Saturday, January 2, 2010

Weaving on a Straw Loom

Weaving on a Straw Loom

Lesson Summary: Students will learn about and view different types of woven fabrics. They will learn about different ways of weaving. Students will then create their own weaving using a straw loom and assorted fibers.
Artworks/artefacts: Examples of Kente cloth from the Asante peoples of Ghana, Africa.
Examples of contemporary weavings.

Key Concepts:
  • Artists study the past and other cultures to gain inspiration for their artwork
  • Artists study artistic traditions, or customary ways of making artwork
  • Artists continue traditions by making artwork in traditional ways
  • Some artistic traditions are continued in the same way for hundreds of years
  • Sometimes artists change traditional ways of working and create new purposes for traditional art forms.
  • Weaving is a traditional art form where a weaver places yarn over and under other yarns using a loom or frame to hold the yarn

Essential Questions:
  • What are some ways that artists gain inspiration for their artwork?
  • What is an artistic tradition?
  • Do artists still make artwork in traditional ways?
  • How old are some artistic traditions?
  • Can artists change traditional ways of working?
  • Why would they do this?
  • What is weaving?

Standards: PA Standards for Arts & Humanities

9.1.5.C Know and use fundamental vocabulary within each of the arts forms.

9.1.5.J Apply traditional and contemporary technologies for producing, performing and exhibiting works in the arts or the works of others.
• Experiment with traditional technologies (e.g., ceramic/wooden tools, earthen clays, masks, instruments, folk shoes, etching tools, folk looms).
9.2.5.D Analyze a work of art from its historical and cultural perspective.

9.2.5.G Relate works in the arts to geographic regions:
• Africa

Objectives: Students will:

Understand that artists often work with traditional art forms in new and different ways.
Know the meanings of the weaving vocabulary and understand the basic cultural history of Kente cloth.

Use a straw loom to create a sash, headband, bracelet, or necklace with patterns of strips and related colors.

Consider how technical processes can influence the design and pattern of woven fabric.

Assessment: Students will be given a quick question review (Included at end of lesson) that covers the knowledge and dispositions objectives. Straw loom weavings will be assessed on their creation of a straw loom and weavings on the loom and according to whether or not they demonstrate and understanding of the weaving process.

Instructional Procedures:
Motivation: Teacher will begin class with a discussion about clothing. The clothing the children are wearing is made of cloth and the cloth shows many colors and patterns. Ask if anyone has clothing, a bag or some type of cloth that is woven. Show some real examples to pass around. (5minutes) Teacher works essential questions into the discussion. When teacher talks about traditions, she introduces the artistic tradition of kente cloth. Talk about the colors and patterns, where kente cloth comes from and a brief history. (10 min.) Show pictures of Kente cloth or the real thing if available. Ask students to identify colors and shapes they see in the examples. Show students pictures of looms and explain briefly that looms are frames in which sticks called shuttles are used to interlace threads to create a woven fabric.

Studio: Teacher explains that students will weave sashes, headbands, bracelets, bookmarks or necklaces using different colored yarns. Have available yarns in a variety of colors and have each student cut five pieces of one color. (Bracelet or bookmark = 18 inches, headband or necklace = 27 inches) Teacher hands out sheet that shows traditional meanings of different colors as they are used in Kente cloth. Students are to choose 3-5 colors to use in their weavings. They then sketch a design using those colors. Designs could be patterns of color or could be no particular pattern. Regardless, the sketch students make will provide the blue print to follow showing which colors to use and where as they weave.
Students should understand that they can make their weavings any length they want. After cutting 5 pieces of yarn, they push each yarn through a straw and tie a thick knot at one end. You may need to use a shish-ka-bob skewer to push the yarn through the straw. Tie the other ends together in one big knot. Choose a long piece or yarn (about 18 inches is good to start with) and use an over-under motion as they weave. As they progress, they can gently push some weaving up and off the straw ends. If students run out of yarn, they can tie on additional yarn. When their weaving is the desired length, untie the knots and carefully remove the straws. Students may need assistance so weaving does not get messed up during this process. Tie the loose ends of yarn together on either end. Depending on how the weaving is to be used, you can add beads to the loose yarn ends, or untwist the yarn for a decorative look.

Teacher research and preparation: Gather examples and/or images of traditional kente cloth as well as contemporary weaving. Know what a loom is and basically how one works. Create an example of a straw loom and a weaving created on a straw loom.

Instructional resources:
Images of kente cloth and contemporary weaving.

Student supplies: Straws (5 per student), various colors of yarn and different fibers, scissors, long skewers to push yarn through straws.


Physical challenges: Provide straws with large diameters to use as students make their weavings. Many milkshake straws are wider than ordinary straws. You can also insert \yarn in straws ahead of time.

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