Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Wampum Weaving - how to do it

I promised to post the instructions for our wampum belts, so here they are! Note that I use an Elmo (document camera) to demo this process. It makes it so much easier!


First, to warp the loom, we tape our string on the back of the loom. Then we bring it up through the first notch, around the back, and so on, going around and around the loom. When we finish warping, we tape the other end of the string on the back. We aren't using the last notch, because our pattern has 5 rows and therefore needs just 6 strings. It's up to you how much of the loom you use.

Then we tie a new piece of string on the bottom left corner of the loom (we follow our patterns left to right). Tape the shorter end of the string on the back.
Thread a needle on the longer end. Now we're ready to weave.
Put beads on the needle in order, from bottom to top of your design. (We work the pattern left to right, bottom to top. )
Drop the beads off the needle down onto the string. Now push the needle up under all the strings.
Pull the beads under the strings, and place one bead in between each string.
Pull the needle back through all the beads, making sure the needle goes ON TOP of the warp thread on the way back. (This is the biggest mistake the kids can make, so make sure they know the needle goes OVER the warp string as it passes back through the beads.
Pull it tight! Cross off the row on your pattern, and then start the next row. That's it!
Hopefully tomorrow I'll post how to take it off the loom. Happy weaving!

14 comments:

  1. These are so awesome! I've been wanting to do a weaving lesson, but was intimidated because it looked so complicated. Thank you for the demo!!

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  2. This seems so simple but I've been wanted to learn how to do this forever. Thanks for posting this!

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  3. Ruth, it's pretty easy when you break it down. The big thing is making sure they have carefully layed out their pattern before they start. I remind the kids to "ask three before you ask me" to get them to help each other. Then I am mostly untangling tangles, and dealing with emergencies. Every single child has been successful; it's amazing how excited they are by this.

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  4. These are AWESOME - I love doing weaving projects with my students and am always looking for something new to do. I will be trying this idea for my next 5th grade project! Thanks for sharing all the info!

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  5. Thanks for posting the 'How To's' for us all. I am keeping up with them and look forward to the finale!

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  6. Phyl, Do you have any string and bead recommendations? Is there are certain kind of string that you use and do you buy the beads in bulk? How many classes do you do this with? I am wanting to do this with three 5th grade classes this year, they have been weaving since first grade so I think they are up for the challenge. I just want to make sure that I order enough beads :) Thanks so much for the tutorial. Love your site!!

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  7. Hi Magpie, I actually posted about the string and beads I use here: http://plbrown.blogspot.com/2011/01/so-many-questions-wampum-belts-part-2.html
    I think if you copy that address into your browser you'll find I've answered your questions there. I posted a couple of other times about the belts as well - if you click the label "wampum belts" (from the right side of the blog) you can get all of them.

    The big things are to make SURE the kids can tie knots (it's worth it to have a knot-tying session before you begin, or you'll go crazy tying knots), and to make sure they understand about going UNDER the warp strings on the way out, and OVER them on the way back. Try it out yourself before you teach it - my kids had all done paper weaving etc, but this is a little different.

    Good luck - let me know how it goes! By the way - I did it with 3 classes of 4th graders this year. Next year I'll only have 2 4th grade classes. Snag the kid who "gets" it most quickly to keep an eye on his table-mates. I found the kids often were a big help to each other.

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  8. My daughter is loving weaving her very own wampum belt, but she is almost done and I don't know how to get it off the loom. Help! Thank you!

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    1. How to get it off the loom: cut the strings straight across the back of the loom. Then tie every two strings together close to the last row of beads on each end. Then you may want to to sll the strings together. My students sometimes but some long strings through the last row of beads on each enc, and knotted the ends toph getter. These could then be used to tie it into a belt or headband, or hang from a belt, or whatever. If you still need help, let me know! I'm happy to help and am glad your daughter is enjoying!

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  9. Hi! May I ask how long it took for the kids to do these? I am thinking of having 4th graders do this on Cultural Day (celebrating Native Americans) but only have one class period to do it in. If I shortened it to bracelets would that be better?

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    1. Shelly, thanks for your question. Unfortunately, this is decidedly NOT a one-class project. I have seen, either on another blog or on Pinterest, a wampum belt project using pipe cleaners that is much simpler, faster. There is a definite learning curve to the bead weaving we did, and would not be possible to finish in one or even 2 classes. It's a longer process. Sorry! Just graphing out the designs took at least one class period!!

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    2. Shelly, check out this link for an idea for simplifying: http://wesbmsart.blogspot.com/2012/02/grade-2-wampum-belts.html

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  11. What a great idea! I'm going to try this with my kids. I would love for you to come link this up with us @costours.blogspot.com

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