Saturday, February 17, 2007

Crafting for Challenged Artists 

A new design by Olive Hope where she adds the phrase "creation - bright and beautiful." in Braille using attached beads makes me wonder about innovative ways to make textile arts available to challenged artists. Are we doing enough? How can we make it possible for visually impaired, hearing impaired, orthopedically impaired, neurologically impaired, intellectually impaired artists to enjoy textile arts as appreciators as well as artisans?

I usually have something in my show and tell box when I speak so folks can fondle and feel textures and form and designs. Metal threads, silk threads, wool fibers and fabrics of different sorts are great for tactile exploration.

I try to identify those with hearing difficulties and color discrimination problems when I teach. Many hearing impaired recognize lower pitched speech better than the higher ranges and just shouting quite often does little good. An ASL interpreter can be found for students who depend on signing and one should remember not to turn one's back to students who lip read.

I use color coding in many of my stitching charts and went blissfully along not thinking of the problems that could cause someone who has trouble with color discrimination (color blindness) until I noticed a student sitting and not stitching in a class. She explained her inability to discriminate red/blue and said that her husband would rechart the design for her at home. I now make sure I take a chart with other colors, or carry the graphs on my laptop so I can use my charting program to make some quick color substitutions of colors that are appropriate and let the student use the laptop during class if I don't have a baby printer with me.

Although not an impairment in my book, I occasionally run across left handed students and have most of the basic stitches diagrammed for lefties and can knit left handed (albeit slowly).

Speaking of knitting, it is a wonderful craft for visually impaired or blind artists. All the stitches stay on the needles and can be felt and controlled. They just need some hands on beginning instruction and patterns in Braille or on tape.

I'm sure I'm missing many other opportunities to bring others into the world of creating and/or appreciating textile art but I'm going to try to make it a higher priority.


Comments: Post a Comment

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?