create your own tartan

This fun art and craft activity is a great way for children to learn about the cultural significance and history of tartan whilst practising a range of skills including maths, design and literacy. Tartan activities can be linked to a range of topics and events including Scottish history, Burns Night and St. Andrews Day.

To create your own tartan, you will need:

Sugar paper
Ready mix paint
Safeprint foam sheets
Paint brushes
Glue sticks

A tartan is a woollen fabric that is made from an orderly checked pattern, usually involving several different colours. The distinctive pattern of lines and squares in a tartan is known as the ‘sett’. Originally the patterns or colours had a connection to a particular geographical area or district but in the 18th century, this changed and clans could take ownership of a tartan and by the 19th century were able to formally register them.

The following links provide some interesting information on the history, design and manufacture of tartan.

Tartans Authority

Red Lichtie – The official District Tartan for Arbroath

Tartan Colour Meanings

The Tartan Story

To design

For upper primary children, creating a tartan can involve a range of curriculum areas including art, history, PSHE, design and technology,literacy and maths. The children can first decide on the design of their tartan. This could involve the following:

  • Learning about how tartan is designed.
  • Describing and writing about the rationale behind their tartan including the colours used their significance. The tartan could be designed for their town, school or family using bands of colours to represent key values, historical events or something of personal significance e.g three stripes to represent my three brothers, yellow as it is my favourite colour.
  • The size and number of colour bands can be calculated based on the size of foam sheet.
  • The colour combinations can be chosen using a colour wheel to select complimentary colours.

To create

CreateYourOwnTartan-4 a

1. Measure and draw lines onto the foam sheets according  to the design.

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2. Use a glue stick to stick the strips into the foam sheet measuring the distance between the strips according to the tartan design.

3. Use a paint brush to paint the strips before turning the tile over and pressing it onto the paper.tartan printing

4. Once the horizontal design has been printed onto the paper, add more paint to the strips of foam before turning the tile and overprinting vertically to give a checked tartan design.create your own tartan

5. This process can then be repeated to cover the whole of the paper with the tartan design.

Will you be celebrating Burn’s night this year? For more fun activity ideas visit our art and craft page or follow us on Pinterest.
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