Sunday, June 05, 2016

Painting with Yarn!

Traditional Huichol Yarn Painting
This month our focus is to try unusual painting techniques and art media. In fact, some of these projects do not even involve paint!  

These yarn paintings are a good example of this. We first learned a bit about the Huichol; indigenous people living in the mountainous areas of north central Mexico. Traditional Huichol style yarn painting is a type of folk art painting practiced by these people as a way of telling stories, often with spiritual significance. This type of painting involves the use of symbols and traditional materials such as tree sap to stick the yarn to its base. 

We didn't collect tree sap, however. Instead - a shortcut, which worked quite well: peel and stick floor tiles! This eliminated the normal classroom process of applying white glue as you go and the resulting sticky / hairy fingers and long drying time. 

However, we learned it is more difficult to draw the initial design on the sticky tile back to use as a guide, but we found that if we drew the basic design on the peel-off paper by pressing hard, enough of it would show up on the sticky black surface (after peeling off the paper) to start the design. You also need a toothpick or a skewer as a tool to help move the yarn into tight corners, and you need sharp scissors so you can snip the yarn just right to fit into sharp corners or short valleys and crevices. 

Of course, you also need plenty of yarn in multiple colors, so I collected yarn from thrift stores, garage sales, donations, and my own reserves. We had lots of yarn balls, skeins, and scraps laid out in trays by general color (reds, blues/purples, golds/yellows, etc.) 

This project takes planning and patience to complete, but these 6" square tiles were easily completed within the two-hour class period.

NOTE: These 6 " square tiles were cut (with a utility knife) from 12" square floor tiles. You could also cut nine 4" square tiles from a 12" square. In our case, the prevailing idea was to go LARGER; possibly cutting an 8" to 10" square or even using the whole 12" tile for a single project. 

This "Sunflower" tile was started with no preliminary drawing at all;
just an oval "drawn" and filled with brown yarn in the center.
The design was then worked outward from the oval.

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