Although the grass can be picked and used when it is green it is usually harvested in the fall after a few frosts have changed the colors to straw, yellow, pinks and purples. You pluck the grass away from the stem. Some people prefer to cut it using scissors but I prefer to pluck the grass.
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Another picture showing the nice pink color of grass that has been touched by frost. Rain and snow will make the grass moldy and have black spots. This picture shows the beautiful array of colors of fall picked grass. Gather lots of grass in the fall, it will keep forever if stored in a cool dry place.
After you have gathered your grass place in on a nice surface to dry. I prefer an ironing board so air can get all around it. Move your grass around several times a day to make sure all the grass get dried, sometimes you may have to separate the strands of grass as they will curl when drying and take their neighbors with them. Before you begin to sew, soak the grass in water for about 48 hours. If you soak more than you can use in a day, just wrap it in a towel, put it in a plastic bag and put it in the freezer.
After it is frozen just take out as much as you can sew in a day and wrap in a dampened towel to keep moist. The tools of the trade are: thimble, needle, scissors. This is all you need to start grasswork. Just add grass! To prepare the grass for sewing you must first unfurl it to make it flat.
Step 2: Make the Base
You can see the center spine this way. Use your needle to separate the two sides from the center spine. We use the sides pieces to sew with and the center spine is used to make and continue the coil. To begin your basket, take 4 or 5 blades of grass and shred them with your needle to make smaller pieces of grass, then tie a knot in the middle. Thread your needle and go through the middle of the knot you prepared, leaving a small bit of grass on the end. Use your finger to keep the end of the grass in place as you sew. When you start to sew, use the end as part of your coil.
Using an over cast stitch, sew around and around your coil, making sure every now and then that it is indeed round. You can still see the different colors of the grass. Anytime you have to leave the basket for any length of time, you can leave it to dry and soak it again before you start to continue sewing. The way the coil is handled decides the shape of the basket.
If you hold it directly above the row below and continue in this way, the sides will be straight. If you hold it away from the center, it will get wider. I was blown away that someone actually did what I was doing with kudzu. It was during her minute program that I saw her split kudzu for the first time. Afterwards we met and the rest is history. While our styles are very different, I credit Miss Regina with having a major influence on my early work.
The problem was that most of these baskets were made from very predictable, uniform material — white oak or black ask splints. I generally say after the leaves fall until the leaves are out in the Spring is when I harvest. It also helps the vines dry and shrink quicker. Generally the only material I harvest in the spring and summer is tree bark poplar, pine, birch and cedar for making bark baskets and stakes for twined baskets.
When I harvest vines or any materials, I clean and coil them in the woods. It saves a lot of time and hassle when I get back to the studio. Through a lot of experimentation and trial and error, I came up with my own technique. Although larger pieces of kudzu can be used for frame work knarled handles, frames, ribs, etc I find smaller pieces of kudzu are best suited as weaver material.
The large pith and flexible fiber in the runners flatten out nicely and are very uniform — growing ft sometimes. Separate by size. When you split a piece coil it together. Be sure to keep the long pieces of bark, as they make incredible cordage and lace for projects like potato and folded bark baskets. Put the vines in with a brick or other weight on top of them and let them soak until they will wrap around your finger without breaking. You need to practice this in order to put just the right amount of tension on the vine without breaking or splitting the vine further. NOTE: only soak enough kudzu to weave in one sitting.
The bark is great for cordage. The larger vines are great for handles and are usually very funky shapes.
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When you boil wisteria, the bark will want to come off… you can weave with it on, but just be careful. I usually take the bark off revealing the purple or green underbark. It can be very brittle and if you bend it too sharply even when green the bark will crack.
The long shoots and shorter branches are great for weaving. You can let them dry or use them 'green'.
A variety of beautiful and functional cultivated willow is available on the market as well that is much less branchy - growing ' in one year with very few to no branches. The color variety is incredible. They also sell cuttings that you can root and plant for your own basketry garden.
- How to Make a Grass Basket – Craft Labrador.
- In the Wolfs Tower (Naughty Fairy Tales).
- How to Make Baskets (with Pictures) - wikiHow.
- Una mente brillante: Una introducción a la meditación budista (Spanish Edition);
Usually I prefer to work with trees whose trunk is between 2" and 8" wide and no branches from the base to upwards of 6'-8' up. All bark must be harvested in the spring and summer months when the sap is up. To harvest the bark, fell the tree and then take a razor blade and cut all the way through the bark to the wood.