Christine A. Elmore
1. To create arabesque designs on grids.
2. To view slides which employ arabesques in Islamic design.
To free one’s imagination to fanciful design such as is reflected in the arabesque.
“The Grammar of Ornament” by Owen Jones, slides from the packet, “The Mathematics of Islamic Art,” equilateral triangle grid and square grid, pencils, felt-tip markers, rulers.
(figure available in print form)
1. Begin with a viewing of slide 8 which shows a star-hexagon pattern. In imitation of this star-hexagon tessellation, provide each student with an equilateral triangle grid and two felt-tip markers and instruct them to begin by coloring a star in the center. Then they are to color the six hexagons around it with a different marker. They are to proceed outward from there to the edge of the paper. Discuss the ways in which their designs exhibit characteristics of Islamic art already discussed in previous lessons.
2. Show slide 3 which shows an arabesque design. This is an elaboration of the star-hexagon pattern just completed by the students. Show the students further examples of arabesque designs taken from “The Grammar of Ornament.” Point out the ways in which these designs intertwine, are symmetrical and seem capable of extending infinitely. Contrast their free-flowing aspect to those of frozen geometric patterned designs.
3. To further expose the students to ways to create arabesques provide them with grids on which half-completed arabesque designs have been drawn for them to complete or on which they are required to connect dots to achieve a completed arabesque design. A third activity would be that of providing the students with an arabesque design which they are to add white and black paint in order to contrast figure and ground. Teacher demonstration on a sample could them be followed by student practice.
4. Finally, students would attempt to create their own arabesque designs. We may begin with designs of the Greek palmette and work our way up to the arabesque. It is here where we may also begin experimenting with interspersing our arabesque designs with calligraphy.