The HomeWorks Project: print and patterns in the home

Over the next year, the Community Engagement team are exploring the theme of home and how objects within it are designed, created and loved. A few weeks ago, we introduced you to our first HomeWorks project: families from Newcraighall School crafted fantastic ceramic plates. This time around we’ve been working with families from Stenhouse Primary School, in partnership with the City of Edinburgh Council’s Family Learning team, to create our own fabric and wallpaper prints, all inspired by objects from their own homes and our Art and Design collections.


23 April 2015: A Visit to the Museum

Five families visited the National Museum of Scotland to see some of the fantastic wallpaper and fabric samples in our collections. Studying some examples currently on display, we found out how different pattern methods work: block printing, weaving, roller printing. Artists Katie and Sophie Orton brought along some of their own fabrics and patterns, and we had an impromptu trying-on session in the galleries. Looking for more patterns in unusual places, we drew the tiles on the floor of the Grand Gallery and saw patterns wherever we went!

30 April 2015: Making patterns and print cutters

Back at school, the families started the process of making their own prints and patterns. Using household items to draw round – scissors, cookie cutters, spoons, forks – they worked together to draw shapes with just a black pen outline. Everyone was intrigued to find out how the shapes were going to create a pattern, so Sophie carefully took us through the stages of dividing the pattern up into four like a jigsaw, and then swapping over the sections to create a mixed-up template for the repeat pattern. We cut the shapes out in foam, which will be glued onto rolling pins for roller printing onto fabric at the next session.



May & June 2015: Finishing off patterns and creating roller prints

We spent the next three HomeWorks sessions creating the printed fabric using our roller prints, and revealing and finishing the repeat pattern paper designs. We covered the pins with paint and rolled them onto plain tea towels with different colours, leaving each colour to dry first.


The paper designs had now been photocopied and transformed into a repeat pattern. To complete these, the families used felt-tip pens to colour in the various shapes, being sure keep the colours the same on each part of the repeat. Everyone worked together as a team to do this as there was a lot to cover, and when one person had finished theirs they helped another.


Dani, our filmmaker, recorded each stage of the process, letting some of the children have a shot at ‘directing’ the shoot – “you’re the boss” he told them, which they loved.

I asked Ishbel what her fantastic design was called; it reminded me of an Islamic tile pattern. “It’s called ‘pop art’” she said, which seemed appropriate as it had been created from everyday household objects but had been totally transformed into a colourful pattern. Starting life as a nutcracker, Emma’s pattern reminded us of a rocket shooting into space! Everyone’s designs were totally unique and brilliant, and I know that both children and parents are very proud of their finished pieces.


We plan to have exhibitions and celebration events during June at both Stenhouse and Newcraighall primary schools, inviting families and friends to view the finished artworks.

18 June 2015: Ceramic project celebration event at Newcraighall School

Today we invited all the project families, teachers and staff to an event to celebrate the finished ceramic plates from our first HomeWorks workshop. which have now been transfer printed and fired. Unpacking the plates was such a joy – each one was a unique and personal family art work. The artists set out the beautiful plates on a long table with flute glasses, grapes and pineapples like a banquet. Everyone was delighted to see and be able to take away their plates, and some wrote a message on the paper tablecloth. One of the parents Amanda commented “I had a great time and spent quality time with Eva, which was lovely.” “I had fun making my plate.” said Tilly.




Many thanks to Newcraighall Primary School and Carole Dick from the Save the Children FAST programme for supporting this project. We hope the families continue to be inspired to make objects for their home, and discover more of the Art and Design collections at the National Museum of Scotland, especially once our new galleries are open in 2016.

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