Wearable Shelter

Amber and Violet band set out to explore the question: How might you draft a pattern that transforms an ordinary piece of clothing into wearable shelter?

We started by taking a closer look at how our clothing can provide shelter. Students reviewed their packing lists for the Angel Island overnight. On this trip students had to pack light, taking only what they could carry in their kayak, while making sure they had the right clothing for our outdoor adventure. They chose one of the items from their packing list to research further; considering how it provided shelter, their personal history with the garment, and where it came from.


From there students considered how the garment was assembled, exploring ways they might reverse engineer it to make their own unique piece. We were lucky to have a visit from some of Patagonia’s expert pattern drafters and menders to draft our own wearable shelter patterns. Students ran into plenty of math problems through pattern drafting, translating our two-dimensional patterns into three-dimensional forms.

We even experimented with materials science to consider ways we might manipulate the cloth. Students conducted tensile strength tests on various materials to determine which would work best for their design. 

“This was my first time sewing, and really working with cloth, so I had quite a few unexpected hiccups. Despite these setbacks, I love to learn new things and new skills so this process was quite enjoyable. I learned about different types of cloth, how to use a sewing machine, and a bunch about pattern drafting and geometric nets. If I had more time I would have loved to add a removable cooling gel layer, so I could adjust my hat to be warmer or cooler.” – Huxley

“My wearable shelter feels heavy and protective when you’re wearing it. You can see some of the mistakes that I made, but personally I think that gives it extra character. For my wearable shelter I used a knit (stretchy) fabric for the base because that is what the original piece is made of and if I had used normal fabric then I would have had to add a zipper so it wouldn’t fall down. I also used an old towel and curtain to create the tree aspect of the skirt.” – Clementine

“For my Wearable Shelter piece I drafted my pattern from a black maxi skirt I made from wrapping a piece of fabric around myself. For my piece I was planning to make a skirt that transforms into a dress, but my piece didn’t end up working. The elastic around the top was supposed to become sleeves but when it fit around my arms it didn’t work around my waist, so technically my piece is unfinished.” – Norabelle

“My wearable shelter is not how I pictured it, but that’s ok. It’s very tight and high up. I put on the bra and asked what people thought. Everyone says it looks nice but I disagree. I choose really stretchy fabric.” – Sutchat

“I think that I go camping a decent amount, and every time I’ve found the same problem with my sleeping bag; it doesn’t have sleeves. I find myself in the middle of the night reaching for my drink, but my arms are constricted by my sleeping bag. I have to take my arms out of my sleeping bag and consequently makes my arms cold. To solve this problem I made a sleeping bag with arms. The initial pattern for this garment was a faux leather jacket, it may look different now, but it still has the same purpose, to keep you warm.” – Oscar

“I started tracing my jacket and then turned it into a sleeveless hoodie. I chose camouflage because it was cool. It’s cool because it blends in with what’s behind you. The original garment was a jacket, a hoodie, that was warm. I made the opposite of what my hoodie was by making another hoodie with no sleeves this time.” – Jacob 

“This hat is based off an Ushanka. It’s a Russian hat made for keeping Russians warm since it’s always cold there. I took this idea of furry winter time cap and one upped it. I shoved rice in it, two minutes in the microwave and the hat will be warm for about an hour. Hats have been a big part of my life, through the ages of eight through eleven I wore a beanie every day. Not just for warmth but for safety. I feel safe when a hat’s on my head.” – Felix 

“Something that worked for me in this project was cutting, making the ears, and a few parts of the sewing.  Some stuff that did not really work for me was sewing the arms and hood, pinning, and tracing.  If I had another week to work on this project some things that I would do differently would be that I would try to make a more complex jacket, and I would experiment with different fabrics.” – Harper

 

 

Weave Been Busy!

It’s hard to believe it’s already the last week of Cloth Exploration! With Expression just around the corner, the Green Band has been busy learning new skills, strengthening old ones, and thinking critically about the role clothing plays in culture and presentation of self. With Aaliyah Hinds as the newest addition to the Band, the Greenies have jumped head first into an exploration of weaving/”looming.”

Greenies work on building their frame looms in the shop.

In addition to finishing up our “uniform” sewing projects, the Greenies were fortunate enough to be visited by a number of professional weavers who taught us how to use various different looms. Tien Chiu, a programer turned professional weaver and friend of Liz’s, came and shared her knowledge of weaving and showed us how to use a floor loom. Travis Meinholf, Sierra’s artist and educator friend, came in and taught a few bands how to backstrap weave, which became a favorite amongst some Greenies. Kate Colwell, a doctor and weaving teacher and friend of Piper’s family, came in to teach an exclusive lesson to the Green Band. She set up a number of table looms and a back-strap loom, and taught the kiddos how to use them and how to bind off. Kate also taught us that there are only two real rules to weaving—put on the warp hard and the weft soft. Many thanks to our weaving experts!

Kate Colwell shows the Green Band how to use a table loom.

Students were given cardboard looms (donated by the generous Indigo Band), on which they practiced weaving techniques. Some kids creatively used rulers as weaving swords and wooden chopsticks as shuttles. Although not the sturdiest, the cardboard looms were used to create weave after weave, with Greenies often choosing to weave during read aloud and quiet time.

Liam and Griffin using rulers and chopsticks to weave on their cardboard looms.

The Greenies then took their passion for [woven] fashion to the shop, where each student created a frame loom using wood, screws, and wire nails. Generally following this how-to, shop-expert Evan lead us in this endeavor. Students each made a different-sized frame loom to fit their needs, Charlotte even made a backpack to carry hers in! With their upgraded looms, Greenies even brought them on our field trip and wove on the bus, impressing and shocking other passengers.

Charlotte, Charlotte’s loom and Aaliyah on the bus to Levi’s.

Getting to the Source of Cloth: A Day at Slide Ranch

Settled on cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean, Slide Ranch was a breath-taking site to explore the beginnings of cloth.

Exploring the many facets of cloth and its by-products to the Orange Band to one of our prettiest excursions yet: the always wonderful Slide Ranch in Marin. While our destination was new to some and familiar to others, the Orange Band got to participate in a pilot program with a focus on wool and yarn on the ranch, with the steady hand of Amelia leading our investigations.

Amelia, our fabulous naturalist, led the Orange Band through a search for food, clothing, and shelter at Slide Ranch – with an emphasis on clothing, of course!

 

You mean you can LIVE on the ranch and take care of the animals everyday?!?! Lily (aka Lillian Sheep Goat, her nature name) contemplates her future dream job.

 

The sheep at Slide Ranch were a bit skittish, staying at the back of their pen for most of our visit.

 

The Orange Band took this in stride and gave the sheep their space, in hopes of approaching a particularly friendly ewe for an up close look at her wool.

 

Slowly, but surely, kiddos got to get a closer look with Little Girl (actually a grandmother on the farm!).

 

Little Girl’s wool was so soft and dense! Also, multicolored: It was MUCH lighter closer to her skin.

In the beautiful yurt on Slide Ranch’s grounds, the Orange Band explored the different forms that cloth takes when shorn from the sheep that live here.

 

Amelia presented the Orange Band with wool in its various forms at the ranch: unwashed, combed, and spun.

 

Tasked with matching artifacts to the wool-to-yarn process, Orange Banders got to see the bigger picture lain out in front of them.

And then set out to recreate the wool-to-yarn steps: kiddos washed wool,

carded, or combed, the wool,

and hand spun their wool pieces!

Amelia demonstrated how to lengthen the wool before hooking it up to the spindle.

With help from her partner, Tamasen has a beautiful lock of hand-spun yarn!

Kiddos even had an opportunity to test out some natural dyes from fruit and veggies (that turned out to be less successful, though.)

No trip to Slide Ranch would be complete without a little goat milking and garden excursion!!

Dream, the goat, was most patient while Orange Banders took a hand at milking her.

Dreamy Dream

Soleil, Sadie, and Lily each took a turn milking Dream.

Soleil and Lily even tried some fresh goat milk — REALLY fresh!! (It was warm!!)

The other kiddos were content to gather treats for Dream to eat while she was being milked – Dream DEFINITELY expected the treats!

Gathering treats for Dream.

Dream demands more treats!

Even goats reach a treat limit, it seems.

Slide Ranch treats are not just for the livestock; Orange Banders got to wander and sample the MANY delicious offerings in the garden, collecting fragrant herb bundles to be tied up with their hand-spun yarn.

The beautiful lower garden

Fresh chives are truly scrumptious!

Flowers are edible sometimes, and chard leaves make great hats!

It was a truly magical day on the ranch – from sheep to wool to yarn, the Orange Band got the chance to see wool through its rudimentary steps of basic production, and get a little goat and gardens in, to boot!

 

 

Story Plays and Cloth Beginnings

Hello everyone! Welcome back to the Red Band blog. Can you believe we are already at fall break? Last month we bid farewell to our friend Piper and welcomed Kimberly and Daniel into the Hive. We did so much baking to support relief efforts for our neighbors to the north in Sonoma County we were able to donate $100 to the Redwood Credit Union Community Fund. We spent two nights near the seashore at NatureBridge, some of us for the first time without our parents. We’ve kicked off Cloth by adding weaving, sewing, cutting, gluing, and knotting to our skill sets.

Our first attempt at measuring and cutting fabric

Exploring our first Cloth question, How can you connect two materials?

Costumer designer Tiff came to visit and share some of her work

The kids worked on circle bags during morning centers

And we’ve introduced project time in the Hive, these are one hour guided experiences led by Kimberly or me. So far we have made stuffies, skirts, dog shirts, and pillows. We’re hand-stitching, sewing machine-powering people now!

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Also new to the Hive has been the introduction of Story Plays with Liz. Each child will have the opportunity to share a story straight from their imagination to share with the entire Hive. After the story has been dictated to Liz, the child identifies the characters of the story who will later be played by their Hivemates. During our closing circle the children will hear the story read aloud and can then choose to become an actor!

Stayed tuned for more Cloth adventures with the #brightworksbeehive!

Magenta Starts BWX’s “Museum of Everyday,” Inspired by Icelandic Museum

From the earliest brainstorming sessions for the Cloth Arc, we’ve found that cloth is inextricably tied to metaphor and story — we cannot help but think of the many ways which cloth (and fabric, threads, and more) carries meaning in our conversations. The “moral fabric of our nation,” “weaving of a story or spinning a tale,” finding a “common thread” and more. To deepen our exploration of this connection, we started to discuss creating stories of meaning and how the things we wear carry meaning.

Paired Storytelling

Story of Our Clothes — Storytelling Workshop

First, we had 60 seconds to share a story about an article of clothing with a partner. After each partner had shared within their pair, we joined pairs into groups of four. In these double pairs, we shared what we remembered of our partner’s story (partially a challenge in memory and listening and partially an opportunity to hear your story told back to you). We then had a whole-band discussion about what makes a good short story and what our challenges we had in telling our stories.

Best parts of stories:

  • Unique Experiences
  • Specific Details
  • Make people laugh
  • Stories with emotions, sentimental value, meaning or nostalgia
  • Context to action (set the stage)

Problems with our stories:

  • Need to create meaning
  • Rambling
  • No context
  • Lies
  • Keeping forward motion to the story (linear action)
  • Time management and flow

Sharing stories

Museum of Everyday, Ísafjörður

Ísafjörður, Iceland and the Museum of Everyday

Ísafjörður is the largest city in the Westfjord region of Iceland, but in many ways, it is a very small town (it doesn’t even have any stop lights!). It is surrounded by steep mountains and the cold North Atlantic and it is so close to the North Pole that during summer the sun is visible 24-hours a day and in the winter it is dark all day long.

Many residents of Ísafjörður used to be fishermen, traders or farmers from nearby villages. In recent decades and after the 2008 economic collapse, both the farming and fishing industries faced many challenges and many Icelanders moved to the cities to look for other work. One innovative and new industry for Ísafjörður is using fish skins to produce medical bandages for burn victims.

Jay, a high school collaborator, traveled to Ísafjörður and was inspired by a museum he found there. In the Museum of Everyday, he found a wall of shoes with headphones for people to listen to stories shared by the owner of the shoes. The shoes and stories were collected from people living in Ísafjörður to allow tourist to learn about life in current day Iceland. We were given permission to share these stories with our students and to make our own museum inspired by their collection.

Creating our Brightworks Museum

After our storytelling workshop, we scripted our stories, edited our work with peer feedback, and then read them into our podcast kit, creating an audio file. We combined our audio files with photos of our clothes to create videos and posted it all to @bwxmuseum on Instagram.

Week of Sewing & Typing

What a wonderful week of pattern drafting and sewing exploration, interwoven with NaNoWriMo storytelling.

On Monday, we finalized our cloth math and visited Fabric Outlet to purchase materials for our Cloth as Shelter project.

Tuesday, Teal invited us to come to Maxfield’s Cafe to take part in the Shut Up and Write event.


Throughout both Wednesday and Thursday we dove into an introduction to…SOAP! With Science Expert Ricky. Discovering how soap is made and how the properties of soap wash our clothes.


Thursday afternoon, Claire and Evan of Patagonia’s Worn Wear Team dropped by to chat about what they do to care for the lifecycle of our clothing.  Afterwards, they gave Violet & Amber bands inside scoops on how to connect their pattern pieces to sew up their garments.  We’re so thankful for all of your assistance Claire and Evan!

Cloth + Stories

The Orange Band began our time together in the Cloth Arc with a wealth of ideas, questions, and commentary. Students are exploring cloth and the impact that cloth has on people – through art, the sharing of culture, and establishing/maintaining/subverting social expectations.

Orange Banders chose George as a shared novel to read and discuss throughout the Expression portion of Cloth

Our shared novel, George, by Alex Gino, provided a perfect platform to tease out the complexities of societal expectations tied to clothes and gender. When people look at George, they see a boy. But George knows she’s a girl. If she is to keep her secret, George will never be able to dress or BE her whole gendered self. The story of a transgender girl navigating upper elementary school, her family, and the world around her, has given the Orange Band another entry into the conversation about clothing and the way that it marks or identifies an individual’s gender for the rest of the world to see — whether we want to tell that story or not. As part of our celebratory kick-off to read George together, students took a blank slate – a plain white t-shirt – and created their own pieces of clothing that tell exactly the story each kiddo desired to share.

Sometimes you have to make the clothes work for YOU!

In addition to critiquing the finished product, marketed and packaged for mass marketing and mind-body control, Orange Banders also looked at the beginnings of cloth. With the help of Indigo buddies, kiddos created small cardboard looms to practice different weave stitches and techniques.

Khalia helps Romero comb down his weaving

Rhone and Sadie work on threading the yearn with a large “needle”

Tamasen and Dash get started on the loom

Soleil works on her strumming teachniques!

Sadie’s first iteration!

Lillian has the yarn in her total control

As a band, we also began to build a large loom in order to experiment with material and product on a grander scale. The shop practice is also a great opportunity to dip into the shop and begin thinking about Expression projects that “loom” just around the corner.

Romero is all concentration on the bandsaw, cutting out a precisely measured triangle support for the bottom of the loom

Many hands on deck for the loom frame

Using corner supports and clamps for stability and integrity

Lily deftly uses the bandsaw tools to cut her piece

With the intent to learn the stories that cloth may carry, Orange Band took a trip to the deYoung Museum to spend time with the gorgeous quilts of Gee’s Bend, a part of the Revelations: Art from the African-American South exhibit. The women of Gee’s Bend—a small, remote, black community in Alabama—have created hundreds of quilt masterpieces dating from the early twentieth century to the present. On a cool grey morning, we sat under and before quilts that held the stories of their makers and their makers families. It was such a special experience, with the museum nearly to ourselves, just us and the quilts of Gee’s Bend.

The notion of cloth and stories served as such a lovely example for the stories the students are writing for NaNoWriMo. We kicked off National Novel Writing Month with tea, pjs, soft music and pillows. The students’ stories range from dystopian cautionary tales, graphic novels, puzzles hidden in pages and chapters, the zombie apocalypse, to true-life narratives–perfect complements for the complexity and creativity that typify the Orange Band! Students are working on plot and character development, as well as the nuance of an author’s specific voice. Pencils and fingers fly across paper and keyboards everyday and our writing goals are always on the mind!

Character development for Sadie’s graphic novel

Soleil reads aloud to the band for feedback and support

Our Cloth explorations have brought up questions about the impact of cloth – historically and socially – and where we see ourselves in the stories the cloth carries.

Orange Band in the wild! (Can you account ALL of the legs in the shot?)

The many faces and shapes of the Orange Band