Friday, September 28, 2012

From Blackberries to Roses

Weaving with Blackberry bark

Blackberry bark is harvested in late summer starting when the flowers begin to open and ending around the time that the first berries begin to ripen.
For details on Blackberry harvesting see the videos posted on The Urban Weaver Studio site (click here)

Plaited and Twined - a small Berry Basket
Rose pin
Bracelets - bark dyes using (almost ripe) blackberries and Indigo

Rose pins - blackberry dyed using crushed (not quite ripe) blackberries

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Iris & Ivy

A pile of carded indigo-dyed fleece (I'll need a basket for that!) and the arrival of bunches of Water Lily stems to the studio were the main inspirations for this piece. 

Using the newly arrived Water Lily stems, I twisted up a test piece of cordage.  It shrunk quite a bit once dried but was otherwise strong and held it's shape quite nicely in an interesting open spring-like coil. The idea of an open wirey twined basket started to take shape... 

I also wanted to see how English Ivy would behave as the warp when it wasn't held firmly in place by an equally 'strong willed' material.  Using Flag Iris leaves as the main twining material allowed me to gently direct the 'spokes' in this free formed basket with a band of Water Lily cordage added for interest.

Flag Iris and Water Lily stems woven over English Ivy

Notes on working with Water Lily stems:

I found that the Water Lily stems were easiest to work with when soaked briefly in water (until the stems are leathery soft or 'just' flexible) and then wrapped in a wet towel to mellow. By doing this the stems were pliable enough to twist into cordage and, since they hadn't soaked up a great deal of water, didn't shrink too much on drying.

The fully soaked stems, on the other hand, rehydrated back to their original thick and spongy (and let's not forget - slimy) shape . . . not something I would recommend for weaving with unless you want to try your hand at making cordage or weaving with long rubbery earthworms! (Although you may want to experiment yourself just for the sheer novelty of the experience!)

Saturday, September 1, 2012

The Sampler Basket

This twined basket was a spontaneous creation woven during the Richmond Maritime Festival as a demonstration piece. 

I started with English Ivy that I had harvested on my way to the festival that morning.  The Ivy was left unsplit with the bark on, only the rootlets and leaves where removed. 

Yellow Flag Iris leaves (previously dried and soaked), Blackberry bark, a strip of tree bark found washed up on the beach and Cottonwood Tree Bark (also found washed up on the beach) were all incorporated into the basket in order to demonstrate the variety of materials that I had on hand that day.  The banding pattern was separated by sections of English Ivy that had been previously dried and then resoaked prior to use.