Printmaking has always been one of my favorite art processes. It’s not easy to accomplish in a classroom, though. You need the tools necessary to perform the process. Over the course of 5 years and with a little funding assistance (Thank you Robert Rauschenberg Foundation), I have built up a stash of printmaking supplies. I have also experimented with medium at various grade levels.
One material that was not so successful: Cardboard. 4th grade students tried to make cut-away designs using the open ends of scissors, then peel away the top layer of corrugated cardboard so you could see the inner layer in certain areas. I didn’t want to provide them with x-acto knives or something similar, but the scissors turned out to be just as dangerous! NEVER AGAIN!
Since then, I’ve had 6th grade students participate in a collograph workshop whereby they create 3 masters out of: paper, tape, and glue. They use the same symbol (heart, star, letter, etc.) to discover how the raised surface created by the three mediums can result in different looking prints. This is a successful lesson that I use year after year.
8th grade students really get into much more detailed work. I start them off with a foam master featuring their name. Then we break out the flexicut or EZ-carve material. I prefer students work with this material over the standard linoleum due to the frequency of accidents. We have 30 classroom linocutters, 6 plexiglass inkbeds, 6 soft rubber brayers, and 6 barens (one for each table).
<I am embarrassed to say I do not have any photos to insert here. I thought I did. I’ll have to take new ones. Stay tuned.>
This year, I am excited to announce a collaboration with California University of Pennsylvania’s Printmaking Outreach Program (or P.O.P.)! Dr. R. Scott Lloyd, the printmaking professor at CALU and I worked together to bring intaglio printmaking into my classroom. Without a print making press, absorbent papers, and etching scribes, intaglio is impossible to perform in a classroom. The P.O.P. program provided these things and more! All I needed was to cut and bevel the acrylic sheets for individual student use. Thanks to the assistance of the woodshop teacher, we got them finished just in time!
I wasn’t sure how the students would respond to the project, but they had a blast! Of course they all wanted to run the press and they took turns, patiently. It was a great experience for my students and I would do it again! I’d like to thank Dr. Lloyd for selecting my school to participate. I can’t wait to see the show!