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

 

 

From the History of Fashion to NaNoWriMo

We began our exploration of the history of fashion and historical events that have influenced fashion trends, with a sort of clothing trends through the centuries and decades.

After recording our personal observations of the various fashion trends, we discussed how we saw history’s impact on clothing. One thing that stood out in regards to women’s fashion was that we saw more suits or male influenced business attire in those decades affected by war such as the 1940s and 1960s when women were having to work, and a return to more “traditionally feminine” clothing in the 1950s when women tended to be back to their role of housewife.

We’ve begun weaving, but it isn’t all just fun and crafts. Rich has turned weaving into a math provocation. After creating their looms, the band calculated how much yarn they would need to complete their personal weaving projects.

Sometimes we take a moment to work on something unrelated to the arc. After learning about Jacob Thompson, a nine-year-old boy with Stage 4 high-risk Neuroblastoma, the Teal Band decided to make his wish for Christmas cards come true. These kids have such huge hearts.

Jonah crafted a pop-up card.

Jacob’s favorite animal is a penguin and Natalie put her wonderful drawing skills to work immediately.

What would the Cloth Arc be without an exploration into pattern making? After watching a video on pattern making and creating a step-by-step list of the process, the Teal Band set out to make patterns for an item of their own clothing.

After creating the pattern, the band was tasked with calculating the area of their pattern to figure out how much fabric would be needed to create their garment. They explored the various shapes that made up their shirt pattern and the formulas used to solve for these areas.

My friend Tiff, a costume designer and maker, came in to share her story and work with the Teal Band a number of others. We learned that she sewed her first successful dress at just age nine and has been designing and making costumes professionally for almost thirty years. We were certainly interested to hear about her time making a number of costumes for the Hamiton touring cast.

Viggo jumped at the chance to be turned into a living paper doll in one of Tiff’s costumes. We learned that she loves costume design because it’s often just that much more fun than your everyday garment.

They began a chemistry lab with Rich on Friday, making their own soap. (Check back for a more detailed story of this lab from Rich.)

And I can’t forget NaNoWriMo. They are writing every spare moment they have, that’s on top of the time set aside just for NaNoWriMo. I’m pretty certain they would be happy writing all day, every day if  I let them.

Sometimes it’s nice to get out and write in a new setting. This week, NaNoWriMo took us, and our friends in the Violet Band, to Maxfield’s Cafe. It’s pretty special and empowering to be writing next to a big table full of adults working on their own NaNoWriMo novels.

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.