Studio: Fibers – High Function (Low-Cost) Basket Weaving with Newspaper with Allison Krook
The final 3-dimensional technique that I’m going to be showing you today is an advanced lesson geared towards high school students. What I love most about this lesson is that all the materials are extremely inexpensive, or sometimes free if you can get donations. What you’re going to need is scrap cardboard, newspaper, you’ll need a dowel or a skewer, scissors, Elmer’s Glue and maybe you’ll need some hot glue depending on much time you have for the first step that I’m going to show you in just a minute.
The first step in creating a newspaper basket weaving is to create all of the paper tubes that you’re going to be using to weave. Take a sheet of newspaper, open it up and cut right down the center. Overlap the 2 pieces and fold in half again. You’re going to cut this piece in half. Finally, cut each of those pieces in half one more time. You’ll end up with strips of paper that are about 2 inches thick but the same length as the newspaper. Now, if you would like to do this step for your students you could cut all that newspaper on that paper cutter so that it’s one less thing for your students to have to do.
Now we’re ready to create all of the paper tubes that are going to create the weaving of your basket. Place your strip of newspaper at an angle to your skewer, roll in the newspaper, tucking it in, and continue to roll until you get to the end of the skewer. At this point, you’ll probably need to pick it up. If you just grip it with your hands like this and twist with the other hand, you should be able to roll that piece up just like that. This last little triangle that you end up with here can be glued with Elmer’s Glue. The great thing about Elmer’s Glue and newspaper is that it dries extremely fast. You might just hold it or kind of spin your finger around to get that piece nice and stuck and then slide out your skewer. You’ll need to make about 25 to 30 of these.
You might notice that one end of your paper tube is a little bit wider than the other end but that’s okay because later on as we start weaving you’re going to be sliding the ends of the paper tubes together to connect those pieces as you move through your weaving. I’ve created a whole bunch of paper tubes that are ready to go.
The next step is going to be to create the base of your weaving. This is where you’ll need your cardboard scraps. I’m just using the back of a cereal box. You don’t need anything fancy to create the base of your weaving. I’m using a sour cream lid as a tracer to cut around the edge, so that I have 2 pieces. What I’m going to do is take an odd number of tubes and place them evenly around the base and glue them sandwiched in between the 2 cardboard pieces. Let’s pick out an odd number. I’m going to go with 11. I’m going to choose some of the shorter ones. On this particular weaving I’m going to do 9. On some of these other weavings that I had done earlier I had glued 11 on there. The tighter you want your weaving the more spokes you’re going to be gluing around the base.
Once you have your spokes placed you can glue them on. I’m using hot glue because I want this step to move a little bit more quickly. If you don’t have time or space to let these spokes dry flat on the base with just regular Elmer’s Glue you might also use hot glue with your students to get this step done a little more quickly. Take your other scrap, add a little glue and carefully line it up and place it on, pressing down in between each of the paper tubes. The base of my weaving is complete. I’m just going to kind of bend these up a little bit. I’m going to be careful not to bend the center of the tube. If the tube stays nice and straight while you’re working it is a lot easier to weave with.
All right, so I’m ready to begin weaving. I’ll set this aside just for a moment. Now you’re going to take the rest of those newspaper tubes that you’ve created and you’re going to flatten them. You can use any tool to flatten your newspaper tubes. I’m just going to use a large rolling pin that I also use with clay. By flattening your tubes it’s going to be a lot easier to curve your weaving as it moves around the circle of the base. Each student should get a handful of clothespins. These clothespins are going come in handy as you continue to weave your newspaper weaving.
The first thing I’m going to do is take one of my flattened newspaper strips and I am going to fold it and glue it around one of the spokes connected to the base. For this particular part you can go back to using Elmer’s Glue. A little glue on both sides, fold it over and use one of your clothespins to hold that in place as you move around your weaving. Now, you might also kind of curve this in your hand a little bit as you get started to make it just a little bit easier as you start moving around. This first one here is over, so as I move the weaving I’m going to go under, over, under and continue around the base. Like most weavings the first couple of times you make it around is always the most difficult.
All right, so I’ve made it around one time. Now I’m going to remove my clothespin and I’m going to start weaving in the opposite way, but before I do that, it looks like I need to add on one more tube. Let’s see if I can find a tube that has a little bit of a bigger end so I can slide these 2 pieces together. You may have to trim off just a little bit if one of the ends is kind of crinkly. Slide that on there, okay, and continue weaving, but before I get too much further I’m going to start adding clothespins as I move around to hold all these pieces in place. I usually like to put a clothespin at about every other spoke just to start, and then as you get the hang of it you might do a few less.
Continue to weave and add your flattened rolls of paper.
You can see that as the higher up you get the more in control you have your weaving. Make sure to remind your kids to stick with it until they get at least a few rows high so that their weaving is a little bit sturdier and easier to work on. I’ll add a couple more pieces here and then in a minute I’ll show you how to end your weaving. Sometimes you can’t slide the 2 pieces together, so if you’re having trouble sliding the 2 pieces together because you’ve got 2 skinny ends you can always place a dab of glue on there and join them together just like that. Just make sure you hold onto it long enough or place a clothespin over it until it dries so that you can continue to weave.
As you work your way around make sure that you’re pressing each row tightly into the next.
When you’re finished you’re going to end up with something like this. I’m ready to end this weaving. The first thing I’m going to do is take this last piece that’s sticking out here and I’m going to wrap it around one of the spokes here. I’ll turn it just a little bit, place a little glue on the back and hold it with the clothespin. Now, I’ve still got all of these pieces sticking up here, so we’re going to fold those in and fold those out and weave them under just a little bit. The ones on the outside that are the overs you’re going to trim, and place a little glue on, fold over and hold it with a clothespin until it dries.
The reason I didn’t cut all of these off earlier as I was weaving was because if you start cutting these the pieces begin to unravel, so make sure that you save that step for the end. If you’d like to have shorter spokes for your students you can cut shorter pieces of newspaper. You’ll have to decide if that’s going to work best for you in your classroom. I’ll continue to cut these pieces, fold them over and glue them down.
All right, I’ll let those dry for just a little bit with the clothespins on them. For these pieces that are under we’re going to cut them and flip them over the outside and tuck them into the next row of woven newspaper. I do like to put just a dab of glue on there before I tuck it in, although if your weaving is very tight you might not have to put any extra glue on that particular piece. Now, because it’s being held under by that next row you probably don’t even have to put a clothespin on there.
By the time you’ve made it all the way around your clothespin should be ready to be removed. Oops, I’ve got one here. I’ll have to put just a little bit more glue on to hold that down again. There you are. Now, if you would like you can always add a little bit of color to these. If you have a well ventilated art room, or if you have access to an outside area where you can spray paint you could have students spray paint in any color they choose. One thing that I really like about these particular weavings is how random the colors are. You never know what you’re going to get and where it’s going to end up on your weaving.
Well, I’ve enjoyed sharing these 3 3-dimensional techniques with you; the paper cup and bowl weavings, the clay loom and of course the newspaper basket weaving. I hope that you’ve picked up an idea or 2 that you’d like to use in your classroom this year.