This year my school decided that I needed a real classroom. I had been residing in a closet (literally, it used to be the storage for a make-shift kitchen) for the past two years, and with the growth and interest in my program, a real classroom only made practical sense. Not only did my sink upgrade, but now there is more space to breathe, and I feel confident that I can do more complex projects with my students. It’s really fantastic for students to have a little more elbow room, and to be able to take real brain breaks and interact with each other.
I rarely will do a project with a student where I have to do more than 10% of the work. Even 10% is pushing it. So while I know that technically younger grades can make relief prints, I hesitate to do the project with grades lower than 7th. Next year I’ll reevaluate that, since I needed to do so much of the ‘work’ with 7th grade of inking their blocks… I don’t know. I suppose it’ll depend on the enthusiasm of the group, as I like to plan my projects around student interest. This year all of my middle school classes are phenominal, so we’ve been experimenting more with painting, printmaking, and I hope to even do ink (with ink wells-scary as far as potential messes go!)
I was excited to try out letting the 8th graders ink their own blocks. They are doing great with the new Speedball blocks, which are so much softer than the grey linoleum. Before beginning I had the students work on a scratch art project, in order to help visualize that all their ‘mark’s would be white, instead of black. Afterwords I let the students sketch out a new design for their relief prints. I showed them several examples, and emphasized how important texture and line would be in this project. After my carving demo the 8th graders really took to relief print like fish to water! By the end of the second class, most of them had at least half of their project carved, and several were able to do a few test prints. I like seeing their faces when the print comes out-it’s always ‘backwards’ and looks completely different from the block. So far everyone has done some post-test editing, and those who finish early will do a second project. I can’t wait to see all of the projects together! Everyone is making such different images, I love it.