We were going gangbusters at the ArtCentre of Plano’s 2015 summer camp with 14 looms set up and dozens of children coming through—nearly all of them weaving on a “real loom” for the very first time. It was fascinating to see how they reacted—“Cool!” “This is easy!” “Can I buy one of these things?” “Do we get to take our weaving home?” Nearly all of the kids told us after an hour of weaving that they’d like to “do this again!”
But most satisfying of all was our group of developmentally handicapped young people. They were a bit older than the other day campers and they quietly shuffled in the weaving room accompanied by a cadre of helpers—which was really helpful for us! We had nearly 1:1 adults so once we got everyone started I settled in with a young man who was at least 15 or 16 years of age but who spoke very little. Most of the looms were rigid heddle looms. He struggled mightily with his, but continued to make the same mistake over and over again (trying to weave from the “wrong” edge of the piece) and getting in a tangle.
Rigid heddle looms lined up for students to weave on
I thought, “Why not try him on the floor loom?” So we went over to it and he began in the same fashion— but soon he got the hang of it. This was easier for him, and he went to town! With each shuttle throw and each bang of the beater he said (out loud) “I’M DOING IT! I’M DOING IT! I’M DOING IT!” in rhythm with his weaving. He wove well and beat tightly and together we celebrated his weaving piece, which looked really great.
Afterward I thought of how few times in his life he may have had that obvious feeling of accomplishment—of a job well done—of seeing the beautiful results of his work unfold right in front of his very eyes.
Isn’t weaving wonderful?!?!
(Left to right): Camp Assistant Zack Oldham, Art Centre of Plano Executive Director Suzy Jones, Weaving Camp Coordinator Anne Cameron, Camp Assistant Michael Talamantaz, and Camp Assistant and Plano ISD art educator Kristina Morley