Saturday, January 1, 2011

warm weavings

keep weaving, keep weaving, keep weaving....

ah weaving...this is where it all fell apart last year. I made assumptions about my students prior weaving experience and abilities. Stupid me. Everything was ok when we were weaving with paper, we managed on cardboard looms, but when we tried to go vertical or in the round it was not pretty.

things I learned...
*EVERYONE, 2nd-8th grade starts with a refresher paper weaving project
You can make it simple

Or you can make them work their brains and fingers with excellent designs from Origami Resource Center

*while it is free to me, making 200 cardboard looms out of boxes from the school dumpster takes a whole weekend and kills your bread knife. It might be worth the money to order the pre-made looms, as my personal time is worth a few bucks. Dick Blick has these long skinny looms to make more of a bracelet than a tapestry. I like this a LOT and did something very similar last year when I tired of making big looms. Turns out the kids were way more interested in making their woven bracelets than wall tapestries, they took less time and less supplies. I think you could get away with only using 5 warp threads. OR it may be cheaper to buy a set of 12 wider looms and use the paper cutter to chop them into three long and narrow looms.

* You must have the yarn balls in individual containers with a hole where the kids are pulling the yarn though or else you end up with a horrid mass of yarn and crying kids.
the right way to store your yarn

*If you are weaving on a cardboard loom and you use a tabby weave and then take it off the loom it will stay together. If you are letting the younger kids just weave with strips of fabric and other materials and you take it off the loom it will fall apart.
(good ol tabby weave)

*Straw weaving: ehhheh was not very impressed with the results, I think we will skip it this year

*Woven paper baskets.... very cool looking, way to hard for my 5th graders. Half way into our first day on the project I realized it was not going to happen for us. Good reminder to self, if you the teacher finds a project a bit challenging then it will be really challenging for the kids.

* weaving in the round on a paper plate gave us mixed results and the kids were less then excited about it. It also seemed to take up more yarn. We struggled with correctly threading the loom and then the incorrect threading ruined the project for a lot of kids.
paper plate weaving from hell
I think this is a better small group project.
If I were to try it again I like this variation at Innovative Learning Solutions. They made the circle weaving into flowers. I can see doing a smaller circle of weaving and gluing it onto a construction paper flower shape also.

* Weaving in the round around a plastic cup works well, gives nice results and the kids are happy with the end results. Little Art Monkeys has a good step by step guide with photos
I have also seen the same idea done with paper bowls like at this school

clay looms or matt board looms? Seeing a recent post from "Art on the move" about clay weaving looms I was reminded I tried a similar project years ago as a student teacher. This was before I learned to make holes in the clay with drinking straws and our holes were too small rendering our looms useless. I'm going to try the clay looms with the 6-8th graders again this year and see how it goes now. I also got to thinking about how one might use pre-cut matt boards as loom frames. I have a pile of water damaged matt boards that were donated to the school and while are ok in structure, are not very pretty for framing art. I wonder if you could drill holes into the matt board to make some large group looms.


  1. I've only done straw weaving once, and the kids actually loved it, but there was one really special thing that happened. We started the weaving right after Christmas break, and I had a new student from DENMARK who didn't speak a word of English, and, uh, we didn't exactly have a clue about Danish. But he watched, and followed, and weaved meticulously. After he ran out of a color he would examine the color wheel on the wall, pick out the next color in sequence, and weave some more. His weaving was rainbow-gorgeous when done! He's since moved away, but I'll never forget him. Proof you don't always need words to communicate!

  2. I love weaving with 5th grade! I did clay looms (with paper weaving prior to that) last year but had mixed results. Mostly, the clay was too thin (I rolled them on a slab roller) and I learned to make them thicker or they break very easily. I also would not put a clear glaze over as it sealed some of them holes... blah! In the end, we wove on the cardboard looms and then took them off and tied them onto our clay looms otherwise they broke when dropped or bumped too much! I loved the end results but way too fragile! I might have to try the circle weavings. Cool

  3. I was just trying to remember if the clay looms broke when they were bumped around. I wish we could handle high fire clays so they would be sturdier. We will put a good coating of acrylic paint on the front and back before we start to weave.

  4. You can make your own cardboard looms if you have mat boards by cutting them to size on the paper cutter. If you mark one board every 1/4 inch (or whatever you want) for the notches on one board, you can then quickly mark the others by piling them up and staggering the boards (so they look like stairs). Run down the steps with a pencil to mark the others using the top board as a guide. My third graders then cut their own notches before weaving. There's also a great you tube video called weaving on a cardboard loom that is helpful to get kids started. Tapestry needles lower the frustration levels and are essential to this task because they help kids pick up the the warp.
    I have one of those large "Friendly Looms" from Dick Blick, but I think you could easily make a group loom from an old picture frame and some nails.

  5. In my classroom, I had yarn in 2 liter bottles suspended from the ceiling. This allowed me to keep the yarn in its original shape and keep it out of the kids reach, with the exception of the end that they needed to pull. It worked really well for me.

    Also, thanks for linking to my website! Little Art Monkeys is my way of staying in touch with my inner Art Teacher since health problems won't allow me to actually continue teaching.

  6. Man, I was thinking about doing a weaving craft for VBS but I'm worried it may be too complex for our kindergarten set. I thought the straw looms weren't much more complex than braiding (which I taught my son in kindergarten). My original thought was the cardboard looms but I'm afraid that would take too long (though they can always take it home). I'm not sure if this year we will have 30 minutes or 40 minutes for the craft.