Thursday, May 15, 2008

Gourd Basket from Mother Daughter Weekend

I thought I'd post some pictures of the basket that Emily and I created at the Living Earth School weekend (Weaving the Sacred Circle) we just had. And of course, I had to include Emily's knives in this picture! The one on the left is new--we got it from Kate and Hub last weekend.

We made this from a birdhouse gourd. First we sawed gently (they can crack easily with too much pressure) around the gourd, then used an awl to punch through the spots that were still attached. Our awl was an improvised one--a long nail that had been ground to a sharper point.

Then we took turns using the awl to poke holes around the top of our bowl, so we could sew through it.

The pine needles we used were about 10 inches long, not from local trees--I don't remember the name, but some pine tree that is more southern than what's found in our part of Virginia. The needles were soaking in warm water to be pliable, but they were already dry/brown--if you use green needles, the weaving becomes loose as they dry and shrink.

In this picture, you can see some of the inside that was scraped out--it makes good tinder, by the way. There are some seeds from the gourd, and the top, which Emily then cut again. She wants to make a maraca-type instrument from the top piece. I think the middle section would make a nice bowl if I can weave a tight closure for the small hole, then stand it on that. This site, NativeTech shows how to make a coiled pine needle basket. The pine needles, straw gauge, and sinew we used are also displayed here.

The sewing needles we used to thread the synthetic sinew around the needles were just large sewing needles or leather-work needles, didn't matter which. A neat trick to keep the bundles of pine needles the same thickness was to use a section of a McDonald's drinking straw as the gauge. As it got looser because the needles were of different lengths, we added more pine needles to the middle of the straw. This site lists materials you might want for basket weaving.

I've never worked with any kind of basket weaving, and I found this to be very satisfying and relaxing work. I'm hoping we can use some of the honeysuckle around our property to create more baskets with the gourds I grew last summer.

This site is from a local woman who creates honeysuckle baskets for sale. I noticed this in her bio section:

Anne received no schooling. She did studying on her own, mostly while out with the goats - the young goats often staying nearby or sleeping in her lap. Later, at age nineteen, she received her GED diploma.

I thought that the basket made a nice physical/visual metaphor for our female-ness, representing the womb, in my mind, especially as this was a mother daughter weekend activity.

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piscesgrrl said...

Wow, that is amazing! I love your basket - it's beautiful!

I'm sorry I haven't stopped in lately - I haven't looked at blogs (nearly including my own) for weeks. Life has gotten busy.

Going to any Life is Good conferences next week?

Silvia said...

Happy to see you again. :) No, no conferences this weekend. We were planning to go to the one in Mass but that isn't happening now. We _will_ be at the Live and Learn conf in Sept. Already registered!

Jane @ Kidzarama said...

That's such a lovely way to spend mother~daughter time. And a lovely keepsake, too. :)

Kellie & Marc said...

Wow that really is amazing - and pretty!

The Purloined Letter said...

Gorgeous! I think we have to pull the birdhouse gourds we dried last year out of our basement and try this!

Terrell said...

Wonderful baskets! I suspect your needles are from Longleaf Pine (also called Yellow Pine). We have some of the northernmost stands of these here in Floyd County GA. Unfortunately Longleaf takes over a hundred years to mature and natural wildfires are an important part of their life cycle. Tree farmers don't like fires and are not so patient. The beautiful yellow pine floors of the 1800s are hard to come by these days.

DinoEgg said...

wow~ nice basket~ from your description, seems like a major project :) How long did it take for both of you to finish this?

Silvia said...

It's hard to say because we were sitting around talking also, but maybe 2 -hours for all of it. Now that I know what to do, maybe less, especially if I'm not distracted! But it all depends on how many times you want to go around the gourd, too. I did thr ee rings, you could do more.