Weaving with Recycled Materials, by Corinna Archer
As a textile artist I was excited to share some ideas for weaving projects using recycled materials at our February Skill Share about recycled art projects to use in the classroom. Besides making gorgeous wall-hangings to bring home to their families, students can weave pieces of fabric to use as placemats, carpet squares, pouches and bags, costume pieces, quilt squares and more. Students can make individual weavings, or you can plan this project as a group activity where everyone contributes to an art piece that represents their collaborative efforts and shows off the amazing things you can do with recycled materials in the community.
Weaving materials can include yarn, ribbon, paper, plastic bags cut into long strips, rope, cardboard, etc.
Resources and Inspiration:
The Crafty Crow, a children’s craft website, is another great resource for weaving and textile craft project ideas to bring into the classroom. These beautiful circular weavings were made on CDs.
A great example of a cardboard loom: simple and so fun! From the Craft Sanity Blog.
Weaving on plastic six-pack holders:
I love these examples of a collaborative weaving project by the students of Evergreen Elementary School in Washington:
Here is a great example of a weaving project for kids using plastic bags: http://ydtalk.com/jdispatch/2011/03/01/students-weave-the-seasons-with-recycled-products/
I also came across an inspiring community project called The Vision Weave Project, where community members participated by writing a message about their vision for “a peaceful future” and then weaving them into these stunning tapestries that became permanent community art installations. you can find more information about this project here: http://www.moonrain.ca/VisionWeaveTable.html
Weaving Project Tutorials:
Making a cardboard loom:
- Find a piece of cardboard, this can be as big or small as you like!
- Cut 1/2” slits along one side. For thinner weaving materials (yarn, string), make the slits closer together (1/8 inch). For thicker materials (ribbons, plastic bags), make slits further apart (1/2 inch). If you are using a box top, cut the slit so that it goes ½ inch into both sides of the box edge. Along the vertical side, cut across all of the slits so that you can pop out a little flap for each one.
- Repeat along the other side, making sure that each slit is across from one on the other end.
To Warp (Set Up) the Loom
- Warp your loom (set up the vertical strands) by starting at a slit on one edge and wedging your weaving material into the slit so that the end is hanging out the back.
- Pull your warp strand across and into the opposite slit, keeping it taught. Your strand will now be coming out the back of this slit. Looping around the back, pull the strand up to the front through the slit immediately next to it. Then, pull across to the opposite end like before.
- Repeat until your weaving is set up to be slightly wider than you want your fabric to end up.
- Weave through the warp strands by starting and one end and pulling your weft (horizontal strands) material over, under, over, under, across the whole row.
- When you have finished a row, use your fingers to comb the row down to the bottom of your weaving. As you weave, you will want to pack each row down tightly against the last. Be careful not to pull too tightly at the edges or they will start to “suck in” and your weaving will narrow in the middle. This can also be avoided the more tightly you warp your loom.
- When you are finished weaving, you can either pull the loops off the ends and tie off the beginning and end strands, or you can cut all of the warp strands leaving enough to tie fringe along the edge of your weaving.
You can also weave with old t-shirts that have been cut into loops by cutting horizontally across the shirt on a giant “pot holder” loom made from a wooden frame and nails. The important thing is to make sure the nails are aligned when making this kind of loom. Here is a really cool example of an elementary class weaving project done with tie-dyed t-shirts:
Weaving newspaper baskets:
- Roll a sheet of newspaper, long-ways, and flatten, so that your roll is about an inch wide.
- Weave a square 4-5 pieces wide, then fold up the rest of the newspaper strips to create the sides of your basket. Clip 2-3 ends together so they stay up.
- Then, begin weaving around your basket with more strips of rolled up newspaper, making sure to crease the corners well.
- When you are about 2 inches from the top of each side piece, stop weaving and tuck each end down into one of the last rows on the inside.
- Students can decorate with paint or markers, and use their basket to hold a puppet, other art projects, or just to take home and enjoy!