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“Day of the Dead Prints” inspired by Jose Posada

We had a blast at my Teach Kids Art: “Day of the Dead” workshop yesterday!  I added a new project this year, “Day of the Dead Prints” – inspired by Jose Posada.  Jose Posada (1852-1913) was a prolific Mexican folk artist and political satirist from Aguascallientes in central Mexico.  Posada began learning lithography (a form of printmaking using a metal plate) at age 16.  Although he created over 20,000 engravings, he was mostly unrecognized as an artist during his lifetime.  However, his art influenced the work of other Mexican artists like Jose Orozco and Diego Rivera, who later dedicated a mural to his memory.  Posada is best known for his calaveras (skull designs), especially his “La Catrina” engravings.  We used “Scratch Foam” in this lesson to achieve high contrast, black and white prints inspired by Jose Posada.
“La Catrina” by Jose Posada

  • 9×12 white construction paper, cut into quarters (one quarter per student), and also cut to 6×7½ for each print


  • 9×12 Scratch Foam, cut into quarters (one quarter per student)
  • masking tape
  • pencil and eraser
  • Black tempera paint
  • Dish soap – just a few drops, if needed
  • Paper plate for a palette
  • Foam brush



  1. Look at the work of Jose Posada for inspiration, then sketch a design onto your quarter sheet of white construction paper.  If you include any words in your design, you’ll need to write them in reverse!


  • Tape your paper to your Scratch Foam to hold it in place.
  • With a dull pencil, trace over your design onto the Scratch Foam, pressing hard enough to leave an impression, but not so hard that your pencil tears the paper. 
  • Remove the paper and go over your lines with a dull pencil, pressing hard, but being careful to not go all the way through the Scratch Foam.  Add additional details if you want…. the more details, the better!
  • Make a “handle” on the back of your Scratch Foam with masking tape.
  • Pour some black paint onto a paper plate.  
  • While holding the tape handle, paint your Scratch Foam with the black paint.  (If the paint “crawls” when you apply it to the foam, you can add a drop or two of dish soap to the paint to help it stick.
  • Center your Scratch Foam over the paper you want to print on.  Press down and rub well with your fingers.
  • Carefully lift the Scratch Foam off your paper and set your print aside to dry.  Rinse off your scratch foam when you are finished making prints.  (If you handle it carefully, your Scratch Foam design will last over many printings!)
  • If you want to add color after your print dries, you can use colored pencils, or decorate it with touches of colorful glitter glue.  Or, before printing your design, try coloring the paper randomly with markers (use bright colors – no black), then print over the top with black paint.  You can also print onto colored paper or use colored paint to print onto white paper.  Use this process to make framable prints, greeting cards, tags for gifts, gift wrap and more…. the possibilities are endless!



Here are a few pics from yesterday’s workshop… great job, everyone!

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  1. Laura, I added links for the Scratch Foam… you can find it at most any art store, and probably on amazon, too. It's just a very thin, flexible sheet of foam. You can also use the flat part of a styrofoam plate. It's great for kids because they don't have to use sharp tools to carve it!

  2. This is awesome!!!! We did something similar with the styrofoam you get on the bottom of packaged meat (gross, but we disinfected it) and then the little kids used just a pencil to etch their creations. If you ever are interested in guest-writing on another educational web site (kidworldcitizen (dot) org) please, please contact me! I love your ideas:). I am at kidworldcitizen (at) gmail (dot) com.

  3. I loved the project, thanks for sharing.
    Just one correction. The artist’s name is Guadalupe Posadas ;)