Sunday, July 26

Pattern Exploration wrap-up

The second week of July was a fun-filled art-packed week teaching Pattern Exploration to a group of nine 8-11 year-olds at Fleisher Art Memorial. The premise of the projects was to explore one type of pattern based on a traditional cultural textile each day. Here are some of the results:The first day covered stripes and was inspired by Ghanaian Kente Cloth. Students created a repeat of stripes and symbols down a long strip of paper in crayon and watercolor, then cut and assembled the strips into a rectangular "cloth". Students were encouraged to choose colors and symbols that were meaningful to them. The second day explored geometric patterns based on American quilts. Students broke up a cardboard square into shapes, tried out different "block" compositions, then created a collograph stamp in their favorite configuration to print onto muslin squares, repeating their motif in either a symmetrical or asymmetrical image. On our third day we looked at circular motifs in Japanese textiles. Above is myself all in blue and my assistant Zoe on the left (oh the luxury of only 9 students PLUS an assistant!!!!). The kerchiefs we're sporting are the results of our circular motifs. Students traced circular objects using permanent markers to create a pattern on cotton, then tried shibori/tie-dye by bundling and wrapping their cloths in rubber bands.

Day 4 focused on botanical motifs in Middle Eastern rug patterns. Students painted a background field, a border, and a central medallion, and then added symbolic details in the separate fields in either paint or permanent marker. We tried finding botanical motifs out in the park to use in the rugs, but some students preferred their OWN ideas!

On the last day we looked at English Blackwork embroidery and how patterns can build up to create value shadings. Each student filled a page with black marker patterns in increasing density. The pages were photocopied and enlarged to give each student plenty of source material, then they drew major lines on top of photocopied photographs of themselves, cut out the shapes as templates, and traced the shapes onto pattern papers matching the values. They then reassembled the image like a puzzle piece combining photocopy sections of the photograph with the pattern shapes. It's a bit difficult to explain, but their results were phenomenal! The one on the right is mine, but the left one is one of my student's.
I had such a great time teaching this fantastic group of kids. One thing I tried was to send the students home each day with a note with a summary of what occurred in class and ideas for afternoon activities to continue the experience. As a parent I'm always frustrated hearing "nothing" as the standard response to "how was school today". Thought I'd solve the problem by giving parents a clue into the learning process. Hopefully some of them actually did some of the activities and made a richer learning experience for the students.


  1. Marie, congratulations on a well-thought-out group of lessons that illustrate patterns so very well. Can you open next year's camp to older students (like 50+)?!

    P.S. My daughter changed the ID to her friend's name, so this comment was not made by "Natalie". Guess who?