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Make your own woven tree figure, inspired by your connections with family friends and nature, and based on one of the artworks from the Songlines: Tracking the Seven Sisters exhibition, previously on show at the Museum from 15 September 2017 to 28 February 2018.

A woven artwork made from plant and man-made materials

Did you know ...

For thousands of years Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have expressed their cultural identity through stories, people and the stars.

In their Minyma Punu Kungkarangkalpa artwork, the Tjanpi Desert Weavers show the Seven Sisters turned into trees by the mischievous Wati Nyiru.

Artist Ilawanti Ken explains, 'The land inspires us to make things ... Because the Seven Sisters came from the land itself, we decided that we wanted them to [be] tree-like women.'

How to make a woven family tree figure

A collection of craft materials are laid out on a white background. Some materials are plant-based and have the appearance of wood and brown string-like material, and others are a mixed coloured ball of wool and a pile of blue, black, white, orange and yellow pipe-cleaners.

Can you think of a place that’s important to you and your family?

Imagine a tree from that place was one of your ancestors. What would it look like?

Start with an idea about your family or friends. How will you show them as a tree in your woven artwork?

Skill level: ★★ Moderate — you may need an adult to help
Time:
30–60 minutes

What you need:

Indigenous artists use old and new materials in their artworks, sometimes using methods handed down through many generations.

Have a look around your house or garden to see what you can find.

 	A woven artwork piece made from plant and man-made materials

We used:

  • pipe cleaners
  • straws
  • wire
  • sticks
  • wool
  • raffia
  • string
  • grass
  • feathers
  • beads
  • scissors to cut material to size (remember scissors are sharp so ask an adult for help).

Step 1

A  bunch of straight twigs wrapped with twine.
  • Create your frame by twisting your base materials together. We used pipe cleaners.

Step 2

  • Bend the frame into a tree shape, creating roots at the bottom to help it stand up.

Step 3

  • Wind your weaving materials around the frame, starting at the bottom and working your way up. We used raffia to attach the grass to the frame.
A woven artwork piece made from plant and man-made materials
  • Wind the material tightly and close together, tying knots to keep everything in place. If you need help, don’t forget to ask.

Tip: Layering the material in one spot will fill out the shape.

Step 4

  • Add decorations as you go. We used blue wool to help make the face, and wove in emu feathers for arms.

Step 5

  • Tie knots to keep your materials in place and cut off any loose ends.

Tip: Experiment with materials and make your whole family in trees!

Share your creation

We’d love to see your creation by emailing us a photo to: programs@nma.gov.au

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