Coming back from winter break, the Violet Band set right to work on their Expression projects.  The projects exhibited illustrate a diversity of thought surrounding the concept of “Cloth”; everything from how cloth is made, using cloth to help others, and even designing a home in cloth.  The Violet Band Crew took some time to explain what they are doing, in their own words.  Check out a few of their exciting projects!

 

Frederica, age 12
For my project I am making coconut husk (Coir) into  a usable thread. I will chemically soften it using NaOH (Caustic Soda) then treating the Coir with MgCL2 (Magnesium Chloride). I will then incorporate this softened Coir with other natural materials including wool, hemp, and cotton. I will then test the flexibility, durability, and tensile strength of each blend of Coir and other material. From this project I have learned that Coir is usually is used for ropes and mats and is produced in India and Sri Lanka. In India, which produces one fourth of the worlds coconut, only 15% of the husks are recovered for use. India annually produces 280,000 metric tons of husks. Coir fibers are categorized into two sections, from ripe to immature coconuts. Ripe coconuts produces coarse brown strands which is  highly resistant to abrasion and strong, they are also one of the only naturals materials to float in sea water. Brown husks  are usually used for mats, rope, and upholstery. Unripe or immature coconut produce light brown or white soft and weak threads which are spun into yarn which is woven into mats or twisted into twine for rope.

Aurora helps Frederica build her fume hood.  After building the hood, Frederica taught her peers about how she used lye safely

 

 

Patrick, 12
At my school, we have three arcs in the school year. Each arc is two parts, Exploration and Expression. This year we have Coin, Cloth and Cities. The current arc is Cloth. In Exploration, we learn about the subject and go on fieldtrips to try and find an idea for our Expression project. My project is felting multiple cup sleeves, like the cardboard slip-ons at Starbucks. As this won’t take too much time, I am also felting a original item, which is turning out to be a plant… thing. I had to design the plant, as well as multiple cup sleeves, until my expert explained the prices for the wool. I just learned how to felt, and think everyone should at least try it.

Thanks for reading,
Patrick

Patrick exhibits his first iteration of his felted sleeve

 

 

Selina, age 12
For my project, I am using SketchUp to create multiple room designs. I will have three designs in total. My designs are based off of a Victorian style. They also have as low carbon-footprint as possible, all while keeping it within a reasonable price range (reasonable meaning not higher than a normal Victorian room). Along with this, I am designing my own chair. It is a cross between an armchair and an ottoman. So far, I have finished my final drawings and my paper model. I still have to create a final foamcore model, then put it into SketchUp. My goal is to have three examples of environmentally friendly rooms, using low water-consuming material, low-waste dye, and healthy (not chemically harmful) cloth. Doing this project has taught me how to use Sketchup, how to create comfortable, aesthetically pleasing designs, and how to manage both aspects of my project.

Selina working away at one of her iterations on Sketch-Up

 

Trudy, age 12
My project is creating a photo essay about how the media’s portrayal of women’s bodies and clothing can affect a woman’s self perception of themselves and their body. There will be two photos of each woman, one in an outfit that makes them feel confident and another in an outfit that they think highlights their insecurities. I am also taking audio interviews where I ask the women to share some experiences they’ve had feeling bad about their body. I’m going to compile each person’s audio and photos and post them to an Instagram account I created for this project. So far I’ve learned that I lose things very easily and that cutting PVC pipe gives me anxiety. My first photoshoot is today, Wednesday, January 17, and I have one tomorrow and two or three on Saturday. My next steps are getting my backdrop together and finding a microphone and other equipment for recording.

Trudy built her own backdrop for her models.  She designed it to be easily taken up and down so she can travel with it.

 

 

Jared, age 12
Hello! My name is Jared, Im a 7th-grader, and in my school out semester is divided into three subjects, these three are: coin, cloth, and city, we call these “arcs”. Majority of the time, we make up projects related to the arc. For example: my project is weaving as many scarves as I can for the homeless. This includes carving out the loom. (A tooI I need to weave the scarves). Along with donating all of the scarves I end up making to a homeless shelter.

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

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!

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!

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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!

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.

 

The journey to Angel Island

The week before spring break took us on a journey to Angel Island and through the lives of the Chinese immigrants of the late 1800s and early 1900s. On Monday, the Teal and Violet bands studied historical documents pertaining to the Chinese living in San Francisco’s Chinatown and the rest of the US, such as the Cubic Air Ordinance and the Chinese Exclusion Act. We also examined a number of historical photographs of Chinatown, observing the traditional clothing and hairstyles, as well as the lack of women. Exploring these documents and photos, the two bands began to piece together what it was like to be a Chinese immigrant at this time and all the various ways in which the white government was working to make their lives increasingly difficult in hopes of driving them out of San Francisco and the United States altogether.

Using historical documents and photos, the Teal and Violet Bands uncovered the history of the Chinese immigrants in San Francisco.

To continue building our math skills needed to calculate density, we took an afternoon to review long division with decimals in the quotient (that’s the answer to a division problem for those that it’s been too long to remember.) It’s entertaining to see how much everyone dreads long division and worksheets until that moment when it all clicks and they can’t wait to solve the next problem. That feeling of success and accomplishment is pretty amazing.

Sometimes a worksheet is necessary.

After finishing The Dragon’s Child, we walked through the story of Gim Yep. Written very much like a diary of sorts, we recalled the people, places, and events he wrote of, along with the emotions he experienced throughout. This conversation built perspective around his life and experiences. It allowed the bands to put themselves in Gim’s shoes and the shoes of others he encountered. It began to lay the foundation for the historical diaries they are currently working on.

Talking through the events, emotions, and characters of The Dragon’s Child.

On Thursday, we took the ferry to Angel Island to visit the Immigration Station. It was incredibly powerful to see the detention barracks in person after reading about the experiences of the immigrants in The Dragon’s Child and in the historical documents. We saw firsthand the tight quarters they were forced to stay in, the small outdoor spaces they were allowed to walk in once a week, and the stories carved in the walls in the form of poetry. Many observations were made about the number of people forced to sleep in one room and the poor quality of the bedding they were supplied with. Being in the space created a real sense of empathy and perspective, and started a number of conversations around the historical diaries they were beginning to plan. It is a big leap for them to put themselves so solidly in someone else’s shoes, but it is something they are ready to challenge themselves to do.

Seeing the bunks and the belongs in the detention barracks really began to put the immigrants’ experiences into perspective.

The Angel Island Immigration Station detention barracks and dock.

The stories of the immigrants are right there on the walls in poetry.

 

Sailing, Squid, and Monterey Bay

The Teal and Violet Bands have been sailing full steam ahead (wow, the number of water-related puns are unbelievable) these past two weeks. We have dedicated ourselves to studying sailing and beginning to explore marine biology.

In preparation for our sailing trip on the Bay, we spent a day with the crew at The San Francisco Sailing Club. They taught use how to tie a number of important sailor’s knots, including the bowline and figure eight. By the end of the lesson, there were a number of the kids tying the bowline with their eyes closed or even behind their backs.

A lesson on knots and sailing from the crew at The San Francisco Sailing Club.

Learning to tie bowline knots.

They explored the parts of a sailboat and the number of different sailboats there are, based on the number of masts, placement of masts, and sails. Since sailboats rely on the wind to move them forward, it is important to understand the placement of the sails in relation to the wind and the intended direction of the boat. To learn this, the crew taught the bands about points of sail.

As a sailboat relies on wind, a sailor most know the points of sail.

Following our field trip to the sailing club, the bands worked in groups to expand their understanding of the points of sail. Each group was tasked with making a simple 3D interactive model, made mainly out of cardboard, that would allow the user to position both the boat and sails depending on the wind and intended direction of the boat. It’s pretty incredible to figure out how you can use the wind to sail almost into it, but they’ll tell you, not directly, we don’t want flags for sails.

Creating models to teach the points of sail.

Points of sail models act as interactive teaching tools.

To begin our exploration into marine biology and in preparation for our trip to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, we took a dive (yet another water pun) into the lives of those of the phylum Mollusca, specifically squid. We explored what traits all mollusks share and explored the main classes of mollusks before focusing on the anatomy of squid. We discussed adaptations (chromatophores – skin coloring) and methods of movement (jet propulsion using a siphon.)

Exploring the phylum Mollusca, specifically squid.

Feeling a bit creative, the Teal and Violet bands painted their own giant squid. Hopefully soon, we’ll have an entire sea of creatures swimming over the dining room.

Fingerpainting our own squid.

We spent Monday morning getting our hands dirty (and a bit stinky) dissecting squid. We explored the exterior and interior anatomy, locating a number of parts including the gills, beak, gonad (yup, we could differentiate the females and the males,) ink sac and pen. It was pretty incredible to dissect the eyes as well, locating and removing the spherical lens. Squid dissections are pretty exciting because they also end with a delicious treat, fried calamari. The entire school was excited to enjoy it with us.

Exploring the interior anatomy of squid.

Bonus treat from squid dissection: fried calamari.

On Tuesday, we journeyed down to the Monterey Bay Aquarium for a lesson on the adaptations of a number of invertebrates that live amongst the waves. They looked at how the sand star and urchin have adapted to protect themselves in coastal areas, regularly beaten by waves, using small suction feet. They also explored how organisms such as sand crabs and anemones use the movement of the waves to their benefit of acquiring food. After our class, we got to take in all the incredible exhibits at the aquarium. Make sure to read to the bottom for a view of my favorite.

Exploring the adaptations of the sea life that live and thrive among the waves.

On Thursday, we got out on the water with the San Francisco Sailing Company. We all piled onto the 28′ Santa Maria and set sail for the Golden Gate (unfortunately, the fog kept us from making it all the way to the bridge.) As we navigated the waters, the crew would regularly quiz the bands on our point of sail. It was truly impressive how many of them really understood the concept. During our trip, we came across a square sail replica tall ship, rode the quake of a number of larger boats, and traveled under the Bay Bridge.

Sailing with the San Francisco Sailing Company.

And I shall leave you with the reason I love visiting the Monterey Bay Aquarium…the jellyfish.