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Teachable Moments: Art Start 2014 (Part Two)

May 19, 2014

This is the second part to my Adventures with Art Start 2014.  Please see the 50 state quilt project I created with Ms. Mabry’s second grade classroom at Beye Elementary School at Art Start Part One.

I worked with Kindergarteners through the Oak Park Education Foundation‘s Art Start Program for the first time this year with Ms. Parkinson and Ms. Heaphy at Irving Elementary School.  While I have worked with younger children in my studio, this was the first time going into a classroom with children this age.  What I learned was that students this age are very enthusiastic!  We planned a project appropriate for their skill level and attention span and it worked out perfectly.  The students were reinforcing their knowledge of the alphabet over the last 26 days of school, so we started with a “sun-print fabric” project.  They used stencils and plastic magnet letters to spell their names on top of the fabric which was placed on top of a metal cookie tray.  This was great as the magnets kept the fabric from blowing in the breeze as we took the cotton cyanotype fabric out to the sun to get exposed.  Their “name page” became the first of their fabric study book.

The second visit to the classes was great fun!  To tie in to the students learning about nature we did a natural dye project.  Using onion skins, beets and purple cabbage as our natural dye-stuff we changed the color of our wool fabrics.  The children discussed the difference between the source of the cotton fabric (plant fiber) that we worked with the week before and the wool (animal fiber) that we were using for the dye project.  The children smashed the vegetable dye into the fiber within ziplock bags and added heat by microwave.  We also cooked the onion skin in a crock pot for our use.  At the following visit to the class they were able to see the results of all their efforts!

The third visit to the classrooms was on the Irving School Color Day!  So, to tie into that theme we wet felted a rainbow page for our fabric book.  Using cheesecloth (made of cotton, not cheese!) as a backing fabric, we arranged red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple wool roving down in rows.  Placing this on top of bubble wrap and putting them inside extra-large zip bags we sprayed them with warm soapy water (a garden spray applicator works great for this!) and rolled them up.  Adding friction through the rolling, rubbing and thumping created a “nuno-felted” fabric.  And by keeping them all in the bags we contained the soapy water mess!


I did another visit to the classes where we embellished the natural dyed fabric with yarn stitching.  They were encouraged to get creative and stitch through the wool with the yarn and tapestry needles in any way they liked.  Some simple guidelines and techniques were shared to make it easy for first time stitchers.

And my final visit put the whole project together.  I punched about 10 holes along one edge of the cotton sun-print fabric for the children, to make stitching through that easy (the dyed wool and the felted rainbow were easy to stitch through as is).  They layered the three fabrics on top of each other and “bound” the book with an overcast stitch.  The following day was Irving School’s Art Fest, so they displayed their creations for friends and family to come and see.  I thought this project was fun, and very educational for children this age.


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