"Behind the Scenes" Basketry Making

Behind my creative process of basketry

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    My love for making sea kelp baskets is an art in which I have started since I was in grade school with learning how to make my own materials and furthermore complete the process in areas that take years to learn among practicing techniques that are part of the history behind basketry making. I wanted to share how I have built my crafting business in areas that I have started to expand in vast areas that reflect my talents and artistic ability. To illustrate a better understanding of the materials used and the history of basketry following my own summary of my skills I decided to give you a more detailed history of my knowledge of what my ability in this area that has made my reputation behind designing and creating every basket. Another reason is I have been working on making my baskets into more ways and using new materials to create designs from my experience I have learned over the years to broaden my skills to move up my level of expertise.


To start of the way let's get a better understanding the art of basketry weaving:

Weaving is an ancient art form practiced by native American for thousands of years with using materials such as reeds, willow branches, and pine needles. In this time they have created their own distinct patterns and styles in which case, as a result, made a simple craft into an exceptional and skillful art. As a further analysis, they have used natural materials where they are woven by hand into exquisite and skillful baskets of many shapes, colors, and patterns of baskets. Along the years' many people have made their own form of art over the years to master this form of art.

 (to get more information click here)

Before I go into my signature item here's my experience and skill level that I have learned since a child. I raised many animals for 4-h and my lamb had many uses besides showing her get a ribbon in the annual contest but to use her wool for making clothes, materials for the house, and more. During summertime, we would shear off the wool to keep them cool but also to wash, clean, dye, and then spin it into a thin thread for using it on different size looms for weaving very intricate techniques that took my skills in weaving higher level them most of me disclosing to you until now. My goal is to grow that knowledge and start a new collection this year in making different styles, designs, and materials to make new baskets. I have already learned how to weave pine needle baskets but it's just a matter of finding them or purchasing them. Next, I wanted to give you a more detailed look at how and what sea kelp is and working with it in making basketry

Working with sea kelp:

To get a better understanding of what sea kelp is and to answer the one question I have been asked over and over throughout the years and today I am going to tell you the most embarrassing story behind it at the end.

A brief summary of what is the ocean life in "Kelp Forests"

Kelp (bull whip kelp) is a type of seaweed but bulky an d enormous compared to the other varieties of seaweed. A plant that is only found in the oceans that are cold and rich with nutrients underwater areas with a high density. Smaller
areas of anchored kelp are called kelp beds.

A wide range of sea life uses kelp forests for protection or food, including small fish, sea enchrins, starfishes, and even utters take shelter.

The structure of bull whip kelp:

The body of the entire kelp is referred as a Thallus, which is not to consider as a plant.

The three basic structural units of sea kelp:

  1. Holdfast: a root-like mass that anchors the Thallus to the sea floor, through unlike true roots, unlike most plant life it doesn't supply any nutrients to the thallus.
  2. Stipe (botany): is analogous to the plant stalk, and grows vertically from the holdfast where it gives it the basic supported framework of kelp.
  3. Frond: are lear-or blade-like attachments extending from the Stipe_(botany), and sometimes as long as the entire kelp.
"To find out the history, facts, why, and how they are only seasonal, mainly spring or summertime, and more different names and types of sea kelp." click here.

When working with any kind of materials used in basketry there is what I believe is learning the way it works in using its texture, flaws that might have along the way, and knowing how to work with the way some materials might not be the same exact piece that requires the same process in working with it. By that, I mean some kelp soaks up water faster than other pieces so you need to watch how long each piece you use before starting. As a result learning more and more how to understand each different material used you need to have more experience with each one. In my opinion, it takes a long time to figure out unique ways to design each basket with knowing how to work with them.

The one question I have been asked for years and here's the story with the answer:

This is a small bundle that is dried out late in the year which it should start in April. The weather and what the ocean brings me is a guessing came that's why I started to improve my skills and talents in areas I have already learned but there's always room to grow.

This is a small bundle that is dried out late in the year which it should start in April. The weather and what the ocean brings me is a guessing came that's why I started to improve my skills and talents in areas I have already learned but there's always room to grow.

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Following up with this, I wanted to explain that sea kelp is a seasonal type of material that has to be sun-dried on the shoreline during the summer months usually April through September. Everyone has asked me why can't I get it when it's wet and dry it myself when I have hardly any baskets left because I run out of sea kelp and have to wait until the right season. So here is the explanation and my own experiment to give the best understanding that you will find funny as well as why.

There is no way to pick it up wet and try to dry it out yourself as I learned the hard way and after I look back on that time it should've taken me not as long to get that it was impossible but instead I went through it till it dawned on me a stupid this idea was. I had no sea kelp and sold almost all of my baskets so at the time I wasn't really sure if I could figure out how to get it during the off season and dry it myself but let's say this was one of the most unbelievable blonde moments of my life.

It was in winter after the first of the year and during the rainy months. Brookings, Oregon's weather is never cold even when it's the winter and fall season and not even the rain is chilly so a lot of us go all year round. At this particular time my old boyfriend at the time decided we should take a trip and he would help me try to get more sea kelp and dry it out later. At that point we still didn't even have a plan to dry it out when we got it home either. Basically at the beginning we should have figured it out but no we still were determined to follow it all the way.

The way sea kelp works as you previously read about how kelp absorbs water and it expands but never does it break the structure of this seaweed plant. Again this was a huge clue that it was a stupid idea yet we had it in your minds this was going to happen no matter what.

After getting to the coast we had gallon buckets to put the wet, soaked and heavy kelp into. Let me state that one piece of sea kelp only might make one basket and I needed a whole bunch more than that. We came upon one enormous piece of kelp and put it into the bucket. It was so heavy to left it took a long time to carry it up the hill to the car.

Knowing how this entire experience was pointless, we still didn't get it until we came home, not to mention it smelled so bad and had a very strong odor, we were at a loss of words or ideas on what to do next. To wrap it all up and tell you straight up this was one of the times I had no brain and it took a long time to find it and figure out the stupidity of the whole entire trip. SO THERE IS NO WAY TO GATHER WET KELP!

I have spent many years trying to create and design new sea kelp baskets every year and this is the time when I get to go to the coast and replenish my supply to start a new and hopefully amazing, fresh, edgy craftsmanship in designing my new collection of more baskets than just sea kelp.

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