Summer Artist Residency Hex Block Workshop

This summer I have had the great fortune to work with two local intermediate units to create fun fiber arts residency camps for area students. Each program contained multiple weeks of camps and activities of which my residencies were designed to be a part. I am feeling very grateful to be fully vaccinated and able to get back out into the community to bring the love of fiber arts to local students. Here are more details on each residency program I designed to be both educational and full of hands-on learning. You can view courses, workshops and past residencies I have completed by visiting the Teaching tab here at La Rue de Fleurs. If you are interested in working with me in the future, kindly send an inquiry through the contact page and I will be sure to set you up with the appropriate facilitator.

The first of the two camps I ran and created residency curriculums for was part of an entire summer of various programming for students through the Tuscarora Intermediate Unit (TIU) and Project Yes in Lewistown, PA. The students were divided into two groups of around ten students with varying skill levels and interest in the arts. Group A attended Monday and Tuesday, and Group B attended Wednesday and Thursday for my two-week residency from June 21 through July 2, 2021. The format was then that I presented days 1 and 2 two one group and repeated it in the latter half of the week. The following week were lessons 3 and 4. The class I developed for the group was based on connecting with local Pennsylvania heritage and personal feelings and expressions of the students themselves. Considering the current Corona Virus Pandemic, I developed the project to allow for thoughts and feelings that would welcome a better year ahead than most of us had in 2020. With that in mind, I went heavily on symbols of luck, prayer and prosperity found in the local Pennsylvania Dutch barn stars and symbols. Corona Hex Block summer camp as an idea was off and running!

During the first lesson day, we discussed the history and cultural relevance of hex symbols to the Pennsylvania Dutch community of southeastern and central PA. Topics included the meaning behind the symbols and what they were thought to be used for in the original hex symbols that adorn barns and outbuildings here in PA. I created an informative slideshow for the students to see the images and historical context behind the project. Then students were guided to choose images from the image key to help express themselves or things they wished to invite into their life in the coming year. Students sketched and outlined their thoughts and then presented their chosen symbolism at the end of the class.

Symbolism and color expressions of Groups A & B.

Day two included a lesson on color theory as it relates to emotions and expression. We explored our favorite colors and how they make us feel. Again, we referenced a key from the historical hex symbols and what the colors in those works were meant to represent. The students then chose colors for the central images of their hex block to further communicate either their personality, meaning of their symbolism, or enhance the meaning of what they hoped to welcome into their lives through their design.

On the third day of lessons, I reviewed the basic properties of a quilt, referencing the “quilt sandwich.” The students were then led to play an engaging relay game where they created a “quilt sandwich” to win a prize. They particularly liked the opportunity to run around a bit! In addition to the details of quilt composition, I also presented a short slideshow sharing a brief history of the tradition of quilting, as well as specific information on my life as a working quilt and fiber artist. Students applied yet another layer of color to their composition through painting a background to enhance their interior designs.

Stitching and background application for Groups A & B.

For the final day of the Hex Block Workshop, I instructed the students on how to sew several basic hand stitches which they could use to practice on a mesh canvas and create an additional piece of stitched art or apply selectively to their hex block canvas to complete the work. Students loved the opportunity to play with the thread and buttons of their choice to create additional work. However, most students did not elect to add stitching to their background. Following the completion of their hex block composition, each student was asked to present their work and talk about the symbolism, colors, and other elements of expression they chose and explain it to the group. As you might expect, some students went into a lot of thought and depth, while others did not. Each student did, however, create a personal and unique work whether they had the vocabulary to express it or not.

Our completed Hex Block (Wall) Art Canvas

To conclude the project, we hung all the hex blocks in an instillation display in the hallway of the building for the students, teachers, and staff to enjoy for the rest of the summer before they go home with the students.

Overall, the two-week camp was challenging and rewarding. It was my first experience teaching students in person, and I could not have been more pleased with the outcome of the project. I loved the opportunity to engage and connect with each student through their artwork and see that they were able to connect with the lessons I had designed.

I hope you enjoyed the recap of this interesting and history based art quilt project. Thanks for reading and stay creative friends! Janice

Inspiration and resources are linked where applicable. All written work and photographs are original content and are copyright protected; kindly give due credit by linking back to my website or source website if you use or share.

(©2021, Janice Bailor // laruedefleurs.com)

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