Printmaking w/ 6th grade

When a new 6th grade class comes in they always ask me..."Are we gonna make stamps?!" The "Stamping Project" is a lesson on printmaking, and the students love it!

Materials: 4"x6" copy paper, pencil, ebony pencil, Blick Blue easy to cut kit, printing ink, brayers, wooden spoons, 4"x6" various colors of construction paper, 4"x6" newspaper or newsprint, 11"x15" construction paper for matting, water bucket and sponges for clean up

We discuss the work of Andy Warhol and the printmaking process. Positive/Negative Shape is the element of art that I emphasize in this lesson.
Printmaking Vocabulary

Printmaking: A process in which an artist repeatedly transfers an original image from one prepared surface to another.

Relief printing: a form of printmaking in which only the raised areas of the block are printed.

Plate: the surface on which the image is prepared. It can be wood, stone, linoleum or a variety of other materials including cardboard.

Safety Kut: a type of linoleum, which can be used on both sides.

Gouge: the tool used for carving away the negative shape in your design. It comes with a variety of different blades.

Brayer: the rolling device used to spread ink onto the plate and then onto the block.

Baren: a circular tool used to transfer ink onto paper by friction.

Edition: the total number of identical prints (copies) made from one image.
The Process

  • Once your design has been approved, trace the design heavily in ebony pencil 
  • Transfer to the plate by turning it face down retracing your image with pencil on the back, this will apply the pressure needed to make the transfer. 
  • When the first student is done transferring, I will give a carving safety demo!!! I also tell my students that the gouge is a weapon if taken out of the room. 
  • *Tip* number your gouges and assign each student a number. Have them check it in and out every time they use it!
*Please note that this student is carving toward his hand! A big No No which he was advised of after I reviewed the pic and noticed it....

  • The negative (white) shapes will be cut away using gouges leaving the raised positive shapes. Remember to cut away from you and your hand
  • Cut deep enough so that your negative spaces are lower than your positive. (Blick's easy cut blocks have a blue or red inside that show you have carved deep enough)
  • Teacher check of plate

  • *Tip* I have one table that is the "Inking Table". All the mess will stay in one place! I have 8 ink colors and set them up around the table each with its own brayer. Students are instructed to use the ink in that exact spot! Spoons for barens are also placed in the middle of the table. ALL STUDENTS MUST WEAR APRONS AT THE INKING TABLE!!  

  • Squirt a nickel sized amount of ink on the table! Ink will be spread by rolling the brayer through the ink up and down, left and right till you hear a "tacky sticky" sound. Roll ink onto the plate left and right and top to bottom. 

  • *Tip* I have students make a newspaper proof to check that they have carved away all negative shapes
  • A 4"x6" sheet of construction paper is laid on top of the inked plate and a baren (back of spoon) is rubbed in a circular motion on top of this to transfer the ink to the paper. 
  • Pull the print off by pinching at the corner and pulling across. This is called “pulling” the print.

My criteria for this project:
1 newspaper proof
4 - 4"x6" prints matted on 11"x15" paper
(Students are advised that more than 4 prints will have to be made and kept before you will end up with your 4 best prints!)
We hang them on my clay rack to dry!
I go down the roll and assign 8 students to clean one color ink with water and a sponge
2 students take 4 brayers each to the sinks to clean
other students cleanup the rest of the room if needed


Mrs. Skojec said...

What a great lesson! It was so clear and firm, sensible guidelines were in place. I'll bet you are a wonderful teacher! Thanks for helping me with a lesson that I'm a little nervous to do with the middle school students.


Anonymous said...

A bench hook is necessary for safety.

Michelle Cain said...

Very great tips! Thank you very much!

Anonymous said...

Have students wear an old padded ski/snow glove on the hand that holds the plate - great to block those accidental jabs towards the hand!

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