Thursday, April 17, 2014

Weaving Natural Materials on a Tomato Cage

Jane- in progress 2014

Weaving with natural plant material and fibers can create beautiful textures and patterns.

 I've used tree roots and lemongrass to weave baskets before and thought it would be fun for the kids to weave with natural materials.

I came across an idea by Jeanette Nyberg, for weaving on a trellis. I had some tomato cages from our garden and grapevine in the woods, so tried it out at home first. It was a little tricky to manipulate vines, but thought weaving with the natural materials on a larger scale would be a different and interesting experience for the kids to attempt.   

I found enough tomato cages for everyone at Tractor Supply Company for $2 each. 

I cut and thinned out some muscadine grape vines that had covered the wild blueberry bushes near the lake. It's a good idea to have permission to cut plant material not on your own property, to know what you are cutting in case it is poisonous or endangered and to make sure you don't destroy a natural habitat. Trimming instead of digging allows plants to grow back.  I also used smilax vine and lemongrass.

I kept the vines pliable by soaking them in an tub of water overnight.

I pushed the wire cage into the soft ground to stand. Beginning with a 3-4 foot piece of vine, I wrapped it over and under each vertical wire like we did last week on our bamboo loom as well as looping around the horizontal wire rings a few times. This helped secure the beginning of the weaving

After weaving several rounds, I beagn to weave up tp the second horizontal wire rings and back down, creating several more vertical warp pieces. Remember the warp is the vertical vines (threads) and the weft is what is woven through them horizontally. 

Next, I went back to weaving horizontally, including in the new vertical pieces. An odd number seems to work best. For some of the rows I changed the vine type and added some lemongrass, some twine and colored cord. Don’t hesitate to create your own weave and to tuck the end pieces into the previous rows.

I told the kids the sculptures were to be created for the outdoors and we talked about how the natural material might dry and weather, shrink, change colors or decay. 
They could be thought of as temporary sculptures. 


The kids did pretty good, needing a little assistance to get the hang of it and enjoyed creating weaving patterns on their own. 


I figured that was best for now 


They found feathers, pinecones and flowers nearby to add to their weavings. 



Jeanette shared the work of sculptor Patrick Dougherty on her postHe is known as an environmental sculptor who weaves/builds/installs large scale woven works created from tree saplings and natural materials. I'd forgotten we saw his work in North Carolina. 

Photographer: Mina Carson

His art is considered Installation Art - art that is installed or arranged on the site where it will be exhibited, often incorporating materials or features from the site. 
Dougherty finds truck loads of tree saplings and other materials near the sites where he creates the sculptures. Many volunteers assist with the placement of the 'sticks', completing each project in a 3 week time period.

Do Tell -Patrick Dougherty, Highlands N.C. -2010

Since 1982, he has combined his love of nature and his carpentry skills with primitive techniques of construction to create these large scale works. They are like gigantic basket structures.

Photo: Shannon Clark
Little Bitty Pretty One, Patrick Dougherty, Nashville Tenn. -2014

There are over 230 of these works that he created on site all over the U.S., in Scotland, Japan, and Brussels. 
His website Stickwork  has links to the projects he has done.

Many are covered, house-like structures, grouped together with door-like openings, perfect for running in and out of. 
Do Tell- Patrick Dougherty, 2010 Highlands, N.C.

I had the opportunity to explore and play in one of his sculptures located at the Bascomb Center in Highlands, North Carolina. See me peeking out?

Do Tell, Patrick Dougherty-2010

There were several structures with open doorways perfect for wandering in and out of and it was even cool to look up through the structure to the sky.

The kids took their wire cage weavings home to be displayed in the yard and I encouraged them to keep looking for weaving materials to add to their sculpture. 

It was an enjoyable project!


Monday, April 14, 2014



The nectarines look promising this year. Last year a late frost killed all the blooms. This winter was very rainy and the fruit and leaves are beautiful! Now, if we can just keep the squirrels and possoms away!

 Posterize/paint daubs

rough pastel

Brighten/gradient map/watercolor

Linking to Mandarin Orange Monday where LorikArt hosts great Orange Art!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

April Views on Orange Lake

A quiet canoe ride on Orange Lake yesterday evening provided some interesting surprises.

Immature white ibis feeding on the 'floating island'
(clumps of peat and plant matter)

Both photos taken with my I-Phone 
in full zoom so kind of fuzzy-

 Some of the willow trees which I think are Black Willow, were going to seed. They looked like a bush full of cotton. 

Linking to Skywatch Friday

The water was covered with the little seeds and fluff. Actually a child in my class that day had said she found 'cotton' on the walkway over the marsh- I bet that was the willow!

We had seen the willow blooming in March with honeybees all over them. 

This was blooming as well...
Linking to Macro Monday 2

I don't know the name and am going to guess with Cyrilla racemiflora ?

Swamp TiTi or Leatherwood
  Does anyone recognize this?

I've seen it along the Ocklawaha river as well. 

Happy Weekend!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Weaving on Bamboo

I introduced weaving to my Gainesville class today and for all but one child, it was their first experience with weaving. 

 I thought it would be fun to have them weave on a branch- kind of organic and unprecise, and we have a lot of bamboo that was recently cut. I played around weaving some yarn and ribbon between the small branches to see how well it would work. 

 We practiced with paper first to get the hang of it. 

Weaving is great for refining fine motor skills and eye-hand coordination. It offers an experience of working with different textures and materials and a feeling of satisfaction in creating a decorative or useful object. 

These looms are made by folding the paper in half and cutting the 'warp' lines from the fold up to within an inch of the top of the paper. 

The lines can be drawn first, so it is easier to follow.
 I had them vary the 'warp' with some straight and some wavy lines.

The weft pieces are woven under, over, under over

Next, they created a loom with a bamboo branch. 

The kids used yarn to create the warp by wrapping back and forth between two branches. The yarn was wound a few times around each branch, before going back across to the other. 

I provided various choices of yarn to weave through the warp. 

 I also had feathers, beads and shells they could weave in. 

They really did well and had fun!

Depending on how the bamboo is cut, there can be several tiers of weaving and it can actually stand up, balancing on the branches