Art Lesson Plan: Kimono Collagraph Print - by Ken Schwab

Kimono Collagraph Print

Submitted by: Ken Schwab, formerly of Leigh High School, San Jose CA
Unit: Collagraph - Art of Japan
Grade Level: 8 through 12
For an Alternate Collagraph idea see Prelude to Troy by Romare Bearden. Layers of cardboard and tag board accented with glue. Greek Mythology Theme - Illustration.
Ken's Web Site:


Objectives: Students will

  • Gain an appreciation for art/textiles of Japan

  • Use many different textures to create a collagraph plate

  • Use problem solving skills - determine different ways to get edges and patterns to show. Use a variety of materials to create values.

  • Demonstrate skill and craftsmanship in printing

  • Hand color a print with Colored Pencils.. to create interest


Kiimono1-Ken.jpg (72929 bytes)

Scrap Mat board. or chip board - Tag board. - Aluminum foil. - doilies - Sand paper. (different grades) - Fabric. - textured wallpapers - string - White Glue. - Gesso. - Crystal Clear Acrylic Spray Paint. - Masking Tape. - Scissors. - X-acto Knives. - Rag print paper (Rives BFK paper. is nice -- but less expensive Domestic Rag works fine, too) - Etching Inks. - Felt Daubers. - Etching Press. - Odorless Turpenoid. - Paper towels



  • Contemporary Japanese Textiles

  • Oriental Patterns

  • More on how to make a Collagraph (Archive). See also this link (Archive)

  • Kimono as Art. - This illustrated book showcases 55 masterworks by Japanese kimono artist Itchiku Kubota. The secrets of dyed and painted Japanese textiles of the fourteenth to early seventeenth centuries are unlocked by Kubota who invented a unique method of decoration.

  • Japanese Kimono Designs. - This unique design treasury, consisting of lavish full-color pictures of a vibrant array of kimonos, is reproduced directly from two rare and costly original portfolios. Devotees of fashion, art, and Asian culture will appreciate this beautiful book and its tribute to the elegance and refinement of Japanese art.

Kiimono-Ken2.jpg (51736 bytes)Instruction/Motivation:

Collagraphs are the opposite of etchings with the same inking techniques.


Collagraphs are raised areas that will trap ink in the lower areas and you wipe off the top layers to keep light. This is about textures and any kind of design can be used especially stylized or simplified designs. I have used nonobjective designs but more recently I have taken the basic design of a Japanese Kimono as a start and they have used the different textures and materials to fill in these spaces.

  1. Present images of Japanese Kimonos to students. Use Internet resources above, if desired. Perhaps even compare to Chinese garments.

  2. Present examples of collagraph prints to students - Show teacher-made examples as well as those made by students in previous years.

  3. Demonstrate various techniques to create texture and edges. A chart of various textures and how they print is helpful.

  4. Demonstrate printing technique


Lesson Summary: Take the shape of the Kimono and divide it into shapes, such as the collar, body, sleeves, belt, etc and have them use collagraph techniques to fill in the areas. I build up on thin chipboard using sandpaper, doilies, string, tinfoil, Gesso with a comb (to create lines), thin boards cut up, glue swirled. Use removable tape to keep the Gesso in areas for definition. Let dry and cover with thin coat of Gesso (let dry) and then a coat of white glue and water, (let dry) spray with crystal clear and make prints. Color pencil, lightly into them for a neat affect.

1. Look at Kimono designs and start with a T design. Add the belt, collar, wings, etc. and divide it into areas for different textures. By looking at books of Japanese designs and motifs create a design that has Japanese patterns and objects.

2. Choose your materials, tin foil, sand, paper, Gesso, thin boards, paper doilies, string, burlap, folded paper are just some of the materials and techniques. The tin foil must be gessoed first to give it strength, use 150-200 grit sand paper, 2ply boards, doilies should be 2 layers thick, glue burlap to a thin board with adhesive spray to cut out easily, Not too thick string (Note from Judy: We also used masking tape and incised lines made with X-acto knives).

3. All of these are glued to thin chipboard and they must be thin themselves. Cut and glue down all edges and seams. Cover the entire board with a thin coat of Gesso to seal the fibers and boards. After the Gesso is dry run it through the press to flatten out the raised areas so that they will be only thin areas. (Note from Judy: When I made collagraph prints - we made embossed prints at this stage. Ran a damp piece of paper over the plate with a piece of plastic wrap as a separator so paper wouldn't stick to plate. Even tagboard works for embossed prints)

4. After the flattening, put a coat of white glue and water to give it hardness and strength. When the glue is dry spray with crystal clear Fixative. to keep it shiny and slick. (Note from Judy: When I made collagraph prints - we brushed the plate with acrylic gloss medium which worked very well).

5. Ink up like the etching and wipe the top layers clean.

  • With daubers and etching ink (general chemical), rub (with great pressure), the etching ink into the incised lines covering the entire surface with ink. Use cheesecloth and lightly rub the cloth over the print surface taking off the wasted ink. Rub the cheesecloth in one direction so as to not wipe too far down into the lines and try to rub across most of the lines.

  • Use Q-tips. and such to clean small areas. Soak some Rives BFK paper for at least 10 min. Run through an etching press at with good pressure and 2 blankets. (Put newsprint on bad of press and another over the back of paper to keep blankets clean.

Put print between blotters to dry.

Color pencil lightly into finished print to create added interest.


  1. Did student show use of elements and principles of design to create an interesting composition?

  2. Did student use a variety of textures to create a collagraph plate? Did they show problem solving skills in determining how to get edges and patterns to show?

  3. Did student exhibit skill and craftsmanship in pulling an original fine art print?

  4. Did student effectively use color to enhance a print?



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