Fabric Pouches and Personal Symbols
My second grade students are currently working on a very complex project– fabric pouches. I have done this lesson several times throughout the span of my teaching career, but this year, I am using this as one of my lessons that will be assessed for my SGO (student growth objective). I figured with this project, there would be many dimensions to assess the student’s growth, and many new concepts and techniques to examine.
I introduced the lesson by talking about what fabric is– although this seems like a simple concept, I thought it was necessary to introduce the idea of fabric as an art material (as it is not something we use in the classroom everyday). I showed the students some Kente Cloth from Africa to introduce them to the idea of patterning on fabric. Although we are not create a “copy” of Kente Cloth, we used it as an inspiration for its bold patterns and colors. I gave the students a strip of white cotton fabric (this works best if you tape the four edges of the fabric to a large piece of construction paper, because it stabilizes the fabric and makes it easy to draw on) and asked them to make a simple repeating pattern across the strip using lines and shapes (with a white crayon or oil pastel). They then painted the fabric using liquid water colors and set them aside to dry.
The next class introduced my students to the idea of personal symbols and how they can be used to express yourself in your artwork. I asked the students to sketch 5-7 personal symbols (to show various aspects of their personalities, hobbies, interests etc.) and then they worked to sculpt them in model magic. When these little symbols are dry, they can be painted with watercolor paints.
After the strips of fabric and clay has dried, it is time to sew the fabric into pouches! I call the students up to my desk one at a time, and fold their strip in half. We sew two sides on the fabric on my sewing machine and leave the top edge open so we can insert our special personal symbol sculptures. Spending a little one on one time with each student is priceless. I can make some important personal connections and sneak in a few informal assessment questions while I’m at it!
Patternmaking in art and using personal symbols in art
Materials: White cotton fabric cut into approx. 6 x 16 in strips, masking tape, white oil pastels, liquid water colors, drawing paper, 12×18 in construction paper, needles and thread or sewing machine, model magic.
Preparation: Tape the white fabric onto a piece of construction paper to make it easier for the students to draw their designs. The paper will also act as a blotter when they are painting.
Day 1: We begin this project by discussing different types of lines, and patterns. Students are asked to sketch 2 different patterns using lines only. The most interesting design is selected and transferred onto the white fabric using the oil pastels. Students should make their lines large— small lines or complicated lines are difficult to draw with oil pastel.
Day 2: Students use liquid watercolors to paint their fabric strips. Encourage the students to create a pattern using color. Leave no white spots.
Day 3: Students can sew the bags by hand, or you can assist them with the sewing machine. I have the students come up to my desk one at a time to use my sewing machine. I sit right next to them and help guide the fabric through the machine and let them work the foot pedals. Having each student come up to my machine gives me a nice opportunity to do an informal assessment on the students progress– I can ask a few questions about the pattern on their pouch or about the personal symbols they are creating with clay.
Day 4: Students will create small objects to put in their bags. Discuss symbols, and have students sketch small objects to symbolize them. Give each student a small ball of model magic to create their objects with. Paint the object with watercolor or liquid watercolor and place inside of special pouches.
I will continue to update you on the progress of this project. Students are currently painting their little clay sculptures to be placed in the bag and are loving coming up to my desk to use my sewing machine.