fiber art books

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I have never sewed with children before, and I must admit, there is a reason I have chosen many other art projects that do not involve giving needles to children.  However, I’ve been assured repeatedly by enthusiastic and capable colleagues that children as young as 5 can sew.

We used a simple straight stitch to sew the binding.  Most kids got it, although almost everyone (including my high school helper!) needed help tying knots.  Once we got through straightening out the folks who were all tangled up in knots, students started sketching and cutting out their shapes and gluing them into their books.  I recommend Tacky glue, as some other white glue does not want to glue felt to felt.

One helpful trick that my teaching partner Nadine Smith thought of was to prepare some fabrics with pellon, or iron-on fusible web adhesive.   We ironed scraps of fabric onto pellon to give a stiff backing that is easier for kids to cut than flimsy fabrics.  They were able to draw on the paper backing and cut on their lines.  It provides a more colorful and interesting starting point for their shapes than one solid color, and is a great way to use up small scraps.

I just can’t stop cutting and gluing fabrics!  These mixed media books opened up a world of possibilities in my altered book series.  More to come on that later, but here’s a sneak peek …

Shadow Box Art Books

Mary Peterson‘s cigar box sculpture that inspired the theme for our fall after school art series, “The Art of Books.”

We adapted the project for the classroom using cardboard boxes.



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The students created a character using air-dry clay as the head, and told the story with their box.  The body was a pencil or chopstick punched through the box.

We talked about working 3-dimensionally, and wrapping the imagery around, above, below, inside, and out.  Students were encouraged to work in layers, using papers, fabrics, clay, and mixed media to set the scene.  Many kids made small clay charms that represent the wishes, hopes, and dreams of their characters.

Every artwork tells a story, but even so, this project would be a terrific link to a creative writing assignment.