Dazzle ‘em

Lesson Plan

Lesson

Students will view and discuss the symbols and design of the Eyedazzler Blanket/Rug and then create a dazzling symbol design of their own on either fabric or paper.

Intended Age Group

Early childhood (ages 3-5)

Length of Lesson

One 45 minute lesson

Standards Area

Visual Arts

Objectives

Students will be able to:

  • identify, describe, and create symbols;
  • relate the art of other cultures to their own life; and
  • create a work of art based on personal relevance.

Lesson

  1. Show students the image of the Eyedazzler Blanket/Rug and ask them to describe what they see. Ask them what colors they see and which color they see the most.
  2. Describe and define what a symbol is. Ask students to point out the symbols in the blanket and ask them if they have ever seen similar ones. If so, where?
  3. Point out that this is called an Eyedazzler Blanket/Rug because of the dazzling and interesting symbols, designs, and colors. Ask if anyone’s eyes are dazzled by a particular design.
  4. Ask students if they have seen a blanket like this one. If so, where was it from? What do they think this blanket might feel like? Why do they think this?
  5. Share information from About the Art as is appropriate. Point out the details mentioned in the “Details” section.
  6. Ask students if they have a blanket that is special to them. Give them the opportunity to share their blanket story with the class. Did someone make it for them? Did they buy it somewhere special? Does it have designs or symbols on it? What colors are in their blanket? Remind students to use good listening skills and to let others finish before they tell their story.
  7. Give each student a piece of muslin cut into 9x12-inch rectangles (or another size that is easy to handle). Provide one pack of fabric markers or crayons for each group of two to four students. If muslin and fabric markers or crayons are not available, you can use paper and regular markers or crayons.
  8. Ask students to design an eye-dazzling blanket of their own. They could use the Eyedazzler Blanket/Rug or a blanket from home as inspiration, or base their design on something they have learned in the discussion of the blanket, whatever calls to them.
  9. If time allows, have the students share and describe how their blankets dazzle.

Materials

  • One 9x12-inch piece of muslin fabric for each child, or paper of the same size
  • Fabric crayons or markers if using muslin, or regular crayons or markers if using paper
  • About the Art section on the Eyedazzler Blanket/Rug
  • Color copies of the Eyedazzler Blanket/Rug for students to share, or the ability to project the image onto a wall or screen

Standards

CO Standards

  • Visual Arts
    • Invent and Discover to Create
    • Observe and Learn to Comprehend
    • Relate and Connect to Transfer
    • Envision and Critique to Reflect
  • Language Arts
    • Oral Expression and Listening
    • Reading for All Purposes

21st Century Skills

  • Collaboration
  • Critical Thinking & Reasoning
  • Information Literacy
  • Invention
  • Self-Direction

About the Art

Eyedazzler Blanket/Rug

Eyedazzler Blanket/Rug

About 1885

Artist not known, Navajo, United States

Who Made It?

This blanket/rug was likely the work of a female Navajo artist. Loom weaving was a woman’s art among the Navajos after they learned the skill from their Pueblo neighbors in the 1600s, but today both men and women weave.

Navajo weavers are justly famous for the excellence of their textiles. This style, known as an eyedazzler because of its vivid colors and dizzying design combinations, was popular during the later years of the Transitional period in Navajo weaving (1868–90), when artists began weaving for the tourist market rather than solely for home use. Brightly colored “Germantown” yarns, widely available through newly established trading posts on the Navajo Reservation, made it possible to produce these vibrant masterpieces.

What Inspired It?

During the Transitional period (1868–90) when this blanket/rug was created, Navajo weavers began to produce patterns compatible with the tastes of traders and patrons. Eyedazzler weavings are uniquely Navajo innovations, created to take advantage of a range of commercially made colors not previously available. In some ways you can think of these artists as testing a new product on a new audience.

Although this rectangular weaving is called a blanket or a rug, the decorative fringe and cotton warp (cotton is less durable than wool) suggest that its maker knew it was more likely to be displayed on a wall than used as clothing.

Details

The Bold Red
The Bold Red

The red wool used throughout the background is a kind of commercially manufactured yarn called Germantown, named after a town in Pennsylvania that produced these yarns using synthetic dyes.

Saltillo Diamond
Saltillo Diamond

Navajo artists borrowed the serrated diamond motif from New Mexican Saltillo serapes. The Navajo people became familiar with the motif when they were incarcerated at Bosque Redondo in New Mexico (1863–68), where they received Saltillo-style blankets from the United States government.

Flags
Flags

Five flags appear in this eyedazzler. Notice how the artist used them to mimic the look of the American flag but not duplicate it exactly. Navajo weavers of this time often used flags in their textiles as design elements to appeal to non-Navajo customers.

Crosses
Crosses

Artists often included cross-shaped designs in their eyedazzlers. Despite the obvious association with Christianity, these designs may have been derived from traditional Navajo women’s dresses.

Funding for lesson plans provided by a grant from the Morgridge Family Foundation. Additional funding provided by the William Randolph Hearst Endowment for Education Programs, and Xcel Energy Foundation. We thank our colleagues at the University of Denver Morgridge College of Education.