Textured Textile Monster Faces (inspired by Hannah Epstein)

In our most recent session of Art Academy for 6-10 year olds, we looked at artists and artwork inspired by comics and/or cartoons. For this project, we took our inspiration from contemporary textile artist, Hannah Epstein, who makes large scale hook rugs that are both whimsical and satirical, much like her favorite cartoon show, The Simpsons. Epstein's work also takes inspiration from folkloric tales of monsters and goblins. It is the intersections in Epstein's work that makes it so rich- between humor and fear, between high art and low art, and between the very old and the very new. 
Bat Boy II by Hannah Epstein jpg
Bat Boy II by Hannah Epstein


Students will look at Bat Boy II by Hannah Epstein and make observations and educated guesses about material, color, texture, style, and content.

Students will make connections between Epstein's work and their own knowledge of cartoons and folklore (For example, we discussed Where the Wild Things Are and the folklore character, Baba Yaga, in our class).

Students will make a textile monster face, exploring the use of texture as a compositional tool.

Students will reflect on their art-making process.

  • piece of thick paper or cardboard approximately 9 x 12
  • 8 x 10 double sided adhesive paper 
  • scissors
  • liquid glue 
  • tissue paper in a variety of colors
  • craft foam and felt sheets in a variety of colors
  • yarn (boucle or eyelash yarn for extra texture)
1. Cut out a variety of monster head shapes from the double sided adhesive paper (one head per student) and adhere to a piece of paper or cardboard.

2. For younger students, peel off the top layer of paper and outline the shape of the head with yarn. This makes it easier for students to see. The sticky paper is clear so it's difficult  to see it's outline, especially against white paper. 

3. If you do not have double sided adhesive paper, you can draw the monster head shapes directly on the paper and glue the yarn down around the outline using liquid glue. The kids can then use liquid glue for all the materials. This will just increase the time the project takes (and potentially make more of a mess).

4. Make a demo to show as an example, using a variety of textures- felt, foam, crinkled up tissue paper, and yarn.

1. Look closely at Hannah Epstein's Bat Boy II and ask students what they notice. When they give an answer, use the follow up question "What makes you say that?" to encourage even deeper observations. Some things to discuss include: how the object was made, color, texture, symbols/forms, speculation about meaning, etc.

2. Continue the conversation, facilitating connections between the artwork and cartoons and folklore tales.

3. Show students your demo and discuss the various materials they will be using, letting them feel the different textures. Show them how to crinkle up the tissue paper and encourage them to use that method rather than laying it down flat (no texture). 

4. Have students choose their monster head shape (if you've made different shapes). Give them the chance to choose their materials. Again, encourage the use of all the textures to create interest.

5. Encourage students to begin with the facial features of their monster (eyes, nose, mouth, teeth), using foam or felt. Once that is done, have them fill the rest of the face with color and texture, encouraging full coverage of the adhesive paper.

6. When students are done with the project, allow students to share and reflect on their process and their artwork. What was enjoyable, challenging, surprising? With what are they most pleased? If there is time, allow students to make observations about each others' work. 

Textured Textile Monster Faces with Jen Johnson

Turning Floors into Folklore: Hannah Epstein is telling incredible stories...with debaucherous rugs, by Chris Hampton,
preview full IMG 2710