Thursday, May 28, 2009

Memories in a Basket

Yesterday I blogged about making baskets from the old mini-blinds (which may have looked just fine, by the way, but they were drawn all over by my son!) Here is the promised blog about baskets from upcycled clothes.

This basket was coiled around a pottery base that i made. It includes some yarns and recycled bits of string, but also several of my husband's old shirts, a pair of kids' pjs, some camophlage jeans from my son, and a couple of socks that had holes in them. Yes, i said socks. They are great for bulk and texture. If you click on it and look closer maybe you can see some of them.
I love the way all the fibers come together and make a crazy quilt sort of effect.

This one is also embellished with beads. But sometimes, i embellish with buttons cut from the clothing, as in the bowl at right. This one is upcycled from an old long playing record album. I poked holes in the rim after distorting the album in my oven. After coiling with assorted recycled cloth strips, as well as yarns, i layered the buttons as embellishments. (click on any picture to see a large version.)

For more upcycled/recycled baskets, see my etsy shop. Some of them are coiled 'round recycled bits of plastic, as well! One is also twined using my husband's favorite old shirts, the yarn i showed you yesterday. Another has bits of sisal twine that have been unwound to make fringes. I would love to see what you have made of recycled materials!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

What Will My Blinds Be Next?

I really hate to throw things away. But finding ways to recycle or upcycle everything is hard! What to do with old mini-blinds? My friend told me use them for garden markers. I have news for her, i don't have much of a garden.

The first thing I tried was not been greeted with great success. Yes, the dogs are happy i have shaded their kennel, but my husband is not tickled with the way the blinds look strapped to the side of the fence, or even woven randomly through it.

My latest venture into "upcycling" mini-blinds is a little more successful. I am making baskets with them! Housing the aloe vera, you see my first attempt. Now give me a break, i know it is not the greatest...but then, i am not accustomed to weaving with flat materials (I prefer round, wicker style or coiling.) This one is bias-plaited, and i found i pretty much had to double weave it to give it any strength at all...I tried to do a twill with this one, too, but that was not terribly successful. On to something simpler.

Next attempt: success! This is a straight plaited basket, i doubled the materials, and the rim is self-bound..that is, it is lashed with the pullcord from the blind. It is also beaded with the little dangly ends. I am fairly happy with it.

Inside,rest balls of "yarn" made from old discarded clothing. Actually, these are three of my husband's shirts that wore out. Three of his FAVORITE shirts. Maybe tomorrow i will show you something i made from the yarn from these shirts, eh?

Guess what? the ends of blinds i wove are still long enough to use for garden markers...and i am using them for tags for the planted teacher gifts!

What are YOU upcycling?

Monday, May 25, 2009

Still Not Done With Turtles....

Well, I have to say i really appreciate feedback and suggestions from you blog readers. Cathy said i should make some horsehair turtle necklaces, and so i listened and coiled up a few. What do you all think?

I have a green one listed in my shop on etsy now.

Any other great suggestions?


Saturday, May 23, 2009

Into the Woods II

So here it is, the first of 12 (!) teacher gifts i must make this needs to grow. I put moss on top of the soil, and put in a sunny place, and try to feed every day, so the flowers will come on. I will try to remember to post a photo in a week or so, hopefully, the petunias and Sweet William, begonias and marigolds and such will survive and become colorful. This is the part i am not good at - making the stuff grow. Oh well.

How to make these pods, as well as information about gathering and processing greenbriar was published in Backwoods Magazine, November/December 2008, in an article I wrote titled "Random Weave Greenbrier." Back Issues are available on the Backwoods Magazine website.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Into the Woods

It is the end of school year, and time for teacher gifts! Usually, I head into the woods, and come back with an armful of vines like this one.... mostly wisteria this time, but a little grapevine, greenbriar, honeysuckle and Virginia Creeper...

After stripping the leaves, they sure look alot smaller! Then i weave, randomly, to make what i call a "garden pod."
Only takes about 40 minutes to make a decent pod...this one is a little sparse still, the vines are green, and once they dry, the spaces will be much more open...weaving until it looks about like this...

I like the roots on the rim of this one, that was from a runner of wisteria.

Something needs to fill the space between the plants and the basket, I have used moss, but pine needles are more abundant where i live...
I usually cut a piece of recycled plastic to serve as a dirt catcher, and plant some annuals in it. My camera ran out of juice, so I will have to post the finished product later...

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Focus on Fiber at Studio Channel Islands

A wonderful exhibition, with lots of companion events, debuts this week out at the Studio Channel Islands in Camarillo, CA.

The calendar of events includes exhibitions, jurors critiques, classes on basketry, weaving, and using up odd fibers, as well as artist's talks.

One of my pieces is being shown in the Focus on Fiber II exhibition, and it will remain on display from now until July 3. There is a reception and awards on June 13.

If anyone is interested in attending, or would like a mailer card about the events, please email me, and I will send you one! Of course you will need to give me your mailing address.

Boy, I wish i lived in California!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Tree to Basket

I have always heard about going "from tree to basket," but this was my first chance to actually do it!

Joel and Dawn Simpson came to give the Natural Fibers Group a workshop, and brought a bunch of white oak logs to split into basketry materials.

What a great time we had!

Everyone took turns splitting the logs, and splitting and splitting. Easy enough for two people to handle, especially with the great tools Joel makes for this special purpose!

We all particularly enjoyed the great big caveman style clubs, hand-whittled by Joel from very pieces of log that were just "not right" for splitting!

After peeling the growth rings apart,

scraping them smooth, and cutting them to width,

we laid out simple bases and each person wove a small oak work basket!

These very sturdy, slightly rustic baskets are perfect for collecting eggs or berries, and could last for a hundred years, even with daily use. The next day, we made small baskets of hand-pounded ash, constructed over molds.

Here are a few of the classes' finished baskets. Aren't they beautiful???!!!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Brake for Turtles Yet Again!

Anyone noticing more turtles on the roadway...hope you are yielding!

Just listed a lovely little horsehair turtle in my etsy shop. Am working on wearable horsehair turtles, too, thanks to Cathy Schneider who pushed me to make more turtles. I do love them. Will let you know how it goes, Cathy.

Is anyone else boxing up baskets to submit to NCBA for next year's convention? I hope so! They need a good selection! I am going to try to send mine today!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Printable Basketmaker's Calendar

Susi Nuss of always has something new for us basketmakers! One of the great things she has going now is a printable calendar for each month, with a basket picture at the top. So fun! Go print yours today...there is still more than half of May left!

Click "Follow this blog" at the bottom of the page, and keep track of the new stuff she finds for us.

Thanks, Susi!

Brake for Turtles Again!

In the spirit of my current turtle obsession, i made a few little coiled turtles today...whatch think? The carapace and plastron are coiled with pine needles and raffia, the legs and heads are pine cone scales.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day

I hope you all are having a nice Mother's Day.

Both my mother and mother in law are far away, but I sent them a little package earlier in the week. I made them each a hand-woven wire necklace with freshwater pearls in it. I think a nest with eggs is a wonderful symbol of the mother, and it was particularly apt as each of them had three children.

Similar necklaces are available in my etsy shop, and I hope to teach this necklace (with matching earrings!) at NCBA convention next year. Watch for it!

Saturday, May 9, 2009


Who doesn't love a good giveaway?

I tell you, there are some great ones in the blogs that belong to Etsy sellers.

Here is one...the Etsy Treasury Team Blog is giving away a pile of charms made by MidnightCoiler of etsy. Can't you just SEE some of these dangling from a gourd, or on a pine needle basket????? (check out her finished gourds for examples!)

Check it out! So EASY to enter! But you're gonna have to beat me out, because I am entering this one, too!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Brake for Turtles!

Maintaining two large dogs means I spend a good amount of time walking in the woods. One thing that makes it hard to move quickly is the turtle retrieval. Somehow, my husband has convinced our two retrievers that turtles need to be brought in line. They find them - from the size of a quarter, to so large they cannot carry them - on every walk. I often am sauntering along, thinking, "What can I make from that vine hanging down, and is it time to cut it?" And suddenly I am aware of the yellow dog walking very carefully next to me, with her mouth bulging at the lips. If I don't stop and tell her to put it down, she is liable to spend the whole walk carrying a turtle! Here she comes now...

Some days they will each find 5 different turtles. We used to mark them with nail polish, and I think we counted almost 30 separate individuals one year.

This time of year is hard for me to drive. The turtles are crossing roadways to get to nesting sites, or just migrating from pond to pond. Am I the only one who feels like people TRY to hit them? It makes me crazy. I am notorious for stopping and helping a turtle across the road. People tease me about it all the time, and sometimes I get an earful from other drivers...

Who wouldn't have stopped for this gal?

Not only is she IN the road, but she is not crossing right to left, she is walking at a diagonal, and it is going to take her a good 60 yards before she crosses it all the way! BRAKE FOR TURTLE! She was about 18 inches long - her carapace (that's the top of the shell, for those of you who don't know about turtles) - not including her tail! She obviously has done this before. Note the scarring where she has been either hit by a car, or maybe even a boat...Fortunately, they are tough critters. She probably weighed 30 pounds! With my back and neck issues, I could not possibly carry her. Maybe I could walk behind her, and make the cars slow? Probably not. I did not see how I was going to safeguard her journey.

Fortunately, another turtle lover stopped...someone stronger than I. I only had to wield the camera! You can see from this photo how huge she was.

Her claws were awesome, as was her tail. Of course her helper is wearing gloves, and even so, we both were surprised that she did not try to bite him. I am told they can put that neck out far enough to nip you even when holding them by the tail!

...And, yes, I do think this was a female (in my very limited experience sexing turtles.) I believe she was on her way back to the pond after laying eggs in the grassy areas across the road. I can only hope that she chose the horse pasture, because lawn mowers can crush the nest before the eggs hatch. Will keep you posted...perhaps one day there will be hatchlings all over the road, and I will have to stop again!


Hello, and welcome to my blog. I will be writing about whatever strikes my fancy, some days it is liable to be baskets or weaving, but it might be my kids or just stuff I come across...I hope you enjoy it!