Friday, January 2, 2015

2015 Year of the Ram Chinese Brushpainting Banner and Chop Art Lesson

2015 is the Year of the Ram (sheep or goat) for the Chinese Zodiac Calendar.  Many schools are studying Mandarin so this is a great connection to that curriculum and Social Studies too.
Calligraphy or Watercolor Paper about 12"X6"
Calligraphy Ink or Black Watercolor Paint
Pencils and Scissors
Hole Punch
Red String or Yarn
Styrofoam Plates
Red Ink Pad
Hot Glue Gun

You can do this as two lessons - one to create the "Chop" and another to do the ink drawing - or do them together.  

First the Chop
CHINESE CHOP: The traditional Chinese identification stamp is carved from soft stone, then printed in red ink to identify both artists and collectors.

I'm going to give the students a piece of foam cut from a disposable foam plate - this will be their "soft stone" to carve.

They can choose what symbol they want for their Chop.  I chose the Rabbit because I was born in the year of the Rabbit and I also made a Chinese symbol for the Rabbit.  I'm going to suggest they choose a similar type of symbol so that it represents them personally.  I'll have some handouts printed for reference.

If they choose a letter they will need to draw it backwards or else it will print backwards.

I'm going to have them practice on some scrap paper first before they draw into the foam.

They can press a cork into the foam to get the outline of the cork (they need to stay inside this outline) draw their symbol lightly first, and then push harder with their pencil to get a nice line in the foam.
The lines they draw will print white, all the other areas will be red.

Have some extra time or are the students really excited about this project?  Have them make a double sided Chop with 2 different symbols - one on each end.  

Hot Glue the styrofoam onto corks.
Put these aside with their names written on the cork.

Now for the banner - 
I went to a Daiso Japan store in Japantown and found these great supplies for $1.50 each.


If you don't have access to these supplies just use watercolor paper and black watercolor or India Ink.

I was wondering how the quality would be, but the paper really was nice and smooth for the ink, and the brush and ink were perfect too!

I cut the paper in half because it is really long.  
I'm going to have the students do some sketching of the Ram and the Chinese symbol for Ram on scrap paper.  The Ram is just a few simple lines - I love the swirly horns and squiggly beard - I think the kids will too!
Then they will lightly sketch their Ram and Chinese symbol on the calligraphy paper.

We'll discuss how different it is to work with a brush instead of a pencil.  How it is desirable to have thick and thin areas in the drawing because of the brush so they should embrace it.  Have them experiment with using the tip of the brush and also dragging the brush along the paper sideways.

I'll demonstrate painting the Ram for the students and then they can do their own.

I added the 2015 at the bottom freehand - they can decide if they want to add it or not.  Give the ink a few minutes to dry.

Once the ink is dry they can ink their Chop (just a regular ink pad in red) and stamp it onto some scrap paper to get a feel for it - before stamping on their banner.

You can add a red border to the top and bottom of the banner if you want.

For the final touch punch two holes in the top of the banner with a hole punch.  Thread a chopstick through the holes and add a loop of red string for hanging.
This might be a good time to talk about the color red and how Red is the Chinese national color and represents happiness, beauty, success and good fortune.
Red is used extensively in everyday life. Red lanterns adorn businesses and residences. Double rows of red "Xi" (happiness) letters are pasted on gates and doors. People wear red during weddings, festivals and other celebratory events. Red envelopes stuffed with money are given as gifts during Chinese New Year.

I'm tempted to add some gold to this project somewhere, but I also like the simplicity of the red and black.
Gung Hay Fat Choy!
2nd Grade Student Work:

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