GAWA WEAVER KIT¶
Gawa weaving kits integrate education, innovation, and the Bhutanese weaving tradition into a fun, portable loom for children. Designed in partnership with the community of weavers and students, the weaving kits will be manufactured by Bhutan’s FabLabs and distributed to community partners such as schools, organizations, and community centers. The goal of the kits is to inspire interest and creativity in weaving.
Bhutanese textile and weaving are an intricate part of the culture. Modernization and changing times have posed challenges to preserving the tradition. While a multi-faceted challenge, one contribution to the decline is the youth’s fading interest in weaving. According to a survey conducted by the Royal Textile Academy in 2022, a majority of the youth have no interest in weaving, however they are immensely proud of the tradition. Based on interviews with university aged students and adults in and out of the weaving profession, some causes of this fading interest is attributed to:
The skill of weaving is passed down to the next generation in the home. In the last 20 years, a large percentage of children receive their schooling away from home and board at the school, thus there is no opportunity to pass down the skill and for the youth to build a relationship with the art. While the youth is proud of the tradition, they feel disconnected from it and struggle to derive personal value to it.
With access to the internet, the youth are “distracted” with other forms of fashions and styles.
Preserve the tradition and art of Bhutanese weaving, while exploring opportunities to elevate the tradition with innovation.
Based on interviews and discussions with weavers, youth, and organizations focused on preserving the tradition, a beginners loom kit is a viable solution. (For more information please navigate to ‘A Typical Way to Learn Weaving in Bhutan’) The goal of the kit is to simply ignite interest and slowly integrate new elements that could lead to innovation. The design of this kit is informed by:
Target user - this kit is for everyone, however we have identified children ages 5–8 years old as our target user. This is the common age children begin weaving at home.
- Low cost/no cost
- Local and easily sourced materials
- The kit contains everything a user needs to start weaving easily
- Portability for ease of sharing between users and geographical spaces
- Open source instructions on kit replication with optional teaching content
- Reusable and can be used for many projects
- Gross and fine motor abilities of 5 - 8 year olds
- Spacing and number of warp and weft on the loom
- Size of the loom
- Shuttle size and grip
- Grip ability of the materials
- Age appropriate hand actions required to create the loom, weave, and circuit
- Attention span - each step is estimated to be 10 minutes or less. Following the loose rule: attention = age x 2 minutes
- Delivery of instructions - multi-modal, chunked, and in a non-intimidating format
- Creative freedom and personalization - multiple opportunities for individual design and creative freedom. In Bhutanese weaving, the first opportunity for individual creativity is around the age of 16 - 17 years old with color selection. The next opportunity would be pattern design around the age of 22 - 23 years old. The opportunities for personalization and creativity are pulled forward in the kit.
- Social - social aspects are encouraged. Portability, social weaving, and methods of sharing a finished weave are imbued throughout the design of the kit. Currently, weaving mainly resides in the home or in professional spaces.
- Relevance and purpose - the initial activity is anchored in the widely popular holiday Friendship Day among Bhutanese children. The initial activity is to weave a bracelet to give to your friend.
Innovation Options for the Users¶
Making materials conductive Exploration, valorisation and usage of local materials Paper yarn made at the local paper factory - (Weaving Kit Ver. 2) Upcycling and repurposing
Introduction to the framework to approach challenges and design work Seed ideas for innovation
Continuous Feedback and Interiations¶
This version of the kit is designed to be open-ended and flexible. The kit can accommodate an array of activities until the weaver moves on to the card loom. (Please see our prototype.)