A useful activity for practising square lashing. For more on square lashing, see this post.
1. Make a small frame by square lashing 4 sticks together, each about 25-30cm long to make a rectangular or square frame.
2. Cut notches along the top and bottom of frame to hold string in place.
3. Thread frame with string.
4. Weave natural materials – grasses, thin flexible twigs, chinks of twisted sheep’s wool through the string. Once it has some substance tie in other natural materials – seeds, cones etc.
5. You can also use it to make natural picture frames in step 1. Each child can then create their own miniature landscape painting by framing mosses on the ground, textured bark, a view of the sky through branches etc.
Natural materials don’t inhibit those children who would otherwise protest ‘but I can’t draw!’
- Gather the group together. Discuss what portraits are, and then say that they are going to make self portraits – but the only problem is – you have forgotten pens, paper and paintbrushes. What can you do? The children will probably leap to suggest they can use the natural materials around them!
- Let the children decide if they want to design individually or in twos or small groups. This will vary with age and confidence.
- Talk about the features of a face they may need to include – ears, eyes, nose, hair etc and encourage or suggest some useful materials like fluffy seeds for eyebrows for example.
- Set some environmentally aware ground rules in terms of parts of plants to collect/ leave alone. Otherwise agree only to collect plentiful loose materials such as fallen leaves/grasses.
- Talk about framing their portraits – what could they use? Sticks or twigs for example, of equal lengths.
- Discuss contrasting backgrounds – so the image is clear rather than blending in with the background – and how they may chose the backdrop to display the image.
- Let them spend time gathering materials and making self portraits. Are the faces happy or sad?
- Alternatively, they could design portraits of other beings – monsters/ wood spirits – let them decide the theme.
Stages in square lashing – invaluable for shelter building and making camp equipment
1. Begin with a clove hitch and then lash the string alternately above and below both sticks.
2. Frapping to tighten the lashing. After 3-4 circuits make a full turn around one stick and circuit the string a couple of times between the two sticks going above different sticks from stage 1.
3. Finnish off with a round turn and a clove hitch.
To extend or practice this, see this post on natural weaving.