Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Insect Lesson # 3: Ink on Satin

Here are some beautiful examples of the third lesson in the Observing Insects Unit!
 For this assignment, I was inspired by the satin fabric over a thin chipboard backing I got at the Recycling for Education Center in Providence. I find lots of great materials here, but this was an unusual find. Originally used as the insert of the packaging for jewelry in a decorative cardboard box, the satin paper had a slight tooth to it as well as an attractive sheen.  I was able to buy two packages of seventy sheets each, and they were the same small size as the paper we had already used for the other two insect lessons!  Yeah, no prep-work for me!

I asked students to select one insect to draw in pencil on the satin fabric paper.  It was possible to erase, but some evidence of mistakes would show if a student drew too heavily with the pencil.  Students were careful to draw lightly, and they were eager to see how the ink would react on the satin.  We knew that it would absorb the ink and that each line would be much wider because of the spreading due to the way the fibers were easily saturated.  Students used a tiny brush and practiced drawing with black india ink on a spare satin paper before moving on to their drawing.

Sometimes a small amount of panic would set in when the ink would spread outside a student's pencil outlines: it was important for the kids to adjust their drawings to make any "mistakes" become part of the finished work.  I really enjoyed watching them problem-solve and think on their feet while they used this difficult media.  It really was unlike any other material we had ever used before!

The ink was absorbed very quickly so students could move on to applying a variety of colored pencil details and shading to their insects.  Once again I suggested a simple background so that the insect would stay as the focus of the work.  You can clearly see the sharp details here in this close-up of a dragonfly.  This student artist challenged herself to use the brush and ink on the wing details, and she did an amazing job!  

  I thought that the range of textures produced by the reaction of the ink on the satin was very diverse.  Some images have a soft, diffused look.  This was effective for areas like the "fuzz" on the legs and thorax of this bee.

Other times, the ink could be applied to create strong, dark lines.  This image of a cicada shows the wonderful contrast between the ink and the shading of the colored pencils. It was fun to color on the satin and the pencils made a funny noise if you colored quickly back and forth!
In the end, the students were challenged by this assignment and the different media added some novelty to the insect theme to help keep everyone interested in finishing this assignment.
In fact, we were so interested in the ink that I came up with another assignment; this time students used diluted ink on cotton fabric.  I'll write about it in my next post!


~nick~ said...

This was very well thought out project! The kids must of had a lot of fun! sorry that I wasn't in more often to check on the kids work and to chat!

one little deer said...

Hi Nick!
I thought that you must've been busy, but I did miss seeing you! I was really pleased with the insect unit: thanks for noticing my hard work! Hope you have an awesome summer vacation: Stop by Room 9 in the fall!