Friday, December 19, 2014

Gyotaku Fish Print

Fifth Grade Art
3 Class Periods
Gyotaku Fish Print, Fifth Grade Art Lesson

Gyotaku History
Gyotaku is a Japanese word.  "Gyo" means fish and "taku" means rubbing.  Gyotaku is a traditional form of Japanese fish printing dated from the mid 19th century.

Japanese fishermen would use this technique to record the size of their catches.  In order to make a Gyotaku print, one places the fish, crab or scallop on a wooden bench and paints the fish with ink. Next, a piece of paper or cloth is laid over the ink-covered fish.  Finally, one rubs (burnish) the materials until there is the image of the fish left on it.

Day 1:
I have done this lesson in two different styles.  The first style is to have students prep their paper by painting it using different watercolor techniques.

The second style involves leaving the paper white.

The intro day for this lesson involves a brief history lesson about Gyotaku, a video clip that I think is amazing even though it overall is an advertisement for visiting Florida, and a demonstration on how to create a fish print using our fish molds.

Link to video clip:

Day 2:
Stations are set up around the classroom for students to print at.

For the first style of this lesson, students use India ink to print with.  After the ink is rolled onto the fish it is then placed onto the paper that was prepped with watercolor paint.

Rolling ink on the fish molds.

Burnishing the paper to create the print.

Example of fish printed after burnishing process.
The second style of doing this lesson, involves the students painting their fish with tempera paints.  Students are allowed to used any color of their choice.  After painting, the white paper is placed on the fish and then burnished by hand to create the print.
Painting fish with tempera paint.
Day 3: 
During this class period, no matter the style used to create the print we use as an embellishment day.  If style one is created, students use oil pastels to add details such as the eye, speckles or lines to the fins of the fish.  If style two is created students use colored pencils to incorporate those details.

For both projects I have students mat the piece to black tag board. For style two I have students write their name in Japanese on the front of their composition.

I found this great name translator that works well for learning how to write your name in Japanese.

Student Examples for Style Two:

Student Examples for Style One:

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