Tuesday, 24 July 2012

make bindweed a bonus

for information on twining and other basketry techniques using hedgerow
and recycled materials, see Practical Basketry Techniques

I made a basket last week using bindweed, the parasitic plant that is the bane of gardeners. I had no idea what it would be like to weave with, but once stripped of its leaves, dried and soaked again, it proved ideal to work with. I posted what I made on dailymades and twitter and this prompted such interest from makers and gardeners alike, I collected more to experiment with.

The basket above drew inspiration from a twining project included Practical Basketry Techniques. I next use a bunch of coffee stirrers and bindweed to twine with, inspired by a recent 3D doodle also posted on dailymades.

Experimenting directly with the materials and allowing for their physical characteristics to determine the  shape and pattern of the objects I made was a real adventure. Seeing the Thomas Heatherwick show at the Victoria and Albert Museum at the time I was making these also framed my thinking. As written in the exhibition literature, Heatherwick Studio 'investigate the physical behaviour of materials and celebrate the creative potential of an action or a single moment'. Their ‘creative process becomes one of choosing rather than designing’. So, it is no longer a matter of ‘form over function’ or 'function over form', as material now also has to be thrown into the equation!  Hmmm...

Now for the science bit.  If you are interested in working with bindweed, here are a couple of essential tips:

1. Allow the bindweed to mellow for a day also before stripping the leaves.  The plant material will have softened by then reducing the amount of breakage as you strip. 

2. Coil the stems and allow to dry for 2/3 days before using.  Simply soak in water for a couple of hours before weaving.  NB: Using hot/warm water will reduce the soaking time and bring out the colour in the bindweed.

So, all that's left to say is best with your weeding and weaving...

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