Friday, July 16

Silkscreening with tweens

It's been an exhilarating week in the silkscreen studio at Fleisher with a small group of 10-12 year olds. This is the first time the children's programs have used the screenprinting studio, so it was a bit of a test-run for the Fall when it will be offered as a regular Saturday kids class offering. I tried to build the week's activities in a logical manner, sort of in a reduction print way. We started off creating simple frame formats, blocking out the borders with screen filler and printing rainbow print backgrounds. It was amazing how printing just a simple rectangle background brings up ways to talk about problem-solving in screenprinting, registration, pressure/print technique, sufficient ink, transparency, editioning, etc. And since it was just a background, nobody felt precious about how the prints looked.On the second day we tried out monoprints on top of the rainbow prints using caran d'ache and transparent base. The kids loved the freedom of drawing and letting their design evolve as the first drawings faded into ghost prints and new designs could be added. We began with a collaborative version so they could learn how, then went at it on their own screens.Although I had them do a drawing exercise to spark some ideas first, I think only one kid actually used their original drawing as a plan. My 2 favorite ones are these more illustrative ones, one boy's puppy which eventually led to a larger design and another boy's Poseidon below about to wreak havoc on a ship! When the image started ghosting, the student wrote "We ARE DISAPPEARING!!!!" above the ship.

The third day was spent learning how to create stencils and blockouts and using a scoop coater, and the kids designed their screens to print on T-shirts. The 4th day was a mad T-shirt printing factory day! And today they added details with fabric pastels and markers (since we only had time for one color printing) as well as some tie dying of some of the T-shirts. The day wrapped up with a fashion show during a final artshare reception for all the classes and parents.I'm pleased with how well the students cooperated and collaborated. They ended up with both a collaborative and an individual set of monoprint/rainbow prints, a collaborative tie dyed and rainbow-printed "Friends" T-shirt, their own design on a t-shirt, and some even had a t-shirt design swap as they liked their classmates designs. They made effective group design decisions and they were helpful to each other in the printing process and cleanup.

Collaboration is something I've tried to encourage in other classes with this age group, but it was never as effective as it was this week... Is it the smaller group? Or is it that the process facilitates collaborative thinking? Maybe both.

Next week I'll be doing "Paper Transformations" with 8-10 year olds!! We're going to have a paper garden fiesta, mostly inspired by Mexican art and culture. I'm having fun.

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