My life and art
and official blog of the Pine Needle Group
Thursday, October 22, 2009
7. Three Considerations for Faster, Easier Coiling Post 7.
The last post saw lots of commenting! Thanks to Patti, Vincent, Annejala and everyone for their comments. It sounds like everyone has their own formula to “get it right” in terms of moisture.
Tony, it is hard to say for sure what your needles are, but if they were at least 10 inches and in bundles of 3, you probably have Southern Longleaf pine needles. They were originally very common here in eastern NC, but since Weyerhauser paper company logs the entire area now, longleaf is harder and harder to find. It is very slow-growing, and the new trees they plant are faster growing, but shorter-leafed. A nice Southern Longleaf Pine tree is a treasure around here nowadays. Sounds like Vincent and Clay have very similar styles. I am very interested in your results. It sounds like you had a long time to perfect your technique, and that it works really well. When I soak needles that long, and then pull very tightly, it tends to break the needles. So you must have a trick up your sleeve that I am just not getting. I would love to learn it. Both of you make baskets that are amazing!
Thanks to Vincent for sharing his chicken story, too. I just love that story ( not the dog part.)
Still reflecting on our habits…
Do you use a gauge? Some people think they cannot coil without a gage. This is unfortunate and perplexing to me. Gauges have been used to hold straw when coiling bee skeps, and this is quite understandable. Straw was bundled in massive coils, and was falling out all over the place if a gauge (a cow horn) was not used. Pine needles are very different. Coilers who use gauges say they are doing so to keep the coil uniform. It does keep the coil uniform, but this is more easily achieved, in my opinion, by watching the ends of the pine needles as they run out. The gauge makes adding pine needles more difficult, which adds seconds to every addition. Lose the gauge, and see what happens. (i am SURE we will have comments on this opinion...come on....)
"Oh my gosh, my coils will be all different sizes!” Not if you pay attention. And I have news for you. I often taper a coil to a smaller size when I am going around a very sharp corner, or build it up when I am trying to make a sculptural shape. I have NEVER had ANYONE say to me, gee your coils are so many different sizes. NEVER.
What is your preferred coil size? A very tiny coil size builds slowly. Think toothpicks and popsicle sticks. Which one will build a wall faster? If you make larger coils, you will build a basket faster. I like to keep the coil about the size of my pinkie. This coil size builds the basket fairly quickly, while not being so large it is hard to get the needle through. You will find, if you try to make a coil as large as your index finger or thumb, that it is harder to get the needle through a thicker coil. To make a larger coil, it pays to add more pine needles in clusters, as opposed to singly. I have added whole pine needles, fascicles intact, to the center of the coil when i wanted to build it quickly.
Another easy way to increase coil size is to add a "rod," such as reed or a vine, to the center of the coil to make it build faster. This is a technique practiced by many native American people, as can be found by reading Sarah Peabody Turnbaugh's Indian Baskets (Schiffer Book for Collectors,) or one of the older editions of the same book (listed by Turnbaugh & Turnbaugh.) The technique is called "rod and bundle" coiling.
I would love to hear about your coil size and fluctuation considerations, please leave a positive comment here for everyone to read! Thanks
I am a fiber artist, wife, and mother. My Catching the Moon series of weavings is largely about my life and the pursuit of dreams. See my Catching the Moon series on my website. I generally use basketry techniques, but love to mix media and techniques. I also use this blog to highlight my online guild, The Pine Needle Group (www.PineNeedleGroup.com )Thanks for reading my blog!