September 14, 2011

Blue Spring

Fibre, textile, weaving, and stitching I strongly believe they are entwined. If you like one thing you like them all. Ask any textile lover if they like baskets and most of the answers will be 'yes'. I have a deep love for basket weaving because my mother was a basket weaver. Unlike today where basket weaving is a hobby or art,  in my mother's generation weaving baskets was a necessity. She wove them for household use. Also bamboo was readily available and not to be wasted. She would cut, split and shave bamboo from the beginning to the end. I was very young, but I still remember her soaking long strips of shaved bamboo in the river in front of our home. She made many types of baskets, from containers for storing rice to tiny scoops. I remember she hung them above the open fire wood cooker to catch the smoke. It's supposed to seal and protect the bamboo from bugs.

I started weaving baskets when I first came to live in Victoria, Australia. I had just arrived and didn't work at the time. I was an avid golfer (still love golf, but only on sand). I went to play golf with a friend I met at a car park. Yes I pick up friends from all kinds of places. After the game I was driving out of the golf court when I spotted a sign saying Basketmakers of Victoria. I reversed back and reread it a second time. Yes Basketmakers of Victoria. I went in and a basket making session was on. It was raining and I was covered in mud from the game. I asked them excitedly if I could come along. There were very nice and said yes, but still looking at my dirty boots! For the next 3 years I took every workshop they offered. I loved it so much that I started planting plants I could use in basket weaving. I dyed the plant fibres and had baskets in exhibitions. I mainly make utility baskets. My friends around the world received baskets from me in those few years. 


Basket made from recycled materials must be one of my favourite types. Really, basket weaving is a way of recycling what you grow in your garden. The above basket is called basket over a mould. You weave it over a shape made from Styrofoam. I found the strips from the Hanban book publisher in China that were used on book boxes. There was a big pile of them at my work. I found them just in time because an hour later they would have been thrown in the trash! I used red hot poker leaves for weaving. Some of the leaves had been dyed. Dyed sea grass is also used on this basket. After I completed the basket, I added a boro piece of indigo that I just received from Japan. I called this basket boro basket and it measures L-16", H-8" and W-9". It's a Christmas present for a dear friend. 


I always tell myself not to have a favourite either in colour or flowers or anything. I like to keep open minded and like everything. Does anyone feel like that? It's strange I know, but that's just me! I do like Wisteria and I like it a lot. I first saw them in Crete. I was on a bus travelling across the island. I saw these beautiful blue flowers draping over an old barn with a red tiled roof. The vine didn't have leaves on it , just the blue flowers. After that moment I was drawn to everything blue. Flowers, cloth and anything that's blue. 


Wisteria flowers as you know only last less than a week after it blooms, but to me it is worth it just to enjoy what you love in your garden. This year it surprised me when they bloomed. It started blooming while I was at work one day when I got home bang it hit me. It almost knocked me over with its beauty! If I'm lucky it might last until the weekend. 

I would have to say that blue is my favourite colour and Wisteria is my favourite flower!  I am still open minded about all the other colours and flowers too. But they will have to try hard to be another one of my favourites!



Enjoy
Nat 

18 comments:

kaiteM said...

great basket Nat, love your use of recycled materials.

Anonymous said...

Nat that wisteria is beautiful!!! How lovely to come home from work to such a beautiful surprise.
I loved reading your story about basketmaking. Especially about your mother and your childhood memories. Do you have any baskets that your mother made? How special that would be.
The basket you have made for your friend is beautiful. I love how you grow a lot of the things you need in your garden...and how you recycle everything (especially the treasures from the library).
Have a lovely week.

Jacky xox

Michele Pacey said...

I'm like you, Nat. I'm open to all colours and flowers. It's like if something is doing well and it's in bloom, it becomes my favourite for a while, but as soon as the next thing comes along it will become my favourite... Maybe it means I'm fickle but that's just how I am, hee hee!

deanna7trees said...

what a great basket story. how wonderful that you saw your mom making baskets as a child. it's no wonder you have such a love for them. and that wisteria is gorgeous. when I first bought my house 23 years ago, I planted wisteria. It leafed out every year but never had one flower. that color is one of my favorites.

Els said...

I loved the story about the basket weaving Nat! And what a wonderful result again.
Those Wisteria flowers .....sigh ! BLUE !!!

Queen Of The Armchair aka Dzintra Stitcheries said...

Hi Nat...I never knew your Mother was a basket weaver...thanks for the very interesting story...You know, sometimes I can never make up my mind as to what is my favourite of anything...I don't even know my favourite food...constantly changing...As to flowers...at the moment freesias...when summer comes then again hydrangeas...perhaps roses...never the same!!!

Jeannie said...

I love baskets. Truthfully, I like things with texture - baskets, textiles, architecture, etc. You basket is beautiful. I found it interesting that you wisteria is blooming now, mine bloom in early spring and it is a visual treat. Thanks for the wonderful story and photos.

Lis said...

Thank you for this insight into your background in basket making, lovely to read about your mother. I love the boro basket, it looks gentle - strange word to apply to a basket but that's what it says to me.
Colour? Hmm. I seem to have favourite colours for different situations. The colours I decorate the house with aren't the colours I wear. The colours I enjoy creating with vary but exclude yellow. But I love sunshine and daffodils and sand, and custard!! Fickle me. Having a very blue period at the moment - agapanthus does it for me :)

Willow said...

I love the look of your weaved basket. I was going to make an all white dining room, but I just had to add color and it was blue. I have always loved blue.

aracne said...

A very enjoyable post, I love the story of your basket making and the memory of your mother.
This is something that I would like to learn, one of these days, and I love the idea of using fabric in the weave.
I love wisteria too, there was an enormous plant where I was living as a child, the branches arrived at the third floor and when it was in bloom it was spectacular.

Janet said...

In my old home I used to have a whole wall of wisteria over an arbour, I do miss it and now just enjoy the ones around the neighbourhood.
I just adore seeing and reading about your baskets, this one is gorgeous.

Bev C said...

Hello Nat,

It was an interesting post to read about your Mum and her basket weaving. Obviously she passed on some of that love to you. Your Wisteria is beautiful.Happy days.
Bev.xoxo

Moon Goddess said...

Fantastic basket Natima!!! Love how you used the recycled strips. A real treasure. Love and Hugs, Cynthia

Julie Fukuda said...

I have been teaching the basket weaving merit badge to scouts for over 34 years but each year fewer desire to learn. Our camping area has many plants that are great for baskets and I used to make a challenge to the scouts and leaders to come up with the most original basket. Some were really terrific.

woman with wings said...

Oh, Nat, this was so much fun! I learned quite a bit more about you from this although I already had figured out that you are a positive, happy, life-loving kind of woman! The red hot poker leaves -- I have those. Now I'm wondering if I should harvest some next year. I've dabbled only very slightly into basketmaking but have LOVED the few that I've actually made -- beginner-style, you know. Your basket is gorgeous and a priceless gift. Your mother must be beaming.

onesmallstitch said...

beautiful basket, Nat and lovely memory of your mother. The kami must be looking out for you - picking up new friends in all sorts of places! I'm a lover of blue, too.

QuiltSue said...

What a great little story about your introduction to basket weaving. The colour of your wisteria is just wonderful.

AnnieO said...

What a great way to be absorbed into basketmaking as a passion--You jumped in with both (muddy) feet :)

I feel the same way about green as you do blue. All the many shades of green interest me and I find it hard NOT to put green in every quilt I make. Maybe because I read somewhere that green is the easiest color for the eye to see, and it always seems so calming and natural. Enjoy your Wisteria always!

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