The Ojibwe People traditionally view their art as being an intrinsic part of their everyday objects, thus they try to make objects that are used everyday as beautiful as possible. In the making of these beautiful things they believe they are showing respect to the Great Spirit. The Ojibwe people draw their inspiration from everything naturally occurring and attempt to incorporate them in their designs, such as their floral motifs.
The Ojibwe People are renowned in particular for their floral designs, frequently seen in their beaded work. We will be attempting our own beaded work but because it takes so long to do I will likely need to post about it towards the end of our studies. For now I wanted to focus our art study on the actual floral designs and what better way to do this than by using a picture book:
The above picture book is not a picture book about floral art but it does capture the importance of the plant world to the Ojibwe people, not to mention the simplicity of their floral designs. This was a really gentle starting point. Ojibwe motifs are to be found on every page:
And are very much a part of the story, as illustrated on clothes, shoes, flowers and general patterns:
I love the simplicity of their designs and felt it would be very easy for the children to copy them. In fact we were able to go one step further when, by accident, we were shown how the Ojibwe take their designs from nature. I had bought a couple of kits for decorating Ojibwe bandolier bags:
Each kit contains two bags already marked with beautiful floral decoration for the girls to colour or paint. It was the extra bits and pieces which were included in the kit which taught us the most though. Each kit contained a DVD with short clips, giving the history of the bandolier bags and the designs to be found on them. We watched this during lunch one day and then read the information leaflet:
Aren’t they just gorgeous? I had the girls begin to paint their bags to familiarise themselves with the floral motifs. The bags came with crayons to use but I had read that acrylic paint works as well on fabric as fabric paint does, so the children chose to paint rather than colour their bags:
Even the younger two had their own bags which they enthusiastically decorated:
I thought A6 did a fabulous job, and was very careful about staying in the lines:
The older girls really enjoyed decorating their bags and over the course of the week spent hours carefully painting them:
C11, in particular, carefully copied the colours given on the front of the kit:
And here is the painted product. They still need to decorate the bags with fringes and more floral art but they look great so far:
My favourite part of the kit was the leaflet’s explanation of how the motifs were drawn from nature. You can see in each picture below a white simple outline of the plant:
But the children decided to attempt to draw their own motif by choosing a flower from our garden and, using the Ojibwe method of simplicity, drawing an outline for it:
I made a collage from all three just to see what they looked like collectively:
Although this art study has been different from our usual studies, it had been one of my favourites. For some reason, this floral art speaks to me and I, personally, can definitely see an applique project coming up in my future, using the Ojibwe method of extracting a wonderfully simple motif from nature.