Saturday, November 2, 2013

Natural Weaving

Day 2--Natural Weaving!

I first saw a huge garden loom at Rising Moon, a women's activity, this summer. Joe's Fiber Tools makes neat ones made of reclaimed wood. Kim, his wife, is the fiber artist and shared what she does with the various looms she has. With the large garden loom, she can add to it as the seasons go forward, weaving something new into the loom to document the plant. She also had a portable loom that was absolutely gorgeous; however, I couldn't figure out how to justify the price for enough to use with preschool programs. I found grant money (thank you NAI, Region 4) for the larger garden looms to start using next spring, but kept looking for ways to do portable looms with the children and adults, as it sounded very therapeutic and full of journey to document a walk through weaving.

Options for the Looms:

1. Wooden Stick Loom--Lash four sticks together with yarn or twine to make a rectangular wooden loom. Use three for a triangle. Use a y shaped stick for another effect. In a recent workshop, I liked how one educator, wrapped her yarns around her square both ways, creating a box that could easily have things tucked in. It was chunkier than some options. I loved the color popping in her art!


2. Cardboard Loom--Just cut a square or rectangular shape of cardboard. These would be cute painted beforehand if desired. Cut slits on opposite sides for the yarn. Thread yarn through and tie in the back. Weave to your heart's content. I really like this option for larger groups and/or preschoolers. The base is a little sturdier and it's often easier to get that many pieces of cardboard than to find that many sticks. I used these with preschoolers recently when we were exploring spiders and weaving.


3. Chicken Wire Loom--This blog post shows how one teacher just taped chicken wire to old picture frames and the children worked together to weave their creations. I like the added texture of the wire to the mix.

4. Grapevine Loom--Use (or make!) a simple grapevine wreath to use as the basis for a loom. This reminds me a bit of dreamcatchers with the circular shapes; however, many natural elements can be incorporated into the final product. Here is one option of a grapevine wreath loom.

5. Large Looms to Leave Outside--These are large and usually stay in one place. They may be constructed from large branches, reclaimed wood, etc. The large scale makes these perfect for adding to over time or seasonally. This is a great collaborative way to have a loom, with a group working on it together or having people add to it over different days. Here is one a family put together. They describe how they will view the changes over time with their loom.

6. Tree Stump or Cookie Looms--Pound nails into wood (yes, let the little ones help!). Weave yarn through the nails as a base for weaving. Use natural materials to weave through the yarn. See a picture and details of of one made with screws here.

7. Cattail Mat Weaving--I saw these at a recent Environmental Educators Association of Indiana conference. Love how cute they were. Made by 5th graders!

Materials to Weave:
grasses, sticks, bark, flowers, stems, leaves, seeds, seed pods, herbs, cattails, etc.
Really, I just found "weeds" and other items in the overgrown garden and unmowed areas nearby. I also picked invasive species and grass. I have done these a few ways, bringing nature into the studio or classroom (a little messy) or weaving as we go. Both are good options, but I always love getting people outside. I would talk about what is okay to "pick" or find on the ground and what is not. The rules may be different in various places. Exploring this makes me want to plant more flowers that are okay to pick and are good for weaving!

String for the Loom:
yarn, twine, ribbon, string, cassette tape, recycled cloth cut in strips, etc.

The over under motion of weaving, various textures, attention to detail, etc. are perfect for little (and big!) hands to share expression and creativity! It's a very sense filled activity. I wanted to say sensual, but wasn't sure if preschoolers and sensual should be discussed in the same sentence. ;-)

While writing this blog post, I found Rachel's Weaving Pinterest board--lots of additional options! I just talked to someone on the phone about birds and gardens, too--now I'm thinking about nests and weaving natural materials in connection with birds. Fun possibilities! I'll see what I come up to share with the Master Gardeners this next March!

What options are you thinking about? Do you have good advice for others?