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Re: best textile projects for HS?

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From: kcaraway (kcaraway_at_TeacherArtExchange)
Date: Tue Apr 22 2003 - 21:39:32 PDT


Some textile projects for high school (some from Jr. High years):

My students had interesting results with a simplified version of paste resist. It's like batik, only you use flour and water paste instead of the messy wax. The paste, mixed to consistency of thick pancake batter, can be squeezed on, with lines, or you can make stencils of shapes with cardboard or old laminated paper and brush it inside the cut out areas. If you let it dry overnight, it is hard and you can crumple it so that when you paint over the whole thing it has a crackle effect. No wax to melt out, just heat-set the paint and scrape/wash the dried batter off.

I adapted this from a "katazome" workshop I attended in college. Katazome is a traditional Japanese stencil technique used for kimono fabric. We used textile screen printing ink over it, acrylic paint will do, and you get a very nice contrast between the solid areas and the white textured crackle areas. Also paint colors can be blended and colors don't have to be solid, like with the dyes.

With an advanced class, I gave them an option of doing that or the traditional batik, with plain old canning parrafin and fiber-reactive dyes (easy) and I had a couple students really get into using the tjanting tool, with success, but our room is not especially well ventillated, maybe it wasn't good for us.

They were encouraged to make something useful out of theirs, and I had a some who hand sewed a roll-up cloth brush holder. Most wanted to keep theirs in one solid piece, though, and I couldn't argue with that, would have probably wanted to myself.

Stamp printing with an eraser is quick and offers lots of design applications. I have cut up muslin or cheap cotton and given each student one square of a quilt. Took up a whole Saturday to piece it together, but was a cool thing to look at draped on the wall. Even after the roof leaked and color faded on it from some construction paper. Maybe especially so then.

Loom beading was popular when we did it, and offers a chance to teach pattern. Students learned some Native American symbolism in the designs, and were supposed to come up with a design that had symbolic significance in their lives. Some of them were really thoughtful and creative. This one is also neat because of the "getting in the zone" effect that you just don't get with a video game. There is a good video that teaches the steps, can look up the title if anyone wants it.

Another possibility is to study Hawaiian quilts. They are stunning designs, the same on each corner, and the history behind them is pretty fascinating to me. Missionaries taught the native women quilting, and instead of piecing together pieces, they adapted the technique to use the traditional designs that had formerly been used with pounded bark cloth. Each family has a symbolic plant, animal, or other image for the design. I have used this technique also to teach the basic rudiments of screenprinting, with paper cut-out designs, folded four ways. Unfortunately, when the school newspaper took photos of us cutting our four-cornered designs out of folded newsprint, they ran the caption "Mrs. Caraway's art class makes paper snowflakes". Arg!

One more idea (I promise I'll quit after this) is to sgraffito a design into cloth (we used a cotton hanky--already hemmed). Dipped the fabric into hot melted wax and placed a drawing underneath. Used a compass's sharp point to scratch into the wax, and dipped into dye, after crackling wax. Only works well if there are a lot of lines, like a Durer or Rembrandt print. Kind of looks like a cloth etching.

Oh, and gadget printing can be really interesting on fabric.

I'm really into this textile design thing, hence the long-winded post.

Karla Caraway
Springdale (Arkansas) H. S.

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