Colonial Arts Unit

During the third rotation of middle schoolers in this unit, printmaking was introduced as another Colonial craft. Students learned about the history of printmaking and had the opportunity to look at old print type--the kind that was originally set by hand in large plates to create advertisements and newspapers.


They were amazed at how SMALL some of the type was, and couldn't believe that the printing process hadn't changed much until about 25 or 30 years ago when computers made most hand-setting of type unnecessary.

We had the exceedingly good fortune of having Caldecott Medal winner, Mary Azarian, visit our school just as this project was being introduced. Ms. Azarian is a printmaker, and she demonstrated her printmaking methods and techniques.

Students were instructed to make a small design that featured their initials or their monogram. They worked out their design on "practice paper," and then drew it onto a piece of white paper that was the same size as their "easy carve" block. (For this project I used Speedball's Speedy-Stamp material which I bought at a local craft store.)

To transfer their image to the soft rubber carving block, they traced their design onto the back of their paper by holding the paper up to a window. Then they placed the paper "right side down" on the block, and then drew over their tracing on the "wrong" side. There was enough graphite on the "right" side to transfer the image (reversed, of course) to the block.

They used lino cutters to remove any areas that they didn't want to print, then used water soluble printing ink rolled on with a brayer to make their small prints.



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