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Basketry Tips From Readers all pertaining to how to make your basketmaking easier, have your studio more organized and allow you to harvest and process basketweaving materials - tips.gif (4414 bytes)

Do you have a basketweaving tip to share with other readers? If you do, send it in an email with "Basketry Reader's Tip" in the subject to me.

Peggy Brennan
Storage of Natural Materials
- I am thinking about buying some mesh nylon bags used for laundry. Smaller ones can be found in the camping departments for washing dishes. How about cotton duffle laundry bags for storing basket fibers. Has anyone tried these bags for storing reed, bark, etc.? Frontier Herbs Cooperative has cotton bags with drawstrings for produce and loose tea. I buy them to store roots, flowers, nut hulls and other plant parts for dyes. This is easier than wrapping in muslin or cheesecloth. (10/27/00)
Black Walnut Dye -
I just read your page about using walnut hull dye and wanted to share a tip. The easiest way to hull walnuts is to put them into a cement mixer, along with some water and tumble them for an hour or two. What comes out are absolutely clean walnuts (after you hose them down a bit, that is) and several gallons of brownish black glop. The black glop may be diluted, strained through cheesecloth and processed however you think best to make the dye.

Naturally, not everyone has a cement mixer, but at least one member of a basketry club might have one and you can make enough dye in a couple of hours to meet the needs of dozens of people. (10/13/00)

Lee Foster
Storing Tips - When a department store went out of business in my area I purchased one of their clothes racks. It works great for drying reeds that I gather. Once dried I bundle and date then store back on the rack. It has three double bars on it and have put thin wood slats across for the reeds to lie on. It has three levels also for lots of storage. If you wanted it more stable for the reeds you could use chicken wire attached to it instead of slats across. (10/10/00)

Helen Schram
Storing Tips I have many supplies for the various arts and crafts I am involved in and wall and floor storage is maxed out. Also. I like to see my supplies lest I forget what I have. I installed the plastic wire coated closet storage shelving over the doors and windows and wherever possible around the studio walls. I can see through the shelving and hang other items from the rungs, with "S" hooks made from wire coat hangers. Bulky reeds, raffia, pine needles, fibers etc., are out of the way but visible and add to the charm of my busy studio my students tell me. Amazing amount of storage. The shelving is available at most home repair stores, (Rubbermaid and other brands). (09/22/00)

Ruth Andre
The catalog American Basketmaking: Tradition & Innovation and the brochure for the exhibit All Things Considered is available from HGA along with a photo essay recap of the event. (12/04/99)

Kay Harradine
The spiral technique for harvesting bark is one we use on wild cherry bark limbs out here. You take a thumb sized branch and begin a cut with a sharp knife, sort of across the stick, but at a slight angle. Then you can lay the stick on a table surface and roll the stick under the knife blade, which makes a cut which spirals up the branch, like the stripes on a candy cane. The outer shiny red bark is then carefully peeled off and traditionally wound into a ball onto a set of crossed sticks. This way one can get long pieces without seriously harming the tree. This method is used for the outer bark, which is used mostly for accents. The entire bark is also removed from trunks of pin and/or bitter cherry, for more substantial applications. (12/2/99)

Marty Holihan
The Maple barks, that I harvest, are Red Maple (Acer rubrum) and Sugar Maple (Acer saccharum).  I have many species of Maple, on my property, but the ones that I take come up in abundance. I have maple trees that are 2 feet in dia. and many between that and saplings, but for my purpose the bark from small saplings are the ones I like and they are great to weave with little effort. I wait for them to get at least as big as my thumb and no larger than, 1" dia. I use a knife (very careful) and split the bark all the way down to the woody part, move over 1/2" or so and make the second cut then ease it up and pull out and up (not straight up but about 45 deg. angle and take outside bark the sapwood (cadmium) layer, all together. The maple bark is like cedar bark and runs the length of the tree. If possible I leave the tree standing as it holds it and I think I have more control of the bark that is being stripped. The bark is thin at this state of growth. I do use the woody part for handles and such, haven't tried for split weavers, but do use some of the small branches, it looks similar to willow. (12/2/99)

Donna Crispin
I picked this tip up from a class. For those of you cutting bark strips, I have found that the following method works well on large limbs and shoots. I tape 2 exacto knives together and then make vertical cuts down the length of the branch. This makes a nice, straight strip, about 3/4" wide. I have done this on maple, cherry and fruit tree limbs. You can cut these strips into smaller sizes with a Tandy Leather Strap-cutter. This cutter is all I use to cut cedar bark strips. (Tandy sells through catalog sales now.) (12/2/99)

Myra Stutler
I keep all my weaving tools, pencils, etc., everything I need to make a basket in a canvas caddy I got from Carol Kaeding's Gratiot Lake Basketry. It has all sorts of pockets and nooks to store stuff. It holds everything and I have a lot of "everything". (1/28/99)

Juanita Gulden
Hi fellow weavers, I wanted to pass on this information about organizing your basket supplies absolutely free. I work at a grocery store and have access to all the great display racks that the store is done with. I just got a three tier metal rack that was used for winter gloves hats etc. and it holds all my reed. I also got a five shelf display free. The store will usually just throw these items away when they're done with them. Ask your local store to save them for you when they are done with them. I'm sure they would give them away to you free. Signed all organized till I weave my next basket. (1/19/99)

Susi Nuss
Natural materials can be a challenge to store, so here is a tip on how to do it. I save the mesh bags that turkeys or onions come in. I lace a drawstring of waxed linen around the top opening, fill and hang them to store coils of barks or other naturals. It helps tidy the workroom, while keeping the material visible for identification and free of excess moisture that might cause mold. (1/15/99)

Do you have a tip to share with other readers? If you do, send it in an email with "Basketry Reader's Tip" in the subject to me.

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