Friday, February 26, 2010

Show Invitation

Well the time is growing near for my annual Elliot Gallery show and this year I have gone way off the map! I have been hard at work on some silk clothing designs using Nuno felting techniques that I was inspired to do after our Bermuda Fiber Festival this year. I have no pictures yet but hope you will be able to join me at the opening on March 11th. There will be live models, traditional local food and live keyboard and classical guitar being played.

Join us for a fun evening!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Fiber Art Classes at Kaleidoscope with Adults & Children

This week brought a variety of projects, some just begun and others finished up!

On the adult circuit, one of my new adult students who has been attending a class for Parent and Child has completed her first felting project and it turned out great! She quickly realized what goes into creating something by hand and has found a new appreciation for all things hand made. Well done!
She was very pleased with her beaded necklace which she is proudly wearing and enjoying. It is always rewarding when a student creates something that they are happy with and can be proud of.

Each children's class this week has been working on different projects. The monday class has begun a lesson in needlepoint on plastic canvas. I gave them each a small 3" square with their initial on it to create a monogramed mat. I was quite impressed that they mostly have gotten the concept though as always, some are more adept and quicker than others. In this class my tiniest student of 5 yrs old grasped this concept first and will be the first to complete her project! Although they often aren't working their rows of stitches in the same direction, I give them leeway on this since they are working hard to get the idea of working in the diagonal. If they end up with a chevron pattern here or there, I am calling it part of the design! I am most interested in them completing the project and at least doing the basic stitches. I should have photos of the finished projects next week.

The 5 yr old class this week did felted snakes. This was a very good one hour project and they loved their end project! They all completed their snakes successfully without having to rush. The challenge for this group is to keep them on task while working the felt for a fairly long period of time. I am convinced that part of my role in  their  young lives is to be teaching them patience and perserverence :-)
Not bad lessons to learn early in life!

My 8 & ups this week continued to work on their cardboard loom weaving projects. Their challenge continues to be learning to work while they socialize. Many children in my classes seem to need their hands to talk and get a point accross :-) Their lesson is to learn to "walk and talk" as they finsish their projects. They should be finished next week with the exception of a few students who were absent for a week.

The next project for the older children will be an ambitious surface design project using basic crewel embroidery skills on a commercial wool felt to make a wearable vest. It may take us the balance of the term to complete them but they seem keen on the idea of completing a piece that they can wear. I'll keep you poested on our progress.

Until next time.......

Friday, February 19, 2010

Braiding & Weaving with 5 - 7 yr olds

Week five of term has past and six more to go til the end of the term. So much to do, so little time!

This week the 5-7 yr old class worked on braiding. This was as much a lesson to me as it was to them, though in a different way. The children learned that braiding is simply, right to the middle, left to the middle over and over again. The hard part is controlling the three strands, maintaining even tension and snugging up the work so that the braid is consistant and even. Well, maybe not so simple after all :-)
I learned that using strips of cloth for young new braiders is not the best option. Though their braid quality was pretty much as expected, I had intended for them to lace their finished braids into coasters. I felt this was a task they could accomplish. What I found was that the cloth combined with inconsistent braiding made it difficult for the  children to find the gaps among the fabric folds so that they could lace them together. They did not have the skill to fold the fabrics neatly within their braid. In another braiding class, I would use either chunky yarns or we also have some other rope like mediums that I don't know the name of. They look like rafia covered ropes and come in different thicknesses. We happen to have a thin one in stock that would have allowed for the children to find greater success in their project. It would have been easier for them to braid and they would have been able to easily see where they should insert their needles to lace them together without their needles getting stuck in the folds of fabric.
In the end, they each went home with a length of braid. Many had them wrapped around their heads as a decorative head band. They seemed pleased with their projects but next time :-)............

My five year olds finished up their weaving projects this week. In a previous class they had dyed some yarns using Kool - Aid which they used in their weaving. Each successfully created a weaving done on a small frame loom. I especially like this project because it can be finished at any time. It doesn't really matter that one child has a long weaving or that another's is short. In the end, they all go home with an amulet pendant or an ornament/wall hanging, depending on their preference. In this class, two children had enough length so that we were able to fold the weaving in half and stitch the edges to make a little pouch or medicine/treasure bag. It's the one in the center of the photo.

The older group began a weaving project this week as well. They are in process of weaving a small stash bag on a small cardboard loom designed by a friend who volunteers at the Fryeburg Fair for me. They have made pretty good progress though one of the challenges I am trying to help them over come in my class is the ability to "walk and talk"! It becomes very easy for them to flow into conversation and sway from the task at hand. This project is especially easy for them to practice this with since they have the hang of the weaving and only need to give special attention to the changing of yarns and their color choices. I hope that they will finish their bags next week, but, we'll see!
Until then..................

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Crochet with 8 - 10 yr olds

Who would have ever thougth this would be so difficult! These are students who learned drop spindle in just a few hours and though they did very well with the basic chain stitch, as soon as I started to get dimensional, they looked at me with that outer space vagueness that I so comprehend :-) This was a big surprise to me. I personally find crochet to be easy compared to drop spindle. Fewer things to have to think about. BUT, we all process differently and I do not remember the actual learning of crochet. I remember my grandmother teaching me, but I don't remember how challenging I found it at the time.
We began with learning how to hold the yarn and the hook; a little challenging, but after a bit, and me adjusting to a simpler method of holding, they did a pretty good job of catching on to create a long chain with greater stitch consistency as they progressed. Once each seemed to have the hang of it, I felt it was time to make a simple flower done in the round using chain stitches and fastening to the center loop with a single crochet. The challenge seemed to be with spacial relationship and realizing that they are working an art in 3D instead of flat work. It was easy for them to get turned around especially when they put their work down and were not able to recognize which way was up when they picked it up again. I responded by marking their center with a bit of contrasting yarn which helped. In the end, they were all successful at creating at least a part of a flower if not a completed one during our class time, but they are not anxious to revisit this fiber art too soon. All but one found it quite challenging!
I've not decided yet whether I will let them pass on this yet. I believe crochet is one of those things that once you get the hang of a few simple stitches your world of creative options opens up and it's something you rarely forget once you learn it. We'll see:-)..........
So a week off from classes next week which means I will put my nose to the grindstone and work on show pieces. Time is creeping away and diligence will be improtant for me.

Until next time............

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Weaving with Children 5 - 7 yrs old

We are now in week 4 of classes and everyone seems to be settling in. It always takes a few classes for us to get to know each other so that children can focus on their work.
Last week we dyed yarns with Kool -Aid which they began weaving with this week. The 5-7 yr old group was given a cardboard circle loom which they warped on their own pretty well. I asked them to follow my step by step instructions and found that their biggest challenge was making sure that their first warp thread cut the circle in half which makes sure the center of their weaving is in the center of the circle.
Usually if left to their own choices I find that instead of students choosing complementary colors to weave with, that they choose colors that they like with no regard for how they look when put together. I like to give hte children choices but I am often heart sick when they do a great job with the technical part of their projects but end up with a caucophny of color that is more distracting than atracting. I of course always complement their work as wonderful in spite of their color choices! Since the yarns they were weaving with were dyed with a limited number of colors, I put out a variety of warp thread colors that would go well with all of the yarns that they had. It worked! They got to make a choice that I too would enjoy :-)
The tricky part of circle weaving is the center but once they got that taken care of, they all managed to finish their pieces enough so that with a few extra minutes in class with patient parents, we were able to get all but one tied off and ready to be taken home! Yeah!
I quite enjoy the 5 yr old class falling on the day after the 5-7's. I like to have them do the same projects if possible and I am able to  assess that easily after the 5-7 yr old class does their project. It was obvious to me that the 5's would not be able to deal with the fussy center of the circle weaving as a first weaving project. We also have only one hour in class and whenever possible, I like to have them complete a project in one session. I knew that the circle weaving would be too agressive for the little ones so I chose to do a simple weaving on a frame loom. No need to warp it. I did that for them ahead of time. I simply wanted them to begin to understand the concept of over and under to create a cohesive piece using the yarns they had dyed in a previous class. This groups attention span is short. Not having the older children in class as role models for focus, attention and discipline, seems to make a difference. They feed off of each other's energy which isn't always directed at their work. In spite of that, they do great work when they do focus so I k now they are gretting it. Getting them to work at it is sometimes another story. We did not get our weavings finished in one session but they all get it and are doing nice work!
Next week is a school vacation week so there will be no regular KAF classes. 1/2 term csmp will be in session and I will have a week off to spend extra time working on my own artwork for my upcomming show at the Elliot gallery in March.
Until next time.........