SchoolArts Magazine

AUG-SEP 2008

SchoolArts is a national art education magazine committed to promoting excellence, advocacy, and professional support for educators in the visual arts since 1901.

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High School Studio Lesson Below: Jennifer Chin, grade eleven, color pencil on tracing paper overlay sketch (atop a no. 2 graphite pencil on paper self-portrait drawing). Right: tapestry weaving. Self-Portrait TAPESTRIES Amy Sue McPartlan I nspired by an extraordinary "Textiles in the Museum" workshop at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, I was motivated to plan an engaging fiber lesson for my Studio in Creative Crafts course. Intrigued by woven Coptic portraits, I began art history research in the museum's Antonio Ratti Textile Center library to find both textual and visual references. Beginning a Portrait Drawing I started by reading aloud a handout from the exhibit (replete with images, captions, and an introduction to the Copts and their era's culture). After this introduction, students drew 12 x 12" (30 x 30 cm) self-portraits with pencil. I wanted them to represent 42 schoolartsonline.com themselves while paying attention to the stylistic facial features, coifs, garments and jewelry that were woven in the Coptic textile pictures we viewed. Color pencils were then used (to represent which color yarn would be woven as weft) on tracing paper hinged to the top of the linear graphite self-portrait. Weaving and Dyeing After playing the Brooklyn Botanic Garden's video, The Craft of Dyeing with Plants, I did a brief demonstration of hand spinning with carded fiber using a drop spindle. Afterwards, I shared a sample dye chart of a spectrum of wool, linen, and cotton dyed safely with regional vegetation, such as onion skins. Weaving with Yarn After being assigned hardwood tapestry lap looms, students warped a 12" wide vertical panel with neutral colored yarn. Then, the colored pencil self-portrait drawings were taped to the sides of the warp by their corners to align and affix the picture in the central area of the loom. Working from the bottom up, students began weaving with a plastic needle, using their drawings as guides. When weaving was completed, the warp was cut from the loom, the fringe was tied into square knots (flush with the selvage), and the loose strings were trimmed and stitched to the back of the tapestry.

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