If you saw my post – Adventures in Basket Making, you might remember that I have been collecting and drying wild plant stalks to use in my basket making.
This week I made some time to try them out.
I started with some of the plantain stalks, because I really love the rich green colour that they have become during the drying process. Up to now I have only made coil baskets, but this time I wanted to try something a little bit different. At this stage I am just working instinctively and drawing from all of the beautiful baskets that I have seen over the years. I think that it’s important to have a play around with it, rather than just following instructions, it gives you a greater understanding of the materials and what will work.
Having said that, making baskets this week has made me realise that I am going to have to find some good resources for different basket making techniques, so that I can learn as much as possible, as quickly as possible.
I wrapped the plantain stalks in a damp tea towel for a few hours before I started, to make them easier to work with. After getting to work, I quickly found that it was very fiddly working with these tiny stems. I was really pleased that they held up to my numerous attempts to fashion them into a little woven basket – I didn’t have a single breakage.
The weave is very open, but I thought that it suited these delicate looking stems rather well. I am keeping the baskets small for now, so that I can try out lots of different materials and ideas in a short space of time. I am particularly keen to find out which plants are worth gathering more of, while the season lasts.
Plantain is definitely on my pick list. Resilient and a beautiful colour, I will be using it again. I think that it would work really nicely paired with some other lighter materials.
For the second of this weeks baskets, I tried using some field sorrel stalks for spokes and daffodil leaves for weaving. Again I had wrapped everything in a damp towel before starting. I began by weaving the daffodil leaves round loose, two or three at a time, but I wasn’t happy with the effect. The leaves were too short and quickly started to look like a real mess, plus some of the leaves were breaking.
I had a rethink and started again, this time braiding the daffodil leaves before weaving with them.
This worked much better, although I had to have several attempts at starting to work up the sides. The weave is looser than I would like with this one and I think that more spokes would have been advantageous, but its rather wonky appearance lends it a modest charm and the daffodil leaves smell amazing!
It’s already too late to gather more daffodil leaves, as any that are left are now way past their best. So I will have to make do with the limited supplies that I have until next year. You can’t afford to hang around when you’re working with wild fibres. I have been really frustrated this week because the weather has been terrible, with pouring rain and high winds – not ideal for gathering plants. I will have to wait it out until the dry days return, but I am anxious to gather as much as I can to keep me going over winter.
I am so glad that a large part of our land is rather wild and has such a rich diversity of wild plants. While the rain continues I am keeping busy in the evenings by braiding all of my remaining daffodil leaves ready for use.