You can spend hours looking at the huge variety of images at Ian Alexander's natural patterns library. The website provides close-up views of bark and leaf patterns, alongside detailed sections of alligator and armadillo skin. Obscure patterns made by water droplets and cracks in dried riverbeds capture the imagination and fire your curiosity.
My class loved this site, and the children used it to choose and print a favourite image on which to base their work. Small sections of the patterns were sketched and modified, and then drawn onto paper using batik wax.
Pupils used marbling inks to apply a rich, textured ground to the paper before picking out features of the pattern in drawing inks.
The batik wax was ironed out to reveal the original pattern. The pieces were highly textured at this point, and the patterns lacked structure and form.
White poster paint was then used to enhance the pattern by blocking out areas of each piece. Finally, more detail was added to carefully selected areas using watercolour pencils.
Some of the children's completed work was stunning, and this activity showed the potential for using computers alongside traditional media.
* http:easyweb.easynet.co.ukianypatterns patterns.htm
Giles Hughes teaches at Colmore Junior School, Birmingham