Wednesday, February 19, 2014

pattern and meaning

Last week the 5th graders looked at the textile designs of Malene Barnett and focused on pattern, meaning, and color value.

Malene is a textile designer based in Brooklyn. Her patterns and designs are based on cultures and places that inspire her. There is a great interview at designsponge with her, that sheds light on her experiences and creative process. I shared parts of this with the classes as well as examples of her work from her company website. I talked about where her ideas come from and how much planning, sketching, and refining goes into each of her finished pieces.


more planning!

This pattern was inspired by traditional Mexican embroidered textiles

We also looked at how she uses line or broken lines to make colors look lighter or darker than others in many of her patterns. This was another example of creating value in art, something the 5th graders have been exploring in numerous lessons this year.

The students played the role of textile designer with this project. I asked them to create multiple sketches of pattern ideas. These patterns were supposed to be influenced by something that inspired them. Before moving onto the next step, students turned to a neighbor and shared WHY they were selecting one pattern over the others they had tried.After that they created a styrofoam stamp of their pattern. They colored it with water soluble markers, and then stamped it onto another piece of paper. They then were asked to color it at least one more time and stamp it again to create a larger textile design. They could use the same colors or rinse their plate and apply new colors.

When the project was complete, they filled out an exit slip where they reflected on value and their pattern inspiration. (ELA 5.W.10  Writing routinely for a range of discipline-specific tasks, purposes, and audiences.)

These exit slips are becoming routine for all grades now. Instead of getting a "why do we have to do writing in art?" I'm simply getting "where are the exit slips to fill out?"


  1. All of these are just wonderful! The musical notes are my favorite though. What a super project to teach about patterning.

  2. Love these! Can you tell me, is the printing process marker, spritz of water on a paper and then print? Thanks!

    1. thanks cassie:) the process- marker on styrofoam, spray paper, sponge water coverage evenly, print paper over plate. For the 2nd and 3rd impressions we mist and sponge the paper evenly again (being careful not to spray 1st impression too much), and them print by placing plate on top of paper, so that you can line it up with the 1st print. You could do it all as one pattern, but i wanted the kids to go through the experience of creating something new with multiple impressions.

  3. I can see why you love printmaking! These look fantastic! :)