I always emphasize the functional qualities of these works as done by other artists. These artists have to think about how their work will be used, unlike a painter who just has to worry about the look of their piece. Makers of functional art have a tougher job in this respect.
The quilters of Gee's Bend have made some visually stunning abstract work while reusing clothes, sheets, and bags in these designs. The quilters of this area have passed down their techniques though 6 generations to the present day. My kinders and 1st graders have made paper versions of these quilts after discussing the types of shapes and colors we see in the quilts. The students use old wallpaper to simulate the use of different types of material that are present in the real quilts.
Annie Mae Young
This year kinders made paper quilts based on Amish designs. We focused on recognizing and cutting the types of shapes in Amish quilts and on using warm and cool colors in our pieces. Construction paper crayons were used to simulate the stitched thread that would be used to hold a real quilt together.
Last year I did a paper weaving project with the 2nd graders. We started out by cutting and gluing squares and rectangles to a 12x18" sheet of paper. We discussed patterns and complementary colors before getting started. We also discussed how some textiles are made by more than one person working together as a team. Students were to create this project with a partner.
Students fold the large piece of paper and made between 5 & 7 cuts that started on the fold and ended about 2 inches away from the edge. After doing so, students worked together to weave black strips in and out of their cut paper design to complete the weaving. Each class used a different set of colors. These partner made quilt pieces could then be assembled together back in their classroom to make a larger quilt.
As a result of how sharp these weavings looked, I decided to modify the project and do it with my 3rd grade classes, too. We talked about how weavings were made and how they can sometimes be done as 3 dimensional forms like baskets. We talked about colors that you find in nature, in trees, branches, and dried grasses. Again, this was a partner project just like the 2nd grade one.
Students created the pieces the same way, but after they were complete we glued and stapled them together to make large 3d forms with the flat pieces. Students stapled a couple cardboard strips to the backs of their pieces to reinforce them. The end results were pretty cool and added a nice sculptural element to our end of the year art show.
Well, this isn't all of the textile projects I have done with classes, but it's a good taste.