Japanese Fish Printmaking

Level: Grade 5-8 Duration: 1 Hour 45 Minutes Historical Overview: Gyotaku is a traditional Japanese art form that is highly unique, and some may even say bizarre. The word Gyotaku itself is a combination of two separate words – Gyo, which means ‘fish’, and Taku, which means rubbing. As its name indicates, Gyotaku is an art that produces imprints of fish through the method of rubbing. Objectives: Students will learn about the cultural history of Japan and experience the visual art of gyotaku (fish printing).A Gyotaku flounder print helps teach students about its anatomy. Flounder like all other flatfish, have both eyes on one side of its body while the opposite side is blind. (Hands-On Learning, Multimedia Instruction, Discussion, Demonstration, Studio Practice) Vocabulary : Gyo= fish taku= rubbing Printmaking rubbing/ burnishing monoprint brayer ink slab texture rice paper/ newsprint printer’s ink Materials:
  • Rubber Fish models 
  • Water-based Inks (black, red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple)
  • Large, Medium, and Small paintbrushes (such as sizes 4, 8, and 12 round)
  • Newsprint
Have students use the following steps to create their own fish printing. Procedures:
  1. Clean and dry the fish. …
  2. Have students lay the fish on a dry surface. …
  3. Apply water-based ink to the fish with soft brush, sponge, or a foam brush. …
  4. Place the paper over the inked fish. …
  5. Peel back the paper. …
  6. Review the print. …
  7. Add background details.

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