Before we begin the weaving, I have each student bring in lint from their washer/dryer at home. Great weaving resource! They can trade colors with each other later. I save in a box in the classroom. I don't tell them what it is for... part of the mystery!
I start the project with compass construction on newsprint. For two days we do teacher-directed drawings... I use the overhead. The third day they make their own design with radius of 2" on newsprint. I collect all, put into an envelope, and save for later. These designs are used for the foil accent. Students pick a board (I pre-cut boards no longer than 12" (30.5 cm) with paper cutter) and on the back draw a 1" border on all four edges. Across top and bottom mark in ¼"s. Cut down to the 1" mark (kind of like fringe).
They can make one weaving or two weavings on a board as long as they use the same color combinations. I use crochet string for the warp as it's strong and thin. Make a knot in string about 6" long and Thread string up, down and through fringe but only on the colored side of board... nothing goes on the back. Continue until you come to the end of of cut fringe and finish by tying off with the beginning of the string on the back. See handout for weaving techniques. Each student MUST make "loops" in their weaving plus use at least one stick from outside plus dryer machine lint. I also have batting from a fabric store pre-cut in strips for weaving as an option. Students also must leave some open space not woven. Anything else is up to them. I have straw and beads handy. They can bring things from home.
As soon as they finish weaving, they select the 4x4" pre-cut square of metal in their color choice (to match weaving) and find in my envelope their newsprint design. Taping design onto metal, with a sharp pencil they transfer their design by pressure, remove newsprint design, re-trace metal, add texture (placing a newspaper pad under the foil helps the repoussé process), cut out, and then pick feathers to match weaving. Once they have arranged metal and feathers in pleasing way, I glue-gun in place. All this takes about 2, 2 ½ weeks... one 55 min. class a day.
I buy yarn and crochet string whenever it's on sale... yarn I get around $.88 a skein and crochet string runs around $1.23 not on sale and it last a long time. I can get a lot of mileage out of the yarn too when I have them use only one side of the board. I buy 6" plastic needles, Circle Master Compass and decorator foil from NASCO ARTS & CRAFTS. Their prices are most reasonable. You can call them at 1-800-558-9595 for a free catalog. It takes just under two packages of decorator foil (in 6 colors) to teach 330 students (cut in 4x4" squares).
The Cardinal Cross: the four sacred directions: East, West, North and South
Spider Woman Cross: an adaptation from the Navajo weave, Spider Woman in the Navajo creation myth.
Centrally Separated Crosses & Stars: symbolize energy and movement of the life force. All crosses are used as protection against evil forces.
Cloud Motif: symbolizes the coming of rain, a good harvest and plenty of food for the people. Therefore, the cloud motif may extend to a feeling of tranquility. Some cultures believe the cloud motif protects them against evil thoughts. The cloud motif with tail is used to soothe the mind.
Rattlesnake Tail: energy and longevity.
Butterfly Wings: symbolize energy, reproduction and safety while traveling in or to the nether worlds.
God's Eye or Eyes: symbolize windows to the good road. A symbol of the Third Eye, a connection to the second sense, the reflector, to ward off peril and evil and an insight into the future.
Site where I obtained these no longer has them online. I no longer have the name of the site. These symbols are important to the understanding of Zapotec weavings, therefore, I have put them back online. I will remove them if requested to do so.
...in a lab dish, cells derived from an embryo are developing into two different types of brain cells, neurons (red) and glia (green). Madison Wisconsin (copyrighted photo will be removed if requested)
Alternate Idea: Weaving Inspired by Nature - Under the Microscope
Submitted by: Jan Hillmer
Posted by S. Fenton August 24, 2004: "New York Times has a wonderful image (See left) that appeared, at first glance, to be an intricate fiber piece... It was a science article with a photograph of stem cells developing into neurons and glia. The photo originates from the University of Wisconsin - Madison... in a lab dish, cells derived from an embryo are developing into two different types of brain cells, neurons (red) and glia (green)."
Fiber Arts Ideas for Elementary
From Kathy Douglas
1. Stitching on Styrofoam Trays: great beginning, as nothing bunches up like cloth. Skill is threading big needle, making yarn doubled, tying knot at the end. Lots of practice needed there. They can stitch in many colors, decorate with markers. Some students figure out that they can sew two trays together and then it segues into the sculpture center.
2. Stitching on burlap: sewing a pocket. I show them how to sew a simple seam to put two pieces of burlap together (same threading needle procedure) and some make pocket books, some wallets, some little pouches around their waist, some beanie baby sleeping bags, etc, but in general it is just two pieces of burlap sewed up three sides. The can also put cotton in and make a pillow. Wallet makers cut up green paper and make money, credit cards, drivers' licenses, etc.
3. Soft sculpture: students create a pillow as before, then sew flat strips of burlap for arms and legs, add a square of burlap stuffed with a tiny bit of cotton and secured at bottom with elastic for head: there is a person! they dress them in various ways. Also make animals, etc.
4. Flat loom weaving: I really don't know what this is really called; it is cardboard with notches cut on either end and warped with strong yarn. I have a box divided in 12 sections with tons of short yarn divided by color (IE. several shades of red, several of orange, etc etc) The yarn pieces are about two or three inches longer than the cardboard is wide. They choose colors and weave over and under but just let the pieces hang off the end instead of looping around like tabby. They push the rows together with combs from the drugstore (beaters) These are really easy and pretty. When they take them off some of the weft should be tied on each side for strength. Warp tied together. More experienced children can try Egyptian knots, rya knots, etc. There is a great weaving chart on the Incredible Art Dept which could help you.
5. Box lid weaving: I warp box lids, usually the tops to the bankers boxes or just use the boxes that are used when the coke machine is filled. I warp them VERY tightly with strong yarn and students weave with them. I recommend tabby weave for this for strength.
6. Stick weaving: tongue depressors for younger children. Talk about symbolism and have students create their own. add feathers, Beads, sequins, ribbons. Vocabulary word: "variation": use three sticks, or four sticks: what happens? use wooden chopsticks, tape tongue depressors together (not TOO big...) Check the Knowledge Loom art show for work of a fellow who used a two hole punch to put holes in the sticks and then wove through those! totally his idea. Weaving is great in the bad weather: the children take projects back to their classrooms to work on during "indoor recess". The teachers are grateful for the entertainment.
Weaving Tips for Elementary
From Kathy Douglas, TAB Choice teacher, Massachusetts
Here is how we do weaving with grade one's (and older too). My friend Diane Jaquith calls it "open end" weaving and we find it much easier for beginners than tabby weave (which wraps at the end of the row and goes on to the next) the teacher has to do some preparation (not bad if it is just one class)
1. Cut up corrugated cardboard into small squares (no more than 6x6)
2. Hold cardboard so that corrugations are vertical
3. Cut notches in each end. Not too many! But the closer they are together the stronger the weaving.
4. Wrap nice yarn (not string) through the notches, wrapping all the way around.
5. To really help beginners, warp with two colors, skipping every other notch with the first color, then warping the empty notches with the other color (I hope this is clear, hard to explain) This two color warp will help the kids keep track of their overs and unders, difficult for grade ones.
6. Cut the thickest yarn you can find ahead of time so that it is large enough for a two inch overhang on each side of the loom. I like to sort the colors in a divided empty yarn box so it is like a paint tray: reds together, etc.
7. Go to the dollar store and buy a half dozen plastic combs (or more)
Now here is what the children do:
1. start with about six pieces of yarn: their choice of course. Some like a pattern of two colors, but random rainbows of color are great
too. Or how about six shades of blue? Kids will make nice choices.
2.Say the loom is warped with white and green: the student takes the first color and goes under all the whites, over all the greens. Yarn hangs off on each end, evenly.
3. Next color is woven over all the whites, under the greens.
4. After all six pieces are woven thusly, show the children how to push the yarn close together with the comb (beater) You will LOVE how the colors look!!
5. Children keep going till it is full on one side.
6. Teacher ties two of the hanging weft pieces together near the middle on each side.
7. flip the loom over and cut across the warp (at the mid point)
8. now pull warp pieces to the front, two at a time and tie them together.
9. voila! A nice little woven piece
Weaving is tricky; some kids really dislike it, but those who do like it get addicted! Great for indoor recess days; our kids keep them in their desks for free time.
Ellen found that freezer wrap can be ironed on to burlap. It sticks just enough to make handling the Fabric easier for the students. Students draw their design directly onto the burlap. Stitch spacing is planned on the freezer warp by poking holes with the needles. When the stitching is completed, the freezer wrap is peeled away with out damage to the burlap.
Cut openings in card stock and prepare looms for children in advance. Cut lengths of tissue paper.
Laura's older students make a Tag board frames (she always has students who want to help her whenever they can). They took pieces of card stock (8" x18" / 20.3 x 45.7 cm) folded them in half, and then folded them in half again - then cut a frame out of the center. Next they opened them up, and stapled five pipe cleaners so they were sandwiched between the layers (Note from Judy: you might want to tack the pipe cleaners in place with some masking tape first).
They used two staples on each end of the pipe cleaner to make sure that the pipe cleaners did not wiggle themselves loose. Frame is folded over and glued together (or stapled).
Laura says as long as you tell the students not to tug too much, these "looms" are quite durable. Tissue paper strips were woven in and out of pipe cleaners. Students observed how patterns were formed while weaving. The limited number of warp makes it easy to see the pattern. Once the weaving is complete, students decorate the frames.
When I taught, to bolster my supplies for my (post-December break) weaving unit with 3-4th graders, I sent out a "blurb" in the school's newspaper about the "Rags, Ribbons & Rainbows" Weaving Project that was to commence in January. My request was to ask families to save all the discarded ribbons and yarns from gifts received during the break and anything else imaginable that could easily be incorporated into a cardboard weaving and to send them in with their students after the break. You just wouldn't believe what was collected. I also assigned the task to the actual students who would be involved in the project. The "psyche-up" came when I demonstrated cardboard weaving to the students and challenged them to find other unique things to weave with... I used stretched cotton, strips of rags (showed them how it can tear easily and I also cut in strips of folded fabric on my paper cutter. I encouraged them to collect anything they thought possible to weave with. The kids brought in amazing things... from tall grasses, pin needles, yarns, ribbons of all sorts, batting, raffia, sticks, wrapping papers cut in strips... and the list goes on! Hope this helps! The wrapping papers were great in the weaving because when you pushed the weft up tight, it created a great texture. The outcome weavings were unbelievable!
Friendly Loom Weaving from Laurie Bellet, Oakland Hebrew Day School
In my room I have a "friendly loom," (a Nasco product) which is a large self standing loom that can accommodate up to 6 weavers at one time! I keep it warped and anyone can go and add to it. I take the finished weavings off, tidy them up, and they hang on walls all around the school. Shown: 1st graders at Oakland Hebrew Day School working at the "Friendly Loom." Because this activity is one of pure experience and cooperation, the finished product (pictured below), requires some attention before displaying.
Burlap Weaving from Laurie Bellet, Oakland Hebrew Day School
From Laurie: This is a 1st grade project at Oakland Hebrew Day School using burlap as the warp. My prep consisted of pulling the strings from the burlap to open the lines for weaving. For the weft, we used paper strips cut from old projects before they were mounted. The advantage to weaving this way is that the children can practice the over/under without stressing for accuracy from one line to the next. This particular activity was done last May for Israeli Independence Day and so had a cross curricular tie in with their Judaic studies curriculum.
Weavings below were done by students with multiple disabilities in a post secondary transition program. Once monthly I volunteer to design and implement a full art program in the Mt. Diablo School District in the Bridge program. These students are between the ages of 18 and 22. All have mental retardation, communication deficits and a wide variety of physical, visual and medical disabilities.