Weaving together Fiber Arts and the Texas Brown Tarantula
Meets the learning standards for grades 4-5 (can be adapted)
Media Type: drawing
Subject Integration: Fine Arts, Science, Social Studies English Language Arts and Reading
Formal Lesson Plan and TEKS Information
Check out this Creature Feature video from our friends at River Bend Nature Center in Wichita Falls:
Review this resource: https://www.thoughtco.com/fascinating-facts-about-tarantulas-1968545.
Does it change your ideas about tarantulas? Do some independent research on some of the facts listed.
Notice that spiders spin elaborate webs to catch prey. Tarantulas spin for different reasons. Draw comparisons between the function of tarantula webs and their equivalent in the human world (e.g. security system/security alarms, cozy rugs and artwork for home décor, baby blankets/crib)
Humans have been weaving for thousands of years. Check out this video about
artist Porfirio Gutierrez weaving in the Zapotec tradition!
What do you observe about the weaving process? What do you observe
about the dying process? How did Gutierrez talk about the effects of commercialism on
this ancient tradition?
How did the industrial revolution affect the textile industry and the lives of traditional artisans? Use your social studies terminology in the discussion: freemarket system, free enterprise, mass production, specialization, capitalism.
Let’s create drawings inspired by the spinning silk of tarantulas. We will demonstrate two categories: Freestyle and Geometric.
Method 1: Freestyle Woven Drawing
Use a pencil to lightly draw a simple shape on a blank piece of paper.
Establish the “anchor points” for your design. These are the points to which the strands of the weaving will connect. Anchor points do not have to be perfectly evenly spaced, but they do need to convey all the variations of the shape.
Time to Weave! Use a straight edge to precisely connect different anchor points. The goal is to convey the shape and color of the design while only making marks that connect anchor points.
Experiment with as many colors as you like. You may wish to experiment with having a higher concentration of lines in some places while leaving other areas sparse.
Does this create the illusion of volume and shadow? Discuss!
Erase the original pencil drawing and anchor points so that the “weaving” is the only thing visible.
Method 2: Geometric Woven Drawing
Use a pencil to lightly draw a simple geometric shape on a blank piece of paper. Selected shapes should be symmetrical (e.g. circle, square, triangle, hexagon.)
Establish the “anchor points” for your design. These anchor points should be evenly spaced around the entire shape.
Use a straight edge to connect an anchor point on one side of the shape to an anchor point on the opposite side. Move the straight edge to the next anchor point and line it up, crossing the first line and landing on the anchor point on the other side of the first line. Repeat this process. Using precision to line up the points will create a surprising geometric design.
Now, get more creative with the design. Draw a line between anchor points that are further away (or closer together) and create a pattern of skipping anchor points or alternating colors.
Challenge: Create one more unique pattern over this drawing.
Wow! What a cool woven drawing! How could you carry this technique even further?
Bonus Method of Freestyle Woven Drawing
Can you use what they have practiced to create a great, hairy Texas Brown Tarantula?
To further explore the relationship between arachnids and human weavers, check out the wonderfully illustrated book The Spider Weaver: A Legend of Kente Cloth, by Margaret Musgrove. Available at libraries, bookstores, and online!