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!

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.

 

 

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.

No Such Thing as a Free Lunch

As the Amber and Violet bands continue to look at value, we are exploring the ways that value is assigned.  How do we assign value? Does something have value if it is free?

We recently discovered a produce stand in our neighborhood that offers free produce once a week.  We were curious to find out how and why this is being offered.  We found out that this produce is harvested from Alemany Farm, and made plans to volunteer our time to help harvest.  Before going to the farm we decided to do a cost analysis of what it would take to harvest produce, anything from veggies to vines.

students scouting prices for tools at Lowe’s

Amber and Violet Band discovered that the average cost of harvesting tools, like shovels and trowels, was approximately twenty to thirty dollars.  How might we design our own unique and low-cost tools for harvesting food using found objects from SCRAP (our neighborhood creative reuse center)?

Norabelle and Trudy explore SCRAP for material potential

The bands worked in small groups of three to design their tools.  The groups had thirty minutes and three dollars to source materials for their unique designs.

What came about were tools that cannot be found in a regular hardware store.  Instead of having to buy many tools, students designed multifunctional tools like an umbrella to shield you from the sun while watering your plants; a potato scooper that also stores while you scoop; a grasping device to collect nuts, made from straws and string; and a giraffe-like structure to pick and toss fruits out of reach.

Selina sharpens her potato digger

Selina displays her group’s potato scooper

This project helped us to think critically about the cost behind this free produce. We hope to volunteer our time with Alemany Farm throughout the year as we continue to build connections across coin, cloth and city.

 

Amber Band Agreement Mural

The Amber Band started the year by looking at the things we value, setting hopes and dreams for the year, and writing a group agreement to help us achieve our hopes and dreams. The band decided to publish that agreement in the form of a mural. Here is their artists’ statement for the mural:

The Amber Band mural was inspired off of our group agreements. The first panel symbolizes self. It depicts a picture of people skydiving off of a crane into the water. It also depicts a small boat with a big wave in front of it, under the boat there is a sea monster (Probably referring to the Loch Ness Monster). We had an interview with the designer of the mural (Felix Milionis), here is what Felix said when asked what the different parts of the panel mean: “I think that the skydiving people symbolize doing things that you want to do, taking control of your actions, and respecting yourself. The monster under the water was just for fun.” Felix didn’t specify what the boat meant, but I think it means that you should be aware of your surroundings at all times.

The middle/second panel symbolizes self and others and depicts a high-five with the word respect emanating from it. The Amber Band agreements “Treat others the way they want to be treated”, “Respect materials”, “Respect others”, and “Be nice” are represented by this. The designer Felix Milionis said that he chose a high-five because, “A high-five needs two people, so it represents teamwork. In a team, you treat everyone else as equal, which requires respect.”

The third panel symbolizes using materials wisely. The big boat is there because it was under attack, and the people had to use materials wisely to survive. The kraken has tentacles that symbolizes different things. The people that were climbing up the rope were doing it to get off the boat because they are under attack, and they are using materials wisely, and the person on the boat is on the boat using materials wisely to fight the kraken.

 

Symbols of Value

Amber Band out on a mural walk in the neighborhood.

This year we’ll be taking a closer look at how we’re all connected—by coin, cloth, and city. To kick the year off with coin, we’re considering what we value most. The band began by discussing our hopes and dreams for the year. We then considered what agreements we might need in place to help us achieve those hopes and dreams, and organized those agreements into categories. The final iteration of the agreement synthesized their ideas into a concise, affirmative, and important list to guide our work together.

The band broke into two groups to brainstorm agreements to support our hopes and dreams for the year.

We decided to publish the agreement in the form of a mural. This got us thinking about our environment around the school, and how murals around our city impact their environments. We made close observations of the murals around the neighborhood, and used those obsesrvations to define the criteria and constraints for our mural. The band calculated the surface area of the wall where we planned to have the mural displayed, and used conversion techniques to determine how many gallons of paint would be needed to cover the square footage of the wall.

An expert muralist visited the band to share feedback on designs.

Once our plan was under way we started translating our agreement into symbols. The neighborhood is full of murals by artist Sirron Norris, and we got the chance to talk with him about his mural process. “This is hard work!” Sirron reviewed our group agreement, and shared with us how it was going to be difficult to think metaphorically about such big concepts as “try to learn, treat others the way that they want to be treated, and respect materials”. After a few rounds of brainstorming symbols, the group had narrowed it down to three main concepts. 

The kids made quick impulse drawings in response to the main ideas we distilled down from our larger agreement list.

We explored symbols further by getting out around the city to make observations of symbols of value. We went on a scavenger hunt around the Financial District first to record symbols, and assigned a value to each. We then went to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art to look at the ways artists use symbols to assign value. Students sat with one work of art that symbolized something of high value to them. Many were mesmerized by the piece Clinamen by the artist Céleste Boursier-Mougenot because they felt that it provided a quiet and calming space, something the group all really valued.

Huxley made rubbings of symbols we found around the Financial District.

Reggie found a plaque in the Financial District of William Leidesdorff, a West Indian immigrant of African Cuban and San Francisco’s first city treasurer.

 

Back at Brightworks, the band worked together to come up with a consistent color palette before they jumped in to start painting. This sparked conversations around identifying patterns in symbols. Researcher and educator, Jo Boaler, has found that brain pathways light up when we visualize with numbers, and shares new research that shows how when we’re thinking of numbers as symbols and visualizing those numbers, we make new brain pathways. We practiced working with math examples through a color coding system.

After many iterations and collaborative sketches, the group voted on their favorite design for the final mural. Felix’s sketch distilled all of our ideas down to focusing on respect for self, others, and our environment.

The band projected Felix’s drawing onto our wood panels to trace for the final mural.

 

We worked with a limited color palette to unify our design.

Once we started painting, the mural started coming to life!

This week we’ll continue to discuss our personal definitions for value, and exploring what it means to be rich. We hope to have the mural complete after a few more finishing touches to add detail. The mural will go up as a symbol of the agreement we made as a band to respect ourselves, each other, and our environment. This theme of respect will stay with us throughout the work we do together as we tackle epic projects and go on awesome adventures.

Feedback from Fresh Eyes

The By Sea Arc has got us working double time on our expression projects. Each week a new iteration is due, and we’ve been taking time on Fridays to get feedback from the Brightworks community. This week students shared their second iterations with the band, and got feedback from someone in our community that was less familiar with their project. To encourage constructive feedback, we used the prompts: I like… I wish… What if… These prompts have come in handy for us before as a way to get feedback on works in progress, and it helps students to see their work from someone else’s perspective.

 

Oscar has been working on an underwater evolution simulation, and now has the simulator working autonomously. He gave a demo to the group to show how the creatures grow, and got some feedback to add more branches to the creatures.

 

Audrey has been collecting samples of ocean water, bay water, tap water, and distilled water to analyze what type of microbes might be living in it. She hopes to use that analysis to determine how that might help us understand the potential for life in the water on Mars. She’s planning to continue conducting experiments, and will consider ways to display her samples together so that they can be compared side by side.

 

Rhone’s second iteration is building off of the 24-hour boat kit he designed for his first iteration. Now he’s trying to figure out how one might survive for up to a week with just those items. So far, Rhone has designed a DIY water still out of the water bottles in the boat kit. His still removes the salt from seawater by collecting evaporated fresh water in the top bottle. Unfortunately, the process is VERY slow, and won’t make enough water in time for anyone to survive off of it for a week. Rhone got some feedback to think about harnessing heat to speed up the process, and to start thinking about solutions for sourcing food.

 

Norabelle has been working on seascape paintings, learning new painting techniques, and experimenting with various media. Seeing all the works side by side, the group was able to see the different styles she’s been inspired by. For her final iteration, she’s considering some feedback from the group to work bigger.

 

Declan has been charting out the plans to sail the boats we worked on earlier in the arc. He’s had some roadblocks around where, when, and how we can sail these boats. In spite of those roadblocks, he’s come up with a plan for how we might sail to Angel Island. He got some feedback to add specifics to the chart about when we’ll be sailing the boats, and how long we’ll be out on the water.

 

Felix has been working on an underwater music video. He got to share the unedited footage with the group on Friday. The group was mystified and delighted by the world he’s created for this underwater shoot. Since neither Rhone nor Felix can hold their breath underwater for the full five minute music video, his next steps will be to stitch the shots together and edit in the audio.

 

Khalia is working on a scale model of one of the rooms at the Angel Island Immigration Station. Khalia got feedback to share the scale ratio somewhere in her display so that people looking at the diorama could get a sense for the size of the actual room.

 

Earlier this week Elijah got some feedback that he would need to build more riggings to support the mast. After talking with a few experts though, he realized that the mast was actually quite strong with the foot in place. He demonstrated the strength of the mast by getting the boat on its side just by pulling on the mast.

 

Ella missed our feedback session on Friday, but she did get a chance to get some great advice on her podcast project from none other than Sarah Koenig! This photo was captured from behind the glass door of the music room where Ella was using some audio equipment to record the feedback from Sarah. Ella learned she’ll need to orient people right away to the story behind her podcast, to make it personal and intriguing.

 

Of course, each student will get to choose which feedback they want to incorporate, if they want to incorporate it, and how they want to do it. Students are using the guiding questions they came up with to stay focused on what they had originally set out to explore in their project. They’ll have one week to incorporate feedback, and come up with their final iteration. The arc is flying by, and it’s so exciting to see these expression projects take shape!