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Paper Weaving: Integrating Opposing Parts of the Self

by Lauren Fallat, LPC LPAT ATR-BC

The process of weaving contains profound metaphors of unification, integration, and transformation. Weaving involves taking different strands of material and interweaving them together to create a fabric or cloth; parts creating a whole. Weaving allows people to create something unique out of seemingly disconnected elements or elements that had not been associated before.

From an art therapeutic perspective, weaving can provide a way for people to visually communicate difficult concepts, process difficult life experiences, and manage emotional distress through an artistic format. The repetitive motion of the weaving can be calming as one contemplates personal material to be translated in a physical way. When created in an art therapeutic space, the finished product can potentially be a tangible representation of an individual's thoughts and feelings.

Paper weaving is a great art therapy activity that can help you relax, focus, and express yourself as you weave together scraps of paper into one integrated piece. Weaving paper is a great way to recycle old or previously used paper materials and create something new and beautiful. You can use any type of paper for this purpose, including decorative papers, tissue papers, or even recycled paper. Individuals can also create their own papers with patterns and markings using paints and other stamping materials.

A unique art therapeutic directive using the process of paper weaving involves integrating two opposing themes into one. These themes can be based on current life dilemmas or challenges that seem to hold tension in our lives. These themes might be based on opposing emotions that we might be experiencing in our present lives. We might even choose to integrate an abstract image representing our past with an abstract image representing our present.

Here are other opposites that you might explore abstractly for your paper weaving of opposing forces:

-independence and dependence

-working and resting

-openness and privacy

-anger and passion

-sadness and elation

-solitude and connection

-loneliness and belonging

-losses and gains

Once you have chosen your two opposing themes, you can then take some time to brainstorm ways that you could depict these themes on two separate sheets of paper. Perhaps one paper will be created using particular colors, shapes and lines and another paper will have a different set of colors, shapes and lines. Consider complementary colors, which find themselves on opposite ends of the color wheel: yellow and purple, orange and blue and red and green.

Once you have completed your two papers with their respective themes, you can then tape one of the pages vertically to a board or surface, about ½” across the top. Then cut the paper into vertical strips. You can decide if you would like the strips to be even in size or if some will be larger than others. Then take your second paper and holding the paper vertically, you will cut strips in a horizontal direction (creating short strips). These horizontal strips will then be interwoven into your original vertical image using the over-under method. You can then tape the back edge of your weaving once it has been completed to your liking.

Once you have completed your weaving, you may want to take some time to journal and consider what the individual images looked like and how they have transformed to create a unified whole. What is it like for certain parts to show up and other parts to be hidden?

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