th of January 2013- We will be making piggy banks.

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By Draíocht. Tags: Youth Arts, Andrew Carson, Deirdre O'Reilly, Genevieve Harden,

Experimenting with our changing landscapes

May 18, 2012

We are currently hosting two very beautiful, but very different landscape exhibitions. In our first floor gallery we have Dave West’s Nocturama

....and in our ground floor gallery Cathy Henderson’s Shore.  


These exhibitions presented a great opportunity for a workshop looking at the basics of painting background, middle and foreground, while exploring how man-made structures of modern life affect the world around us. So, this week we had 1st and 2nd classes in for tours and workshops with artist and facilitator Deirdre O’Reilly, as part of our Focus On... workshop series.  The workshops began with a facilitated tour of the gallery spaces.  With the students, we talked about how the exhibitions make the viewer feel: what sounds would you hear? Feel?: for Cathy’s works, it was calm, we’d hear the birds, smell the sea, feel the sand, upstairs, we’d wear raincoats, one student could see herself heading into the petrol station with her father, we’d hear the train at the railway, there would be car horns and engines…one student even thought they could probably hear an owl!


Fully inspired, we headed down to the workshop room to experiment with clear acetate, acrylics and permanent marker. After donning a selection of old aprons, father’s shirts and mothers t-shirts, Deirdre demonstrated what it was we were going to do.  A simple landscape was sketched out with a pencil (no erasers or extra pages supplied- there is no such thing as a mistake in our workshops!)

Using sponges, we then filled in the background and foreground, by mixing colours. Blues, greys and reds for the skies, greens and blues for the sea, greens and browns for the land and any other colours that you could mix as nature is not made with an unmixed palette.

We used a sponge to encourage the use of small amounts of paint, as we needed the paint to dry as fast as possible- acrylic works better than poster paint for this purpose. The sponges also create lovely lines and shapes for the landscapes.


Once the paintings were completed and relatively dry (with the help of a hair dryer in some cases) acetate was placed over the landscape. Using a permanent marker, each student traced over the main lines in their drawing.  Then they imagined that people began to move in and with them builders and so towns, cities, bridges, electricity, boats, trains all moved into and onto the landscape. 

What effect does this have on the land we had created, does it feel different?

What does it make us think about, how does our picture change? What story are we telling with our picture?




After creating some beautiful work the classes left their work with us whilst it dried and headed off back to their classes. Double sided tape can be used to attach the acetate to the very top edge of the finished landscapes so they can be flipped up and down. The classes did great work.


If you would like to keep informed abut our upcoming workshops please sign up for our ezine by adding your details in on our homepage. You can see past workshops from the Focus On.... series here.

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By Draíocht. Tags: Youth Arts, Deirdre O'Reilly,