Sunday, January 27, 2013

Learning from My Students

African Shields by Kathy R.

Yesterday, I taught another session of my workshop, African Influence: Textile Inspirations. In this class, students look at fabrics from Africa along with motifs from books and then create their own fabrics.

Assorted print blocks by Maria C.

Maria C.'s block sampler.

Kathy R.'s block sampler.

Sylvia A.'s block sampler.

I had three very three industrious students who were up for experimenting. I joked with my students that I always learn at least one new thing every time I teach. Well, this time I learned two things!

First, I managed to leave the bottle of Sienna Brown transparent fabric paint at home. No worries, we started experimenting with mixing up some browns from the paints we did have. It made me realize that I really have to plan a play date in the studio just for color mixing. I need to get out of my color rut and see all the various subtle color combinations I can mix. The great thing about needing to mix up browns is that the students showed no fear and started mixing up all sorts of interesting colors!

Kathy R. burlap and moldable foam blocks.

Maria C. with carved block.

Maria C. with moldable foam block.

Sylvia A. with carved and craft foam blocks.

I learned the second new thing, while I was demonstrating how to work with moldable foam print blocks. I like to show students that by laying objects of different depths onto soft upholstery foam, you can get all the different objects to emboss in the block. I decided to try an experiment by laying textured shelf liner down on the foam first and then some small pebbles and a piece of chain. To my surprise, all the textures embossed, including the shelf liner! This led the students to try their own experiments with designing with the shelf liner. Here are a couple of the fabrics created with this technique.

Kathy R. with moldable foam block.

Maria C with moldable foam block.

I was very pleased with how the day went. I feel energized to get back to experimenting!


  1. Such an inspiring collection of original print blocks & fabrics! It looks as though you all had great fun in the class... I agree about color mixing needing a studio session all its own - I guess that forgetting the brown paint turned out to be serendipitous!

    1. Yes serendipitous! I'm always afraid that I'll forget something when I teach. And, it does happen...makes for quick thinking and readjusting. This time it was a good thing...made everyone "stretch" a bit, including myself!

  2. Wow, what a wonderful array of print samples! I wish I were student #4.

    1. Would have loved having you as student #4, Ersi1