Monday, April 30, 2018

Artist in Residence at Francis Wyman Elementary School

I was the artist in residence at Francis Wyman Elementary School in Burlington, MA from Monday April 23rd through Friday April 27th. During this time the students in grades 2 through 5 created a community tapestry for their school. They were asked to bring in something of their own that could be added into the piece as a treasure. The rules were nothing mushy, gross, perishable or alive. Students brought in all kinds of items such as lost gloves and socks, hockey laces, plastic jewelry, ribbons, old t-shirts, and even tiny little pencils. 

Each student had a chance to sit down at one of the three loom in the art room and learn to weave. They chose a bobbin color and a treasure to weave into their section. Even after my first day with the students, we had created quite a bit of fabric.

Students weaving on Day One

Adding in a piece of blue lace as treasure

Students weaving on Day One
Our progress after the the first day

Ms. Kerr admiring our weavings
During each art class, one student from each table was invited to work on one of the three looms. Once their section was complete, they would choose someone else from their table to come over and work at the loom next. I was happy that we were able to give all the students that were in class an opportunity to work on a loom.

We also made connections to their art curriculum since many of students were working at their tables on art projects that related to weaving. For example;  some of the fifth graders were using backstrap looms, some of the fourth grades were weaving potholders, and some of the third graders were making small woven baskets.

Grade 5 backstrap weaving

Grade 4 potholers
Grade 3 basket weaving
A student weaving socks

A student weaving on Day 2
Our progress after Day 2
Day 3 of the residency and the looms were overflowing! I decided to prepare another warp just incase...
Overflowing looms!
Setting up the strings on the warping board. Thanks to the fifth graders who helped me with this part!
By the end of the day on Wednesday our first strip of fabric came off the loom.

Each piece we made was 150 threads wide. Each thread needs to be put through the reed and the heddles, a slow process. 

By Thursday morning we had a new set up ready to go and continued to weave.

Weaving with orange that matches his shoelaces!
Weaving with rainbow shoelaces!
Weaving in her sparkley t-shirt as treasure
A detail of the sparkley t-shirt woven into the tapestry
Day 5, my final day working on this project, we completed 33 yards of fabric and at lease 334 people worked on the looms over five days time. At least 668 hands worked together to create this unique and colorful handwoven tapestry.

Our finished fabric
Thank you to Ms. Kerr for inviting me to Francis Wyman Elementary School to do this project. Thank you to the PTO for generously funding this project. Thank you to the students at Francis Wyman for being such great participants. Thank you to the faculty and staff, especially Ms. Vigneau and Mrs. Wicks, for welcoming me into your community. I am happy to leave this energy-filled tapestry at your school. I have installed it outside of the library so that you can all enjoy it.

Please feel free to leave a comment below. I'd love to hear from you.

Also, if you know of a school that would be interested creating a community tapestry like this one, please email me for further information at 

Ms. Piwinski

Installing the tapestry
Searching for my part...


  1. Incredibly beautiful! Thank you for sharing your art with the students. I live in California in a small mountain community. I might pass this idea along to some of the parents and teachers.

  2. What a great experience for all Stacey....!!