I have recently gotten really excited about baskets. After months of thinking about where to find apprentice opportunities, I stumbled across a woman who makes beautiful baskets. Lucky me, she offers classes and uses native materials she gathers and processes! I signed up for as many as I could afford and so far have gone to two. Now when I go forage some food, I am looking out for locations to gather basketry materials...
I am pretty sure my destiny is to weave textiles. I have always been infatuated with looms and a childhood in Mexico let me experience weavers in the street. I still want to find a way to take an apprenticeship from rug masters in the East. But for now baskets will do!
For Earth Day when I was in middle school I made a bag out of plastic grocery bags (this was before they were easy to recycle... and I have moved to an area that doesn't allow you to put them in your recycle bin, so perhaps I will revisit this material) I used this bag for books the rest of the year... that's the only weaving experience I have. It held up pretty well though.
The first class I took was a wild cherry bark and root class. Very free-form and fun. I even helped gather the roots a few weeks before the class. Here are the results of that one:
The berry basket is only cherry bark and root. The handle, thread and rim are all root. The threading is not as tidy as I had pictured in my mind, but I am used to that.
The woven one I was less excited to make but due to time constraints, I figured it's what I had time for. It is a miniature of her design. Hers are usually 3 feet tall without the legs, while mine is about a foot without the legs which I haven't evened out yet. Awesome pine cones, right? Found those on a walk in Port Orchard.
The second class was with Tule (or Bulrush, as I know it). Also used were some red cedar, yellow cedar, sweetgrass and cattail. I decided to make a flower basket, for when I go get lavender. I even remembered my camera to take progression shots! The handle is seagrass, as there was no time left for my intended braided red cedar handle.
And then with my leftover materials (mostly cattail) I got to take home, I spent an evening making these:
Now I know how the ornaments sold in Mexico are made! The first bottom shown is for the taller skinny one, and the more open design bottom is for the shorter squatty one.
I am trying to learn as many techniques as possible, and have a ton of ideas. Ideally I will be able to figure out just how to use invasive species as materials. Really, how brilliant will I be with my Scotch broom and Himalayan blackberry baskets? Really freakin' brilliant, I tell you. Now that I understand just how difficult some native materials are to come by, I think this will offer a solution to many problems.
I am working on ideas on how to process materials. This week I plan on gathering some of the above mentioned plants for drying. In the meantime I am playing with ideas. And I have been saving all my corn husks from dinners. :D