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Monday, February 1, 2010

Craft: Gyotaku (Fish Prints)

Gyotaku (gyo=fish, taku=rubbing) is an art invented by Japanese fishermen in the 1800’s. It allowed them to keep a record of their catches. It continues to be an art form and has been adapted as an alternative to the stuffed fish on the wall for modern sport fishers. Traditionally a real fish is used, along with high quality ink, and rice paper. Libraries can adapt the art further for a program.

Materials and supplies:

-rubber fish from Dick Blick


Option 1

-tempera paint


Option 2

-Speedball Fabric Printing Ink (heatset) (Dick Blick or Oriental Trading)


-additional fabric paint, i.e. puffy paints (optional)




1. Start with tempera paint and scrap paper to get a feel for the process.

2. Coat fish well with choosen medium. It is important to do this quickly, as the paint will start to dry and you’ll lose parts of the fish.

3. Cover fish with paper/t-shirt, pressing down and molding it around the fish.

4. Pull it up smoothly.

5. You have a print. If on fabric, follow directions on paint to heatset. Touch up with a paintbrush as needed.

6. Follow directions to heatset. You may want to use puffy paints to further decorate.

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