Thursday, March 9, 2017

Southern Pines and a New Crafting Opportunity

Florida pine needles are huge.
One of the categories of household items that we had to divest ourselves of before selling the house and moving into the Behemoth was craft supplies. It was one of the most painful categories to pare down. Fred and I both enjoy making things. We saved only those tools and supplies that we knew we would use again. Most of those things are stored in our daughters garage but we did bring along a few of our favorites that wouldnt take up a lot of space.  Fred brought along his woodworking tools and I have yarn, drawing pencils and my camera. We are both always on the lookout to find new ways to feed our creative sides.

Basket Class
The Manatee County Library in Bradenton Florida offered a crafting class in November that I was able to attend.
We spent 2 consecutive Wednesdays learning how to make baskets out of pine needles.
Not just any pine needles either.
Florida long leaf pines have leafs (or needles) that grow 12-18 inches long. The pine trees are plentiful and they shed like crazy so finding basket supplies is as easy as taking a walk in the woods with a pocket full of rubber bands.
The basket making craft requires few supplies. Our instructor gave each of us a small bunch of pine needles, a few pieces of raffia, a darning needle, a cloths pin, and a short length of drinking straw.
That we were able to turn that confusing array of materials into a finished product is a testament to her teaching skill. Like many artistic projects getting started and becoming comfortable handling the materials was the hardest part.
Pine Needle Basketry is a simple and mindful technique of adding needles and stitching the sections together.
The artistic part of the process emerges as you use your hands to shape the basket into a pleasing form.

My first basket completed
My first basket is a wonky sort of work of art. I love the shape but next time will be more attuned to stitch placement and to keeping the sections of needles even.

Our second lesson had us practicing different types of decorative stitches that can be used to decorate as well as strengthen a design. We stitched them all into pieces of cardboard like those giant shoelace and picture projects that toddlers do to develop hand eye coordination. It worked for me and now I have a visual reminder of how to create each stitch.

I have gathered enough needles to make several baskets and am working on a second one now.  I will be interested to meet other basket makers and to see the materials that they use in their creations as we travel on down the road.

My second basket in progress

Florida Long Leaf Pine needles washed and drying in the sun.

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