Asian Art: Fish Prints
Given today's theme, no wonder today's snack suggestion is . . . goldfish
crackers! Did you know that goldfish are the most common household pet in
America? There are millions and millions of them, and not a single one lives in
the "wild." That's because goldfish were "man-made." In other words, humans
developed them over many years to the point where they are no longer very well
suited for natural settings, but are better off in aquariums. 'Way back in 265
AD, in China, small carp (fish) with certain pleasing color mutations were bred
and developed into the fancy, flowing-finned goldfish we know and love today.
There are as many as 125 varieties of pet goldfish. The oldest one in the world
lived to be 41 years old!!!
One flat, whole, fresh fish
Blank newsprint or drawing paper
Here's an ancient form of Asian art that's a good
illustration of how artists make creative use of the things they find around
them. In China and Japan, a lot of people live by the ocean, so it's no
accident that Chinese and Japanese artists began using a common ocean creature
- the fish - in their art.
You could combine this art activity with a mini-field trip
to the grocery store, a specialty fish store, or an Asian grocery store. Ask a
lot of questions and learn a lot about fish, both as a food and as one of the
most important and numerous creatures on Earth.
In the seafood or meat section, buy a flat, whole, fresh
fish. You don't want a fillet, which is just the meat; you want the whole fish.
Look for the one with the most detail in its body. Flounder or Sole are good
choices. It's a good idea to have several kids share one fish to keep costs
Other materials needed are block-printing ink found at craft
stores (if you get red, yellow and blue you can mix your own colors), a 5"
roller, newspaper or newsprint, drawing paper, water and a paintbrush.
First, mix the color ink you want and pour out the ink on a
piece of paper. Roll the roller over it several times. Then "ink" the fish with
the roller, going over the scales, eye, fins and other details so that the fish
is covered completely.
Be careful not to apply the ink too thickly or the scales
and details of the fish won't show up as nicely on your print. Use the smaller paintbrush to cover areas
the roller missed.
When you're ready, lift up the fish and place it, ink-side
down, on the newsprint or drawing paper.
Cover the fish with newspaper and press down on it lightly with
your hands. You want to make a good impression - literally - so you want to
apply pressure, but not too much or the ink will "blob."
Remove the newspaper and lift the fish by the tail, peeling
fish from paper.
Let dry and frame.
-- Contributed by Cynthia Jernstrom,