Project: Feeling the Change
Participants: 31 Year 4 children
Partnering with: Birstall Community Primary
Artist: Fiona Goodwin
We will be exploring the idea of change through textiles – the historical change of fabrics and the impact of colour through the generations. Fiona will work with us to experiment with felting techniques and processes such as fabric bonding. We will also be learning about sampling and different stitching and attachment methods, and will be creating a fabric archive. The things we do to create our own contemporary piece of textile artwork will also enable us to learn about textiles from other cultures and times. Along the way we will be working as a group to develop ideas for our final artwork, which is likely to be a textile wall piece.
Session 1 – 14th February
We began quietly and thoughtfully, the children were very keen to share their experiences of textiles, particularly weaving and were clearly inspired by their gallery visit to Cartwright Hall, we enjoyed discussing fabrics, the differences in construction and exploring visual language. The historic part of the textile journey began with felt, laying down fibres as warp and weft mimicking the weaving process we’d talked about. We introduced pattern and colour working hard to contain our original base shape and size. The momentum gathered, the volume increased, the process sounded almost industrial. So quietly we’d begun, so noisily we ended, so much excitement, many great results and so much fun. We’ve made a good start and are keen to explore the next part of our journey. Fiona – artist
During our first session with Fiona, the artist, we looked at how to make a sample of felt. She talked us through the process so we knew what to do and then we got stuck in! This was a new process to us and we were so excited. Fiona showed us one that she had made and we couldn’t believe we could produce that in an afternoon. She said we would enjoy it and we really did. First of all, we used the mohair to create a neutral piece of felt by pressing the fibres together with some water to help. After that, we got to add detail to the sample using vibrant colours of mohair and some delicate threads. We then used a rolling mat to compact the fibres. This part was really tiring but you could tell we were enjoying it by the amount of effort we were putting in and the noise level! At the end we got to unravel the work and see what we had created – our very own felt fabric!
“I didn’t realise this was textiles, it’s great!”
Session 2 – 14th March
We were given the opportunity to use our 30 triangle templates to design an idea for the final piece. As a class we voted for the best design to cretae. We created a large template and put all our individual pieces onto it so it looked like a sun. We then used ‘bondaweb’ to attach our triangles onto the large fabric. We are so excited to see what it looks like when Fiona brings it back next week fully attached so we can add our detail!
“What a mad, loopy session with excellent outcomes.” Mr Kabil
“We loved every minute- I can’t wait till next session!”
Session 3 – 28th March
Following group discussion and design development in the second session the children were eager to see their individual pieces firmly attached to the base cloth, a recycled and pre-loved woolen blanket. They were clearly inspired and excited by the sheer scale of the piece and adhered their felt to the perimeter of the design which symbolises their circle of friendship.
It was much clearer now to make key decisions about the central panel, we decided that it needed to be historical and reference their current tudor project work and embed the idea of change through text. The children were encouraged to have discussions around the room about textiles and history. Words came in abundance as they were keen to share their knowledge and understanding of fabric and history. Splitting into smaller groups, some began work on the computer and printing machine to generate words to be printed onto leather and to be incorporated into the garments of the figures. Another group confidently cut out the two central figures and set to work carefully selecting a range of bonded layered fabrics to create the garments. The rest of the class enjoyed stitching and embroidering their circle of friendship, supporting each other with needle threading and knot tying as they created their catalogue of words.
What a fabulous team we became, like a well oiled machine, so much fun, so much work, so much pride as the piece started to come to life. Fiona – artist
Firstly, we looked at our design after it had been fully attached to the backing fabric. We were amazed at how good it looked! Fiona grouped us and we all took part in separate activities to complete the textile piece.
One group worked at hand stiching the triangles to make sure they were secure. The other two groups worked with samples of fabric and bondaweb to create a Tudir King and Queen. We used the felt from session 1 for their faces. We almost finished but we still need to add detail such as jewellery. We are going to work on the people over the next week to complete their outfits. Throughout the session we collected words that we associated with the process and design. Some of us typed up the words and attached them onto samples of leather so we can incorporate them into our piece.
“A delight to see the children so on task and engaged.”
A final word from staff…
“Fiona constructed very creative and well resourced sessions for the children, enabling them to develop textiles skills. They used mediums I myself wouldn’t have felt confident or comfortable introducing to the classroom. All our learning aims were covered throughout all three sessions and the children’s understanding was continually developing.”
“Benefits for the children included a surprising enthusiasm for the boys to sew and looking forward to the next session. Specific children have requested there to be a sewing club. Also, due to the nature of the highly interactive sessions, Fiona made some children come out of their shell. She encouraged group work and cooperation with people other than peers – as a whole, the class are now more willing to work in varying groups.”
“Other members of staff who worked with Fiona felt that her enthusiasm for the subject and project was catching , and felt that they learnt lots of new skills. The whole experience has been thoroughly enjoyable and the other Year 4 classes and teachers have been very jealous as they weren’t involved!”