Project Brightworks: Green Band

The Green Band was *sew* excited to start the Cloth Arc! With a number of seasoned designers, weavers and tailors in the band, the Greenies could not have been more eager to pick up their needles.

The Green Band was so excited to get their travel sewing kits!

For the first few weeks of the Cloth Arc, we have been focusing on what clothes represent. We asked ourselves questions such as “What is my favorite item of clothing and why?” and “What can we learn from looking at someone’s clothes?” We’re currently reading a book, The Education of Margot Sanchez, in which a young girl steals her father’s credit card to buy clothes to fit in at her new school. We’ve come to realize that clothing is a very significant way for people to express themselves. This led us to our first big exploration— we studied the history and tradition of dress codes, the pros and the cons. Students picked one perspective to argue and and a medium to express their persuasive argument. As a band we created a movie, comics, a coding animation and a short essay. Some Greenies challenged themselves by arguing the opposite of their real opinion.

Lucy showing her pro-dress codes comic book.

Greenies also *gathered* together to survey the Brightworks community in order to collect some data and statistics to use in their persuasive argument. As a school with no dress code (except to wear shoes in the shop), the Green Band found that 100% of Brightworks students and staff would like to keep it that way. There was no way to *alter* their opinions. We also discovered that most people find dress codes to be sexist and unfair towards women and transgendered people, and that a majority of BWX students and staff have had a dress code or uniform at a past school.

Piper surveying Magenta-bander Aiden about dress codes.

Because the Green Band was itching to start making something, the Greenies decided to design their own hypothetical Brightworks uniforms. (Funny how nobody wants a dress code or uniform, but everybody wants to design one!) Partially inspired by an episode of “Project Runway: Junior,” students explored the school space to find inspiration for their uniform design. We also brainstormed what we look for in our favorite clothes and what we’d want to put in our uniform. Qualities included durability, breathability, and pockets, obviously!

Greenies creating their designs inspired by the Brightworks Space.

After designing our uniforms on a 9 head figure (used by professionals for fashion), students made patterns of one or two items from their uniform using clothes that they already own. For some of us, this was the first time making a pattern, and we found it involved way more steps than simply tracing your clothing item! We then hit Discount Fabrics, where students had a $20 budget to buy fabric for their item.

Piper, Griffin, Marci and Lucy at Discount Fabrics.

That’s as far as we’ve gotten so far, but stay tuned to find out what happens next on Project Brightworks.

Personal Logos

Amber Band brainstorming notes

The Amber Band started the Cloth Arc with a brainstorming session, and we realized that we still had some lingering questions on identity from the Coin Arc. Questions around personal style and perception started popping up, which led us to question the materiality of cloth as well. We grouped our brainstorm into two main categories: Cloth in Society and Cloth Production. Starting with Cloth in Society gave us a chance to build off of the work we did around symbols of value.

Left: “Carma” by Tschabalala Self
Right: Patrick traces Jared’s shadow for a simple silhouette drawing

Contemporary artist Tschabalala Self provided some great resources on how to use color and shape as symbols for identity. We looked at her work in this episode of The Art Assignment from PBS, and worked on a first iteration for our personal logos. Students started with simple line drawings, tracing their shadows, and filling those lines with colors and patterns. They worked through several simple line drawings before choosing one to build off of for their second iterations using a screenprinting technique.

Huxley, Felix, and Keyen trace their personal logo designs onto silkscreens for printing.

Norabelle and Sutchat use a screen filler method to create stencils of their personal logos on their silkscreens.

While working on their personal logos students also chose a commercial logo to conduct a short research project on. They looked at the logo’s origin story, where it came from, what it is referencing, and the iterations that it went through. Their research had them drawing on several sources and generating additional related, focused questions that got them thinking about the ways they chose to design their own personal logos. 

Students used their journals to work out the math behind logo lockups.

Looking at these commercial logos had us thinking about the math behind graphic design work. We learned about logo lockups, and how the final form of a logo includes a structure for all of its elements. Lockups work within a grid, and have a set ratio and proportion of elements to keep the composition balanced. This gridded structure gave us an opportunity to talk about fractions, ratios, and proportions.  We measured and analyzed the ratio of image to text in logos from Nike, Target, and Snapchat.

James is a printmaker that runs the shop at The Aesthetic Union and he let us take a look behind the scenes there.

Ryan shared his process as a graphic designer with the group.

After printing our personal logos, we got to visit some design studios in our neighborhood. First we went to The Aesthetic Union, where we saw a 90-year-old printing press. Then we went to graphic designer Ryan Putnam’s studio to check out the Risograph printing process he uses, combining digital and analog aspects (similar to the screenprinting process of our personal logos). Thanks to Karen and Michelangelo Capraro (Amber Band parents, and graphic designers extraordinaire) we got to get feedback from professionals on our designs, and even made plans for ways to combine our ideas into an Amber Band t-shirt design.

Michelangelo and Karen took us through an activity breaking down the range of logos from illustrative to abstract.

 

 

Violet Band’s Exciting Week

This week we transitioned back into the classroom, after last week’s epic adventures.  

On Monday, the Violetiers gave presentations on Cloth Items that were listed on our packing lists from the Angel Island trip.  They shared historical, contemporary and personal origin stories through powerpoint presentations that were shown to the band.  We found out what the first sleeping bags looked like, the origin of cargo pants, how leather is made, all about a new fiber called Cupro, Gap’s sweatshops, and a personal history of a backpacked named George.    

 

Also on Monday, Violet and Amber explored a reverse engineering exercise on objects around Brightworks.  Groups of two or three sketched the object, deconstructed it, annotated all of it’s parts, and reconstructed the object to think about how parts work together to make a whole.  

 

 

Then on Tuesday things got spooky….

 

When Wednesday came around, the Violetiers explored Materials Science with our local expert Rich, conducting stress tests to explore tensile strength in fibers. Check out this video of the band’s reaction when a fiber hit it’s breaking point!

IMG_1969.MOV

Wednesday was the FIRST day of the famous…… NANOWRIMO!  
Yes, that’s right, the Nation Novel Writing Month has begun! Violetiers jumped in, and began their stories and  setting their word-goals.

 

Thursday we discovered the ways that Fashion Designers use math by learning about pattern drafting and calculating how many square feet of fabric our own garments use.  We also did the math to plan how many yards we would have to buy in order to recreate our clothing.  

On Friday, as an overview, Violet Band took a small Week Quiz to remind ourselves what we learned this week.
In the afternoon, we perfected our pattern math, determined how many yards of fabric we need to make our wearable shelter, and drafted technical drawings to show our intended project.  

What a wonderful week it has been!

Cloth Stories

To begin the Cloth Arc, the Teal band has started with what they know best, themselves, looking at the stories their clothing tells.

Our clothing says a lot about us. It gives others a sense of our identity. Through the telling of our Cloth Stories, we looked at what our clothing also says to us. Our clothes have incredible stories to tell.

To begin our process, the Teal Band selected an item of clothing or cloth (or few) to record its story. Sometimes the story focused on who gave it to them. Sometimes it was what it reminded them of. Sometimes it was just how it made them feel.

The Teal Band took filming seriously and made sure they were happy with their filming location and backdrop. It’s pretty awesome when eight opinions can come together as one.

Our stories and storytelling styles not only shared the story of our clothing but also shared our personalities and passions.

Sometimes that cloth item took on the form of a purse to carry all her favorite goodies, or a stuffed whale that reminds him of his family, or a sweatshirt from one of his favorite places and times in his life.

Human proportion is a big part of clothing and design. The Teal Band has been working with Rich to learn about drawing and proportion. It gets even more exciting when the math lesson starts. Is your head actually 12.5% of your total height?

And what is the human form without clothing in the Cloth Arc? Once they learned to draw a proportionate human form, they also learned about drawing different types of clothing. Aurora is ready to design her own dress line.

Have I told you already that the Teal Band is a creative bunch who love to draw?

Thanks to Rich, we have a new generation of fashion designers in the making.

Just in case you are interested in seeing where Cloth might take us this arc, here is our incredible brainstorm.

And NaNoWriMo starts tomorrow!!! Planning has been a ton of fun.

The Coin Arc Was a Valuable Experience

It’s pretty incredible when you take a six-week journey with eight 11 and 12-year-olds through an arc entitled “Coin” and you spend the majority of your time talking about personal value and social currency. We explored symbols of value, both those which are recognized by the masses and those we find value in individually. We wandered through the streets of the Financial District and the galleries of the SFMoMA. Taking advantage of the high supply and low demand for Giants game tickets, we took in a baseball game and a collection of baseballs. We designed our own dollar bills after exploring those from all around the globe. We found math in money in everyday life and even more when traveling the globe, converting international currencies. And as all middle schoolers enjoy, we shared our opinions and formulated arguments…just ask them if they think America should get rid of the penny.

Here is a visual journey of our Coin Arc exploration:

Exploring US Currency

Building our note-taking skills.

Along with our drawing skills, which the Teal Band certainly has.

Discovering new figures in history.

Recording what we find in creative ways.

Taking a moment to listen.

And listen some more.

Recording our thoughts and reflecting on our learning.

Finding patterns and creating order.

Making observations.

Working as a team.

Sharing with one another.

Working through multiple iterations.

Creating a final product.

Exploring our past.

Putting ourselves in that past.

Exploring old things that are new to us.

Taking note of what we see.

Continuing to hone those drawing skills.

Sending one another messages.

Just going for the ride.

Taking a moment to have some fun and take it all in.

Discovering that we really can learn anywhere we go.

 

 

Telling Stories With Cloth

Blue Band has launched into cloth by thinking about the stories told by items made of cloth. We started by thinking about the practical aspect of cloth by touring Joshu + Vela, a leather and canvas bag manufactor in the Mission. We learned about all the tools used to cut and prepare leather:

This machine makes impressions to add lettering or designs to leather.

This machine cuts leather.

We also learned about the process of manufactoring bags from making inrpiration boards to trying various samples before coming up with the final designs. It was great to see a real world example of editing and iterating!

We then tried our own hand at working with leather:

Last week we transitioned to thinking about how cloth helps create items with purposes that go beyond the practicle. In Selina and the Bear Paw Quilt by Barbara Smucker students learned how certain patterns of quilt have been developed to tell cultural and sentements stories. In the Keeping Quilt by Patricia Polacco we learned about the significance of passing down a keepsake within a family for multiple generations. During project time students started their own quilt squares and pillow case projects:

  

 

Today we went to see portions of the AIDS quilt project that are on display at Grace Cathedral. Students noticed how friends and family had rememberd their loveones by including meaningful images and fabrics.

90 Second Novel

Throughout the Coin Arc the Amber Band read The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie. In the book Junior, an aspiring cartoonist, decides to leave behind his school on the Spokane Indian Reservation to attend a farm town high school where the only other Indian is the school mascot. This book gave us an opportunity to talk about what Junior values, and how social currency is constructed.

 

Students broke down the big idea within each chapter of the book.

After reading the book we discussed the overall theme in the book. Students reflected on what Junior valued most:

“I think Junior values friendship most since he asked Gordy to be friends instead of punching him.” — Norabelle

“Junior values money, mainly to achieve his dreams, and the dreams of others around him. I saw this when he said: ‘But we reservation Indians don’t get to realize our dreams. We don’t get those chances. Or choices. We’re just poor. That’s all we are.'” —Oscar

“Junior views possibility as value, or as he puts it, hope. I think this is the hope of possibility. In the book he says: ‘Where can I find hope?'”—Huxley

 

Stop-motion animations require a lot of patience and collaboration.

 

Inspired by the 90 Second Newberry, we decided to try synthesizing the big ideas from this book into a 90 second video. We started by analyzing other 90 second films, like the one that the Amber Band made last year for Crossing the Wire. Students worked in small groups to draw up a storyboard, record audio, film and edit their stop-motion animations. The resulting animations showed the story of Junior, and what he values most.

 

Making these movies gave us a chance to consider the math behind stop-motion animations. We looked at the work of contemporary artist William Kentridge. In the video he talks about his process. This got us wondering, if it takes William Kentridge 100 frames to make 4 seconds of animation, how long would it take him to make a 90 Second Novel? Students worked through the problem independently, then came together to share their process for finding the answer.

 

We looked at the work of William Kentridge to learn more about his process with stop-motion animations.

 

Students came up with an equation to figure out how many frames they might need to make a 90 second stop-motion animation.

 

This project helped us to analyze the novel we read, and it helped prepare us for the work we’ll be doing all November long—NaNoWriMo! We’ve already started to discuss plans for how we’ll be participating in the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), and some of the Amberites even have an idea for the stories they’d like to share in their own novels.