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Lesson Plans

Escher Printmaking Activity - 5th grade

[ Thread ][ Subject ][ Author ][ Date ]
Thu, 20 Nov 1997 13:43:57 -0800 (PST)

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This activity began as a brainstorming session on how to develop a unit wherein
printmaking was utilized in studying geometric shapes and the art of MC Escher. I had talked to
several art teachers to get some basic ideas. I also spent time discussing the concept with
some of the 5th grade teachers as well. I had taught a basic tessellations activity in the past wherein
patterns were created using graph paper. I wanted to improve on that idea
and somehow include printmaking, the method Escher used to create the originals.
After being introduced to the Safety Kut
printmaking material, I began to explore the possibility of reproducing the tessellation pattern
on the block itself. It worked. After a successful trial
run, I proceeded to teach all 5 of the 5th grades the process. I then made some small adjustments in
the procedures for the following year. I hope that you will find this useful,
or at least as a spring board to develop and create an even better method.

Brief description: Each student will create a tessellation print using a printmaking
block and the subtractive printmaking process (4 1 hour sessions)

Sequential activities--
prior knowledge: Tessellation patterns, printmaking methods, symmetry, composition
Follow up activities- architecture, additive printmaking process, perspective

Anticipatory Set- Show MC Escher's "Sun and Moon" Ask the students
what they see in the reproduction. Allow them to explore the
negative and positive space..What printmaking process did he use?
How can you tell? What problems might he have had? Compare to medieval tiling
and Roman mosaics

Consumable materials and tools: Safety Kut block print material
Linoleum cutters -#1, #3, Calligraphy pen handles, Linoleum block
"holders",(I use pen handles instead of linoleum cut handles), brayers
and platens, printmaking ink, pencils and
rulers, 10"x10" white drawing paper, black permanent
markers-bullet tip, watercolor markers-light colors, 9x12 manila
paper, cellophane tape, card stock with 1/4" xeroxed grid,

Resources- Abrams,Harry N. "M C Escher 29 prints",
Seymour, Dale,"Introduction to Tessellations", Seymour,
Dale, "Tessellations Poster", Ernst, Bruno, "The Magic Mirror
of MC Escher

Production process: Tessellation- a geometric pattern that is made up of one or
more shapes, completely covering a surface without any gaps or overlaps.

Begin by explaining the tessellation formula--that being, a tessellation pattern is created
in this situation by taking a 2"x 2" square and drawing the same shape on the
inside left connected to the square and then the outside right, connected to
the square. The same process is repeated for the top and the bottom
of the square..The shape is placed on the top connected to the square
Then in the same position, the shape is placed on the inside of the square
on the bottom.

After a tessellation square is created then the student may ask..What does it
look like? If I were to add 1 or 2 lines within the square
do I see anything now? The student may then draw the shape over and over again until
a successful idea develops.
Once the idea is developed, the student cuts a 2x2 inch square out of the card stock
grid. The two shapes are drawn on the bottom of the square and
on the left inside of the square and then cut out carefully.

The shapes are then carefully moved to the opposite side of the square and taped
flush to the outside of the shape. You now have a finished tessellation pattern.

Using the card stock pattern created, draw the pattern on a piece of 3x3 inch
safety kut printmaking material in pencil. The student will draw the pattern on the square
in the lower right hand corner. The 2 shapes that were cut out aned are now spaces
are on the left hand side and on the bottom.

Repeat this process for the both sides of the 3" block. Add the details of the
tesellation only on 1 side, inside the square drawn.

Go over the lines drawn with permanent black marker. Remind the students
that on the detail side, the black lines are all that will be left.
It is important that the lines are thick for easy carving. Cover
both sides of the block with a light colored watercolored marker.
This is so that you can tell where you have carved more easily.

Using the linoleum block holders for support, begin carving. Start with the #1 cutter
outlining all of the shapes.
#####The side of the block that only has the shape will only be
carved on the outside.
#####The side of the block that has the details will be carved both
inside and ouside the design.
Use #3cutter for the outside areas, holding the cutter horizontally and
cutting out strips works best. It is also helpful to keep some
kind of tray on the tables for scraps.

Test print both sides using a dark color. This will allow them
to see where they need to carve more.

Using a ruler and pencil, fold the 10"x10" paper into 2" squares.

####prepare to print by marking the bottom left hand corner
of the middle 4 or 5 squares in pencil.
####ink up the block on the shape side(outside carved only)
and line up the bottom right hand corner with the bottom left hand corner
of the block.
#####once the 4 or 5 middle squares have been printed, rinse off
the block, dry it well then ink up the details side of the block.

Finish by lining up the details side of the block with the squares that
have not been printed and fit together like a puzzle. Another option would
be to print the details on top of the background color squares

The finished products are great! I know several have requested these plans..
Feel free to e-mail me if you have any questions..
Barry Teghtmeyer, Gracemor Accelerated School, Kansas City, Missouri

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