How did they make more than one copy of a book before the printing press?! What do you mean there was no such thing as a copy machine?! A typewriter?! Carbon paper?! What the heck?!
The printing press was an invention that truly made the world a better place. In 1440, Johannes Gutenberg invented a way to make multiple copies of books and mass media. Before movable letters and numbers, books were re-written and illustrated one by one and were only seen and owned by either the church or the very rich. Having books, illustrations and printed media produced by a press meant that the more common person could be educated and break the cycle of poverty and repression.
With the above in mind, printmaking in art is Printmaking is the process of making multiple pieces of art, where painting makes only one piece of original art. The prints are made from a single surface or plate and creates an “edition” that is signed and numbered. Artists will either carve or make a raised image on the surface of a plate using wood, stone, plastic rubber etc. The then ink it and make a print.
Our 5th graders made their own printing plates using styrofoam (you can buy these through Blick … Inovart foam). Our ink was simply black tempera paint. I gave students a piece of scratch paper to play with their designs first. They transferred the design to the plate by placing the paper over the top of the plate and redrawing.
Students carefully etched their design into the plate, making sure they had a deep groove. Remember … this will be a negative image! If you are writing on your plate, make sure it is a mirror image or it will print backwards!
Instead of expensive (and messy!) brayers that roll on a uniform amount of ink, we carefully brushed the paint over the plate until there was a very thin coating of paint. Too much meant a messy image and too little meant a spotty image. I don’t give students water … it creates a huge mess and only serves to water down the paint, making it difficult to get a good print.
Lift/peel your paper from the plate and see how you did. Didn’t work? These plates are meant to be used over and over! Try it again … (-;