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PenScore Foam

Reported by Sara McKenzie

Penscore Foam is a man-made material that softens significantly when exposed to heat from a standard heat gun. When it is soft, impressions can be made in the foam using 3-D objects- and the impressions will remain until the Penscore is heated again. It is a great toy to play with when you have some time to experiment.

I bought my package some time ago- and the packaging has changed a bit, but the material remains the same. When I Googled “Penscore foam” I came up with tons of online sources, too numerous to mention here. The sheet stock (which is approximately 8″ X 10″) sells for upwards of $6.99 for a package of three sheets. You can also purchase it in 4″ X 3″ blocks for about $1.00 each.

Keeping in mind that this is not the toy to pull out when you are in a time crunch to create a stamp or a gift, it is a wonderfully fun thing to play with!! When you are in an artsy mood and ready to experiment, pull out some Penscore. Look at the everyday objects around you with a different eye: what is the texture of that thing? What will it look like if I make an impression of it? I recommend using a piece that is about the size of the blocks that they sell. The reason is that it takes a bit of time to heat it up, and if you are using too large a piece, it starts to cool off before you have a chance to heat the entire surface up uniformly. So stick with something no bigger than 5″ X 4″ (a suitable size for a background of a greeting card). Below is a picture of the surface of the foam- this is an 8″ X 10″ sheet that I already cut in half.
Collect some ordinary, everyday things from around the house to make impressions from. They can’t be delicate, because you have to exert some pressure in order to make the impression in the foam deep enough. Below is a picture of some of the things I tried: a handful of raffia, a plastic fern, a large paper doily, some fabric netting, an old key, and a dry kitchen sponge. You can also make impressions of existing stamps- keeping in mind that you will end up with a reverse of the image; ie words won’t work!


Here are my individual experiments, and the results. For all of them , I used Tsukineko’s Kalieidacolor rainbow ink pads to give a little more interest to the image. The first is an impression of the key and the fabric netting.


Below is the dry kitchen sponge.

Here is a handful of raffia and the image it produces.

Finally, this is a combination of the plastic fern and the doily.

I had a really good time using this last piece as inspiration for a collage, which is shown below. You can get the details of how this came together on my blog, clicking here.

I hope you can see that I really enjoyed myself while I was playing with the Penscore Foam!

Overall, here is my assessment:

Pros:

  • It calls upon your creativity! You can go anywhere you want with this.
  • It is an inexpensive toy to play with.
  • If you end up with something you really want to keep, you can! The image stays intact until you heat it again.
  • If you get something you really hate, you can heat it up to “erase” the image, and start again.
  • It does not take a long time to get to a usable impression: a few minutes to heat it, then about 20-30 seconds to make an impression, and you can use it right away.
  • You can use dye inks, pigment inks, and even paint. I have not tried solvent inks- they might well eat-away at the foam. Try it on a small piece before you commit.

Cons

  • You have to press REALLY hard. I mean, REALLY hard, to get your impression. Thus, you cannot use anything delicate as the image.
  • The sheets are thin- only about 1/2″. It makes them a little difficult to use as a stamp. I ended up attaching mine temporarily to an acrylic block in order to get an even impression.
  • I’ve not seen it recently in brick-and-mortar stores. You might have to order it online.

For me, the Pros definitely outweight the Cons, and I’ll be reaching for this toy again soon! What do you think? Have you ever used it? Are you inspired to try? Let us know by leaving a comment below, and Keep creating!

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6 Responses to PenScore Foam

  1. Denise ~ Paper Ponderings August 29, 2008 at 7:17 am #

    Amazing! Thanks for sharing!

  2. Shirley August 29, 2008 at 8:47 am #

    Your blog is one of my favorites. Thanks for all of the helpful inormation and you have an award on my blog. Wait a little while as I am just posting. LOL

  3. Michelle Adams August 29, 2008 at 6:37 pm #

    This looks like fun! I’ve never heard of this before – thanks for your very informative review! ;0)

  4. Heather August 31, 2008 at 5:30 pm #

    wow this looks very cool! i would be interested to try it sometime! great review 🙂 come check out my new blog if u have a minute

    http://staybeautiful-tigergirl.blogspot.com/

  5. asrul September 1, 2008 at 9:22 pm #

    that’s cool and thanks for the information

  6. craftygurl September 5, 2008 at 12:16 am #

    sounds great… it seems it has changed names to Magic Stamp Foam. (aka Pen Score Foam). That’s what I got from googling [ooh, and found a new molding agent, sweet. Thanks!]… Also, thanks for the information… 🙂