SchoolArts Magazine

March 2015

SchoolArts is a national art education magazine committed to promoting excellence, advocacy, and professional support for educators in the visual arts since 1901.

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26 March 2015 SchoolArts High School Studio Lesson W hat happens when you bring an asphalt roller to art class? A highly visible event that fosters support for visual arts educa - tion. This article details how such an event was planned and successfully accomplished. Thinking Big Relief prints are created when art- ists carve designs into materials such as blocks of wood or linoleum, then cover the raised parts in ink before pressing the design to paper. In the typical classroom exploration of relief printing, students use blocks that rarely exceed an 8½ x 11" (22 x 28 cm) sheet of paper. Printing presses for these blocks are compact. Our prints, however, were going to be as large as 4 x 8' (122 x 244 cm), so we had to think on a grander scale in terms of tools, materials, and place. As one might expect, the funds required for oversized tools and materials (not to mention rental of an asphalt roller) far exceed the average art program budget. That's why grant writing and public - ity became the keys to realizing this event. Preparing to Print Because using oversized tools is differ- ent than using traditional-size tools, students should be provided time to experiment and practice with the large carving tools and hand-inking rollers. Students were given the option of working on a full, half, or quarter sheet of medium-density fiberboard (MDF), a cost-effective material that is available at most home improvement stores. MDF is soft, easy to carve, and flexible under high pressure. After designs for the boards were sketched, each was drawn onto MDF. Black markers were used to fill in areas that were bot being carved. Carving required between nine and twelve hours per design. To save time on printing day, mus- lin was pre-cut into lengths of 4' (122 cm), 7' (213 cm), or 9' (274 cm). Each length was labeled, folded, and placed on a rolling cart. Printing Day! Prior to printing, we scoured the school parking lot for the most even surface. After a spot was found, paint- er's tape was used to mark the exact placement of each size of MDF. Care- ful measuring assured that each print would be accurately registered. Tables and an inking station were set up near each other, oil-based black ink was mixed 4:1 with petroleum jelly, and a clothesline was strung among the Ponderosa pines. The first step in the printing process was to apply the ink-petroleum jelly mixture to the inking plates. Next, they were rolled out and transferred to the MDF. When each design was completely inked, teams of stu - dents lifted each block BIG Pam Stephens and Shantelle Kotowich Anticipation grew as the roller slowly moved forward and backward over the block.

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