Milk-Carton Printing

Small Fish

These fish were produced using milk cartons, etching ink… and my precious press.

The lines are part of the design – those are the folds of the carton. My good friend Tamae from the STPI introduced me to the technique.

Traditionally, etching and the various types of engraving are quite toxic techniques. However, having found a simple material for the plate, a non-dangerous method of creating the lines and textures (a simple needle is needed, following the drypoint method) and a less toxic etching ink (these inks are traditionally oil-based, but this one contains less turpentine and can be cleaned up with cooking oil and soap), I am now ready to let the kids explore for themselves.

If you want to design your own fish out of milk cartons, and discover other simple printmaking techniques, sign up for the first workshop of the coming June holiday:

Tuesday 27th May, 2-5 pm, at the Hay Market Studio. From 7 year old. Fees (inc. Materials: $50). Places are limited to 8 students, so sign up early. Oh, and start drinking milk and bring your own cartons!

If there is interest, we might also use this technique for the Parent-Child workshop of the first week-end of July:

Saturday 5th July, 2-5 pm, at the Hay Market Studio: Make a Book. From 4 year old (with an adult), or from 8 years old (alone), or adults alone too (Fees: $50 – 55). Limited to 8 people or 6 teams. Sign-up.

If you like the technique and would like me to run the workshop for you and a group of your friends, feel free to leave a comment below.

About Isabelle Desjeux

Scientist since 1991, Mother since 1996, Full Time Artist since 2000, Part-Time Art Inspirer since 2002.

Posted on May 13, 2008, in Art, Children, Creativity, Printmaking, Recycle, Teaching and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. I love it! makes me like going for a swim with your fishies!

  2. hi! i just run across your site. i’m from argentina and i’m planning some winter vacation workshops for kids and teenahers in my hometown. i’ve never heard of this technique, tough. do you think you can tell me more about it? it looks pretty interesting. my email is virginiazapico@gmail.com
    thanks in advance!!! and congratulations on your work 🙂

    • Hi Virginia,

      for this technique, you need a printing press. The principle is that you scratch the waxy surface of the milk carton, to reveal the absorbent layer underneath. When you apply your etching ink (with a squeegee-type, e.g. credit card), and then remove the excess (with a soft cloth), the ink will stay in the lines you’ve scratched. It will print easily onto rice paper, without the need for wetting the paper. Good luck!

  3. sounds very interesting. i already got a milk carton and will try it over the weekend. what kind of ink do you recommend? if you can, name a brand so i can find a similar one over here in my country. thanks again!

    • Any etching ink will do. These inks are “heavy” and oil-based. WIth the kids, I use Marie’s Brand (made in China), cheap and good. But my favorite brand is Charbonnel. In the US, you should find some Speedball ink. Good luck!

  1. Pingback: May « Isabelle Desjeux

  2. Pingback: Holiday Workshops « Isadora’s Workshop

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