Okay, I will admit it. I had ulterior motives when we did this weaving project. Yes, I had a bag of over 500 compact discs I needed to get rid of. And a blank wall just screaming for art.I acquired a lifetime’s worth of cds from a teacher who had lived here before Netflix was born. After twenty years of desert life, she was ready to part with these discs and for some bizarre reason, no one else wanted them. And now, they all belong to me. Challenge accepted.
My new classroom is in a new wing of the school. This hall has lots of empty wall space not claimed by bulletin boards. I staked my claim as soon as I moved in, but couldn’t do this project until I finished all my paper weavings with grade three.
I told the students they were going to make an art installation for the hallway. I tried to tell them they were going to help beautify their surroundings and give a sense of community to the building. I wanted them to understand they would not be getting their artwork back at the end of the year. It would now belong to the school. I showed students pictures on the Internet and watched a few videos on how to use a compact disc as a loom. It wasn’t hard to sell my students on this idea. They wanted to play with the cds, the yarn, and the needles.
On day one, we had some major problems. A lot of times, I take for granted all the things I know and my kids don’t, like tying knots. I’ve been tying knots since I was in first grade, but my shoes were different then. I didn’t have velcro. I didn’t have a nanny who tied my shoes. Some of these kids have both. They don’t know how to tie knots. We spent a lot of time learning how to tie knots, and a lot of my kids still didn’t learn. I spent a lot of time tying knots during this project.
You have to tie the string through the hole to start. The long end of the yarn then gets wrapped around the cd several times to make the loom. Then you have to tie a knot to keep the warp strings in place. The next challenge was to make sure we had an uneven number or warp strands, and we had to have between 9 and 13 of these strands. If you have an even number of warp strands, the weaving will look okay but it won’t have the same interest if you have uneven warp strings. Same for the amount. Some students had seven and they don’t look as full.
Once our loom was in place, the next challenge was threading our yarn needles. It was completely up to the students to figure out their lengths and color choices. Once they got the hang of threading the needles, this is all they wanted to do. To be honest, I was not expecting the amount of waste we ended up with. Students used way too much yarn. They were good about putting it back into a basket so other students could use it but it was still very wasteful. I thought about showing a video about shearing sheep, and then I watched some of these videos. Oh my gosh. I may never wear wool again. This is not a peaceful process. It is pretty brutal and can really hurt the sheep. I didn’t show the videos to the kids, but I did tell them what I learned hoping they’d conserve the wool. It worked for a little bit but old habits die hard.
We ended up with so much extra yarn, we did a second project I will write more on in the future. I don’t know what I could do to change this though. I tried to stand over them at the yarn station to monitor how much yarn was taken, but this didn’t really help. I think if I could do it again, I would cut all the yarn and give to each table group. They may be a little more resourceful if they knew they only had so much to use. This is if I ever do a yarn project again. Seriously, the videos are pretty scary.
Students did an excellent job with their weavings. Beautiful colors and all are unique. Like my kiddos.
So, once the third grade finished their part, it was my turn. I had to take some time to figure out how to get all their work up, making it look balanced and centered. It took me a few tries, but once I laid everything out, did a little measuring (MATH IS EVERYWHERE IN ART!), it was easy to string everything up.
I purchased fishing line and eye hooks during a weekend trip in Bahrain. Then one of our lovely custodians located some old wood and cleaned it up for me. Then that same custodian made these metal shelving hooks for me by bending them somehow. It always amazes me that I live in a place where we have to find things to use. If I were in the States, I could just go down to the local hardware store. But here, you don’t just buy wood. You can’t get it. We live in the desert. I can get sand, bricks, and concrete, but wood is another story. Things are made by putting scraps together.
The great thing is that we get pretty resourceful. Practically everything in this project has been up-cycled. Boom!
And it looks great!
I’ve already got ideas for the next art installation.