Here's what you need:
Styrofoam, of some flattish sort, like a meat/veggie tray. Not peanuts.
x-acto or mat knife
a pen or pencil
brayer (aka a roller)
ink (or some paint)
|the tools of the trade|
Cut the bottoms of the trays out. In a perfect (lazier) world, this would not be necessary. But the bottoms of the trays are stamped on the underside with branding and recycling logos, etc. I found it easier to cut when the tray was upside down. Use a sharp blade. I didn't do this. Don't follow my bad examples.
|the bottom of the trays. note the stamping.|
Now you are ready for your artwork. I drew out my idea and then just reworked it on the styrofoam, drawing lightly at first, so as not to make any indentations in the foam. My original plan was to have the text as positive space. This didn't really work. There was too much negative space to try to compress. Styrofoam lends itself to line drawing very well, but not much else (unless you are doing big blocks of color, or cutting the styrofoam up to add to a collagraph. It works great for that. And I just gave myself an idea for a collagraph. Look for a blog post about that next week.)
|inked, so you can see it|
(also known as, what did I learn here? I try to remind myself that learning what doesn't work is just as important as learning what does work.)
Use a fresh blade. I was too lazy to get a new one.
I did cut against a straight edge, but it's not straight on one side, where I cut against the second plate to make them the same. Don't do this again. Also, get a t-sqaure out, because a straight edge isn't enough. It's not terrible that it's not square. Decide how important it is to you for your own design. It may be better in some cases to not be square. you might decide you don't even need to cut the styrofoam, that you can just tear off pieces of the edge until you get to a flat place. It could be cool. It will be hard to register multiple colors, but maybe that doesn't matter. You decide.
I need a little more space between letters, especially the av in have.
I did try using linoleum cutters last week and they tore the styrofoam. It would be worth trying to cut a small v with an x-acto instead of using a pen to carve. If any of you try this, let me know if it works better.