Thursday, August 23, 2018

Relief Print Leaves Workshop for Kids of All Ages

This is my last week teaching summer camp this summer at the Community Arts Center. Another teaching artist and I have 18 kids between the ages of 6 and 11 - a rather wide age spread. We spend most of our time with the kids split into 2 groups based on age, but we have occasionally come together for a big group project, and for one that I taught, I decided to do these relief print leaves.

I gave each kid 1 piece of 6" x 9" Scratch foam and 2 pieces of stiff board of the same size. I had the kids draw the shape of an imagined leaf, starting with the vein that runs down the center. The kids were invited to draw into the background and into the leaf with a pencil as much as they like.

Then they took scissors and carefully cut out the leaf while keeping the background intact as a single piece. The trickiest part is then gluing the background on one piece of stiff board and the leaf on the second piece of stiff board. The trick is making sure that the leaf is in the same position so that when they are printed they match up. This is done by first placing both the leaf and background together onto the first stiff board piece, but then only gluing down the leaf and removing the background piece afterward. Unfortunately, a couple of kids then glued their background piece down flipped, so they still didn't match up. But it did make for some interesting prints.

I encouraged each kid to print the leaf (in green) and the background (in brown) on at least 2 different colors of paper in order to be able to compare and contrast.

After a long summer of teaching camp to a lot of children, I enjoyed quietly examining this grid of finished leaf prints. So many of them seem to be fading in and out, almost disintegrating. Each is its own unique shape. And many contain curious surprise drawings and details within.

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