Monday, March 21, 2016

In the Art Room: My Fave Fiber Arts Lessons!

Hello there, long lost friends! Sorry I vanished for a pinch, I was living it up at NAEA Chicago. I promise I'll share with y'all that fun and fab experience (although if you are an art teacher and have been on any sort of social media for a hot minute then you've prolly seen it all!). Today I thought I'd give y'all a smorgasbord of some super sewing, weaving and fiber arts projects!
Every year, when we return from winter break, we start our big fat -n- fuzzy fiberin' units. I think we all have those areas of art teaherin' that we absolutely love and for me, this is it. From embroidery to needle-felting and weaving, all of my students seam seem to eat it up (sorry, that was my sad attempt at sewing humor). Last year, my third graders got a taste of embroidery with the Our School Has Heart mural. My current thirdies are working on a different kind of embroidery project which I'll be certain to share with you soon. Here's an Intro to Embroidery video I made just for them (and y'all, of course!).
Burlap is my fabric of choice when it comes to kids and embroidery because it's inexpensive and the blunt needles work perfectly with this hole-y fabric. However, because burlap is woven, it does like to unravel easily. For that reason, when prepping burlap for stitching, either draw a line of glue around the outer edges the day before sewing (which locks the fibers in place) or simply tape the bottom and top of the fabric with masking tape. Embroidery hoops aren't necessary...but I do love to give the kids the complete experience. For me, that means embroidery hoops! You can find 'em super cheap at the thrift stores or craft shops. Shoot, send out a school email and I'm guessing you'll end up with a stock pile!
Last year I also gave needle felting a go with my fourth graders! Because the kids work with very sharp needles, be certain you work with kids who are responsible. This would also be fun with small groups or with parent volunteers in the room. More here
I remember the summer my grandma taught me to embroider and cross stitch. I was instantly hooked and I do believe that's what's made me such a lover of all things fiber arts since. I have taught several after school sewing classes over the years and this embroidered and stitched pillow was one of 'em
This time gingham fabric, embroidery floss and sharp needles were used. 
And sewing machines! I have been fortunate enough to have about a half dozen machines for my art room. The kids LOVE using them!
Another project I did as a kid that I recently introduced my students to is string art. I remember making one of these in fifth grade and it being just about the best thing ever. My fourth grade students loved making these last year! 
We created these in celebration of Dot Day but I'm pretty sure you could make 'em whenever. I can't wait to do this project again!
What's that? You've never taught fiber arts before? Friend, don't you sweat it. Here's a great project to ease your students (and yourself) into the concept of fiber arts: paper weaving! Not only is this project great at introducing your students to the look and process of weaving but you can also throw in so much math and literacy (there are so many fab books on weaving, y'all!).
Use this loom-making lesson to focus on math skills...and make sure it's a day you are being evaluated. It's all sorts of STEAM-y. You'll look good, trust me!
Word to the wise: some students will understand the concept of weaving immediately while others will struggle. 
For that reason, I often introduce weaving on an oversized loom made from laminated paper. More info here
And I do a whole lotta peer tutoring. The kids are much better at explaining things to each other than I often am!
The following year, I introduce my second graders to circle loom weaving. This project is one that is a HIT with those kids who usually don't dig painting or drawing but do love working with their hands (boys are the BIGGEST fans of weaving, ya'll!). There will be frustration in the beginning but I make sure to warn the kids: This is something new. You've never done this before. Be patient with yourself, me and your friends. We'll ALL get there, I promise!
I have my second grade kids for 30 minutes, twice a week. After spending two art classes painting their plates, we notch our loom as seen in the video above...
And warp our loom. That usually takes us one 30 minute class. 
And then we spend the next couple of classes weaving. Hint: if you use the thicker yarn, weaving goes a whole lot faster! 
 Tree weaving is a slightly different spin on circle loom weaving. I have done this project with my third graders and I love it because I can also teach the concepts of landscape painting. These are always so pretty when complete!

If the kids have completed the circle loom weaving the year before, they'll understand the concept of tree weaving. 
Straw weaving is easily the class hit! I mean, who doesn't love to drink yarn, y'all!?


What to do with finished straw weavings? The kids have made them into bracelets, belts and even little people. Really, the fun is in this making.
Dunno if you have a stock pile of old CDs like me, but I've been hoarding them for this reason: CD weaving!

I was kinda leery of CD weaving for the longest time thinking that the slickness of the CD would cause the warp strings to move. Not so! It's so easy and fun to do. AND it's a quick alternative to circle loom weaving if you are sort on time (and patience as the warping process is MUCH easier).
Ojos de Dios weaving is just as popular as straw weaving in my art room. The kids could crank these out all day long! Once they've gotten the concept down, you might wanna consider expanding on their expertise. Just google Ojos de Dios and you'll see the wonderful ideas out there. 

Right?! Cake! Watch out, you'll end up with mountains of these in your art room.
 Pouch weaving is a project I reserve for my fourth graders. It is def a project you wanna build on from previous years as it's a lil advanced. AND time consuming. I usually allow my students to take this project home to get further ahead on. No videos on this project however, if you follow that link above, I'll hold your hand and walk you thru the process. Weaving the cord is my favorite part...
And it's a nice break from regular weaving. I love having the kids add the cord as it really finishes the piece.
Now if you are feeling inspired (or have older/advanced students), you might wanna try tapestry weaving! It's so fun but does require some focus. However, you won't regret the end results.

And that's all folks! I'd LOVE to hear your fave fiber arts lessons as I'm always on the lookout for more. Please lemme know what you and your students love to create in your art room or at home. 
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10 comments:

  1. Thank you for all the great resources. Also, I picked up a copy of Nashville Arts when I was in Nashville recently. Congratulations on the great article about you?

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  2. Hi Cassie, What brand of yarn do you use? Thanks, Anne

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    1. It varies...really, whatever is cheap. I like Red Heart because I can get a ton of it for cheap at Walmart. I don't love the yarn that art supply catalogs carry...the colors are not so great.

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  3. Hi Cassie-
    How big are the boards for the string art projects? general dimensions?
    thanks
    Nancy- art teacher in Oregon

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    1. Hi Nancy! For the string art projects, the boards are about 8" X 10"...but I've used pizza rounds too. We use those large plastic coffee lids as the templates for making the dots (you'll see me use that on the video). Hope that helps!

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  4. I love all things fiber arts and am so happy you put all these ideas in one spot! One project I would add is a great felting project to bust out with your littlest kiddos, and since you mentioned you already have CDs galore, you're in luck! I make wet felted coin pouches in ziploc bags using the CD as the resist. This way my littles can experience felting without the needles. There is a lot of time spent agitating so we usually use that time to do some freeze dancing. ;) Love your videos too, please keep them coming!

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    1. OMG!! What a fabulous idea! Okay, lemme see if I got it: they wrap the roving around the CD? And then wet felt it? Slide the CD out and have a pouch?! MIND.BLOWN. Thank you, so giving that a go!

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  5. I love how I can be all be all stressed about a media (like fiber) and then I'll read a blog post like this and it's like instantly relaxing. I swear Cassie explains things in such a friendly and reassuring way--it's almost like being one of her classroom students. Thanks for talking me off the ledge, friend!

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  6. You just made my day.
    Thank You.

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Thank you so much for your comments. I appreciate each and every one :)