Thursday, December 4, 2008

Simply Printmaking

I love printmaking. There's nothing like the joy of creating an image on a plate and the wonder of peeling paper from plate and savoring the results. It takes me back to my years as a printmaking student at Howard University. I love the fact that you can create prints without a press and with everyday tools. It makes it very accessible.

I taught a very simple technique to 15 middle grade students in Silver Spring using a styrofoam plate recently as part of Pyramid Atlantic Art Center's More Than Words program. The only tool needed was a sharp pencil. We experimented with different colored inks. I brought in some handmade Japanese papers too. Printing on these delicate translucent sheets embedded with a variety of fibers was a special treat. Afterwards we talked about the prints made and the students shared what they learned about papers, inks and printing.

Much of the imagery the students created stemmed from a tale told by storyteller Ellouise Schoettler called Old Joe The Carpenter, a powerful story about bridging differences.