Thursday, April 22, 2010

Tip of the Week - Mellowing Materials

Mellow a Material
Q: I want to work with cattails, the directions say to "mellow the cattails". What does this mean?

A: Mellowing is a way to make a material flexible without saturating it with water.

Lay cattails out on a plastic sheet and sprinkle them with water (or very quickly dip them into water), wrap the plastic around them and let them sit until they feel flexible. Cattails become waterlogged very easily and they will swell. This produces a loose product after they dry. Mellowing adds just enough water to become flexible.

Other materials can also benefit from mellowing.

The twisted natural grass rush should be dipped in warm/hot water and wrapped in a damp towel until the moisture seeps into the center and becomes flexible.

Try this with dyed reed to help keep the color from running.

Many natural materials like grasses and pine needles also benefit from mellowing.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Tip of the Week - Weaving Table

Our weaving table is wonderful for starting spoked bottom and double spoked bottom baskets. The table is 14" square with a 1" square grid marking. The grid also has 1" apart circles for measuring the rows of twining.
The spokes are laid out in a pin wheel fashion and a T-pin is inserted into the center and through the hole in the weaving table to hold them all in place. Then you can begin twining and be sure that all the spokes are spaced evenly. The table is mounted on a ball-bearing base so it spins as you work.
The surface of the table is treated with a waterproof finish.
The weaving table can also be used for laying out square or rectangle bases, no measuring, just use the 1" grid markings.
The table also works great for slotted bases. You can turn the the weaving table, instead of turning the base,while weaving the first couple of rows, without knocking any of the stakes out of the groove.

When working on a spoked bottom basket. If it is hard to get the T-pin through the reed spokes, turn the table over and tap the T-pin through the reed with a small hammer. Once the tip of the T-pin is through the reed, you can place the pin into the center hole of the weaving table. This way you will not put extra holes into the weaving surface.