Eco Glitter Lino Printing with Kids

An Earth Day Art Activity

For this year’s Earth Day, we used our new environmentally-friendly eco glitter, sent to us by the lovely people at Eco Glitter Fun, to make these super-sparkly lino printed fishes.

Read on to see how we did it and to find out more about our Earth-friendly sparkles!

eco glitter and child-made lino print picture
Earth-friendly art for Earth Day!

Earth Day 2018 – End Plastic Pollution

The theme for Earth Day 2018 is ‘End Plastic Pollution’, something the kids and I have been talking about a lot lately.

Inspired by everything we have been learning, one of the things we really wanted to do was to make our arts and crafts more eco friendly. Among other things, that means finding replacements for some of our favourite arts and crafts resources.

Top of that list is glitter.

planet earth made from eco glitter
eco glitter – no plastic in these sparkles!

Glitter Bad, Glitter Good

Yep, glitter. Conventional glitter is made up of hundreds and thousands of teeny-tiny bits of plastic. As it’s so small, it is classified as a micro plastic and can cause terrible harm to the environment.

Luckily, there is an alternative to plastic glitter. Made of plant cellulose, Eco Glitter Fun’s eco glitter is biodegradable, non-toxic, and generally earth-and-ocean friendly.

And with all that, eco glitter is still just as sparkly as the plastic stuff. Yay!

eco glitter from UK company Eco Glitter Fun.
Biodegradable, non-toxic, and sparkly!

Sparkly Fish

As we had been talking about how micro plastics pollute the ocean, we decided to use our eco glitter to make some sparkly fishes.

Lino printing is a favourite activity in our house, so we decided to print the fish rather than draw or paint them. And this seemed like a good time to introduce the kids to the technique of printing a colour graduation or blend. This is basically where you print using two colours together so they blend in the middle to make a third.

We decided to print our fish a blend of blue to green (with a touch of yellow). Suitably oceanic colours that went well with the colours of our eco glitter!

lino printing a colour blend with eco glitter
Lino printing with two or more colour, rolled out together to create a graduation of colour.

Linoprinting with Kids

We used some linocut fish blocks that I had already carved for this project. I have done carving with the kids, but this time it was all about the printing and finishing. So we could get right to it, it was easier and quicker to have a ready-carved block for them to use.

lino printing with kids - lino cut fish, inks and roller
I did this lino printing activity with a group at T-Bird’s nursery, but was so busy helping the kids with their printing that this is about the only photo I got… oops!

Setting up the printing space

When we were ready to start, we set up our lino printing area in the way that I’ve taught them. This meant setting all our supplies up in a row.

We start with the ink plate and roller. Then we leave a space for inking up the block (with newspaper underneath). And finally at the end we have our ‘clean’ space where we print our image onto paper. Of course you also need somewhere to put (or hang to dry) your prints once finished.

child rolling out ink blend for lino printing
Rolling out the ink is such a satisfying process.

Inking up the lino printing block

The kids squeezed three dots of ink in a row onto our ink plate. They put blue, green and then just a tiny bit of yellow, chosen to match our eco glitter.

With a printing roller, or brayer, the children then took turns rolling out the ink. For this technique, they need to use strokes made all in the same direction. Finally they could apply the ink to the lino block.

Once the lino block is inked, we carefully move it to our printing area and place a piece of paper on top.

child pressing sheet of paper onto linocut printing block
Laying the paper onto the block and carefully pressing down.

Taking a print

After pressing the paper down with their fingers, the kids use a baren to rub over the block, transferring the image to the paper. The baren is Japanese tool for printing – essentially just a round disc, wrapped in bamboo. But a wooden spoon works just as well.

Lastly, it’s time to peel back the paper and see what they’ve made!

child using a baren to make a lino print.
The moment of truth!

Adding eco glitter to a lino print

Usually that would be it, but we wanted to try out our new eco glitter and make our fish sparkle!

So the kids added a little sprinkle of the eco glitter over the wet ink in colours of blue, green, silver and rose gold. The colours complimented the ink really well, and caught the light beautifully.

Lots of oohing and aahing from the kids!

child adding eco glitter to lino print image
A little sprinkle of eco glitter on our Earth Day lino print fish!

Making our glittery fish was a great opportunity to practice different art techniques with the kids. At the same time, we could also talk about the issues of plastic pollution, and the effects on life in the ocean, as well as the environment in general.

Child shaking loose eco glitter off a lino print picture
This special glitter is precious, so we save the loose bits to use another day.

Eco Art

We were able to talk about all this in the positive context of making art using non-toxic, water-based printing inks that don’t require any nasty chemicals to clean up with. And, of course, using our lovely non-plastic eco glitter.

By the end of our session, even four-year-old T-Bird had an understanding of the basic issue, and has become an enthusiastic convert to the plastic-free cause!

Lino printed fish with eco glitter decoration.
The eco glitter on our lino print fish glitters beautifully in the sun.

Eco Glitter

We found the eco glitter felt much softer than the ordinary, plastic, craft glitter we’re used to. And as it’s cosmetic grade, it can be used on the skin in face-paints or make-up, as well as things like soap and bath bombs, where that softness would definitely be an advantage.

For us, what mattered was that it still has a lovely shimmer and sparkle, just like our old glitter. I don’t think you’d really see much difference.

close up of eco glitter in shades of blue, green and silver ocean colours
Beautiful, sparkly, eco glitter from Eco Glitter Fun

Glitter in five different sizes

The four glitters each had particles of different sizes. The silver and rose were very chunky, while the blue was a standard size and the green a very, very fine glitter dust!

Eco Glitter Fun actually stock five different sizes of glitters, and the combined effect was really striking. That variety adds a lot of interest and texture when you use a few together.

bottles of eco glitter from Eco Glitter Fun
This eco glitter comes in little glass bottles, packaged carefully in paper and card.

Eco Glitter Fun

We were very kindly sent our eco glitter by Eco Glitter Fun for the purpose of this article, but if you want to buy it, their eco glitter prices start at £4 for a 3.5g bottle, with free shipping in the UK.

It’s obviously pricier than the plastic variety, but I was really impressed with how far the eco glitter stuff goes. We seemed to barely make a dent in our supply even with some fairly liberal fish glittering!

eco glitter linoprint fish
These sparkly ocean shades are just right for a fish picture.

Guilt-Free Sparkles

Glitter is wonderful to look at, and little kids do tend to love it, so I can understand why people might be reluctant to switch to a pricier alternative that might mean using less. Personally, it came down to making a conscious choice to change how we use glitter in our arts and crafts activities. Now, instead of being something fun that we sprinkle liberally over everything or anything, glitter has become more precious and special – and thinking about it this way makes anything we do use it for that bit more precious and special too.

Having made this change, I’ve found that rather than complaining or asking for more, the kids have embraced the idea and are putting noticeably more thought into when, where, and how we use our eco glitter supply. I think the art they make is all the better for it, and I know the planet certainly is!


Shopping for Supplies

Eco Glitter Fun - biodegradable glitter.
Biodegradable glitter, guilt-free sparkles.

Eco Glitter Fun

You can order Eco Glitter Fun’s biodegradable glitter from their website – www.ecoglitterfun.com. They have a whole rainbow of colours in different grades (or sizes) of glitter, all packaged with as little plastic as possible. There’s lots of information about the eco credentials of their product on the website too, so check it out for lots of helpful (and reassuring!) information.


Lino Printing Equipment

Want to try linoprinting? You’ll need a few basic supplies! For detailed advice on what to buy, with a list and handy Amazon links, check out my other article: Linocut Project – Harry Potter’s Firebolt. But if you’re just looking for a quick start, then my top recommendation for a kit that contains everything you need to get going at the best possible price is the (affiliate link) Essdee Lino Cutting and Printing Set.

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6 Comments

  1. what a great idea, I am going to see about getting some. I had not even considered the effect glitter would have on the environment. this has brought me great awareness and I love the craft ideas!

    • It was a bit of a lightbulb moment for me too! I guess because glitter is so small and pretty, it seems totally harmless! Glad you liked the printing – very easy to do 😉

  2. We absolutely LOVE this article! Thank you for sharing you glittery fish with us !
    ✨💙🐟

  3. I’d love to try lino printing (and this lovely post is so inspirational too!), but I am wary of starting on an art journey when the environmental implications are unclear…
    What do you do with the scraps from your lino block? Can they be recycled or composted?

    • Thanks Karen – I’m glad you enjoyed the post (we certainly enjoyed making it!).

      And I’ve good news for you – traditional lino used for printing and flooring is actually made from all-natural materials and is completely biodegradable, so you can indeed compost scraps too small to use for anything (save bigger bits for small carvings). It can even be recycled back into new lino!

      Lino is mostly made from linseed oil, wood and cork powder, along with natural pigment, resins and ground limestone. These are mixed into a kind of cement that is applied to hessian (otherwise known as burlap or jute, and which is itself made from vegetable fibres).

      Lots of studies have been done on Lino and it is universally considered to be a very green material, whether used for flooring or for art.

      However, I’m pretty sure that the soft-cut stuff is synthetic – probably vinyl – so I would stick to ‘proper’/traditional lino to be sure of being environmentally friendly.

      Also make sure that you use water-based inks. Ink (and paint) can be some of the worst offenders when it comes to nasty chemicals. I personally use Caligo Safe Wash Relief ink, which is also made from linseed oil.

      Hope that sets your mind at ease – lino printing is a wonderful art-form and I really would encourage you to give it a go!

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