Cardboard Collagraphs (Day 1 of Printmaking Camp)

Last week, I taught a printmaking camp. I was subbing in for another teacher, and even though I had her lesson plan, I ended up changing a lot of things to account for the materials already available. For the first day, I wanted campers to make something really large using recycled materials. I remembered making collagraphs in my college printmaking class and it was really fun, so I went with it. I also love the textural aspect of collagraphs.

Image above: my art teaching sketchbook where I keep track of my ideas and lessons I’ve taught

Collagraphs – On the first day of camp, campers learned about collagraphs and made BIG printing plates. I cut out cardboard that is about 22 x 16″ to fit on 24 x 18″ paper.

Before creating their plates, I gave campers the theme of animals and had them sketch out and brainstorm at least 4 different ideas. They all came up with different animals which was awesome!

Once their ideas were set, they began assembling their collagraphs. I had different sizes of scrap cardboard laid out for campers to use as well as foam, felt, pipe-cleaners, and other crafty materials to attach to their cardboard plate. One camper even decided to remove the top layer of the cardboard to reveal the corrugation underneath to create texture. We also discussed how different materials will create different textures (fabric creates a fuzzy texture, cardboard appears rough).

Once everything had been glued down to the plate, I handed out cups of mod podge and brushes and campers applied mod podge all over the top surface of their plates so everything was sealed and ready for printing.

Some of the collagraph plates from campers:

Once the plates were ready, we started printing! I showed the campers how to roll a gradient ink using two colors which they really enjoyed. A lot of them experimented with combining even more colors (some even did 10+ colors at once!). Then comes the fun part – the campers placed their plates face up on the floor with their papers on top and jumped on top to create a strong print. Once they printed, I showed them how to sign the print with the edition, title, and their name.

Some prints made by campers:

Once we were done printing, I set out tempera paint for campers to create a more finished, detailed collagraph plate. Only a few campers decided to add paint because many of them really liked all the ink colors from printing and did not want to cover it up.

I had so much fun teaching this printmaking camp and I am excited to bring some of the ideas/projects into my art classroom next school year!

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