Gyotaku (pronounced GEE–OH–TAH–KOO) is the traditional Japanese art of fish printing on rice paper. The word gyotaku comes from gyo = fish and taku = stone monument rubbing. Gyotaku dates back to the mid-1800s. The fish prints were a way fishermen could record the size and type of their catches. In this lesson students make their own fish prints.
Cover the surface of your work area with newspaper.
Coat the brush or foam brayer with paint and evenly cover the top of the fish with ink/paint.
Cover any ink/paint which has gotten on the work area around the fish with clean newspaper. This will prevent un-wanted blotches from getting on the printing paper or fabric.
Holding onto the edges of your printing paper or fabric, carefully place it on top of the inked fish. Do not move the paper once it is placed on the fish, as it will smudge.
Place the palm of one hand over the paper or fabric that is covering the fish. Try not to move this hand. Use the fingers and palm of your other hand to gently press down on the paper or fabric covering the rest of the fish. Press as much of the fish as possible, making sure to press the fins and tail. Do not press on the same area twice or the print will be smudged.
After you have pressed the entire fish, carefully peel off your paper or fabric from one end to the other. If you are using the same color paint for your next print you can apply another coat and repeat the process. If you want to use a new color simply wash the fish in warm, soapy water and pat dry. You will then be ready for a new color.
To extend the lesson, pair it with fish anatomy worksheet on page 2
Agriculture in the Classroom is a nationwide educational program designed to help students develop an awareness and understanding that agriculture is the source of our food, clothing, shelter and other essentials. In Oregon, the program is a non-profit, 501 (c)(3) foundation. The College of Agricultural Sciences at Oregon State University (OSU) provides office space on the OSU campus.