To get started, you will need some cattails, gathered in late summer, before they get brown tips. Separate the leaves, and air dry in a shady place to retain the greenness (although that will eventually fade). I soaked the mid-sections of the leaves in a sink full of water, weighing down the bunch with another pan full of water. You can use the lower section to make a tougher basket. It only takes about 15 minutes to soak them. Then you can place them in a wrung out wet towel on your table, to pick through as you need them. I also used scissors, a spray bottle, pins and a chunk of Styrofoam as a form around which the leaves were woven.
Start by peeling the outside thin bits off the outsides of the soaked leaves. Arrange them across the bottom of the Styrofoam block (north-south). Then start weaving the east-west leaves, pinning them to keep them tight. Keep spritzing to keep them from drying out. Once the bottom is covered, bend up the sides to form the uprights. The first side leaf is trickiest, but start with an "inny" and weave it all the way around until you overlap that end by two or three uprights. Cut the ends to hide them in the uprights. This basket used four leaves for the sides. Start each one on a different side to balance the ends where it will be weakest.
Top Edge: You will notice which of the uprights need to bend in and which go out to maintain the weave pattern. You can cut them at an angle to stick out and be noticed or hide them and cut them straight, as you wish. Once the Styrofoam block is out, the tucking in of the ends is easier, but sometimes you will need the aid of a knife or crochet hook to make room to stuff it in and our again. You can pull it too and make sure the top edge is even. Keep spritzing with water to make the leaves pliable 'til you're done.
Here it is, all finished! (And I finally figured out how to add text to a picture!). I'm thinking I would like to make a bunch of these and use them as soap forms ... maybe the soap bar would end up looking like a basket! I just hope it would come out of the form easily!
2/14/2012 02:57:57 pm
Good on you it looks great. If you keep the cattails wrapped in the damp towel as you work it will save a lot of spraying. see my add in if you wish to use them or not is your decision.
2/15/2012 12:26:13 am
Thanks so much Rae. You are the real master and a true inspiration. I give all the credit here to you! When I had googled how to make a cattail basket there didn't seem to be any instructions, so I made this attempt to get people started....long live traditional skills!
2/15/2012 02:23:15 am
Great job Maryann! It has been many years since I have done basket making. I took courses from Rae at DBG many years ago. I would love to sit and weave with you some time. :) hugs
Genius in so many ways. The hardest part about making baskets, for me, was holding things in place until I got it woven enough. I don't know why I never used pins.
8/10/2013 07:20:50 am
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