Beam Camp 2021

A Universe

This is our Beam Camp Project Development Process!  It contains the Sketching of our Ideas, Prototyping of Materials and Research of Techniques.  It also contains Activities for you to do at home prior to Camp!

follow these links for
Research / Prototyping

Gourd Symbolism
Wattle and Daub
Other Building Techniques
Window Instruments
Casting Instrument Parts

follow these links for

Soil Shake Test
Relief / Prompt!

Update - Due to COVID-19, A Universe was rescheduled for Summer 2021.  For Covid-related cautionary information pertaining to Beam Camp, please see the Beam Center site for updates on Guidelines for Camps provided by the American Camp Association and the CDC.

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Info on the Designer -
Ye Qin Zhu


Wattle Activity

Make a model of the building technique for A Universe!

For A Universe, we plan to use bent and welded rebar for the basic structure, then weave a lattice of found branches to create a strong, tightly knit surface to apply our cob finish.  

Project Overview

Let’s practice our Wattle and Daub technique prior to camp!  

In this activity, we’ll be making a woven lattice structure - the Wattle - from materials that are found in most homes.

We’re essentially weaving a basket!  Although, this technique shown here is different than traditional basket-weaving. 

After finishing the Wattle Activity, You can add the Daub (the Cob-like mixture) to the Wattle structure!

We’ll go through the Steps here!  Feel free to improvise and modify these plans to your available materials, tools and resources!  Make it bigger or smaller if you want!

Gather Tools and Materials

Tape - Masking tape or cellophane tape both work fine


Carton (Food Packaging that uses thicker fiberboard)
Plastic Bottle (Any kind works as long as it’s not too thick)
*These are two materials we found in the recycling bin, you can substitute other materials you have -  Metal wire, zip ties, sticks, etc...

Cutting Mat or Cutting Board from the Kitchen

Step One - Cut Strips!

Using the scissors (or utility blade), cut Cardboard into strips.

Use the scissors to cut the plastic bottle into One long strip
(Can you cut one long spiral through the whole bottle?)

* Strips Tips - You can substitute your chosen / found material for these strips.  The steps are all the same!

Step Two - Make a Circle!

Use the Cardboard Strips and tape to make a circle for the base of the basket.  

* Tape Tip! - I like to put down the tape on a smooth cutting surface (like the cutting mat) and precut a bunch of smaller strips, as they are easier to use than wide pieces.  You can also just pre-tear a bunch of strips to have ready.  You can use these strips throughout the weaving process; make more as needed.

Step Three - Big Loop Frame!

Use more of the cardboard strips to make hoops that intersect at the top.  Use tape strips as needed to secure each piece of cardboard at the intersection. 

It will now start to look like a crude basket.  

I used two layers of the cardboard to give the structure more ‘springy-ness’.  If your cardboard has creases in it from its former life as a box, I’d suggest doing the same.

Step Four - In-Betweens

Use even more of the cardboard strips to do in-between sections of the Frame.  The idea here is to create smaller spaces in between the cardboard framing.  This will add strength and help us with weaving the plastic later.

Add some horizontal strips in between the hoops for strength. 
Add partial strips parallel to and in between the hoops.

*Tape tip - you can add pieces of tape to your piece for easy attachment when you find it’s placement

*Add additional in-between cardboard strips as you need depending on your size of Frame

Step Five - Weaving! (er... Wattling)

This is the part where we weave, or thread, the plastic strips through the cardboard frame we’ve already made.

Cut a couple arm-length sections of the plastic strips.

Start by taping an arm-length piece of the plastic strip onto one of the hoops near the bottom circle.  Tape the very end onto the hoop, with the rest of the strip dangling off in the direction of the circle.  Then thread the plastic strip through the framework, alternating Over and Under for each hoop strip.

You’ll develop your own technique for threading and pulling the plastic.  There’s not a perfect way to do it, so discover what works best for you.

Keep weaving the plastic around and you’ll come back to the start. 

Step Six - Next Row!

For the next row, make sure the plastic weaves in the Opposite Pattern to the strip below.

If the first row is Under, Over, Under... then the next row should be Over, Under, Over.   The rows alternate, and all of the intersecting strips start to lock into each other.  

This is the essence of what makes woven objects like baskets and textiles (all of the clothes we wear) so strong.

Step Seven - Keep Going!

Keep spiraling around while weaving the plastic.  Keep Track of the Over / Under pattern between the rows.  

You’ve been using arm-length sections of plastic to weave... when you get to the end of a strip you can connect it with a piece of tape.

Here I’m connecting one kind of plastic to another ( I ran out of the clear plastic, so I switched to some green stuff)

Step Eight - Spiral to the End!

Keep on weaving Over / Under and stuffing the woven strips until you get to the end!  You can trim and tape the last bit of plastic at the very end.

And you’ve got it!

Notice how springy but strong the whole structure is.

At the beginning, all the materials are wiggly and thin.  When woven together, all of the accumulated connections make the structure resilient and strong! 

This is what we need to make the Wattle structure of A Universe.

There are a few things we learned we could try for the next model:

1. Use skinnier strips of plastic to improve the tightness of the weave.

2. Could have used a stapler to quickly make connections of cardboard instead of tape.
3. Could have used all plastic, or different shades of plastic for pattern.

Are there any improvements / modifications that you discovered?  We’d love to see!  Send us Comments / Questions / Upload your images  (on the menu to the left   <---)

More Wattle!

from recycled plastic bottles and bags and cardboard
- Beam Center instructor - Sarah Lammer!