Today I had the opportunity to teach one of my favorite projects, gyotaku fish prints! Since I had a three hour class and only one student, I introduced three different projects during the two hour class.
Gyotaku (gyo=fish, taku=rubbing) is a traditional Japanese method of printing fish. This practice dates back to the mid-1800's, when fishermen wanted a way to document the fish they caught at sea.
(images found on Google)
Gyotaku Fish Bowls
We started off with the first project, which is a simple gyotaku print fishbowl. The directions for creating this project can be found here.
For the other two projects created, we used these silicon rubber fish purchased from Nasco, Triarco, Dick Blick, or any art supply catalog that carries gyotaku supplies…minus the real fish!
Traditional Gyotaku Prints
For this project, we used black tempura paint, one sheet of 10.5" x 16" rice or handmade paper, and the student chose one rubber fish to paint on. The objective of this mini project was to practice adding the paint to the fish to create the print. Too much paint will not copy the details of the fish (fins, scales, etc.), and too little paint will only pick up brush strokes and empty spaces. The student practiced adding the paint to the fish and pressing the paper down to print the fish.
I found a perfect video which explains the process here. The video (from Sakura) also introduces another project that can be made with the fish molds!
Here is the final product we made from the traditional print!
For the last project, we stuck with the same process as above, but designed a more detailed background using crayons and heavy weight beige paper. Like the fish bowls, the student designed an underwater picture, but added more attention to details with highlights and shadows in the seaweed, shells, rocks, and coral. Once the background was colored with the crayon, the student chose three colors to paint her rubber fish for printing.
After the student pressed the paper to the fish for the print, she then went back in to fill in additional details, such as the eye and areas the paint did not print over.
Here's her finished product!
One happy student leaving the class with three different projects!