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.