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Lesson Plan and Artwork by Franz Spohn
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Lesson Plan
Language Arts, Social Sciences


Relief printmaking parameters require a different approach to creating an image. This project focuses on single iconic images, developed by individual students as related to a common theme for the class. Students will develop these images with a strong emphasis on shape and bold lines, with textures created with the vocabulary of shapes created by using V and U gouges.

German Expressionist prints are a good reference for a bolder and less fussy approach to creating printed relief images.

Students will create images, intuitively composed and printed onto cloth (bandanas) with smaller block(s) using Speedball Speedy-Carve Blocks, Speedball Linozip Safety Cutters and Speedball Fabric Block Printing Ink. Speedy-Carve is a soft, non-grain block material that is easy to carve. The Speedball Fabric Block Printing Inks are water washable but dry permanently on cloth. These blocks will be printed in an intuitive scatter pattern to create a finished piece. Students can create their own bandanas or, in collaboration, share their blocks with other members of the class.


  • Students will master tools and skills of the relief printing process to achieve their artistic vision.
  • Students will visually interpret a given theme in terms of context and within the parameters of relief printmaking.
  • Students will develop an intuitive sense of composition as the pieces are created from multiple stamped impressions.
  • Students will learn to work collaboratively in a common studio environment.

Supplies Needed

#1539724 Speedball® Speedy-Carve™ Blocks, 3 x 4 in
#1539725 Speedball® Speedy-Carve™ Blocks, 4 x 16 in
#1539726 Speedball® Speedy-Carve™ Blocks, 6 x 12 in
#1539727 Speedball® Speedy-Carve™ Blocks, 9 x 11-3/4 in
#1539728 Speedball® Speedy-Carve™ Blocks, 11-3/4 x 12 in
#1467637 Speedball® Fabric Block Printing Ink Classroom Set, Assorted Colors, 2.5 oz, Set of 8
#216486 Speedball® Soft Rubber Brayer, 2 in W
#216495 Speedball® Soft Rubber Brayer, 4 in W
#380951 Speedball® Soft Rubber Brayer, 6 in W
#407267 Speedball® Red Baron™ Baren, 4 in
#407536 Speedball® Linoleum Cutter Assortment Set of 5
#380966 Speedball® Linozip Cutter No 37 Set of 6
#409412 Cotton Blend Bandanas, Pack of 12

Other Materials

3/16 in foamboard, masking tape, graphite paper


Standard #1: Generate and conceptualize artistic ideas and work.
Standard #2: Organize and develop artistic ideas and work.
Standard #3: Refine and complete artistic work.
Standard #11: Relate artistic ideas and works with societal, cultural and historical context to deepen understanding.


Step 1

Choose a theme for the group. Sketch an image (keep within 3" X 5") related to that theme. Refine to create a finished guide image that relies on a strong emphasis on shape and bold Lines. Unlike drawing, an additive process, in relief printing dark lines are created by cutting away the surrounding areas around the line, a reductive process. Keep in mind that the printed image will be the reverse of the image on the block.

Step 2

Draw directly on to a Speedball Speedy-Carve Block with a light color marker or transfer the image from the refined sketch with graphite paper.

Step 3

The negative, non-printing areas of the image are removed with a Speedball Linoleum Cutter. "V" gouges are excellent for outlining boundaries of shapes and for more delicate white lines within shapes. "U" gouges serve well for removing larger areas of nonprinting areas of the the block and for creating textures. CAUTION: Never place hands in the path of the cutter. Use double stick tape, bench block or a piece of nonskid carpet mesh to keep block stable while cutting. Speedball Linozip Cutters are push cutters and can be used for younger students.

Step 4

After blocks are cut, proof on newsprint in case refinements need be made before printing on the fabric.

Step 5

Stretch bandanas on foam board or to a scratch-free smooth table surface. Do not use cardboard to avoid stripes appearing in large image shapes.

Step 6

Roll out Speedball Fabric Block Printing Ink with brayers slightly larger than the block. Ink the block.

Step 7

Place inked block, ink side down onto fabric. Using the Red Baron Baren, apply firm, even pressure onto the block. Practice on scrap pieces of fabric to get an idea as to the ideal pressure and thickness of ink deposit.

Step 8

Continue printing shape to develop an intuitively composed piece. Wash block before changing colors.

Step 9

Variations could include students creating several blocks, using other students' blocks, or developing a larger, key image on the bandana first and then scatter stamping subsequent images around it.

Step 10

Allow printed bandanas to air dry. No heat setting required. Should be noted that printed bandanas will be dry to the touch in 24 hours, but require 5-7 days to cure before they can be washed.

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