Friday, May 22, 2009

Moku Hanga High School

What a lot of fun it has been teaching Moku Hanga to the 9th graders at Santa Cruz Waldorf High School. At SCWHS all the students have to take art so there is a broad range of skill and experience, but all have taken to the printmaking with a certain enthusiasm. 

I have been given NO money for supplies because there simply isn't any and so been raiding my own stash and buying blocks, paper, and ink. We were given new lino cutting tools, which only just work, because of the less than adequate tools I have done some carving on the students blocks, clearing large areas with my big chisel and cleaning up blocks here and there. As for brushes I am letting them use mine and some simply have to make do with painting brushes from the school. 
For printing we have 4 barens of varying degrees of quality which are shared about the tables. This can be a bit chaotic. I tried to introduce the use of a wooden spoon, but alas they would not accept this mode of printing despite my quite decent demonstration. 

When the class is going going full steam ahead, snippets of ambient conversations heard can sound something like this: 
Miss Moll Miss Moll I need help 
this one's a keeper
I can't do this
 where's the bamboo thingy? 

it's called a baren
 i know i like to call it the bamboo thingy
Miss Moll look at my print!
can I take this one home?

this looks crappy
 you're pressing way too hard 
you need to keep the baren flat
why can't i do this?
it takes some practice, like a sport

whoa, that's too much ink, it's not ketchup
this one looks pretty good
who has the brush for the black?
where's the baren? 

You get the idea. 

The hour and 50 minutes we have twice a week flashes by as I share in both the printing problems and the triumphs. The look on a teenagers face with when they pull their first print is priceless. And to hear at the end of the day the grouchiest of students saying that printing so much fun......I tell them, yes, you are right, printing is so much fun........ Did you clean up your table?

For me this is the best class that I have taught at the school, and the last since my position has been cut next year. 


PJ said...

It must have been a lovely but bittersweet way to finish the year. Butwhat a wonderful way for them to remember you. I would love to have a great teacher like you to teach me how to do this. You should be proud.

Erin said...

I get so mad when I hear about schools cutting arts and music classes. What kind of world would we have without the arts?!? We'll probably find out soon enough...

Glenna said...

How funny that we get to "hear" their comments. And how sad that there was no money and that your position has been cut. If it was football or stupid soccer, they wouldn't have cut that! (Although--have they? They wouldn't here.) I don't know anyone over 40 who plays soccer, but I know plenty of over 40s who draw on their early lessons and appreciation of art or music--the first things the schools always cut.

Re: the camera. I'm hoping it will work well with the buns; we'll try it after naptime. The old point and shoot couldn't catch the action, particularly if the flash was involved, but it did well with the closeups of the needlework. The DSLR catches all the motion shots, so bun photos happen with that. Fortunately, I have another zoom lens, although it's large and heavy and can't do close-ups.

Annette F. Tait said...

These works are just super Diana, congratulations to the youngsters!

It is not only about creating art, it is about self confidence, pride and accomplishment and I see they have all passed!

That is a real loss about your position. I have seen many areas in which priorities were misjudged!

bunnygirl said...

I'm so sorry they cut your position. It looks and sounds like the kids enjoyed it. Art teaches patience and precision, with a reward much more lovely than a math formula. I hope things change and they'll be able to hire you back.

Anonymous said...

I can just imagine the ruckus in class, but all good fun, of course :) I wish art class had been this interesting when I was in school. I would love to have a dedicated teacher like you! I'm sorry to hear about the cut *hugs*

Andrew Stone said...

Nice prints--you must have done a good job explaining the process and some of the nuances.
Sorry about the position being cut.
Odd from a Waldorf school.
Glad you were able to include their comments.

d. moll, said...

Thanks everyone for coming by! RE:The position cuts: since SCWHS is a private institution we are feeling the downturn by way of enrollment. At this point, last I heard, the school will be run by only 2 full time teachers......Should more money appear for part-time art teacher I imagine I'll be asked back, though not the most popular teacher I am liked well enough!

ilex said...

"It's not ketchup"-- priceless.

Miss Moll, Miss Moll... the world clearly needs more teachers like you.

d. moll, said...

Ha. ha, leave it to Ilex to latch on to the food reference!

Debra James Percival said...

Wonderful prints, Congrats to Students and a Great Teacher!

Rabbits' Guy said...

It's all been said .. good luck. I hope they can reinstate the position.

Mary-Laure said...

I'm sure you're the best art teacher ever... Such a shame your position has been cut! Kids need more art!

M.Kate said... sorry to hear the class had to be's such a pity as the children will learn so much. beautiful arts for sure :P

PJ said...

Looking at it on my page, "Moku Hanga High School" sounds like a scary movie. Or maybe just an anime title. But then again, those children with such big eyes ARE kind of scary.

Annie B said...

So sorry to hear that your position has been cut. Well, you're definitely going out with a bang! Your students made some wonderful prints. The dialog is priceless.

Anonymous said...

"The axes of evil" as I call the constant funding cuts.
Yes, they happen in Australia, too, even to unpaid teachers like myself. Sad and probably very stupid as the students will miss a vital element of learning.

Like the "ketchup" quote!