I think textiles are one of the forgotten, overlooked, and misunderstood art forms. It seems so every day. A bit of fabric. A piece of lace. The afghan your mother in law made. The counted cross stitch your grandma always worked on. Those shabby chic flowers you buy at the boutique to put in little girls’ hair. Even the Polo logo embroidered or stamped on shirts. But it is truly so much more than that! With that in mind, we decided to introduce some very basic textile projects in the art classes. I’m sure some of you wondered why your kids were sewing pumpkins or ghosts on felt around Halloween, or why you were asked to send your kids in with a stick right after Winter Break. It’ll all make sense in just a few minutes.

First, let me briefly tell you a little bit about textile art. Some form of textile art has probably been around since the first fabrics were woven and embellished. There are gorgeous Persian rugs. The Chinese and Japanese have been painting silks for centuries. Italy, France, and England were producers of exquisite brocades and damasks. Belgium is known for its lace. Some of you may have heard of the textile artists William Morris or Christo and Jeanne-Claude or Amy Butler. Textile art includes but is not limited to sewing, knitting, weaving, embroidery, dyeing, felting, lace-making, and embellishing. Textile artists wrap trees in knitting, drape fabric on a lake surrounding an island, create photorealistic portraits in embroidery, sew intricately detailed fairy-like soft statues, create heavily textured weavings of all shapes and sizes,   design avant-garde haute-couture clothing.

I want to share with you some of the amazing pieces I have come across in hopes that you will share them with your children. Talking to them about art is so important! Ask them what they like about them, how they think they were made, how long they think it took to make, what they think was used to make them, if they’d ever want to try to make something like that or what they’d make instead if they made their own piece of textile art.


Kids Textile Halloween Project

        So, back to Halloween and the sticks. I feel strongly about introducing various elements and types of art to the students. Textile art is fantastic because it is highly textural, repetitive, works those fine motor skill muscles to improve dexterity and hand-eye coordination. It requires focus and attention to detail, and it can definitely allow for a lot of creativity. We began our foray into textile art by hand-sewing felt pumpkins or ghosts for a few reasons. First, felt is very forgiving and doesn’t fray. Second, the shapes were simple and not overly detailed so our foundation wasn’t overwhelming. Third, it allowed the kids to add as much or as little detail as they wanted to. Fourth, for some of the kids this actually provided an introduction to a useful life skill- sewing on buttons. With this being our first ever project, we all had a bit of learning to do, students and teachers alike. Unfortunately, not all of the kids were able to finish their sewn pumpkins due to the missing classes because of illness or vacation- we’ll do better with our future textile projects- I promise! The kids all learned how to do a running stitch and a back stitch. Some of the kids learned how to sew on buttons, and some of the kids that sewed ghosts learned how to make French knots. This taught some very rudimentary hand sewing and a super simple embroidery stitch that looks very difficult and fancy.

Ruth Hughes embroidery @WildFloss

Carol Arnott Appliqued and Embroidered Landscapes

Jenni Dutton embroidered portraits of her mom’s Alzheimer’s progression.

Various Youtube Links About Textile Arts and Artists
fantastic tulle netting portrait sculptures         https://youtu.be/fLLOlB2WF_Y
how mechanical/modern looms work        https://youtu.be/UPuAdWYlr_8
making bobbin lace      https://youtu.be/YWQ-KZoePIo
man-powered, traditional loom weaving        https://youtu.be/-iRGZ5bpDfI
slow motion of the full Bayeux Tapestry    https://youtu.be/08zVsxjVEJY
how tapestries are made      https://youtu.be/jIbu-dJuEh0
the works of Christo and Jeanne-Claude        https://youtu.be/z057rxwJXPo
 process of Chinese silk paintings          https://youtu.be/C_Dn2OkwlQg
 Vintage- creating textile designs           https://youtu.be/_2LalrWNT6w
 Amazing art quilts      https://youtu.be/CBwZLGCqbZY
 Fantasy animal soft sculpture exhibit     https://youtu.be/cuOb4UW0eTg
 Photorealistic embroidery portraits     https://youtu.be/qQqPVvoOnCY
 Impressionist embroidery portraits     https://youtu.be/gye0qGl2rEM
 Quilted and appliqued textile art of Inger Johannes Rasmussen https://youtu.be/O8VcdQDMEPY