Yes, Flin Flon, Manitoba. Also to Newfoundland. If you can believe it. Interestingly, I grew up in Winnipeg and had no idea that Frank Stella had created some of his best and most colourful prints in Canada.
Some Illustrations: The wonders of colour
The Stella prints below illustrate the wonders of colour. The two side by side prints are almost the same, except for the colours used. Because the shapes are simple, prints in similar style would make an excellent project using print foam. (see below pictures).
Note that the design for these prints starts with a very simple shape — Four half circles that are easily drawn with a protractor. Lots and lots of variations possible.
Okay, just seeing if you're still awake. These three prints are not made from the same plate. They are different in design and colour both. But note how salient the colour differences are, as opposed to the shape differences.
One of the interesting print techniques for kids that I found on the web uses adhesive-backed print foam (or print foam that has been adhered onto a print "plate" with re-positional adhseive spray. The original instructions plus photographs of can be found on Wet Canvas Printmaking Idea
A slight variation on this method, perhaps one that will allow for a better range of colours, is to colour the print foarm with felt markers (of good quality). These can dry as you go along. When ready to print, you mist your printing paper, with an atomizer of water, and place the paper wet side down. Roll with brayer and pull print. I've re-written the instructions below, as one of the commentators on the Wet Canvas Blog did not find them very clear.
- Design phase. Have students make a "rough" — a paper and marker version of their print design which is to scale. Here, might give every student a copy of the design you have made a la Stella, or for older students, show them the basic design essentials of Stella's prints and ask them to create something similar. Using ordinary paper and markers, they simply draw and colour their picture. Each element in the design should be fairly large; no little finiciky pieces. Sometimes asking students to use a black felt pen for the outlines will help them to keep the design elements nice and large.
- Transfer Phase (to foam). Set the newly made "rough" over the print foam. Now use a pencil to transfer the drawing by pressing on the lines of the paper design. The pressure will transfer the design to the foam.
- Cutting the Print Foam. Cut the print foam along the lines with scissors, until you have all of the "puzzle" pieces.
- Reassemble. Now you want to reassemble your print foam into the original design onto your "plate" — just a pristol board of the same size as you "rough". (E.g. if you used 4 x 6 paper for your design, you would need a 4 x 6 peice of bristol board. Re-assembe and stick down peices (either using a spray adhesive or the adhesive-backed print foam. Trace around each peice with a pencil so that you will be able to lift up and set down the foam peices without becoming confused about what goes where.
- Ink. Ink each of the foam pieces in the colours in the design. This can done using print inks and a brayer, or you can use special felt markers (see resources). Place each inked pieces back on the board in place.
- Print. Place a piece of print paper over the print plate (line up carefully — you can make guide or registration lines using masking tape corners on the desk). Use a large wooden spoon or a brayer to press on the back of the print. Remind kids to go all the way to sides and over every part of the print equally. Lift the corner gently to see whether the print has transfered; if not, apply more pressure with you brayer or spoon.
- Voila! You have a print! Now you can make as many as you like by re-applying ink. Every student will enjoy pulling a few prints, working on the technique and seeing the majic of printmaking every time!
Variations By Age
This project should work for pretty well any age. The trick is to simplify the design and do more of the preparation.
- Every age should be told something about Frank Stella, and bit about colour in design, through illustration using the prints.
- Older kids, 10-12, can do every part of this project. HOWEVER, you will need to pre-approve their designs, to make sure that there are no small peices. Try the think black marker trick.
- Younger kids, 8-10, could be given a prepared design (photo-copied) and asked to supply the colour scheme. You could also glue another copy of the photo-copied design onto the bristol board (just like those kids puzzles that have a backing and you can size the shape of the pieces you are looking for.)
- Very young children, 5-7 might have fun with a very simple design, four or five peices. Follow the preparation used for the younger kids above.. These could be quite small, and you could let them ink their foam plates several times, in different colours, until they have a set of 4 or more different prints. They can choose their favorites.