Dave's Garden Book Review: Pine Needle Basketry
Pine Needle Basketry
From Forest Floor to finished Project by Judy Mofield Mallow
Humans have used baskets for storing food and tools long before the dawn of history. Carbon dating places some examples around 12,000 years old. As long as men (and women) have had possessions, they've needed a place to store them. Baskets constructed from reeds, bark or grasses have been unearthed wherever there is evidence of civilization. Basket making was a respected trade and artisans created beautiful works of art with little more than natural materials they gathered or found.
In areas where pine needles were plentiful, native peoples developed techniques for braiding and coiling them into attractive and functional containers. The needles were easy to work with and pine trees provided an unlimited supply.
Pine Needle Basketry; From Forest Floor to Finished Product is an excellent way for beginners to explore this ancient craft and achieve beautiful results the first time. The technique for coiling and stitching together pine needles is easy and even a novice will be able to make their first basket before they've finished this book.
Everyday household materials are all that you need to get started. You can find scissors, needle nose pliers, twine or thread large needles and a few clips in any household. Other than a couple of guide tubes and the needles themselves, most everyone will have these in their tool box. Guide tubes help keep the pine needles straight and allow the weaver to keep a constant diameter of the coils as they work. I cut a couple of old ballpoint ink pen cases down to make my tubes, but drinking straws, small vacuum hoses and copper tubes are also easy to work with.
The author starts with a basic coil and stitch and helps the beginner understand the basics with clear illustrations and descriptions. Once that is mastered, she moves on to more intricate patterns and techniques. She discusses harvesting, storing and preparing pine needles for weaving and even dyeing pine needles for colored projects. Over forty basket patterns, with images are listed and she even lists materials needed and the page numbers where the particular techniques for that basket are used.
There is also a helpful page listing the various pine species, continent of origin and the needle length.
This is a wonderful book for the novice and the experienced weaver. I enjoyed seeing the outstanding photography and am anxious to get started making my own baskets!
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