An EarthLoom in Belfast School's Garden Program

earthloomDVD.jpgAn exciting collaboration between Susan Barret Merrill and Steve Tanguay, a dynamic and creative teacher at the Belfast Middle School, led to the first school EarthLoom installation, next to the students' garden. The process was filmed, and the result is Building and Weaving on the EarthLoom, a DVD produced by Weaving a Life.

From the beginning, the DVD was created to benefit the EarthLoom Foundation. All proceeds of its sale go to the Foundation. Funds will provide scholarships for Weaving a Life Leadership training and EarthLoom Service Training, as well as materials, DVDs and plans for EarthLoom projects.

Mr. Tanguay no longer teaches at the middle school, but is still deeply involved in education. Steve and his wife, Astrig, operate the Fiber College each year at their beautiful campground on the shore in Searsport, Maine. The Fiber College is a long weekend of classes, exhibits, and celebrations having to do with fiber - knitting, crocheting, spinning, weaving, even woodworking and wire work. People come from all over the country to take classes on the shore of the Maine Coast.

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Building and Weaving on the EarthLoom

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Seventh-grade boys work together to erect an EarthLoom next to their class garden. The teacher didn't want to force participation, but let the students participate in the parts that interested them. Several boys were hesitant about weaving, but they were intereseted in putting the loom together.

Adults cut the cedar logs, and the boys drilled holes for bolts, bolted the loom together, carefully tightening and loosening until the loom went together perfectly. They helpd dig post holes, made sure the loom uprights were vertical, and packed gravel and soil around the posts.

el_warpinghands1.jpgThe students warped the loom under the direction of Susan Barrett Merrill, and their teacher, Steve Tanguay.

The process is shown in detail on the DVD Building and Weaving on the EarthLoom, produced by Weaving a Life.

Students worked in teams, with one standing on a chair to place the warp threads (not really thread - they were garden jute) over the top beam, while another stood ready to keep them untangled and tie them securely at the bottom.

el_weavinghands.jpgStudents were enthusiastic about weaving on the loom. They wove in yarns, grasses, fabric, and plants from their garden, such as corn stalks and leaves from the corn they had recently harvested.

The enthusiasm and care with which they wove is shown clearly in the EarthLoom video.

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Students wove all day, and the result was something colorful and beautiful that would weather naturally as their garden was put to bed for fall.