Methow Valley Watershed Block Prints: Water Provides

Winter 2017

_DSC0304Methow Valley sixth graders examined the fish, flora, and fauna of the Methow River watershed through the lens of artists by designing and carving images on linoleum blocks. In this interdisciplinary unit students first learned about the creatures that inhabit the riparian zone, forested areas, and other ecosystems of the Methow Valley in a workshop in their classrooms with a local biologist, John Crandall. Crandall helped students determine a theme for the project. This year’s students decided that clean water is a priority for them, so they created the 2017 theme: Water Provides. (Previous years’ themes were “It Takes a Watershed” and “Aid the Shade.”)_DSC0279

The students then sketched images and learned how to carve blocks and print them with local teaching artists, Laura Gunnip of Door No. 3, Emily Post, and Jennifer Molesworth in a 5-day residency. The first day or two of the residency is spent creating a design and transferring it to the linoleum block using tracing paper, pencils, and Sharpies. Then the carving, which usually takes two days, begins. Students use special carving tools with different sized tips to cut thin or thick lines in their block, remembering that what is cut away will remain white, and what is left on the block will print black. After the carving, the printing begins, using block print ink spread on plexiglass slabs, brayers to ink the block, and bamboo barens to transfer the ink to the printing paper . Students typically make an initial print and then return to their block with carving tools to refine the design. Once each student has created a final print, the project is complete.



The final prints are collected and shared with stakeholders in the Methow Kids’ Free Fishing Day event, which always takes place the second Saturday in June, when hundreds of local and regional children flock to the federal fish hatchery in Winthrop to participate in fish-related activities and fish in a stocked pond. Several favorite prints are selected to serve as promotion for the event, in print and online media.

There are many outstanding examples of block prints from the last 15 years. Many are featured in a free calendar, Living With the Methow River, produced by the Methow Resource Council through a collaboration with Methow Arts Alliance.

This art residency was brought to students by Methow Arts Alliance’ Okanogan Region Arts Education Partnership.  The partnership serves over 5,200 students and 380 teachers across greater Okanogan County with arts programs in classrooms in the Brewster, Bridgeport, Methow, Okanogan, Omak and Pateros School Districts, and in the Paschal Sherman Indian School on the Colville Reservation.

This block prints residency was sponsored by the Bureau of Reclamation with additional assistance from the Methow Valley School District, the Public School Funding Alliance, ArtsWA, Icicle Fund, and the Methow Valley Fund of the Community Foundation of North Central Washington.


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_DSC0268The Fishing Day project is a collaboration among ArtsWA(Washington State Arts Commission), Bonneville EnvironmentalFoundation, Cascade Columbia Fisheries Enhancement Group, Ecotrust, Friends of Northwest Hatcheries, Jim’s Pumping Service, Methow Arts Alliance, Methow Recycles, Methow Restoration Council, Methow Salmon Recovery Foundation, Methow Valley Fly Fishers, Methow Valley School District, National Endowment for the Arts, North 40 Outfitters, Okanogan Conservation District, Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest, Upper Columbia Salmon Recovery Board, US Army Corps of Engineers, US Bureau of Reclamation, US Fish & Wildlife Service, Washington Department of Ecology, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Washington State Parks, Wildlife Conservation Society, and Yakama Nation.

The 2017 Methow Kids’ Free Fishing Day takes place on Saturday, June 10, 2017.


INFO: Methow Arts Alliance, 509.997.4004,