I wanted to get the kids rocking and rolling with printing, since most of them had never tried it before. What’s the easiest way of going about it? Meat trays!
I asked the moms of our co-op to bring in cleaned meat trays, and one mom brought in a bunch! I think she was already saving them for something else, but I’m glad she gave them to us! Next, I trimmed the sides to make a flat plate. Once those were done, I was ready to go!
I had the students draw out their design idea on a piece of paper. I told them that well-placed patterns and a busier background made for more eye-pleasing results. Some took my advice, and some did their own thing.
Next, I gave them each a meat tray. I had them flip it over and practice moving their pencil around on it. They all figured out that it’s easier to pull their pencils instead of push them. Once they were finished practicing, they flipped back over their “plates,” and started engraving their images. The nice thing about meat trays is that the slightest sharp pressure can leave a mark, so they didn’t have to try too hard to make an indentation. Once they were done with their drawings, I had them go back over them and press nice and hard to make the print stand out. This took about one and a half class periods.
Finally, it was time for the actual printing. The kids got to choose their colors, and I went over how to roll the brayer evenly, lay the paper down, and burnish. Most of the prints turned out beautifully, but some of the students weren’t happy with their results, but I reminded them that it was practice. The next project will be the “real” one, and it’ll even have a prize for the best one!
Here are some of the plates:
And here are the practice prints: