Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Scoil Náisiúnta na bhForbacha is inspired to stitch!

The recent International Quilt Festival of Ireland received a lot of attention from quilters and non-quilters alike. Amongst those visiting was Breda King, a national school teacher in Furbo, Co. Galway. Breda was so impressed by the potential of fabric and stitch as a means of self-expression that she made some enquiries and I was delighted to be invited to work with 5th and 6th class on a fabric inspired project before the end of term.

The school is located in the Gaeltacht (Irish-speaking region) and so this gave me an opportunity to practice mo Ghaeilge agus tá súil agam nach raibh mo chuid Gaeilge ró-olc!

Although our time was limited, the children set to work with enthusiasm sketching ideas for a piece of fabric art. I brought along some of my sketchbooks and their related finished textile art pieces to demonstrate the process of developing ideas through sketching and note-taking before tackling a new piece of work.

We then used Berol and Pentel fabric crayons to add colour to 100% cotton fabric. These crayons are a quick way to add vibrant colour, they provide more control for drawing than fabric paints and of course they don't need drying time so they were ideally suited to the time-frame we had available to us. The colours can be fixed to the fabric by heat-setting with an iron (protect your ironing mat and iron by using baking parchment or paper). In theory this makes the finished piece washable (ideal for t-shirts) but we didn't test this as our pieces are meant as wall-art.

We also used fusible webbing (bondaweb/vliesofix) ironed to the back of printed cottons and cut into shapes to iron onto the drawings for extra texture.

The children used cotton embroidery thread to create stitched embellisments (running stitch, cross stitch, etc) and to sew on brightly coloured buttons.

It's great to see all the children enjoying learning how to stitch (which is a skill for life!) but they also saw how these practical skills can be used to create unique artwork.

These supplies and techniques are easy to introduce into the classroom. They encourage the children to learn new coordination skills as they thread a needle, tie a knot, sew small and large stitches. The work requires concentration perserverance and they enjoy the challenge.

Here are just some of the finished pieces stretched over mounting card and ready to frame. I'm hoping this will encourage a new generation of textile artists and perhaps next year's International Quilt Festival of Ireland will see the work of children featuring prominently! For more information of the festival see www.iqfoi.com. For more information on my work with schools read some other posts on this blog or contact me directly. See also www.learncraftdesign.com for more information on the CraftED project with schools, I am one of many craft tutors involved in this project with schools around Ireland.

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