Thursday, January 20, 2011

So many questions! Wampum belts part 2

Don't you love the blue fingernails? :-)


Many of you have asked questions, so I decided it would be easier to put answers in a post, rather than in a comment response that you might not notice.


So - some basics:
The looms are 6-1/2"x 13" Wide Notch Chipboard Looms. You can find them in Nasco, Sax (division of School Specialty) and probably most other school supply art catalogs.
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The beads are not wooden; they are the cheapo plastic "pony beads". You can get them in bags of individual colors, or bags of mixed colors from any of those same catalogs, or places like Jo-Anns or Wal-Mart too. Some colors don't come in individual bags though, so that's a decision you have to make when purchasing. For the size we are making (5 x 30 beads) we obviously need 150 beads per child. The looms are big enough to do them with 6 rows, but I decided 5 would be enough. You could probably fit about 36 columns if you wanted, so 6 x 36 = 216.
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For stringing the warp and for weaving, I've got a Trait-Tex Cotton Warp, which is white, and Leesburg Carpet Warp, which comes in colors like black, blue, red, and yellow.
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Cheap plastic needles work well; I find the metal ones are too slippery and harder to handle. Large eye needles are fine, but not jumbo - those don't fit through the beads.
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As for graphing the designs: I give the kids sheets with all the available colors listed, and three graphs of 5 x 30. They can use as many sheets as they need, until they figure out exactly what they want, and most of them used at least 2 sheets! Lots of them were plotting out initials or words, and the others all did patterns as per my instructions. We added and subtracted rows as needed to make designs center or balance.
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I'll save explaining the whole weaving and finishing process for another night; that will be harder to put in writing. Now it's time to read tonight's blog posts...
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Oh - I shouldn't forget - a big shout-out to Krista G, who presented a workshop at our NY state art teachers' conference a couple of years ago. These "wampum belts" were one of the lessons she presented, and she put up with me practically assaulting her in the elevator later that day to get a better explanation for the process, and then my subsequent emails asking for more picky details. If you are out there reading this, Krista, THANK YOU!

6 comments:

  1. These look so hard to make! I think I would definitely learn something if I took your class! They must be proud to have such a sophisticated project.

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  2. Erica, they are surprisingly easy. But you have larger classes and it might make it tougher. Last year I had a couple of teenage assistants and they were helpful when we took them off the looms, tying knots etc. I don't have them this year.
    One thing that's helping a LOT this year was a rule I got from another blog (maybe it was you?) that I love - "ask three before you ask me". As soon as someone had a couple of lines done, I declared him or her an "expert" and only rescued those with extreme tangles or disasters. But finishing is still coming...

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  3. I think this is a project my bilingual classes would love. As a whole they are really group oriented and love challenges like this. Many in the class are perfectionists (which drives me crazy)! I love the results your getting! Well worth the effort. I will read your next post with the explanation and try it myself! I've got pony beads!

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  4. I simply love this project and can't wait to try it with a small group of students. Thanks for sharing all the details. It really helps.

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  5. Thank you for this idea - love it!! I am looking forward to trying it with my Year 7 class next term. The photos and step by step instructions really helped me when i tried it out and hopefully it will help the kids too :-)

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    1. SP, I'm glad to know my instructions helped. I am so used to SHOWING how to do things, using my hands. Putting it in writing and photos makes it so much harder and I'm never sure I'm getting my message across! Good luck with your students.

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