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Japanese shoji screens are decorative as well as functional. Create a miniature shoji screen with symbols of this unique culture.
In Japan, shoji screens traditionally served a variety of practical functions—as room dividers, doors and privacy screens. These portable screens were also used in other ways—as part of tea ceremonies, Buddhist rites or as a backdrop during dances. Invite students to research the origins and uses of these screens.
Traditional shoji screens were often decorated with hand-painted artwork. Simple cultural and natural designs allowed the light to pass through but still provided a decorative element. Provide the class with a look at photographs of shoji screens. What designs do you think best capture Japanese culture and why?
Students use crayons to create a Japanese-inspired design on a piece of tracing paper. Tracing paper is translucent so it resembles the rice paper used in a real shoji screen. When drawing original designs, students make sketch lines with the crayons by using gently overlapping strokes to build up dense, lively-looking shapes. Create new colors by overlaying light coats of various crayon colors.
To create the frame of the shoji screen cut dark construction paper into strips. Arrange the strips into a grid-like pattern. Use a glue stick to glue the strips to the tracing paper.
Provide time during the school day for students to present their projects and explain their choices of designs.
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