Stamping Space

Jack's Space
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Objective: Using a square stamp, create a (positive) shape that can be inked and repeatedly stamped to create a new (negative) shape. Create an Escher-like interdependence between your positive and negative shapes and try to make your negative shapes as interesting as your positive ones.

Artist/Culture References/Resources: Islamic Art, M.C. Escher
It is hard to ignore M.C. Escher when doing this lesson as he utilized space in many different and interesting ways. Some of his drawings are expertly rendered trees, leaves, fish, hands, and skulls. Others create spacial optical illusions of staircases to nowhere, impossible roof lines, and intertwining beasts. Still others concern themselves with the concept of the interdependence between positive and negative space. Shapes lock together like pieces of a puzzle. Grinning devils are created by and sandwiched between serene angels. Fish morph into flying ducks. It is unclear where one shape stops being the positive and starts becoming the negative.

Part One Directions:
  1. In your sketchbook, trace 8 square eraser shapes.
  2. Look at your Islamic designs. Find and draw at least six interesting shapes (from your study of Islamic Art) in the bottom half of your sketchbook.
  3. To make the stamped shapes easy to connect, you need to be able to see an edge of your positive shape. Therefore, whatever design you choose must touch the middle or corner of your stamp edge. Consider this when you are choosing possible islamic shapes to inspire your stamp shape. Test 8 possibilities in the squares drawn in your sketchbook. Remember: you are looking for an interesting carved shape that will also give you an interesting negative shape (you may NOT choose a cross--not interesting enough in this exercise).
  4. Choose one to transfer to your eraser. Draw on the eraser with a pencil, being careful to touch the middle or corner of each side.
  5. Using an x-acto knife, cut down along the edge of your shape. This doesn't need to be very deep, but try not to undercut your design or it could break off. Next, cut from the stamp edge to the edge of your shape and the "negative" eraser should fall out. BE CAREFUL!!!
  6. If you have negative space in your positive shape, use a linoleum tool to remove.
  7. Test your shape to see what the negative shape will look like.
  8. When you are happy with the result, choose a color of Fadeless paper and make a page of your positive and negative shapes.
  9. Neatly mount your patterned paper onto a larger white piece and sign your name carefully on the bottom.

Part Two Directions:
  1. Carefully make your design a bit deeper (by doing this your impression into the clay will be stronger and more noticeable).
  2. Roll a small slab of clay between two wooden guides (to control thickness of the clay)
  3. Smooth the surfaces of your slab with a rib tool.
  4. Use your stamp to carefully press into the clay, making even indentations.
  5. Choose a size rock/plaster/clay on which you wish to dry your clay and cut a shape from the slab that will fit the rock/plaster/clay.
  6. Gently smooth the edges of your shape and carefully drape your slab over the rock.
  7. Gently draw or press your initials into the bottom of your form.
  8. After about 15 minutes, gently flip your curved slab into a bag and gently place on a board. (or onto the plastic on the counter)