National Gallery at Home: Reflecting Faces

A collage of a girl's face
Photo by Edel CampbellCredit

Follow this step-by-step sensory activity to create your own printed portraits.

This activity will engage your child’s senses and is particularly suitable for those who seek out sensory input. You'll find all the materials and instructions listed below. 

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National Gallery of Ireland at Home

Reflecting Faces


Materials and instructions

You will need:

  • A piece of cardboard
  • PVA glue
  • Pieces of sponge or a sponge roller
  • A pencil
  • A sheet of paper
  • Gouache paint
  • A selection of textured materials e.g. 
    • Tin foil
    • Bubble wrap
    • String
    • Spaghetti
    • Sunflower seeds
    • A piece of corrugated/textured cardboard


  1. Cut out a square of cardboard and draw the outline of your portrait.
  2. Cover the entire piece of cardboard with a thick layer of PVA glue.
  3. Add features to the face using textured materials. Wool and string are great for adding details or outlines.
  4. Next add hair and clothes. You could use spaghetti for hair and sunflower seeds for the jumper.
  5. Cut some textured cardboard into shapes to create a mouth and ears.
  6. Use small balls of tinfoil for the nose. 
  7. And, finally, cut up the bubble wrap and fill the background, placing the flat side of the bubble wrap down onto the glue.
  8. Leave your collage to dry. This will take a few hours...
  9. When it's dry, you can make your print!
  10. Use sponge or a roller to spread paint all over the raised textures of the collage.
  11. Next, place a piece of paper on top of the collage and press it gently all over without letting the paper slip.
  12. Then, carefully peel the paper off to reveal your print!

Share your artwork!

Would you like to see your artwork featured on the Gallery's website? Take a photo of your artwork and send it to us by email ([email protected]) or using this online form to upload your picture. We'll feature a selection of pictures in the Creative Challenge Gallery, so check back to see if yours is included!

Upload a picture of your artwork using this form


Inspired by ...

Monotype print of bust-length portrait of a woman
George Wallace (1920–2009), Young Woman in a Striped Dress, 1993. © Estate of George Wallace and CARCC, 2019. Photo © National Gallery of IrelandCredit

This activity is inspired by our collection of prints by George Wallace, like this one. George Wallace (1920-2009) was an Irish-Canadian artist who made expressive portraits using different printmaking techniques. 



Created by Edel Campbell for the National Gallery of Ireland.


About our Gallery at Home videos:

Inspired by works in our collection and exhibitions, our creative activities encourage families to work together to create their own artworks. They are specially produced videos for babies, older children and for those who require sensory input. You can find all the workshops in this series here. Enjoy!

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