Patterns in nature

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By Jane Bower — is a consultant to primary schools in art, drama, dance and literacy

Use natural forms as the inspiration for children’s creative textile work

Textile’ is an interesting word. It is technically an adjective, meaning ‘like a text’. Just as a text (and I’m not talking mobile phones here) is woven of words, something textile means ‘capable of being woven’. The word is now accepted as a noun and tends to be thought of as meaning ‘fabric’.

In the primary teaching world, textiles encompass any flexible materials made of interlacing fibres, manufactured or natural, which can be dyed, woven, stitched, plaited or manipulated in a variety of ways. Due to the fact that they are so varied and versatile, textile work offers children endless opportunities to explore and experiment with texture, pattern, colour, tools and techniques.

The two activities, right, are both based on the images on the A3 poster. When you are choosing inspiration for textile work, it is wise to use natural forms. All pebbles and shells, for example, are different, uneven, pitted, and varied in texture and colour. They therefore lend themselves to interpretation through textiles, whereas machinery or buildings are exact and extremely difficult to execute in fabrics, leading to a high failure and disappointment rate in children’s work.

Ages 7-9

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