I'm currently thrilled to be the instructor for The Art of Education's Studio: Printmaking class this month. The Studio courses are AOE's newest courses. These classes allow art teachers to take hands-on graduate level courses from the comfort of their own home! I'm having a blast working with an awesome group of teachers who are exploring a variety of printmaking processes that they can then work into their art curriculum or be inspiration for some personal artwork.
This week the teachers are working on the Collagraph process. Collagraphs are collaged materials glued to a surface that is then printed. This is a fun and inexpensive technique that can be geared toward all grade levels.
I thought that I'd share a couple of lessons that I did with my elementary students using the collagraph process.
The first project was one of my favorite 2nd Grade lessons. I did it year after year for many years, so you know it was a good one (I get bored easy).
For this collagraph project, we just use chipboard or cereal boxes for creating our printing plate and we printed with just black tempera paint.
Students were instructed to pick a creature. This could be an animal, insect, or imaginary creature. They drew out the creature as we talked about both geometric and organic shapes. Students then broke down the different parts of the creature and drew those on the chipboard. These were cut out and glued to another piece of cardboard. I had the students apply a layer of Elmer's glue on top of the shapes that were glued down. This helps keep the parts stuck down and allow for more prints to be pulled.
While our plates dried we worked on some simple rhyming poems that would go along with their creatures. Eventually, myself or a parent volunteer typed the students' poems out so that we could put a copy of the prints and poems together into small books that the students would get to take home. Each student ended up having the whole class' work. (This was back before the big technology boom, so if I was to repeat this project today, I would put the work on a website or blog to share with students instead of the hundreds of pieces of paper I went through back then.)
Here are some finished student works -
A couple years later, I had students revisit the Collagraph process.
These older students - usually 4th grade - explored different materials to create different textures on their printing plate. We used cardboard, yarn, paper, and other thin odds and ends around the art room. Students printed with white printing ink on black paper. After this print they applied acrylic paints quickly with paint brushes to different parts and printed on white paper. The final print was done by rolling the white ink over their plate that still had some of the acrylic paint left on it. They printed this on a more neutral colored paper. If the plate was still workable and time was left, they could explore more prints of their choice.
Here is an example of the three prints described above -
One of my favorite parts of this project was that the printing plates often ended up looking like wonderful works of art themselves!
Theresa Gillespie spent over 20 years teaching Art in the Moline School District in Illinois. She has a BA degree in Art Education and a MEd degree in Education & Technology. She also is a graduate level instructor for The Art of Education