This is a project I've been wanting to teach to my students for years, I've just simply never bitten the bullet and done it. Part of me, I think, thought it might be too time-consuming for students these days, who are used to that whole 'instant gratification' thing and seem to have less and less stamina/patience for projects requiring extensive time and concentration. I am happy to report, though, for the most part (except for three students- cough, cough) my students proved me wrong :)
Update: see my newest version of this project HERE.
I first read about twig weaving in a book I bought back in 1997 during my art university days:
It's full of really cool art projects using materials from nature. Here's a photo of the lesson below- it uses extra materials such as raffia and shells. I stuck with yarn as it's what I already had available in my classroom.
The first step- locating twigs- is, BY FAR, the MOST important step!! Seriously, I had kids start with the wrong type of twigs and it all went downhill from there. I asked my kids to bring in a strong twig/branch that had at least one fork in it. Alot brought in flimsy ones ones they simply ripped off a tree (from outside of the school 5 minutes before class when they were reminded by classmates that they were supposed to bring in a twig for art, lol) These are too fresh and too bendy. You don't want the twig to be bendy or flexible at all (I mean a tiny bit it ok). So of course, if you want something done right, you have to do it yourself, lol. I went out twig hunting (hard to do when there's snow covering the ground- do this in the Fall!! Look for dried up twigs on the ground. You don't want anything too big, because those are the ones that students started and then, halfway into weaving, realized that in order to finish the project, they'd have to be weaving for like 20 hours, ha ha.
Then choose your yarn colours. I mostly had thin yarn- this takes a long time to weave. If I were to teach this lesson again, I would only buy the nice chunky yarn you can get these days for knitting cool chunky scarves. Again, I used what I already had in the art room. Nonetheless, the thinner yarn looks LOVELY woven, so I don't regret that.
Start with the warp threads. Tie one length of yarn (I used about 2 arms lengths) to the bottom of one of the forks. We used a neutral colour like white or cream yearn for this step, as it doesn't really end up showing much in the end. Wrap it back and forth between the fork, making sure to wrap it twice around each side- this helps secure it and make it strong and stay put. Don't wrap them too far apart or too close together- try to leave about half a centimeter or a centimeter between each warp thread. Wrap your warp thread TIGHT- no loosy-goosy- otherwise it is way too hard to weave; it's too floppy with no tension. Tie off the end of the yarn to the end of the fork (it helps to have an extra person help with this step so you don't lose the tension on the warps threads.)
For the weaving part, we used these plastic needles from Roylco. I am obsessed with these. I use them for so many projects. They come in packs of 32 and are cheap.
Cut off about two arm's length of the first colour you're going to weave with. Tie (double knot) the end to the bottom of one fork, just like the warp thread. Then thread on the needle. Start weaving vertically up through the warp threads- over, under, over, under. The first couple of rows don't look like much- it's once you get to row three that you can start pushing the rows down nice and snug parallel to the fork and it starts to look like an actual weaving. I had to keep telling the kids this b/c they were all complaining "mine doesn't look good!" etc. etc.
Once you run out of the first colour, simply tie on a second colour to the end of the
first colour and continue weaving. Some students only used one colour.
|how to tie on a new colour|
If you have more than one fork in your branch, you can weave the others, like
I did here with my sample.
Phew- all finished! It's a satisfying process though.
Of course I like to take it a step further and added painted (acrylic) stripes to my branch. I thought this was a brilliant and very cool idea, an extra way to personalize the branch, but none of my students did it :( I felt it looked very "Anthropologie"-style . I often get inspiration from their window displays- I'm obsessed with them!
Ta da! I was very happy with mine!
Here's the students work- I taught this to a mixed group consisting of Grades 7 - 9. They all did well with it. My younger grades saw these in the art room and immediately asked "Why can't weeee dooo thaaat??!", so I did it with my other mixed elective class consisting of Grades 4 - 6. They also did well, but some of the Grade 4's needed help with the warp as well as really getting the hang of the weaving part. But all in all, they did quite well with it and LOVED it way more than my older kids did! I found that the students who had experience with knitting (many of my students take a popular knitting class at our school) did the best with this project. They were simply more confident in using yarn, having patience, tying knots, keeping the weaving tight, etc. Boys also do really well with this type of kinesthetic, tactile project. I had one boy ask if he could take his home to work on the school bus ride home- I love that!
|The yarn stayed surprisingly neat considering how many students were weaving throughout the week.|
Wrapping the warp threads below. This is one of the BIG branches- this student
gave up halfway through and never finished. So don't use this size of branch!!
Some of the completed ones:
|This was one of the large branches that actually got completed. This Grade 7 girl is a knitter, so she was very confident. The branch is about 4 feet long- It came out amazing!!! And she used thin yarn!!|