Monday, January 31, 2011

Japanese Notan

This week, 5th graders will be considering line and shape as they create positive and negative space in a Notan-inspired collage. We'll begin by looking at some examples of the Japanese tradition as well as some more contemporary collages. Examples include symmetrical and assymetrical designs.

I plan on having students prepare their base paper by applying strips of a musical score, which will show beneath their cut paper work, creating a first layer.

Next they will fold their square of black paper in fourths, write the word fold by the 2 folded edges and cut out shapes along the 2 outside edges (the edges NOT folded). These cuts should be fairly near the folded edges to start out. The examples below show the steps done on white paper so that you can see better what I am doing.
Writing the word "fold" helps students remember NOT to cut there!

After shapes are cut, students unfold their square,  turn it over and glue it to their base paper.

Next they fit their shapes back into the spaces they were cut from -- like a puzzle.

Then, one at a time, they flip the puzzle pieces to the outside and glue.
We will be using gluestick to do this, but Mod Podge would work well, too.
A final piece, done with a black 4" square glued on white, looks like this.


  1. Very nice! Love the addition of the black and white music score - gives it a little more 'wow' factor...

  2. Your example with the music sheet is wonderful!

  3. Thanks for posting this! I've seen similar results posted on the blogs, but nobody has ever step-by-step explained it so well so that I'll be able to do it myself. So THANKS!

  4. oh my,
    your blog is rather dashing!
    I enjoy it uh-lot!
    have fun you!
    and happy blogging! x x

  5. Really cool! I remember doing those paper cut outs in school, but mine never looked that good!

  6. Wow I've done this every year for 5 years and never knew it was a Japanese art form! Must have been under a rock. I thought it was just an exercise before we start talking about positive and negative shapes in our art. Now I can add a little more meat (art history) to this simple lesson. Thanks!!!