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Many teachers get cold feet when thinking about doing advanced printmaking in the art room, simply because of the safety issues that can arise. We put our heads together and have come up with your essential list to keep safety in the art room at the forefront, without spoiling the fun of printmaking.
1. Find a material that is soft and easy to carve, preventing slips. We like Blick E-Z Cut Printing Blocks (AOE writer, Cassidy uses these in her classroom!)
2. Provide appropriate tools for student use. For example, with these particular cutters, instead of pushing away, student pull towards them. This minimizes the danger of pushing the tool into their hands. The only disadvantage is that they’re made for right-handed people. If you have a left handed student, you can use the traditional cutters.
3. Skip carving with younger students. Use a foam product like this one instead. It’s my personal favorite to use in the art room with students 2nd-5th grade. You can get some really nice prints from these.
4. Try a pre-made printing object, such as these Gyotaku Fish. I talked more about this technique in this video, and why my students love them. It gives them the basic concept of the printmaking process, with fabulous results and a cultural connection, too!
5. Be sure to use bench hooks when carving. Bench hooks help hold the blocks in place so students can keep their hands away from the sharp tools. There are many different types out there, we like these as a middle of the road solution for any classroom.
6. Remember, it’s not just about WHAT supplies you have on hand, it’s how you distribute and educate students about them! Remember to count the cutting tools at the beginning and end of class. Cassidy, AOE Writer, gives this smart tip:
“As a middle school teacher, I rarely pass out supplies myself. However, for printmaking, passing out the cutting tools to the whole table and then holding students responsible for all of them at the end of class seems to work well. If a student needs a different size, I have a special sign out sheet. Students can sign out tools and then cross of their names when they return them.”
What are other ways you ensure a safe art-making experience with printmaking?
Any lessons you learned the hard way?