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tapestry in k12
[ Thread ][ Subject ][ Author ][ Date ]Janet Moore
Wed, 30 Oct 1996 10:12:32 -0800
Hello to all! This post is in rsponse to Ruth Voyles' request for
descriptions of weaving projects for k12 students.
Last spring I had the opportunity to work with a group of highschool
students at John O'Connell Technical Highschool in San Francisco and
their instructor, Andrea Lyons. The goal of the project was to
introduce students to tapestry weaving and to produce a group tapestry.
(No mean trick!) There were two classes of approximately 20 students,
and I had four frame looms, modelled after the Schacht Spindle Company
frame loom, a very useful small frame loom with moveable warps that can
be up to 6" long, and 14" wide. (I believe that Phoebe McAfee helped to
design the loom.) Interesting logistics. After warping the looms and
tying heddles, I introduced basic tapestry moves, and after a little
practice, asked the kids to design small squares they thought they could
execute in tapestry. We chose some workable ones from this group, and
students either worked in teams of two, or took turns weaving for about
15 minutes each. What developed were strips of tapestry, lots of
stripes (!), some simple angular shapes, lots of color play, and some
struggle with craftsmandship. In between classes, I added to the
developing strips, so our time together would reflect my presence as
visiting artist, and the piece would be a little larger. I was also
able to bring some of my textile library and show the students weavings
of several cultures: Navajo, West African, European.
The strip woven format turned out well. We produced a tapestry
approximately 40"x22", and everyone participated. The tapestry hangs in
their school office. There was some enthusiasm for going on with the
weaving process in the summer. I think weaving doesn't find it's way
into k12 education much because of equipment considerations, cost of
materials, and the fact that weaving requires technical skills that not
many people have the chance to develope. Some of the students related
to the tapestry because it was somewhat in their cultural heritage.
Some rejected it when they thought it was the culture of "others", but
when shown examples from "their"culture, were more accepting. There was
a great deal of diversity in this classroom. I, for one, have never
seen so many boys enjoy weaving and do good work.
I'm going to present this project again, and this time, an arts
association I am part of is funding the construction of six more looms,
so each student can have, perhaps, a more personal weaving
As a tapestry artist, I was gratified to think that more young people
will relate differently to the textile art they come across in their
lives. They may have more curiosity because of their "hands on"
experience. I beleive this type of audience development is an important
function of art education, serving a larger cultural purpose, as well as
giving an individual experience.
If any tapestry folks would like to check out k12 education information
and discussion, you can look at the Getty Institute's web site at
Take care, and good weaving. Jan