There are certain materials we use in the middle school art room that take over the room, fill the space, and seem to grow in size and focus. One of these is yarn. We were gifted with a huge donation of yarn a couple of years ago when one of our guidance counselors cleaned out the home of a relative and delivered many trash bags full of yarn to the Mendon-Upton schools. To save on supplies and because it is such a versatile material, I try to use yarn for at least one project each year.
This year the sixth grade used yarn to weave on cardboard looms. The fifth grade created yarn paintings as inspired by the Huichol People of Mexico. To read more about these projects read on…
6th grade weaving on a cardboard loom – we used pieces of cardboard from old boxes and cut slots in the ends a half an inch apart and one inch long. We warped the looms with warping thread and then weaved with yarn. Students planned their designs in their sketchbooks and colored them with colored pencils. To introduce this lesson I showed the CrystaArtResources video Threads of Tradition, which I have on VHS tape. The video documents the tradition of weaving in Colorado and its impact on the community there.
Followed by this excellent video created by another art teacher (click on the photo):
And then the work begins. I have taught this lesson for a few years now and every time I do, I am struck by how seemingly therapeutic the activity of weaving is. To show you just how “into it” the kids get, I made a video of a class of 34 kids weaving. Please note that I did not ask them to be quiet – it just happens (click on the photo):
Here are a few examples of the finished product:
For more, please visit our Artsonia gallery at:
When finished with their weaving, students were taught to finger knit, which they also enjoy. Here is a video for finger knitting (click on the photo):
During MCAS (state assessment), students came to my room before class to take some yarn so they could finger knit while staying quiet as others in class finished their tests. Here they are, showing off their work!
Meanwhile, the fifth grade students were painting with glue and yarn as is the tradition of the Huichol people of Mexico. To introduce this lesson, I read aloud The Journey of Tunuri and the Blue Deer by James Endredy. Illustrations by Maria Hernandez De La Cruz and Casimiro De La Cruz Lopez. I used a document camera to show the beautiful yarn illustrations on the screen so everyone could see while I read the text to the class (click on the photo):
Students used traditional symbols from Huichol art to create their designs in their sketchpads. Here is the reference sheet we used:
Once the designs were complete we used bottles of glue and yarn to paint on mat board (also donated).
Here are some images of the completed yarn paintings. Go to our gallery on Artsonia to see more:
Since the room was filled with yarn when the Art Club met after school, we used yarn to do some circular weaving on paper plates:
Lastly, as yet another extension for early finishers, we strung a hula hoop with yarn and used it to create a large circular weaving with ribbons and laces and other thick materials:
And that sums up our fiber work in the middle school art classroom! Please feel free to contact me with questions about the lessons and please visit our galleries on Artsonia…