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.

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.

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.

 

 

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.