Saturday, February 13, 2016

The Richmond Children's Art Festival Rocks!

This week I taught 200 elementary students how to weave at the Richmond Children's Arts Festival. It was very satisfying work and I left feeling very inspired by the experience. My station was outside in a tent. Monday was a gorgeous dry, sunny day, but of course the rest of the week it poured with rain.  Two heat lamps took the edge of the wet, chilly air.

I try to choose as many natural biodegradable materials as possible, and use the opportunity to use up odds and ends of materials and recycle old sweaters and one old moth-eaten feather boa.

 I love seeing the evolving  sense of design and the creative choices the students make.

The balloon art in the atrium is exceptional.

It's very satisfying to see the students use the natural materials I've spent days collecting. As he students work with the materials they inevitable break apart some of the seed pods, which is such a human querk. It's good because it gives them a tactile experience with seeds. "This is my first messy art piece," one girl remarks. My job here is done.

Most of the students had never woven anything before.

I explained how the weaving can be taken apart, cut into small pieces and stuffed into a wire whisk to hang in a tree to provide nesting materials for birds. The alar shape of the weaving is my own twist on paper plate weaving, giving the students a challenge. (With the grade ones we just made a straight perpendicular paper plate loom.) I like using the paper plates because it gives the students lots of room to move their hands inside the weaving and makes room for bulky materials.

There were some interesting comments about the scent of the herbs on the table: lavender, oregano, and fennel. "Smells like Mother Nature," one boy exclaimed. "It stinks!" said another. "That's just how nature smells and it's not gonna change," advised a third student. Another boy loved the scent of the oregano. "That's because it's the herb in your pizza sauce," I explained. He was so excited to make that connection he stuffed his weaving full of oregano.

I explained how we had lots of time for this activity and we were living life in the slow lane. One girl agrees: "No hurries, no worries, as I like to say." Of course, some students tried weaving for about ten minutes and then gave up because it wasn't their thing. Others just didn't want to stop after an hour and a half and I gave them some materials to take home. Weaving is very good for brain development and I would love to see looms in classrooms and seniors centres.

Many thanks to the staff and volunteers for such a well-organized and inspiring children's art festival.

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