Earlier this year, Hannah's teacher broached the idea of my 'teaching' their year 6 class a textile-based project for Design and Technology. I loved the idea of introducing these young people to the work I love so much, and I also welcome opportunities to spend time in class with my children and their peers. Deciding on a suitable project was a bit of a challenge, though. I was keen to incorporate dyeing, because it's such a fun way to learn more about colour. Learning to use a sewing machine was also going to be very relevant to the Technology component of the subject. And I wanted the project to reflect my work as an artist too, because that's what I know best. So we settle on making little art quilts, inspired by leaves/seeds/branches.
To me, it was important to work through the design process, beginning with sketching the plant material to familiarise ourselves with it.
From there we talked about our compositions. Students had the option of making something more abstract or more realistic, as long as they used their plant drawings as their starting points. We talked about colour choices too. I would have loved to devote more time to working through composition and talking about colour, but it all got rather busy!
Once our compositions were sorted my we spent a lesson dyeing fabric. In groups of three or four, we dyed colour runs around (red to yellow, yellow to blue, blue to red) and across (yellow to purple, red to green, blue to orange) the colour wheel. As the students were busy dyeing, I came around and diluted some colours with water, and darkened others with black dye, so that we could see those effects as well.
The little quilts were made by fusing with vliesofix, so, essentially appliqué. We talked about colour choices, and I encourage the students to select a background fabric and six other colours including the following: a main colour, in light and dark; a light neutral colour and a dark neutral colour, and two other colours, preferably at least one brighter one. In the excitement of selecting colours, these instructions got a little neglected! I ironed vliesofix on to the chosen fabrics at home, so that at the following lesson, each student had a set of six fabrics backed in vliesofix, ready to start cutting.
We worked from our to-scale drawings, tracing elements of the design onto tracing paper, and then cutting them out of fabric. This proved to be quite laborious, and we may have been better off not worrying so much about our 'pattern' and cutting more 'free style'.
We persevered, though, and it was exciting to iron all the pieces into place on the background, and trim the design into shape. Even more exciting was learning how to use the sewing machines. I am super thankful for the other class mum who came and manned the sewing machines through three intense lessons!
The class teacher participated in the project too, making his own artwork, and using a sewing machine (and iron – take note, Mrs B) for the first time. What a great opportunity for the kids to see in action that we can always keep learning! His piece is the wattle quilt at the end of this post, and demonstrates colour selection as I had intended it to happen.
Didn't they all do a great job!?
And I also have to say, hats off to school teachers! This one lesson a week left me exhausted! I don't think I could do this full time!
During my 100-day drawing project many of you suggested a colouring book of my drawings. There are so many colouring books at there already that I’ve hesitated about the whole idea. But I gradually accumulated suitable drawings anyway and finally got to the point of collating them. So now I can present to you my new ‘A Walk in the Bush’ pack of colouring cards. Because I’m ‘publishing’ these myself, and because I personally prefer colouring on loose pages rather than in a book, I’ve printed these on loose leaf card (200gsm). This means that your completed colouring can be easily popped into a frame, or pinned/washi-taped to a display board when you’re done!
Each card features a different drawing inspired by our local Australian flora (so the package also makes a great ‘Australian souvenir’).
The cards come packaged in a black card folder and slipped into a protective cellophane sleeve.
Oh, and you can find them here (price includes shipping within Australia, there’s a little extra international shipping charge).
You may have noticed in my 100-day drawings that there have been a few grevillea drawings. There have been even more ‘behind the scenes’, including this one on the design wall. I’m hoping to start cutting it out as a new art quilt today!
Grevillea flowers are incredibly beautiful. They are also a lot of fun to draw. I think they will also be a lot of fun to colour in, so I made a new colouring page to share with you all. (My previous gum leaf one is here.)
You can download it here.
Grevillea colouring page
Happy colouring! (I’ll be happily busy cutting out cheerful fabrics for my grevillea quilt.)
P.S. The file should actually be big enough to print on to A3 paper if you have that capability at home!
Meta's quilt is all drawn up now. With the need to represent specific children rather than a 'general' child, I took extra time with the faces. I'm happy with how they're looking.
To draw up the quilt, I enlarged the composition I shared in the last post with the photocopier. I used a sheet of tracing paper and a fine liner to draw the pattern for the quilt by tracing over the enlarged composition. As I draw a pattern like this, I need to think about all the seam lines. Each 'space' will be a separate piece of fabric, and I need to think about whether the size of the pieces and the tightness of the curves/corners is manageable.
The next step was to make a colour plan. To do this I took a clear photo of the pattern I'd just drawn and opened it in Adobe Illustrator. This program has a function which traces images into vector illustrations (to put something very complex into very simple terms). Having a vector illustration of my drawing means that I can colour it in with simple clicks of the mouse – select a colour, click on the spaces in the drawing that need to be that colour, and repeat. The wonderful thing about doing this digitally is that I can easily try out different colour schemes.
I've asked Meta for some feedback on this colour plan – is it too dark? Is it too light? Should the colours of the clothes be changed at all? More blue? Less red? And so on. At the same time, the plan is only indicative. I usually change things around a bit when I start cutting out the fabric.
Although I enjoyed November’s #amonthof #mycreativespace challenge, I wasn’t ready for another month-long challenge this month. So I didn’t join in with #amonthofatoz. However, I thought it might be a fun way to wrap up the year, so here is my A to Z for 2012 – a little taste of the happenings here on this little blog.
is for artists retreat
– a fun and creative way to spend our housebound winter school holidays ( the kids have been asking if we are going to do it again this summer holidays)
is for Bunbury Regional Art Galleries, where I had work in two exhibitions this year – A
ustralia Wide Two and the BRAG
c is for colour selection, a critical step in every quilt
is for drawing
, of which there was a lot this year. I’m really looking forward to developing some of these drawings into new quilt designs in the new year!
is for exhibition
– specifically, ‘to be a child’, which was the highlight
of my quiltmaking calendar this year
is for the many faces
is for garage
, a major organisational project undertaken for Phil’s birthday gift
is for Hannah, and the special artwork
we made for her
is for insect
, day 3 of our artists retreat
is for journal. Here’s
how I make mine.
is for labels
, a bit more professional-looking than they used to be thanks to my customized thermofax screen
is for map
cushions, and Marcus
, of course!
is or paper stencils
, used to screenprint happy little people
is for quilt
, of course, of which there were 20 new ones this year
is for rolls of quilts, stored in my custom-built quilt storage cupboard
is for screenprinted softies
which still make me smile
is for Usborne’s
Little Children’s Book of Things To Do, which is still keeping Caleb inspired
is for Mr Walrus, and the ‘new’ bedroom
for Daniel and Marcus
x is for mistakes made along the way
y is for yellow
is for zipping around on a trike