Sewing Circles, Community Play, and Paper Engineering

What do sewing circles, community play, and paper engineering have to do with one another? Arts Every Day’s collaboration with The University of Maryland – Baltimore County’s Center for Art, Design, and Visual Culture and its exhibition of the artworks of Annet Couwenberg, titled “Sewing Circles”, brings these disparate ideas together. Couwenberg often credits her time spent in group settings—doodling, making mistakes, and learning from people with different perspectives—as inspiring fresh approaches in her work. Both the materials she uses to create art (which include lace-like materials and laser-cut buckram) as well as the processes of group creation and repetitive expansion are the inspiration for a series of teacher supports and student experiences that Arts Every Day has created around the exhibition. 

Installation shot of "Sewing Circles" from the virtual tour.

 Next Friday, November 5, Arts Every Day is hosting a workshop for all BCPS Fine Arts teachers, in conjunction with the district’s systemic professional development training. Following a brief introduction by the artist Annet Couwenberg, AED Teaching Artist Amanda Pellerin will lead “Paper Engineering: Creation through Community Play,” in which we will explore various ways that a simple 2-D piece of paper can be transformed into an object with function and artistry. We’ll explore simple origami bases, V-folds, and accordion work, followed by creation and design play in groups. These communal creations will then be combined to form larger 3-D objects. All BCPS Fine Arts teachers are invited to join us for the day at Commodore John Rodgers Middle School. We’ll begin the day by participating in the district’s virtual PD, take a break with box lunches provided by AED, and move on to our in-person workshop.

Together with the PD workshop, Arts Every Day is providing classroom supply kits for every fine arts teacher, to be distributed to all in attendance. These kits include a rich assortment of materials that students can use to create three-dimensional paper objects: origami paper, pop-up sticky notes, clothespins, glue, laser-cut templates, and honeycomb packing paper. We’ll spend some time at the workshop exploring how to put these materials to creative use.

Arts Every Day is also offering a series of virtual paper engineering residencies for students in grades 3-8 with Amanda Pellerin on a first-come, first-served basis. These hands-on introductions to paper mechanisms will be accessible for students (and teachers!) of any level of comfort and relatable to multiple subject areas. Paper engineering can create connections to math, language arts, science (including the natural world and physics), and much more.!

And finally, AED is also developing two lesson plans with Amanda Pellerin that will incorporate both materials from the supply kits as well as themes from the ‘Sewing Circles’ exhibition. These arts integrated lessons are intended to be accessible for non-Fine Arts teachers or people who don’t think of themselves as ‘craftsy.’ 

We hope that these activities help illuminate some of the materials and processes behind Annet Couwenberg’s artworks. The exhibition can be viewed in person through December 11 and virtually at

To inquire about reserving a residency workshop with Amanda Pellerin, please contact Angela Marroy Boerger at

This project has been made possible by the UMBC Charlesmead Initiative for Arts Education and the UMBC Center for Art, Design, and Visual Culture.

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