Inspired by…Early Americans

What are those long, graceful pieces?

What can you see here that is not from nature?

Believed to have been the owner of the bear claw necklace.

Mew-hu-she-kaw, known as White Cloud

Goal: Integrate spiritual, functional and beautiful aspects into one personally meaningful artwork.

Project: Design a symbol that represents a power, skill or characteristic of an animal or nature. Think of how strong water can be, or consider the patience of a caterpillar. There are many examples in nature. Draw this symbol onto a piece of tagboard, scratch it into a bead, or create it out of clay. If made from clay, give it a hole so that it can later be strung onto a piece of jewelry.  

Claw shaped beads

Read the same story we read in class- THE HUNTING OF THE GREAT BEAR

Create three separate drawings of animals whose qualities you would like to share. Each drawing you will re-do on a clay bead. Or you may create the animal as the bead itself. Remember to poke holes all the way through!

Doing more than expected

Homework: Generate a list or some drawings of things from home that are beautiful and useful. Some of my examples: my seat cushion in the studio, the bowl I always use at lunch…

What are those holes?

Braiding practice

Instruct the entire class using long strands, in groups of 10. Then each table will work on braiding. Make a contest or otherwise check the braiding of each group. Teach a simple 3-strand braid.

Students will begin with a simple 3-strand braid. Using 3 different colors, students will create a bracelet.

Using the same group-teaching technique as above, teach a 4-strand braid.

If they have mastered this technique, they can learn a 4-strand braid, also creating a bracelet, necklace or something for him or herself.

Make yarn available to students and teach them appropriate lengths, scissor use, how to tie-off ends, taping it to desk or chair.

In retrospect, braiding and placing beads on the necklace or bracelet would have been important to do before making the beads. This way students could see how large the hole needs to be, and experience different shapes, sizes and colors of beads.

Symbol design

Goal: Create a symbol for self, family and universe. Integrate these symbols into a design for a belt or other wearable work.

In your sketchbook, create and draw a symbol for yourself, your family and the universe.

Cut a long sheet of paper into the length of a belt that would fit you. Make sure it would be long enough to tie.

After being inspired by southwest Indian American weavings, work  on your paper to create an idea for what you would do if you could make a belt or other piece of clothing. After painting and filling in your design, add features like the warp and weft of the fibers.

You will then create a belt out of a strip of burlap. This should be as long as the paper you designed. On this belt you may paint, weave in or sew on your personal symbols. Remember, you were inspired by Indian American weavings!


“I like to look at the grass as it goes back and forth on windy days.” -Madison


About Ms. O

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