Monthly Mentor

Natalie C. Jones (February)
Each month, a different member is the guest writer for the NAEA Monthly Mentor Blog. Natalie C. Jones is an artist, small business owner, and the director of education at the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture. She has 10 years of experience working as an art teacher and teaching artist throughout the east coast and the Midwest. Click "GO" to read her full bio.



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June 30, 2018


From: Renna Moore

In my last article, I talked about connecting the Art class to other areas. I thought for my last post I would give you the information on two Science and Technology based photography projects that my students have really enjoyed.

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The 1st lesson deals with using a 3-D Printer. 3D printed photos, also known as 3D Printed Lithophanes, are an extremely unique and creative application that with teach your students how to 3-D model and give a creative way to display their photography.

Lithophane is a 3D representation of a photo that can only be seen when illuminated from behind. Lithophanes where originally etched or molded artwork in very thin translucent porcelain or basswood. A gray-scale representation of the image is created and then depending on the color it is then converted to a calculated 3D printed height. This allows a specific amount of light to shine through. Darker colors block more light and the opposite relationship stands for lighter pixels. Each pixel in the image undergoes this process and a very unique art piece is created.

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I have a step by step printout of what to do to program the lithophane available if you need it.

There are 2 files. One has the step by step screenshots of the 2 programs I use (Cura and imprimindo3d).

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The other has the overall lesson of how to create Lithophanes.

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The 2nd lesson deals with biology and chlorophyll.  The chlorophyll process is an organic alternative photography process that uses sunlight to bleach the surface of a leaf. If you have ever tried drying leaves and flowers as a child you might have noticed how they lose their color as they dry, especially if you leave them in the sun. This photo sensitivity can be used to make prints of your pictures.

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The step by step process is also available at this link:

My main advice on this lesson is to have the students experiment with the types of leaves and how much water they will need. I have found that tropical type leaves work way better if you are unable to keep the leaves watered. Also you can reuse the transparency photos. I found that this project was also very budget friendly. The only supplies needed were leaves, old pieces of glass I already had (by putting them on drawing boards, I made “frames”, tape, and copier transparency.

If you are teaching younger classes that do not do photography, you can also have them draw a positive/negative type picture on the transparency and use that to create an image on the leaf.

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I hope these 2 techniques can help you develop some fun and educational activities in your classroom.

Enjoy the rest of your Summer!



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