Thursday, April 23, 2009

Nest Egg

The local elementary school is holding an "arts" auction to benefit the arts program for the school. I was asked to volunteer to help the class work on a group project that could then be auctioned (ransomed?) off to the parents at the upcoming evening event. Some classes have done some pottery work, another is working on a tiled fountain, others, refrigerator magnets.
As the class is working extensively on birds as a topic I had the children do drawings of something about the bird they had chosen to study and to do some preparatory sketches to collage together. The idea was to collage them together in an interesting way leaving me to carve the drawing out in the calm of my studio and then print them together in the classroom.

I got lots and lots of neat drawings. But in the end I had to do two collages. One with a drawing from each student. It turned out much more varied and lively, but very cluttered and I feared would be very hard and time consuming to carve.
The other pulled out all the larger drawings that coincidentally (mostly drawn by the girls) were of the nests. Those that included tree branches/trunks I was able to link visually and I collaged them all together in a more spare and open composition. To add a little Male energy I included a small drawing of a raptor carrying a fresh kill to its young done by one of the boys. Still, it took a long time to carve all the kids' energetic and swirling pencil lines.

Today we printed the proofs in class. I managed in teams to get the class of 21 together to brush out rice paste and Sumi on the board and pull a few prints using all the barens I have ( there were a few moments that seemed more like air hockey than printing with two kids on each side of the board printing burnishing away. But, they got a good idea of the process and as I brought in the original collage, a xerox copy and then the printed image they were able to compare the level of fidelity or loss inherent in the process.

The Shina plywood board is 22" X 28" and the paper size of the proof I pulled in class today is 19 "X28" This is the key block and it will have a background color block cut and trialed this weekend. Surprisingly, the whole class liked all the horizontal lines that I left by incompletely clearing the block before printing and voted to leave them in.

At the end of the class one child innocently asked, "but what happens if no one wants to buy it?" I suppose we'll just donate it to the local hospital children's ward or maternity wing.


  1. You did an amazing carving job with all those scribbles and lines. I would have been so tempted to simplify and stylize......

  2. This is just so kewl on so many levels. 8-] I've done school demos where I did the work and handed out prints for kids to take with them, but I've never done something so complex and interactive before. What lucky kids! You rock.

  3. It's actually very pleasant to carve and print someone else's drawings.
    You can focus on the work in a way that's different from your own work where often as I carve I'm still thinking about or making aesthetic decisions as I work. I was sometimes unable to carve something that was drawn and had lots of little chips due to the Shina being more brittle than I'm used to but the prints did maintain the spirit of the children's work.

  4. Andrew,
    this is a great collaborative piece and I am sure the kids will never forget this experience. We did a similar project with birds and the children carved them into easy cut, sort of like a huge eraser, 5x7" and then collaged the prints when done. It was amazing, the work and energy in work. Congrats on a job very well done.