National Gallery of Ireland 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.

While our onsite activities are reduced, our Education team are bringing some of their family and sensory workshops to you online so that you can get creative at home!

This activity, inspired by our exhibition George Wallace: Reflections on Life, will engage your child’s senses and is particularly suitable for those who seek out sensory input. George Wallace (1920-2009) was an Irish-Canadian artist who made expressive portraits using different printmaking techniques. Let’s make our own printed portraits using lots of interesting textures!

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National Gallery of Ireland at Home

Reflecting Faces


The activity


  • 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!


Created by Edel Campbell for the National Gallery of Ireland.

This activity, which would normally have taken place in the Maples Group Creative Space, is now brought to you online.

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