In Japan, the arrival of May is heralded by the appearance of flying fish: carp-shaped windsocks known as Koinobori flown in honor of Children’s Day or “Tango no Sekku” on May 5th. The carp is considered the strongest and most spirited of fish, because it fights its way upstream against strong currents. The tradition of flying Koinobori outside homes began as a way to honor the sons living within so they would grow up healthy and courageous like a carp. Modern Koinobori are often available in sets that represent the entire family.
Block printing, specifically wood block, also has deep roots in Japanese art. The script style of Japanese lettering was better suited to this printing method that that of movable-type presses, so books and illustrations retained a certain artistic quality even when mass-produced.
In this lesson, students designed a “scale-like” shaped block from soft block printing material and apply it repetitively to outdoor safe fabric that has been cut in the shape of a fish.