Sunday, March 6, 2011

Bayeux Tapestry Project: Part Two

Background: The first class day of this project, my students came prepared with their stories. The stories were great! The children wrote about getting a pet, a big move, a Christmas story, about being caught in a rip tide and one wrote about a child he had saved from a dangerous situation. We then divided the balance of the project (see all below) into the next two classes.

The completed tapestry
I started the class with a move indepth discussion of tapestries. Although not an actual tapestry (see Part One), I showed more of the Bayeux Tapestry. I used a wonderful book called, "The Bayeux Tapestry," Wolfgang Grape. While the text is suited for grown-ups, this book has wonderful full-color images of the entire tapestry (all 230 feet!). Pages show a portion of the tapestry and then have a paragraph below each image with the Latin phrase that appears on that section. It then translates the Latin and gives a short explanation of what is going on in that portion of the piece. Wonderful!!

Another great book with actual tapestries in it is: "The Unicorn Tapestries," by Margaret B. Freeman (ISBN 0-525-22643-5). This book has large, full-color pages of each of the 6 tapestries in this series as well as TONS of info in the text about the history of and symbolism in the tapestries. There is also a wonderful section on how tapestries are made with great diagrams and pictures that the children found fascinating.

And finally, I showed them an example of a modern-day take on the Bayeux Tapestry in, "Dia's Story Cloth: the Hmong People's Journey to Freedom," by Dia Cha. The Hmong people use story cloths to link the past and present and provide a visual element to their people's oral traditions and history. The visual elements of the cloth featured in this book as well as the background of how the cloth was made over time and sewn by many hands (by men and women), really reinforced many of the elements that I was trying to highlight with this project.

Information I presented about the Bayeux Tapestry:

Castles back in Medieval times were cold, dark places. They were heated by fireplaces and had few windows so that they could hold the heat in (and for protection). So, some people believe that artisans would create wall hangings, curtains, pillow covers, and banners to make their living areas more comfortable and colorful. It was believed by some that tapestries were used to stop drafts from coming through old castle walls, but now we believe that this may not have been true: many of the wall hangings were thin pieces of material and did not have layers of batting or fur that would truly work to keep cold out.

Tapestries are woven from silk or wool and showed very detailed scenes from the Bible, songs and legends. The threads were colored from handmade dyes that were made from herbs, berries or even crushed up bugs!

The Bayeux Tapestry tells how William of Normandy (William the Conqueror) became King of England and showcases the Battle of Hastings in 1066 AD. The Bayeux Tapestry was created about 1070 or so.

How to Make Your Own Story Cloth/Tapestry:

Supplies Needed:
  • Paper, pencil & eraser
  • Paper cut to the size of your fabric squares, ours were 8x8" (this helps children better design the pictures for the actual finished space they'll be using)
  • Fabric Markers (I use Crayola brand)
  • 8x8" squares white fabric (you'll need 4 per tapestry, but have extras on hand just in case)
  • 9x45" Backing Material (I used unbleached muslin)
  • Straight pins
  • Sewing Machine & thread
  • About 40" of ribbon (five 8" segments) (can be braided or embroidered)
  • Scissors
  • Glue gun & hot glue sticks
  • Ruler
  • Table cover
  • 11" long wooden dowel (optional)

Once the child has written a short story from his/her life, s/he is ready to go! I had the children divide their stories into 3 parts. Then the child should think of a picture for each section of the story.
1. Creating the cartoon: medieval artisans would plan their tapestries by planning out the placement of the pictures and words of their tapestries. These sketches or drawings were called "cartoons." Using pencils and rulers, transfer the text of the story and then draw any images that will go in each square. Remember to make the images large and clear. Details should be kept to a minimum since the fabric markers are kind of wide and may bleed a bit. Try to think of ways to fill the space: remember to include a ground and maybe some elements that create a background like clouds, swirly lines that show wind, or sun and birds. I discourage coloring in the entire background a solid color because it seems to come out streaky and frustrates the children with the end result.
Step 1: Using a template helps children write in straight lines

2. Transfer the text and images to the fabric squares using fabric markers.
Step 2: Transfer the text and images to cloth

3. Using a fourth fabric square, create a title square with the name of the tapestry or story cloth as well as the author's name.
Step 3: Create a title panel (don't forget your name!)

4. Prepare the background: The background strip is 9" wide by 45" long. Fold the top edge over about 2 1/2" to create a casing to hang the banner by. Sew. Then fold the bottom corners of the backing inward to form a center point (just to make a decorative bottom edge). Sew.
Step 4: Prepare the backing material by making a casing and finishing the bottom edge

5. Then have the children arrange the four squares of their story onto the backing & pin in place. When arranging the squares, have their edges touch.
6. Sew down the left and right sides of the squares.
Step 5: Pin and sew squares onto backing. I just sew down the left and right sides and cover the top and bottom seams with ribbon (next step).

7. Hot glue 8" long strips of embroidered or braided ribbon to the top and bottom edges of the fabric squares for decoration and to hide the raw edges of the fabric squares.
Step 7: Attach ribbon with hot glue. This is both decorative and it covers the top and bottom seams of the fabric squares.

8. Insert a dowel into the casing of the tapestry, hang, and enjoy!

Note: Because portions of the banner are hot glued on, they are not washable. These could be made higher-quality if you had the time and money. They could also be made solely from paper if you are doing this on a very tight budget or with a large group of students.

    1 comment:

    1. Thank you for sharing this post with us. This was really awesome and interesting to read about. Hope you will keep continuing such good work.

      I love what you've shared regarding home decor!


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