Gyotaku Art (Fish Prints)

Gyotaku Art Fish Print by J.G. Wang

Gyotaku Art Fish Print by J.G. Wang

This has to be one of the most unusual art techniques I have ever tried. It was an enjoyable process; oddly satisfying when I achieved a good print. And I didn’t even catch the fish, it was purchased at the fish counter at my grocery store!

I loved the print above – it is by J.G. Wang on Below are my fish and prints.  I think next time I will try to find a fish with bigger fins!

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Gyotaku Art Fish Prints Japan Lesson

The idea came from the book Global Art: Activities, Projects, and Inventions from Around the World. I am exploring art project options for our upcoming kindergarten homeschool coop class, and the kids (especially the boys), would think making prints from a real fish is cool! Unfortunately I don’t think it’s going to work – we have our coop classes in a church building, and I don’t think they would appreciate the fish smell on Sunday morning! I am considering doing it outside, but I believe I found an alternative that will be fun for the kids (and less smelly).

Rubber Animal Prints Japan Lesson

Global Art suggests an alternative to a real fish: a rubber fish. This gave me the idea of trying my daughter’s small rubber animals, and they worked great! The paint cleaned off of them completely. They are the sticky rubber kind so they stuck to the paper, but peeled off easily.

You need:

The process:

Place the fish on plain piece of paper. Brush on a very thin layer of tempura paint (you can use more than one color). Work quickly so the paint doesn’t dry. Take another plain piece of paper and press firmly on fish. Start in the middle and press all over without moving the paper. Then carefully peel off the paper.

Rubber Animal Prints Completed Japan Lesson

(Note: Global Art gives more detailed instructions on how to prepare your real fish for an excellent print. For example, you can use straight pins to arrange the fins, and salt or sand to rough up the scales if you wish.)

I had a lot of fun with these, I hope the kids do, too!  What about you?  Have you ever made a fish print?

Copyright 2014 Kathryn Depew
Image from used under the Creative Commons license. Image credit: Gyotaku Art Fish Print by J.G. Wang.

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2 Responses to Gyotaku Art (Fish Prints)

  1. Lindsay N. says:

    So cool! Real fish or plastic toys, it doesn’t matter! I think my own son would love this one.

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