Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Printing - Patterns on Weaving

The children make paper weavings and then print on them using found objects. Ages 3 to 6. Plan 2 sessions.

  • Learning the terms and process of weaving
  • Relief printing with found objects
  • Making a balanced design
warp, weft, weaving, pattern, relief printing, balance

  • Colored construction paper9 by 12 inches
  • Strips of colored construction paper1 by 12 inches (see note below)
  • Pieces of cardboard large enough to support the construction paper while weaving
  • Scissors
  • Masking tape
  • Glue sticks
  • Paper cutter (optional)
  • Approximately 4- by 5-inch pieces of soft packaging foam for paint pads (one for every two children)
  • Liquid tempera paints
  • Plastic plates or foam trays to hold paint pads and found objects
  • Plastic wrap
  • Newspaper padsone for each child
  • Found objects for printing, such as the ends of empty thread spools, dice, cardboard tubes, nail heads, Lego pieces, dowel sticks, or any small item that will make an interesting relief print.
Note: For each weaving, you will need approximately twelve one-inch strips. If you plan to slide thinner strips over the wider strips, you will need an additional twelve half-inch strips.

First Session
  • On the underside of each sheet of construction paper, mark off a half-inch section along the nine-inch edge. Starting from the bottom of the paper, cut warp strips one-inch wide, leaving the marked-off section uncut.
  • Cut strips of construction paper and set them out, grouped by color and width.
  • Set out cardboard, construction paper, masking tape, and glue sticks.
How to Begin
  • Explain to the children that, in this session, they will be making weavings by braiding strips of paper in and out.
  • Demonstrate the process of weaving. Choose a color of paper and tape the uncut section to a piece of cardboard with the penciled side down. Explain that warp refers to strips running vertically and weft refers to strips running horizontally. Show the children that the weft strips are woven into the warp strips and that each consecutive row is reversed. For example, if the first row goes over, under, over, under, then the second row goes under, over, under, over. Explain that each weft strip must be pushed tightly against the one above it and that the extra lengths will be trimmed after the weavings are completed.
  • Explain that too many colors will make the patterns, or designs, less interesting, so the children should choose two or three colors of weft strips to coordinate with the color of their warp strips. Encourage them to balance or arrange the colors of the strips equally by repeating them in different patterns, such as red, blue, red, blue, or red, red, blue, red, red, blue, etc.
  • As the children work on their weavings, remind them to push each weft strip tightly against the one above it. If the warp strips spread apart, the children should push them in from the sides. To hold the last weft strip in place, apply small dabs of glue to the bottom ends of the warp strips.
  • For an interesting effect, half-inch strips can now be slid through the weavings directly on top of the one-inch warp strips.
Note: Carefully detach the weavings from the cardboard. On the underside, put strips of tape along the four edges of the weavings to hold the strips in place. Use a paper cutter or scissors to trim off the extra lengths of weft strips and the uncut sections across the tops of the weavings. Glue down any loose edges.

Second Session
  • Make paint pads for printing by filling the foam pieces with several tablespoons of tempera paint. Test to be sure there is enough paint to make good prints, but not so much as to cause smearing. Plan one paint pad for every two children. Cover with plastic wrap until ready to use.
  • Put masking tape on one side of each found object so the children can see which side to hold and which side to use for printing.
  • Set out a variety of found objects with each color of paint pad, designating one color of paint pad for each table. (Have the children move from table to table to change colors or let the children remain in their seats and move the paint pads with their found objects to the different tables.)
  • Set out the trimmed weavings and a pad of newspaper for each child.
How to Begin
  • In this session, the children will be using found objects to decorate their weavings.
  • Explain the process of relief printing. When the found objects are pressed onto the pads of paint, only the raised areas will pick up the color. Pressing the object onto the paper will transfer the color to the paper. Demonstrate by placing the weaving on a pad of newspaper, explaining that the softness of the newspaper pad will make clearer, crisper prints. Hold the taped side of a found object and press the side without tape onto the paint pad. Then press the object firmly on the weaving for a few seconds, lifting it off the paper in a straight-up motion to avoid smearing. Repeat this process for each print. (Stress the importance of keeping the specific found objects with their designated color of paint pad to keep the colors from becoming mixed.)
  • Discuss some ways the children can arrange the prints to give the artwork a feeling of stability or balance, such as repeating colors and shapes; coordinating the print colors with the colors in the weaving; and distributing the prints evenly on the weaving.
  • Have the children create their patterns by filling their weavings with prints.
  • Expect some mistakes in the over-under process when working with very young children. As long as the weaving will hold together, this is not a problem and can often add interest to the patterns.
  • Simple weaving is usually challenging enough for the three- to four-year-old children. The older children will enjoy sliding the half-inch strips over the inch strips to create new and interesting effects. 
  • If too many colors are used in the weavings, they tend to lose their individuality.
  • Review the difference between weft and warp strips.
  • Discuss the different approaches used to make balanced designs.
  • Are the relief prints crisp and clear?
What the children might say...
  • Uh oh! I went over when I should have gone under. Do I need to take my weaving apart?
  • I want to print with all the colors.
  • I finished my weaving, but the bottom strips keep falling out.
  • I want to print red dice, but it is with the blue paint pad.
  • I forgot to get more paint on the thread spool, so I can hardly see my second print. Can I print over it?
What you might say...
  • As long as your strips are woven enough to hold together, the weaving will work fine.
  • You should look at the colors in your weaving to decide which colors will make interesting prints for your design.
  • To hold the weaving together, remember to put a small dab of glue on the bottom of each warp strip as you weave your last weft strip.
  • It’s important that we keep the found objects with their color pads. If you need to print red designs, choose one of the objects with the red paint pad.
  • Printing on top of the same print usually causes smearing. Instead, let the light prints become an interesting part of your pattern.
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