Sunday, October 9, 2011

Elementary School Art - Styrofoam plate jigsaw relief printmaking project

Collective jigsaw relief print panel
Theme: Plants and Animals
Grades 3/4
North Star Community School
Atikokan, ON

 Collective jigsaw relief print panel
Theme: Nature in Canada
Grades 4/5
Pictured above are the results of a project that I undertook recently in the capacity as an arts educator. This project is funded by the Ontario Arts Council and is under the wing of the Artist in Education program that pairs professional working artists with teachers and their students in the classroom.
I just returned last week from an 11 day placement in a junior elementary school located in a community about 2.5 hours west of where I live.
Two classes were involved in the 50 hour arts education project which focused specifically on relief printmaking. Fifty students from grades 3, 4 and 5 were challenged to create a design based on either the theme of Nature in Canada or Plants & Animals. They took that design and transfered it to the surface of a styrofoam plate. They then added in textural elements to the foam using a pointed tool such as a ballpoint pen tip.The plate was cut apart and individual pieces had ink applied. Pieces were reassembled and a print was made by laying paper over top and by using both traditional hand burnishing. The students were also given the opportunity to use my small table top press to print a couple each of their prints. I also had them print two white line prints and one on top of a pre-printed black square on white paper (for black line definition). We used a new water soluble ink manufactured by Graphic Chemical. This is non-toxic, washes up easily with warm soapy water and has a long working time on the inking slab and roller. It is formulated from glycol.
Once the prints were dry I then took one good print from each student and created a large mosaic panel by assembling the square prints in a grid pattern.

The Editior from the weekly published Atikokan Newspaper The Progress stopped by on one of our printing days and took a few photos and we chatted. This two page story on the project was printed by the paper and I received a copy in the mail.


  1. Nice work Brian! I just love the concentration on the children's faces. You look like you're having fun too.
    I'm sure it's good to be home again though.

  2. Excellent project, Brian! And fabulous that you not only got kids excited about printmaking, but the local media, too. Thanks for sharing.

  3. So please your project went well and the press picked up on it so readily. Wonderful results!