About Me

My photo
My name's Jen. This is the place where I share my love of art with the world. Please stay a while, and leave a comment if you wish :)

Friday, 22 June 2012

First Basket of the Season

The willow is beautiful this year, a bumper crop so far! I cut the willow for the handle, rim and ribs for this basket about two weeks ago, and it has already cured from bright green to vanilla bean black.  Willow is the perfect weaving material as it stays flexable long after it has dried and the colour just gets deeper and deeper as it ages. Northern Ontario, where I live, is loaded with with all kinds of weaving material such as alder, dogwood, elm, birch, cedar and of course the over 35 different varieties of willow that grow here. The rule for selecting twigs to weave with is simple, if you bend the twig into a circle and it doesn't crack or split it's suitable weaving material. Basket weavers of the past and present often use whatever grows locally to create their baskets. Anything from seagrass and pine needles to wood splints made from ash trees. Can you guess what the Inuit, who live in the Arctic use? They create breath taking woven works of art from whale baleen. Baleen is the 'strainer like' material many large whales have in their mouths instead of teeth! Now that's creativity!
Did you know that there has never been a machine invented that can weave a basket? Every single basket you see in every store has been hand woven by someone. Most are made by young girls and women from developing countries, often earning very little for their hours of hard work. Human beings have been weaving baskets for about 50,000 years. To put that into perspective, the last ice age was only 10,000 years ago. Basketry pre-dates pottery by thousands of years and is also the only art form we share with birds and other mammals. A bird nest is definitely a basket, in fact, not only do birds weave but they do it without verbal instructions and no hands! I can't figure out how they manage to do it. A bird nest is a true feat of engineering! I remember how frustrating it was to make my first basket, I can't imagine trying to do it with no fingers or tools! Many primates such as gorillas weave a fresh sleeping mat to sleep on each night. They carefully select palm frawns and tear them into strips with their teeth and create intricatley woven mats. So next time you see basket, stop and admire it for a minute, because each and every one is hand woven by someone, somewhere :)

No comments:

Post a Comment