Monday, November 15, 2010

Fun with Fibers, week 3: Decoration

This week in class we're making Ojo de Dios, a traditional craft of the Huichol people of Mexico.  A version of these decorative objects were made as ritual protection for children - parents would add a new color of yarn for each year of the child's life.

photo source here

Ojo de Dios is a very simple craft.  Yarn is wrapped around two sticks over and over again, making a pattern of concentric rings.  The basic movement used for this is hard to describe, but easy to see in the following illustration:
illustration source here

There are many online tutorials for this craft; some of the ones I like best are, and

Ojo de Dios can be made using any straight supports - craft sticks, chopsticks, pencils, twigs, 2x4s, whatever you've got on hand - and can be anywhere from 1" to several feet across.  Using multi-colored or self-striping yarn eliminates the need for tying lots of knots to join on the new colors of yarn.  And a hot glue gun works well to glue the supports together, as well as to fasten off the yarn once the weaving is done.

We also talked about another traditional Huichol craft, yarn painting.  Here, colored yarns are pressed into warm beeswax to form patterns and pictures that often tell stories related to the tribe's history and legends.

photo source here

Time permitting, we will give that a try during a future class - one when I'm prepared to deal with 5-year-olds with a lot of glue on their hands (and faces, and clothes, and hair ...)!


Stephanie said...

I have been soo impressed with the crafts that you have been doing with the class. I wish I could come help you. But I have a younger child, and I don't think I can bring him with me. But any help I can do with prep work at home I would be more than willing to do. Please let me know if you need any help.

Gretchen said...

Stephanie - thanks for your comment! I'm glad to know the parents are enjoying the crafts, too. I'll let you know if I need an additional kid wrangler in the coming weeks - some of the other moms bring their younger kids in with them when they volunteer, so unless yours is a real handful, it shouldn't be a problem.