Wednesday, 13 February 2013

lesson idea: paper dress

The last few weeks have been crammed full of inspiring activities in my A Level lessons to get my students hooked and engaged with their new project - the exam unit! On Monday I set my AS Textiles students the challenge of creating a paper dress. The exam theme is 'Covert and Obscured' and my students been researching the work of fashion designers and artists who use recycled materials to create garments and accessories, often creating pieces so beautiful that the recycled materials used are almost unrecognisable. To begin the lesson we looked at the work of designer Gary Harvey alongside the 'Junk Fashion Show' put together by fashion students from Krakow's school of Art and Fashion design.  

I then gave the students a pile of newspapers and they looked to origami, simple folding techniques and experimenting with heat transfer onto paper to create a series of small experiments individually. We stopped intermittently to discuss processes that were working well and began planning what could be created to construct the dress. The students then worked together to dress the mannequin using staples and tape to hold the experiments together. I think the finished result is beautiful and it showed them that an artistic fashion piece can be made quickly and with limited materials, whilst encouraging them to explore the maximum potential of those materials! 

I love that there is plenty of scope to use this approach to add deeper meaning in a range of different directions depending on your choice of contextual link. You could look back to the 1960s when the paper dress was a desirable disposable fashion pieces, discuss pieces that make a social comment like Gary Harvey's or look at contemporary fashion which uses orgami as inspiration, blogger Ajurette Maga has put together a wonderful two part blog post with a brilliant collection of designers (part 1 and part 2) for this! 

As always let us know if you have a go at this after reading or get in touch and share if you've done a similar project!

- Claire 


  1. Hello! :D I am really inspired by the activities you let your students do for their Art AS Levels! <3 I just want to ask something about your path on becoming an art teacher because it is really my dream as well. :D As an art teacher, which A Levels have you taken before? Or can you tell something about your route to your dream come true? Thanks a lot!!!

    1. Hey! Thanks very much :) Myself and Claire are constantly searching for new and inspiring techniques to teach our students. The best bit about the job is that you get to develop with it and there's no better feeling than seeing your student's succeed! I always knew I wanted to do something creative from an early age so my A Levels were in Art, Photography and Media. Claire also did art and Graphics I think! I did a BA (Hons) degree in Art Practice at Goldsmiths, whilst Claire studied BA (Hons) Drawing and Applied Arts at UWE Bristol and also an MA (Design) Textiles at Bath Spa University. After university myself and Claire both did similar routes and worked together on a GTP (graduate training programme) at our college to qualify. Before this I was an art technician at the same college to get experience and Claire did lots of art outreach in schools as well as some volunteering for experience. I'd deff recommend that you try to get some experience somewhere even if it's just a few days/week observing! It might help you out as well if your unsure of what level you want to teach. We both started in post 16 and I'm still teaching this sector whereas Claire is now teaching 11-18.

      In terms of how to get in there's a bunch of different routes has more details about the different ways! There are a few routes where you go straight in and train on the job - we both did that and really enjoyed it and it meant we were earning at the same time as training!

      Hope that helps and if you have any more questions feel free to ask - Kirsty & Claire ❤