Showing posts with label printing with leaves. Show all posts
Showing posts with label printing with leaves. Show all posts

Sunday, February 26, 2012

In the Art Room: Leafy Spring Prints

Negative leaf print by one of my second grade students earlier this year.
 Hey, guys! This post has been very popular on my blog...if you are interested in other leaf-y projects, look at my Leaf Relief project and my Pressed Leaf Project as well. Thanks!

I don't know what it's like where you live, but here in Tennessee, we are experiencing spring-like weather. For the most part. I mean it did snow the last two Saturdays (and, in Tennessee, "snow" means just a few flakes and a couple of inches) but the other day it was 78 degrees. Crazy, right?

For that reason, I've got touch of spring fever. You too? Well then you might enjoy this leafy printmaking project I did at the beginning of the year with my second graders. It's simple, scientific, beautiful and fun...okay, enough talking about me (!), on with the lesson.

For this project, you'll need the following:
  • gelatin, not Jell-o. Most grocery stores carry a brand called Knox which sells in boxes of 16 pouches.
  • cookie sheets
  • printmaking brayer, sold at most craft stores
  • printing ink
  • variety of leaves
  • paper
Print pulled from the same printing tray, this time the positive version.
The night before you begin, you'll need to prepare your sheets of gelatin. To do that, bring about 3-4 cups of water to a boil. Once boiling, whisked one pouch of gelatin into the pot. You don't want any clumps of gelatin, so whisk like there's no tomorrow. You'll end up adding about 12-15 pouches of gelatin into that one pot. Sorry, I'm not into exact measurements. Which could explain a lot about my cooking. If there are any remaining unwhiskable clumps, remove them with a spoon.

Pour mixture into a cookie sheet filling it about 1". Leave uncovered over night. If you see any bubbles in the cookie sheet, pop them or remove with a spoon. For my class of 20 students, I made three trays.

Pulling the first print always managed to get oohhhh's and aahhhh's aplenty.
The following day, we were ready to print. The surface of the gelatin was squishy yet very firm, perfect for holding our printing ink. I think I can explain this best in steps, so here you go:
  1. Using a brayer and printing ink, cover surface of gelatin in ink.
  2. Place leaves onto the ink-covered cookie sheet with the veiny side down. I don't recommend using anything with pine needles because that will puncture the gelatin. But experiment, you never know!
  3. Once leaves are in place, lay paper on top of cookie sheet and rub (er, we call it  "massage") the paper. 
  4. Pull paper off, as you see in the above photo, and viola! You have your first print!
Notice how clear the gelatin looks. All of the ink that was once on the tray is now on the paper.
I love her dainty fingers pulling up the second print. So sweet.
Now for the second print:
  1. Gently remove all of the leaves from the tray. It's best to pull them out by the end of the stem.
  2. Place a new sheet of paper over the now-empty cookie sheet and rub.
  3. Pull second print which will be a positive image of the first.
Looks like a black and white photo, don't you think?
Once both prints have been pulled, re-ink the tray and begin the process all over again. With a class of 20 students and 3 pans of gelatin, about 10 kids were able to print per half an hour class. The pans of gelatin can last about two days with an endless amount of printing. I tried to cover the gelatin and keep it for a little longer, but condensation droplets created strange little craters on the surface. If left uncovered for too many days, it begins to dry and crack. For that reason, if you plan to do this project for longer than a couple of days, you'll just need to prepare more gelatin pans the night before.
Our second go-round of printing involved using white ink on black paper. Just as pretty.
This project is so easy and the results so stunning that everyone is successful. I've now had a couple of craft get-togethers and this is always a hit. Once those leaves start growing in your neck of the woods, I do hope you'll give it a shot!
I love the photo negative quality of this print.

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