Wednesday, December 4, 2013

2 Types of Japanese-Inspired Printmaking

Kindergarteners learned how Japanese fishermen recorded their catch by making prints of their fish. They were enthralled with this video by TED-ed explaining the history and process called gyotaku (fish rubbing/impression) featured in a previous post. I also introduced them to the art of suminagashi (ink floating) in which the special inks float on water and paper is laid gently on the surface to make a swirling, colorful print.

Both printmaking processes are inspired by Japanese printmaking and are very different in look and feel. Gyotaku, similar to block printing, is deliberate and involves pressure and force while suminagashi provides unexpected results and is done with gentle care. We made suminagashi prints and printed our fish on top.

We used these inks and a very similar process as shown in this video from Blick for suminagashi prints.

Suminagashi--a fantastic collaborative project!
Instead of watercolor palettes
 I put a small amount of ink
in the matching color cup 

Printmaking is process-oriented so it takes time to demonstrate, and it takes some practice for the kids to repeat the steps in the correct order. Here are some of the think-aloud questions I ask my Kindergarteners when we print our fish:
  • How do you know when you're ready for the next step?
  • What does it sound like when you roll the brayer in the ink? (sticky)
  • What does it look like when you're done rolling ink on your fish? (shiny and black)

Printmaking can seem intimidating but the right organization helps your kids master the process. Here is what you will need to get started.

"Littles" Styrofoam Printmaking Materials (ages 4 - 8)
  • Drawing paper
  • Pencils and erasers
  • Scratch foam or **reused produce foam trays with the sides cut off**
  • Colored pencils (to trace over your drawing once it's on the foam)
  • Masking tape
  • Foam rollers
  • Plastic tray
  • Tempera paint
  • Paper to print on (we used construction paper and suminagashi paper made in a previous class)
  • Crayons to sign paper before printing
  • Drying rack (or an area kids can place their wet prints)
Creating Your Styrofoam Printing Plate
  1. Draw your design
  2. Tape your paper on your scratch foam on two sides
  3. Trace your lines with a colored pencil (the color helps you keep track of lines you went over)
  4. Untape one side and check: can you see and feel the lines? If yes, take the drawing off and admire your styrofoam printing plate. If no, flip the drawing back into place and trace again
  5. Cut your shape out of your styrofoam plate (we did fish) or leave design rectangular
Styrofoam Printmaking 

1. Squeeze a line of tempera paint on your plastic tray
2. Using foam roller, roll until you hear a sticky sound and the roller is evenly coated in paint
3. Roll over your printing plate until it looks shiny and black
(or the color of tempera paint you use)

    4. Place your styrofoam plate on
    your paper and 
    give it a "back rub"
5. Carefully flip your printing plate and paper over
(the paint will help it stick) and 
give it a "belly rub"

6. Lift your paper away from your fish
to reveal your print!

7. Put your print somewhere to dry,
sign another paper, and make another print!


"I made my first print!"

The fish take a swim in the sink to get washed
We finished our unit on Japanese printmaking by selecting
our best two prints and adding details with oil pastels