October 1, 2013
I finished the largest basket ever this week. It is a birthday gift so I can't share it until I actually ship it out...but I CAN'T WAIT FOR YOU TO SEE IT. It is indeed lovely.
So in lieu of pictures I saw this article and thought I would share it with you guys. I found it on a blog here, so I cannot take credit for it at all. I just thought you might like the information.
You have probably looked at pine-needle baskets and wondered why they
are priced so high. The main reason is because pine-needle baskets are
very time-consuming. It is very tedious work, and it takes many hours
of practice just to master coiling and stitching.
The materials are also expensive. Unless you are lucky enough to live
where long pine needles are grown, you will need to purchase your
needles. You will also need to purchase, drill, and stain the center of
your basket which can vary in price depending on what type of center
you use. You can make a solid pine-needle center, but this adds several
hours to your basket. In addition to the needles and center, you will
need to purchase your stitching material (usually sinew, raffia, or
waxed linen), your stitching needle, a gauge, and a few other
Preparing enough pine needles for a small basket requires about an hour.
The needles need to be covered with boiling water and soaked for about
30 minutes. The caps (bark covered ends) need to be removed from each
pine-needle bundle. This takes about ½ hour. You are now ready to
start your basket.
When creating a continuously coiled basket, you will need to add new
needles every other stitch or so. There are several types of stitches,
and the time required for each stitch varies greatly. The most common
stitches include the plain stitch, split stitch, V stitch, wheat stitch,
and fern stitch. For a 4"-diameter basket, it can take from 20 minutes
to 1 hour to complete only one coil around your basket.
Most basket makers seal their baskets with a combination of beeswax and
paraffin or shellac spray. This is optional but will add to the life of
As you can see, creating a pine-needle basket is very time-consuming.
And don't forget the extras like handles and embellishments that add
time and expense to your basket. Most people who make pine-needle
baskets create them for their own use and simply enjoy doing it. I
personally find it very relaxing. It is one of the few times I just
forget about life and concentrate on something I enjoy doing.
NOW BACK TO MY FEELINGS ON THIS...
I have to disagree with the sentiment of Pine needle work being expensive. The one thing I like about it is that most of my supplies are FREE. See, I believe that any Art form can be either as expensive or inexpensive as you want it to be. I live in FL and so my coil materials are basically free. I harvest Pine needles, grasses and palm fronds myself, so mostly it is just hot hot hot work. I also sand and wax my own wood so again it is time consuming, even though the wood is harvested FREE. What this also means is that I have control over what I want things to be shaped like and to look like, as much as one can when using organic products, not store bought/milled wood.
Do keep in mind though that I do not have a full time job, so the one thing I do have a lot of is TIME. And I need it as these processes are very labor intensive.
Also I do indeed agree with the part that says it takes time to build the skills to make beautiful coils and stitches. I have been making baskets intensively for the last 2 years, and sporatically for the 3 years before, and I am just now getting to the point where I think my work is as good as the ones I see on other sites. I have also developed my own style. I hope these things are evident to you, my fans, as well.
I would love to hear some of your thoughts on these things.