Stitchery

I admit to being on the fence about some media techniques we teach in elementary art. Take stitchery for example.

Stitching Techniques by Virginia Wright, art teacher

Is stitchery a medium and art form artists might choose to express their ideas in an artwork? Absolutely! Is stitchery a useful skill? Sure. Is it a skill all children should learn while in school? In this century, maybe knot (oops, a little mispelling there).  Is stitchery a fundamental art skill that must be included in a quality art program? I’m gonna go with no.

I guess this is one of those art vs. craft arguments. I put stitchery in a class with weaving, leatherwork, sewing, basket weaving, carpentry, and pottery (I’m sure there are others). Functional objects are at the core of each of these crafts, yet in every case the skills and materials of the craft can be applied to create meaningful works of art. Where to draw the line is the subject of a long-argued aesthetic debate.

What do you think? I’d like to know.

The amazing, blanket-sized stitchery techniques display shown above was created by one of our passionate stitchery experts in the elementary art program. Thanks, Virginia, for sharing your work with everyone!

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3 thoughts on “Stitchery”

  1. Stitchery is just one part of the whole Fibers area of art. It certainly can be used as a craft, but depending on the intent, stitchery can be created into fine arts. I just saw a perfect example of that at the Mesa Contemporary Art Museum and she is a Tucson artist. I will try to find an image. Also, I think stitchery should definitely be part of the elementary art curriculum as there are so many skills learned and needed by today’s children learned through stitchery: use of small muscles, persistence, spacing,how to thread a needle, mistakes can be undone and reworked, striving for perfection in doing a stitch, expression of an idea, presentation and finishing skills, craftsmanship, caring what the back looks like, patience, a portable art and one that can be done easily at home without much investment in materials…..and in retirement!

  2. I just wrote a blog post about how I am falling in love with teaching stitching and textiles to my elementary students! The way you feel about stitching is the same way I feel about teaching printmaking to elementary students – it is antiquated and irrelevant for them because of modern technology. The difference I find with stitching though is exactly what Ann mentioned, it helps them with fine motor skills and problem solving. I refuse to tie knots or untangle knots. Students are learning to be persistent and self-reliant to create.

    I think it also helps to make connections with stitching so it isn’t just a “craft.” I am currently doing stitched mandalas with 4th grade and we talked about architecture, nature, spiritual mandalas, Tibetan Monk’s ceremonies, and contemporary artists. All of these examples really allowed students to connect with the project and find meaning within their own work.

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