Saturday, December 7, 2013

Community Maps, 5th grade printmaking

 Breakdown using 45 minute sessions : session 1: intro to printmaking and map research, session 2: transferring maps to printing plates and paper prep, session 3: first printing and plate reduction, session 4: second printing, session 5: trimming, labeling, and final presentation/class critique

5th graders are in the final stages of our reductive printmaking project. In years past, we have done self-portraits and winter imagery as our subject matter, and this year one of our goals is to make more connections with our art and use personal voice, so we decided to use our community as our source of inspiration. We used Google Maps to find places in our community that were meaningful to us - our homes, local parks, favorite restaurants, places of worship, etc. and we transferred the lines and shapes from the maps on to our styrofoam printing plates. If the size of the printed Google map wasn't big enough to fill the printing plate, we added a descriptive word or phrase, backwards of course!   Here, students are tracing their maps with Sharpie, so the lines can be seen on the back of the paper for the backwards transfer.


Now we are ready for our first layer of printings - students selected 4 sheets of construction paper and pre-labeled them. Setting up the printing station is a big deal - we try to focus on "messy middles" and "clean corners", which keeps inky stuff in the center to share and our clean printing papers on the table corners.


The next step is to clean the printing plate and reduce the printing area. We used our dull pencils to fill in shapes and add more details that would enhance the second round of prints. We do this at the end of the first printing session. That way we are ready for printing round 2 at the start of the next session. 
The only difference in this round of printing is learning to register, or line-up, the printing plate on the original print, as seen here: 


Here are some final prints before trimming, labeling, and presentation mounting - I think they are so great!


A printing ghost appeared at one station :

Printmaking is one of my favorite mediums and everybody had fun with the process. I look forward to seeing the fial presentations all trimmed up and titled next week!


  1. Hello Mrs Knight :) I'm an art educator also. I, too, love printmaking. It was one of my fav classes in college. I'm wondering, what is the metal plate that your students use to make the prints and where can I get one. I've used different kinds. The ones that you have here are a perfect size and seem to be safe for young children. Thanks much, Liz Calais

    1. Hi Liz, it is called a bench hook/inking plate which can be used for both carving a wood or linoleum block and also for inking. The hooks on the end attach to the edge of the table for safe cutting. I don't do carving with my elementary kids, though. Here's a link to a model at Dick Blick :

  2. Thank you Hope for the lead. I like this safety tool for carving. Dick Blick has been a good resource for me. Have a wonderful and blessed 2014. Liz

  3. These are amazing! I am definitely doing this with my 5th graders. We are studying Andy Warhol's silkscreens and this process will be awesome! Thank you for sharing!!!

  4. Oh Wow! Just received your project pics in my Social Media tab on MAC. A great reminder for a good and personal printmaking lesson in 2013 haha. I see I commented back then and here I am commenting again. Thanks Heather for adding this lesson 4 years later to your fb, which I somehow received. Humm, good reminder for me once again. BTW, I did locate the bench/hook printing plate. A great tool for printmaking. Have a great day to all................ and Blessings to all........................


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