Why is printing so important

Why is it so important to address printing in elementary school?

Of all artistic techniques, printing is perhaps the most diverse medium. It is surprising and exciting and can only be controlled to a limited extent. For children it is apparently a rather uncertain and complicated process, since they can only follow the progress and quality of their work to a limited extent (cf. Aissen-Crewett 2007: 60).

As a good start, it is advisable to start with the monotype printing technique. Once the pupils have started with it, there is hardly any stopping them and they want to try out all the possibilities of this technique. A glass plate is required for this, and a smooth plastic plate can also be used if necessary. Paint is painted on this plate, then the paper is placed on it and carefully dabbed on and painted over. The sheet is then peeled off again just as carefully (cf. ibid .: 60 f.).

The experimental character of pressure exerts a great fascination on both children and adults (cf. Kirchner 2013: 54). With the reproduction of one's own thoughts and traces, signs are set, whether as words or images. But the appeal of printing goes far beyond mere reproducibility. The special attraction lies in the haptic handling of different materials on the one hand and in the surprise effect during the printing process on the other. Each print has its very own expressiveness, as it reveals traces of the processing and the application of paint. In addition, every single printing technique has its own specific character, which can be enhanced by the different materials and the way they are handled or changed by combining the techniques. Through the emergence of spontaneous and surprising forms and structures, the pupils are encouraged to try out new things and to be creative. Children who, due to motor deficits or inexperience, often achieved unsatisfactory results in art lessons for themselves, are guaranteed to have creative success with this technique. Printing at school is often associated with the thought of large-scale techniques and time invested. But it is only a question of organization and testing beforehand so that printing in the school succeeds. A well thought-out structure from simple to more complex printing techniques awakens the pupils' understanding of printing and prepares the field for multi-sensory, enthusiastic design. After all, every print result also harbors a surprise that is unique and cannot be replaced by copying (cf. ibid .: 54).

"Imprinting, copying, stamping" are well suited for a first experimental approach to the technology of printing in grades 1 and 2. This also includes simple stamp printing processes such as potato and material printing (cf. Hirschle 2017: 20) . The creative work in our hourly project was carried out exclusively on paper and had a very free and experimental character. For the most part randomly created shapes and structures were imaginatively associated and interpreted. Some students also consciously tried to create representational images. The experimentation was very exciting, instructive and important for her and led to the fact that many of them wanted to create a perfect picture on beautiful paper. The search for a suitable thematic delimitation of our stations turned out to be not easy. On the one hand, the topic should have clear and easily representable content for the students, on the other hand, it should leave as much creative freedom as possible. It should enable the students to bring in the experiences they have gained from experimenting and to apply the various techniques. It is also important that it appeals to all students as possible, motivates them and stimulates creative work.

In order to project our project onto the school, you have to look at the framework curriculum. According to these for the subject of art in elementary school, the pupils gain experience with the material on this topic, must develop artistic strategies in order to be able to implement their designs and to find out what limits the material sets them. They also learn about printing techniques. SuSn encounter special stamps everywhere and can be found in their immediate environment. They mostly know them as postmarks and they know that stamps are used in authorities.

The printing process is used to reproduce a graphic, in which a specific process of pressing or printing is used to transfer ink from a printing forme (printing plate, blank) to a printing material (e.g. paper) (cf.Eid, Langer and Ruprecht 2002: 207 ). This creates a reversed picture. That's why everything should be worked into the printing blocks in a mirror-inverted manner. The classic techniques have been mixed and combined with one another since their creation. Printing processes are processes for the mechanical production of any number of copies of text or images with the aid of a printing forme by transferring a coloring substance, the printing ink, onto a printing material by means of printing machines. A distinction is made here between relief printing, gravure printing (e.g. copperplate engraving, etching, etching), flat printing (e.g. lithography, offset printing), monotype and screen printing (cf. Kirchner 2009: 165).

In grades 3 and 4, printing techniques such as letterpress, rotogravure and planographic printing are the subject of the primary school curriculum. For this purpose, various letterpress printing processes with different print media, monotype and frottage are specifically dealt with (cf. Hirschle 2017: 22). In grades 5 and 6, material and lino printing, etching and tools such as printing plates, printing press, etching needles and linocut knives are concretized (cf. ibid .: 24). In view of our project, I will briefly discuss the high pressure, as this was implemented in different ways by the students. With letterpress printing, the areas not to be printed are cut out of the printing block. Only the raised lines and areas are printed (cf. Etschmann 1996: 16). A characteristic of letterpress is that all the printing areas of the form are higher than the non-printing segments. The printing form is colored and the color is transferred to the printing material under pressure (cf. Eid et al. 2002: 207). A letterpress can be recognized by the fact that the pressure is impressed on the paper and can be felt slightly raised on the back of the sheet. Depending on the material of the stamp, one speaks, for example, of potato, cork, cardboard, linoleum or metal printing. But objects such as your own hands, cords or natural objects can also serve as printing blocks. While uncomplicated materials such as cork, potatoes or wood can be shaped with knives, special cutting equipment is required for hard and greasy linoleum (cf. Sandtner 1979: 80f.). The ink can be applied to the printing block with a brush, an ink pad or by dipping it directly into the ink. The variations in the print result are numerous. For example, the overprint created by repeated printing on one point creates individual design options through structural densification (cf. ibid .: 57). Colors combined or mixed with one another also have a special charm.

In our project, we initially established the everyday relationship to printing. Where can you find prints everywhere? You can find them on wallpaper, postcards and computers. In addition, we presented the reproducibility, the change in printmaking and the various printing techniques. The problem of side traffic was taken up and that no correction is possible afterwards (cf. Eid et al. 2002: 204). Well-known artists such as Joan Miró with his handprints, Yves Klein with his body prints, Gerhard Richter and Uwe Tobias have made a name for themselves in the field of printing.

As an introduction for the students, we first asked where they came across prints and had spread out a roll of paper. They were then able to experiment with different materials and colors and gain experience (Appendix 3). Afterwards there was a small discussion and the students reported their impressions. We explained possible goals and special features of printing and presented the individual printing techniques (Appendix 1).

Then we presented our individual stations and the students began to work. We provided assistance and impulses during the work phase. We then evaluated the project and asked questions. We got to the person via the product and asked questions about the product and process. Like: what did you do? What did you like? What did you do? What else would you have liked to have done differently? What else could have happened? When did you realize you were done? Can you still change that? We also asked questions about printing in school: What is printing for? Should printing be a topic in primary school? What do children go through when they print? Why is printing fun? The goals of printing are that the pupils experience the first material interrelationships, develop their fine motor skills and stamina, get to know different material properties and increase creativity through the selection and arrangement of the various materials (cf. Gutsche & Horst 2017). According to Bareis (2000), too, the learning goal of printing is to create simple structures such as sequencing, grouping, scattering, agglomeration and compression. Furthermore, they should realize contrasts such as size, direction, shape and quantity contrasts and acquire skills in dealing with drawing and printmaking tools and processes (p. 40). In addition, the children enthusiastically make use of the possibilities of reproduction. The possibility of being able to produce several copies leads to a lively exchange of prints within the pupils and this alone justifies the graphic work (cf. Bareis 2000: 59). I would like to explain the individual techniques in more detail, especially for our stations. One station included cardboard edge printing. A small piece of cardboard is only colored on one edge with opaque paint using a brush and pressed onto absorbent paper. The “printed line” can be used figuratively or playfully and abstractly. (see ibid .: 59). The next station we offered was potato printing. This is an excellent introduction to the nature of high pressure. Firm, raw potatoes are required for potato printing. Mostly square, square, triangular, round stamps are made or other patterns are scratched. The stamp area was coated with opaque paint and printed on absorbent paper. Thereafter, inter alia printed according to principles of order, such as sequence, scattering, agglomeration, printing with the same shape with different shapes alternating, monochrome, multi-colored. Is z. If, for example, a star is cut into a square potato stamp, colored and printed, the star figure remains white. If, on the other hand, everything is cut away from the initial square shape with the exception of the star figure, then only the star prints when stamping (cf. ibid .: 59). Our third station dealt with leaf and stick printing, a special form of material printing. After the sheets have been rolled in with printing ink, they are printed on paper (also on top of one another). Their surface structure makes them particularly suitable for material printing (cf. ibid .: 61). Children can experiment with the materials provided and find out which material leaves which imprint in order to then fill a surface of paper with pressure marks, their repetitions and reflections (cf. ibid .: 57).

Another station was the hand and fingerprints. Children experience their own pressure marks as early as infancy when they make marks in the snow (cf. Kirchner 2013: 55). This can be used for entry into 1st and 2nd grade. Finger and hand prints are also a good introduction to printing for children and can be expanded from class to class (cf. ibid .: 55f.). The uniqueness of a fingerprint is very impressive when viewed and compared, especially since people can be distinguished from thousands and thousands on the basis of such a trace. The children examine which fingertip produces which imprint and whether the trace can be varied by changing the position. It is also tested how often one can print a finger or hand that has been inked. Little by little, random superimpositions give rise to consciously juxtaposed shapes, which are further developed into animals and people with just a few strokes. You can also invent little stories about it (see: ibid .: 56). As can be seen in the examples in the appendix, you can also design completely different things from handprints (Appendix 2).

In conclusion, it can be said again that printmaking is a very special field of its own. Numerous objects in our environment are printed in pictures and writing. Children are not only familiar with these everyday products, which are designed using various printing techniques, they also know the reproduction processes of copying and use the possibilities of computer printing. The reproducibility of designs is taken for granted. Print graphics have in common that there must be a printing block with printable and non-printable areas, as well as color that is printed on an image carrier. More than in other forms of artistic activity, the design process moves into consciousness, on the one hand a precise idea of ​​what is depicted must be developed in order to consider the reversal, on the other hand corrections are problematic (cf. Kirchner 2009: 165 f.) . Once it has been taken away, it cannot be added again.

Every print is a surprise. The result is an intermediate step in the design process that needs to be consciously reflected upon. The printed matter can be changed and you have to think about the next steps.


I really enjoyed our project and it produced beautiful prints (Appendix 4). Every printing technique can be easily implemented in primary school and can be varied according to age groups.


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