Did you know?

A "Pandula" is a flower which blooms only in one's imagination.


Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Pine needle basket weaving/coiling.

January 18, 2012

I thought I would just throw out some of my experience's on the learning curve of Pine needle basket weaving.

One of the things I think needs clarification is the name "Pine Needle Basket Weaving".  Notice how I always place the word 'coiling' after 'weaving', the reason for this is that there is no actual WEAVING going on here.  I can't even imagine how it got that name.  

In reality it is coiling and stitching, more akin to sewing than anything else...maybe embroidery and cross stitch as the stitches are decorative. This is why I always differentiate this title.  I have only seen one book that clarifies that this is not weaving, there is no over and under, only stitching and feeding more pine needles into the coil.  The method is actually very simplistic, the rest is all design element.  That is why the resulting basket is so very personally related to the person constructing it.  This is also in all probability why I love it so very much.

The tools are minimal, and are usually already on hand, especially if you are artsie fartsie (crafty) at all.

You need pine needles (I collect them myself and use rubber bands to bundle them with all of the heads at the same end), of course, a needle, and thread (or even raffia)at a minimum.  Some people dampen the pine needles to start with, and then wrap them in a towel to keep them moist.  A couple of times mine molded, and so I don't dampen them any more.  I us center's for most of my baskets that are large enough that I don't need the pine needle to bend to the point that it cracks or breaks.  I also find that I get a firmer basket if I use them dry.

I also use a gauge (a piece of cut ink pen tube, sometimes a piece of a drinking straw), a pin cushion, a small pair of pliers, scissors, wax or thread heaven, something for trash, a container for my tools  (glad ware, wicker basket or tool box even), a container for the pine needles (glad-ware again), a thimble (I keep a medal one and leather one on hand), a glove for my right hand (Playtex cleaning glove with the fingers cut off at the tip, when tightening up the stitches it is easy to cut yourself, like a paper cut, with the thread without this glove) .

So here are a few pictures to help clarify.

First off, my friend Dana sent me some Long Leaf Pine needles from Georgia.  I knew the ones I have found here in FL so far were smaller but ... OMG.  Check it out.  Not only are they longer but the difference in thickness is incredible.  The Long Leaf are heavier, say a #3 crochet thread size, and the ones I gather here are more like a #10 thread size.  Amazing.

They both work equally well, I just have to feed more pine needles in more often with the smaller ones.  Mine are somewhere between 8 to 10 in long, and the Long leaf between 14 and 16 in. long.  God love Dana for send them, and I hope to receive more.  They are expensive to buy by the way.

So here I will post a pic of some of my tools.  This is part of the left hand glove that would have been discarded.  This way I don't waste it and I can double up on thickness.  These are the fingers that get the most cuts from the threads.

This is the second layer of glove.

Home made pin cushion (steel wool wrapped with burlap in an old cheese tin), plyers, wax, thimble, scissors, #10 thread (I double it because it breaks when I don't) and a started basket.  Notice the gauge and the sliced Poplar center.  I had a friend cut and drill these for me months ago so that they could cure.  I don't care for the poplar as I see no grain, live and learn.

Glad-ware with de-capped needles ready to go.  Some were picked green and dried indoors to retain their green color.  Eventually they were brown up just as the others that were dried outside will do.  I think I recall reading that if you Shellac or varnish the basket they colors stays green...but I like the Pine scent so the most I have done is spray a little matte fixative on a basket.  I find I like my method of waxing the thread and then melting it in the microwave is more to my liking.  Makes the house smell wonderful also.

I save and use tins alot.  The round one holds my rubber bands, one has needles, one has wax.  You get the idea.  And then we see the gauge at work, this one is an ink pen tube cut to size.

And that, my friends, is my way of making pine needle baskets.

I have taken to walking my dogs in the afternoons to scour out supplies, and low and behold yesterday I found a small stand of bamboo.  The lady who owns the property says have at it, so today I cut some small bamboo to work into this process.  I am also going to add in some palm frond and vines...so stay tuned.

Same bat time, same bat channel.

Oh yes, and we can't forget the cutest pup ever has to supervise.  She is on the heating pad AND under a blanket.  You would think we lived in the Arctic instead of FL.  lol

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Basket for a 'tween.

January 14, 2012

I decided to see if I could do a small basket.  I also decided to try and make a pre-determined shape.  Often in my art I let the materials lead me...that is why the last basket has sides that slope outwards.  I was really thinking along the lines of a basket with C shaped sides when I started it.

This time I got the shape I wanted.  It is 5 1/2 in. at it's widest, and 1 1/2 in. deep.  I used blue and purple because I happen to know a 12 yr. old that loves these colors together.  I made her the little Peace sign envelope bag if you remember.  To my great pleasure she carries it every day.

She got a new desk for her bedroom for Christmas and I thought she might like a little basket for things like paperclips, rubber bands or whatever.  So without further ado...the 'tween' basket for Aye.

Isn't it cute!  I used a wrapped pine needle center, not an easy thing to do, so I wanted the practice.  The blue stitches are the V stitch and the dark purple stitches are the Fern stitch.

When completed I rubbed a piece of candle wax on the stitches (they are also rubbed with wax as I stitch) and then popped it into the microwave for about 45 seconds to melt the wax.  This gives it a nice firm feel, even though it was very firm with just the stitches, and it doesn't mask the pine scent I love so much the way waxing the entire basket does.

I thought of adding some embellishments, like beads, but then decided that it stands well on its own merit.  

I think she's gonna to like it.  :-)

 Here you see the side shaping. 

EDIT:  Feb, 7, 2011 (approx. date), the basket has been present and is duly loved!  It sits proudly on the new desk in her room.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Another Pine needle basket!

January 11, 2011

This one only took me 3 days.  

The center is my own hand cut and hand drilled slice of an Aspen tree branch.  It is an odd center, it is totally white, I see absolutely no grain to the wood, strange.  The base is 6 in. across and it flares to 8 in. total.  I used Russet #10 mercerized cotton thread doubled, and Copper mist #3 mercerized cotton single strand, for the threads.  I drag each piece of thread repeatedly across a piece of wax before threading and sewing.  (I use cotton because I have it in abundance.)  I used a random mix of green and brown pine needles.  The ones that are green were dried in the dark under my bed to preserve their color.  They will, of course eventually turn brown very slowly (especially if direct sunlight is avoided).  

I used the V stitch for most of the body, and for the first time the Fern stitch as a trim and decoration.  I concentrated on technique and consistency of the stitches.  Both of these stitches were chose because I wanted a very firm basket.  It seems the more legs on the stitches the firmer the basket. 

 I wrapped the little handles also.  When the basket was complete I popped it into the microwave for 45 seconds to melt the wax off of the thread as it tends to look chalky if I don't.  It was just enough wax to make this basket hold its form without any kind of wobble or sloppiness at all.

I have not done any baskets in almost a year, so these two have been like relearning the techniques.  I have very nice tools and such in storage, but had to use what was on hand as I couldn't get to them.  I always just try to keep in mind that most of the arts/crafts we do today, were originally done hundreds of years ago without the modern conveniences we have access to.

Even though I absolutely love the blue and green basket, this one is probably my best to date.  The stitches are remarkably symmetrical (very difficult for me as I am certainly no seamstress) and very firm.  

I am keeping this one!  I am even thinking of somehow incorporating a small pin cushion into it.

A little update...this one was gifted to Kraftymax's hubby for his birthday.  I think they make great places for anyone to empty out their pockets at the end of the day.  He seemed adequately impressed with the fact that it is made from pine needles.  Happy Birthday Daddy K.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Pine needle basket coiling.

January 6, 2012

It is coming right along!

First just green thread, then green stranded with royal blue. It is 8 in. across and 4 1/2 in. tall.

My friend 'Buzzy' helped me with the wood centers.  We cut a tree limb and sliced it, then placed holes all around.  I rather like it!

My hand is only there for scale.

January 8, 2012


Notice the stripe of green pine needles...I dried them in the shade.

My largest to date!  Hope she likes it.  (Wish my stitches were straighter too! )

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

A little pencil work.

January 3, 2011

Just a couple of pictures of some abstract pencil work I have been working on.  My own designs of course.

This one started out as a rose.  Not sure I am happy with what it turned into.  I do love the colors though.  This is prismacolor on Bristol smooth paper.

The one below is just graphite in multiple layers and grades.  My own design again.  It is difficult to get good pictures of graphite pencil due to the shine.  But I think you can get the gist.

January 10th, 2012

I think I am done with this one...maybe.  I darkened things up a bit, but I can't decide whether to fill in the side pieces along the center piece's at the bottom?

I love doing my own designs, all done free-hand!  I only wish I had more to show for the work than a piece of paper to hang on the wall.  I still prefer 3 dimensional art that serves a purpose other than just to look at.